02-07-2012, 12:56 PM
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The matter is usually rock wool, whitish or beige in colour. It should be removed but try not to break the roots. It can be left (assuming it is the normal rock wool), I usually remove what I can. I find when I do leave it, it sometimes appears months later, which is not a problem, but just shows that as the roots grow they will push it out of their way.
Plant list is fine. Banana plants are not always easy to grow, many very experienced plant aquarists find they only last a year, so don't be discouraged if they don't do well. Don't buy the tubers (the "bananas"), just the white roots. Put them under direct light.
Water Sprite if it is Ceratopteris cornuta should be left floating. Check our profile for the differences.
Make sure the melon sword and red flame sword are under direct light, any red leaf plant is higher light requiring. Anubias should be in shade, floating plants overhead is fine, and both species are best attached to wood or rock. Just don't bury the rhizome in the substrate, it may rot.