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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just getting ready to start up a new tank. It will be many months before this is up and running, as I'm slowly and deliberately considering every aspect in detail, before execution. Tank is bought, lights on the way. Everything else is just dragging along, as I second guess myself.

Tank: UNS 120p, 78 gallon, rimless
Light: 2X Chihiros VIVID 2
Filter: most likely OASE Biomaster 850 Thermo

Plants:
glossostigma elatinoides
pogostemon helferi
java fern windelov
mini windelov
red wendtii 'dewitt'
mini bolbitis
fissidens nobilis
Hygrophila Pinnatifida
christmas moss
staurogene rypens
Hygrophila lancea 'Araguaia'
dwarf hairgrass
Marsilea minuta

Possible inhabitants:
least killifish
neon tetra
celestial pearl danio
longfin zebra danio
spotted danio
cardinal tetra
ember tetra
emperor tetra
diamond tetra
black phantom tetra
green neon tetra?
blue tetra?
Peacock Gudgeon
Scarlet Badis
Endler’s Livebearer

Definite inhabitants:
black crystal shrimp
red crystal shrimp
blue dream shrimp

On my 20gal long tank which is very well established and thriving, I use rainwater + Equilibrium, which has been absolutely fantastic. I adjust to suit the GH, and the rainwater always hits the cistern at pH 7.5, from whence it doesn't change. The substrate is 40lbs of Carib Sea Eco Complete, which I absolutely love. (never had a tank cycle so quickly) I'd like to use a thick layer of this in my new tank, but also cap it with black sand. I will decorate with black lava rock, and some locally acquired skeletal mangrove wood. I plan on building a substrate layer both in the foreground, and behind the rock walls (high layer - ~10" tall) so that I can create another level of plants, separated from the bottom.

After all that, the real question is... what would be appropriate to put at the bottom of the whole substrate stack, to help with heavy root feeders, and lower my pH a bit? I'd like to be in the 6.5-7.0 range. I'm thinking straight peat, but maybe there's a better way. I've been out of this hobby for a very long time. So much I've forgotten...
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Since no replies, I just went my own way. My UNS tank was impossible to get at the time, and my son gifted me an old school 75 gallon, that he found on the side of the road. Boom. It also came with a Fluval FX6, in perfect working condition. Double boom. I don't care if it doesn't look Japanese or minimalist, it was free.

For the substrate, I ended up mixing a 10lb bag of earthworm castings (EWC) with a 15lb bag of Fluorite black sand. I let the EWC sit out in the sun - not to "mineralize", but because it's a bit moist, and hard to mix with the dusty Fluorite. After 8 hours of Florida December sun, at 85 degrees, it was ready to mix - and it did so quite easily. The whole mixture produced about 1/2" of substrate.

I decided to ignore pH adjustment. Will let the CO2 get me down as much as it can, and take my chances, for the time being.
 
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