Let me start off by apologizing. I know there are a million threads on here with beginners asking what to fill there tanks with. I have browsed through many of them, and used many of the handy links that are posted on them, and they have helped me get a better idea of what I want, but I guess, in the end, nothing beats some good, old-fashioned, person-to-person communication :).
The Mission: I do not have a tank yet. I am starting from scratch. Ultimately, I would like a fully planted tank in the 29-38 gallon range. I plan on using an H.O.T. Magnum Canister Filter, which will probably be a little overkill, but I figured more *should* be better than less. It's also the smallest canister filter I could find on fosterandsmith.com. Again, I haven't purchased it yet if anyone has another recommendation. The plants I intend for the tank will be low-light plants and anubis, and probably a few marimo moss balls, because they're so dang cute. My tap water naturally runs high, in excess of 7.6 on the pH scale. I have successfully brought it down in the past. I haven't chosen a specific substrate yet, but gravel in the 1-2mm range is the plan. I intend to do a fishless cycle once the tank is planted, instructions for this still need to be looked up, but I know they're around. I am not intending to use a co2 system at this time, though I'll probably use flourish in the water. I will have an adjustable heater and rock hidie caves. I dont' plan on additional aeration with the plants in the tank. There will be a glass canopy w/ strip light. I am prepared to do weekly water changes, and I have stress coat+ to condition the water. I can get another brand if absolutely neccessary, but I'd prefer to use this up first.
For fish, I would like 3-4 healthy bunches of schooling fish and some corys. Neon tetras and zebra danios or similar come to mind, but I am flexible. I need some good, hardy, beginner fish.
My only experience with fish is a male betta in a filtered 10 gallon tank. He is happy on his own, and if I have my way, he will remain so.
Which tank size in the 29-38 gallon range would work best for small schooling fish? Which schooling fish do you reccommend together and as good beginner fish? How many fish of each species is ideal? There are a million cory subspecies, are there any I should avoid? How do you feed fish that eat different things? How do you keep little fish from getting sucked into your gravel vaccuum? How many different kinds of fish should I add at a time? Is it a bad idea to add 4-5 kinds at the same time into a cycled tank?
In general terms, I want a healthy, moderately sized tank with a diverse and active fish community that are good for a beginner. Despite everything I said earlier, if there is an idea that accomplishes this that doesn't fit with my ideas, please suggest it anyway. Sorry for the numerous questions!
Thank you in advance,