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My name is Chris and I'm from Long Island, NY. It's crazy how engrossed I can become when looking up aquarium inspiration online. This is my first step into the community from an online perspective and my first attempt at a planted tank. I've had aquariums all my life but failed to ever really get into the hobby past scheduled maintenance. I suppose at a young age I looked at it as more of a chore than an interest.

Recently I've been much more taken with the hobby however and now I find myself setting up a hardscape in my 45-gallon tank. My first challenge was the substrate. With the success of ADA type substrates, I was interested in that route but found myself over budgeted when adding up power sand, aquasoil, and additives. I chose an inert substrate and just mixed together some Seachem Flourite and Seachem Flourite Black and placed in my lava rock.

Should I wait until I can afford an active substrate and replace it before planting? I want to create an aquascape that has many plants that grow fairly large and can spread nicely. Small fish such as neon tetras and coral red pencilfish. Some plants I've been considering are ludwiga palustris, rosanervig, ludwiga super red, montecarlo, cryptocoryne wendtii, java moss and maybe some swords. full CO2 set up.

My tank is the Aqueon 45 gallon 13"L x 36"W x 24"H. Another thing I have been unsure of is the lighting that will be required. Would I be alright with a 54-watt setup full spectrum with the depth of the tank as 24"? I'm new to all of this so please be merciful if I've said something outrageous. Thanks everyone!
 
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