I'm starting a 29g planted tank that I hope will be a community tank. I'm trying to get it set up quickly as my 2 platy have had 40 fry. Right now...this is what I have and where I'm hoping to go. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
1. Lighting...I have an unimpressive Aqueon deluxe hood. I replaced the bulb with a T8 Floramax bulb from Aqueon. I didn't really have a lot of choices offered to me at PetSmart so I'm hoping this will work. If so, what kind of plants would be good for this lighting. (low, med, high...etc.) How you can tell which plants are which?
2. Cycling...I don't have any plants in the tank yet because I was waiting until I got the correct lighting. My question is...what is the process of cycling in a planted tank? Do I need to add ammonia to the water or fish food. I've been adding fish food to the tank but nothing is changing. I haven't had any lighting until today and I'm assuming that the lighting will help the process along. Will it cycle faster if I add pure ammonia? I don't want to add any media from my 10g tank as it has had so many issues in the past. It's doing fine now but I'd rather start from scratch with this tank, especially since it will be planted.
So...I guess my main question is...what is the cycling process for a planted tank and how does it differ from a non-planted tank? And please...keep this simple...some of the information that has been flying at me has my head spinning. I just want a simple step-by-step process.
3.. I've been running the filter on this tank for a little over a week now but there has been nothing in it except the substrate and the fish food that I've been adding. How long, when you're using fish food, does it take for the cycling process to begin?
4. Also, in my 10g tank I have aquarium salt which has helped tremendously in that tank and so I put a bit in the 29g. After doing so, I was told that it wouldn't be good for the plants so I am planning on doing water changes to get rid of as much of the salt as possible. How bad is salt for the plants and will a small amount bother them too much?
5. Hard water and high pH...I have both. My pH is 8.2. What plants do well in water like this? I wanted to have Java moss or Christmas moss for a backdrop (more the Christmas moss) but I'm thinking that the Christmas moss wouldn't be able to handle this kind of water. What other plants would do well in this environment? I've been looking at the PetSmart plants but no one knows much about them so I haven't bought any of them. The only one that I felt even slightly okay with has been the java fern but I still didn't buy it...I wasn't ready to add plants yet. No one in PetSmart knew anything about the plants they carried. (Not that I'm surprised or anything.)
6. Substrate...I have the FloraMax substrate from PetSmart and I have about 2inches. There is also a bit of leftover neutral colored gravel that I had from my 2.5g tank that I put on top of the FloraMax for something a bit brighter on the bottom.
7. I'm trying to get this tank set up quickly as I have 40 platy fry and 9 guppies that I need to relocate soon...if I can't give a bunch of them away. Otherwise, I'll be spreading them amongst 3 tanks to give them some room.
Any and all advice about this tank would be greatly appreciated.