(apologies in advance for the small novel, but I've got a lot to say/ask lol)
I had this 5.5 gallon tank I was using for cherry shrimp, but I upgraded them to a 10 gallon with substrate specifically for plants and shrimp. The 5.5 was just chilling in my kitchen floor, so I decided to put it on my desk in my room since it's pretty small and the perfect size for a desk top nano tank, but I don't know what to do with it in the terms of substrate, plants, and stock.
Currently, there is fine, bright red sand mixed with a little natural colored sand of varied sized grains. I'm not sure what I was thinking when I bought this red sand, but I'm honestly really over it. It's just an eyesore at this point, so I want to change the substrate, but I don't know what kind to replace it with, without spending a bunch of money because some substrates can be so expensive!
And the substrate also affects which plants may or may not grow well in it, at least in my opinion, especially since my light is very low tech. I dose some of my other tanks with API CO2
Booster, but I have a feeling this 5.5 could be overdosed extremely quickly and wind up killing all the nonplant organisms.
I'm thinking of adding montecarlo, and I have a bit of hornwort in it currently, but that's all I've got for ideas for plants at this point bc I'm not sure what livestock to put in it yet, and sometimes that can heavily affect the ideas for the scape and plants.
I know 5.5 gallons is a very small space, and there's not much that can be happy and healthy in such a small tank, but I'm open to suggestions and discussion. I've heard there are a few types of microfish that can do pretty well in 5-10 gallon tanks like ember tetras, chili rasboras, galaxy rasboras, otto cats, etc.
I've already got two 10 gallon tanks with bettas in them, as well as a 20 gallon with a pair of pea puffers and a different 20 with a pair of African dwarf frogs, so I'm not really interested in getting more of those, but I've read a little about orange dwarf crayfish, but there's mixed information about them available. Some sources say you can have one for every 3 gallons or a pair in a 5, others say they need 10-20 gallons at least, so I'm really confused and not really sure if they'd be healthy in a 5.5 gallon.
Some other fish I'm sort of interested in but not sure of are kilifish, endlers, bumblebee goby, sparkling gourami, rosy loach. Would any of these be okay to put in there? Can you either tell me more about them or give me some helpful links to learn more? I really appreciate any help i can get.
Attached is a picture of the set up right now, before any changes have been made.