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I was lucky enough to buy a used f55 from someone through Facebook and bought my stand at Fishtown USA in Queens, NY. I'm planning on starting it as a low tech tank but may add tech in the future. So I have two questions (so far):

1. best substrate for a heavily planted tank

2. Best lighting for a heavily planted tank
 

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There are no 'best lights' or 'best substrate'. All depends on what you are looking to do / how much money you are willing to spend. You could spend $1000 on lights and substrate to get the best of the best but it doesn't mean that you need it.
 

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There are no 'best lights' or 'best substrate'. All depends on what you are looking to do / how much money you are willing to spend. You could spend $1000 on lights and substrate to get the best of the best but it doesn't mean that you need it.
Totally true. How you do it needs to fit your means and personality. I'm a dyi type, and like low cost. I hunt around for sales and bargain, so I won't be on the list to get the thousand doller lights and the hundred doller bags of stuff or the 100 doller fish.

Same with you. You can easily spend all your rent money on fishtank stuffs. Prioritize.

Oh. Best substrate? In my opinion. A good water plant soil. Same as you buy for ponds. It is clay like, and is exactly the mixture pade for aquatic plants.

I don't know about lighting.
 
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