I recently discovered a local pet shop near my college dorm with a huge selection of very healthy-looking freshwater fish and plants. Since, with a 5.5 gallon, I'm limited with my fish selections, I thought I'd indulge my aquarium obsession by exploring aquatic plants a little bit.
I would need something that would work in a 5.5 gallon with a 14 watt light and minimal care. I don't mind using fertilizer (unless it would harm my oto cat?), but I'd like to stay away from CO2 for now.
I have a java fern from a Petco (not the nifty local place I mentioned earlier), but I'm kind-of reluctant to put it in my tank. It's hanging out in a little one-gallon on my desk, in "quarantine." There are a number of dark, icky spots on the leaves. Should I use this plant in my 5.5 or find healthy ones from the better LFS?
Also, I've read that there are a number of recommended gravels for planted tanks. I have a traditional, natural-colored kind with no fertilizers. Is that a problem?