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I am taking the plunge into "planted aquariums". I just ordered a 4G Finnex and am looking for advice on what I need to get started. It comes with a 26W light. I could change that easily.
I am going to try a DIY CO2 system.

What substrate should I use? Do I need any specific test kits? How about fertilizer?
I want it to look something like this:

 

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Everything pretty much depeneds on what you want to grow. 26 watts sound fine, enless it is a T5. For fertilization and test kits, I have no idea.
 

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Hey that's my tank! :flick: Let me see if I can answer as many questions as possible.

Light: 26W is ideal. In a 4 gallon Finnex you'd be able to grow just about anything (assuming your light is a power compact bulb).

DIY Co2: Should be ok if you can keep up with changing it. Personally I suggest a paintball Co2 system. Yeah, it's more expensive to start with but the time I save by screwing a tank in an leaving it for 3 months is worth the investment. However, DIY is a perfectly good option.

Test Kits: You'll probably want to test frequently until you find a balance, and then you'll almost never need to test. In my 4g Finnex, I haven't tested in a couple months.

Ferts: Plenty of ways to go with that. I like the Estimative Index method coupled with dry ferts that have been mixed into 250ml solutions. That seems to be the best way for micro-dosing ferts. Green Leaf Aquariums is a good source for ferts.

Substrate: I think the substrate in my tank is ADA Amazonia. Any of the high quality aquasoils should do you ok though.

Also consider getting some Equilibrium to keep your GH where it should be, if you are going to use Reverse Osmosis water.

Hope that helps!
 

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Outlawboss - nice tank ;)

My own suggestions pretty much mirror what Outlawboss said!

Substrate: ADA Aquasoil Amazonia is a favorite for planted nanos. Be warned that in the first few weeks after you put new Aquasoil in a tank, it will leach ammonia. A lot of ammonia. On the plus side, the ammonia jumpstarts the nitrogen cycle. On the negative side, you'll have to wait awhile before adding fauna. You can also get away with a substrate like Eco-Complete or Fluorite.

Ferts: I've heard great things about dry ferts, like Outlawboss said. At the moment I'm using the full Seachem Flourish line of liquid ferts in my nanos; they work pretty well too. You can grow most plants in an Excel-only nano (instead of a CO2 nano) if you find CO2 too hard to set up.

Test kits: Most people will tell you to get a freshwater master test kit. It gives much more precise readings than strips. But if you're lazy like me, you can just get some of those Quick-Dip test strips.
 
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