As this is my first post I thought it would be an idea just to give a brief run down about myself too as I hope to be here for awhile and eventually be able to contribute.
Basically I have kepts tropical fish for a good 4 or 5 years now and while my fish have always been very healthy any plants I have had died rather rapidly. this of course was because I didnt have any idea how to keep them (not ferts, poor lighting, etc. no wonder they all died).
Anyway I have been reading up about doing a proper job of a planted tank for the last few months and I was planning to get started earlier this year. Unfortunetly I never got chance to due to a change in jobs but now everything is stable again I have just bite the bullet and ordered by stuff.
After reading through the various methods I decided to go the ADA route. Mainly because it is relativly simple (and I'm a simple kind of guy ).
My shopping list:
Plants and lots of them:
(Because I'm new to this side of the hobby I have got a couple of "collections" coming which are mainly made up of fairlyu common fast growing easy to manage plants. I think I probably have enough to fill two tanks but it was a lot cheaper then buying single plants).
ADA Amazionia soil (seems to be the popular choice and apparently has the biggest PH dropping effect which if very good for my High PH/Hardness tap water). I'm hoping that it is effective enough to save me having to run all my water through a peat filter to soften it and drop the PH.
ADA power sand special S & ADA Tourmaline BC: from what I can gather this are the only addtional substrate ferts i will need (at least for the first 12 months). Please let me know if there is something more I should have though.
ADA Brighty K and The step ferts - This is what really attracted me to doing things this way. Very simple and easy to follow and I didnt have to change my normal fish keeping routines drastically.
JBL CO2 starter kit - CO2 is where I start to get unstuck. I'm sure once I actually get it going I will be able to figure it out but there are a couple of points I'm not 100% sure of (see below).
Arcadia 120cm T5 Luminaire - Better then the single strip I have on the tank right now....
Filters, heaters, hardscape etc I already have. Later I will get external heaters and glassware for inside the tank but have already gone way over budget on the above
I dont have any firm ideas for the exact layout of the tank yet. I do have some interesting driftwood that will be a feature and I also plan to have clown loaches in the tank so will have a cave of some sort for them to hide in. Other then that I'm just going to "wing it" for this first one. I dont plan on having any fish in it for quite awhile (until i'm 100% confident that I know the water chemistry of the tank inside and out). so I have some freedom to alter things later down the line.
Anyway my questions (there arent that many I promise):
Any general advice you can give with setting up or general maintaince would be appreciated.
CO2 - I know how to check the CO2 levels in the water and understand how it all works but again some general advice would be great (just to confirm that I DO actually know what I'm doing ). I have a big fear of CO2 because the one time I used it I managed to kill a whole bunch of cardinal tetras (It was a crap cheap one from the LFS and didnt have good instructions, it increased the CO2 levels way too much and killed them all overnight).