I need some advice about planting my tank but I'm a complete amateur with this, so bear with me.
Tank is a Fluval Roma 125 with a sand substrate; my first question is should I take the plunge and go for a proper soil substrate? I don't particularly care what plants I have (though I've been eyeing up the mixed boxes on aquaessentials.co.uk).
Being honest I would like to get a soil substrate to give the plants the best chance of success, but I've read that it can cause ammonia spikes, particularly at the beginning. The fish can't be kept anywhere other than a bucket when replacing the substrate so they must go back in once it's done. Tropica soil is what I've been looking at specifically.
Or would the sand suffice for 'most' plants?
I've been looking at liquid fertilizer (TNC complete) would this be a good choice?
I've just purchased a Fluval Light 3.0 so that's the biggest expense taken care of (I needed it as the light I use has broken so I took the opportunity). I'm hoping this is a good choice considering how much it cost me!
I would very much appreciate any advice you can give.
Sand will work if you put root tabs in it for the plants that feed from the roots such as Amazon swords etc. The liquid plant fertilisers are for leaf feeders. It all depends on what you're trying to achieve. For most "easy" plants, root tabs and/or liquid ferts will be enough. Fo the more difficult ones you need a planting substrate, CO2 injection, and the right strength/duration of light, all correctly balanced - but that's beyond my knowledge level as I stick to the easy stuff, mostly plants that can be attached to wood/rocks, etc and just need a liquid fert, if any.
Sorry for the delay! You might find these interesting - this web site which sells plants has put together a page of undemanding plants. You can always use it for reference and buy elsewhere if you prefer:
I was in your shoes not too long ago and I must say that you should care what plants you have as some plants are more difficult than other and some plants that might be sold to you as aquatic plants are not aquatic at all, e.g Fitonia. Therefore I would suggest the following:
Log into Tropica site and choose to view the easy/beginner plants, then, choose what you like and sort them according to position in the aquarium (back, middle, front). Also, there are plants like Amazon Sword that propagate by sending roots all over, I kept all of these out. I bought Tropica Substrate and laid it at the back of the aquarium and covered it with small size and rounded gravel while the front is sand (I have 12 Corydoras). The plants at the back already had their first trim as they have reached 45cm high, they will need another shave in a week or two, I have planted them about 2 months ago.
There is an interesting website that can cause lots of controversy as he kills many "sacred cows" https://aquariumscience.org/ then go to chapter 15 and go to para 5 (i.e 15.5) and draw your conclusions. If I have learnt something is that own research and involvement is essential.