Some notes which ive read and learnt through experience:
- more lighting you have. the more ferts and CO2 you will need, or else the algae will take over. Ideal is about 3wpgs (watts per gallon), depending on the plants you want to keep and the effort you want to go to.
- Ideal Color Index of bulbs for Plants is around 5000-6000Kelvins. If you get 10000K+, it will still work, but the plants wont benefit from it as much as 5000-6000K. Most people get the higher ones cause the color looks better (less yellow), or for marine applications.
- for premixed ferts, Seachem is the best. All plants need basic NPK (Nirtrates, Phosphates and Potassium) nutrients, and then trace elements added to that benefit them more (eg iron etc). Seachem Flourish is a great All-In-One liquid fertiliser to start of with, to keep things simple.
- You can dose NPK as dry fertilisers, whch you have to source from hydroponics stores. The dosing amounts can be found on planted tank forums, and mostly its trial and error, based on the results you see in your tank.
- Best to use is a nutrient enriched substrate (gravel) so that the rooted plants can benefit. Or you can use plain gravel and insert fertiliser tabs into the gravel every few months. If i had to do my tank again from scratch, i'd get Eco-Complete substrate (although its very expensive). That or Flourite (if i wanted a red color). Currently i use plain black gravel with Flourish fertiliser tabs insert into it.
- You can go the DIY yeast+sugar method or perssurised. For a small tank DIY will suffice. I went DIY for a few months and then went pressurised. I would never go back to DIY now. Pressurised, though expensive at first, is very efficient in the long run. And it offers precise control of the CO2 levels. CO2 gas costs about $9 to refill a 500gram cylinder. And that will last you 3-4months depending on the output rate.
- Canister is the prefered choice because it has the least surface agitation (Co2 loss), plus its very easy to deal with. HOB filters are okay if surface agitation (splash) is kept to a minimum. Sumps are not reccomended due to water agitation in sumps and exposure to air.
- Anubis, Java Ferns, Java Moss are the easiest to keep. Vals are also quite easy to keep. Swords and Crypts require a nutrient rich substrate, but fert tabs do just fine. I've had Swords thriving in my tank with just fert tabs in plain gravel.
- The redder (is that a word? heh) a plant is, the more light it will need to survive. There a lots of sites on the net with plant guides that show how much light a plant will need and other care info.