05-05-2008, 07:20 PM
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I have a 28 gallon tank, which I'm trying to plant, so maybe I can help. First of all, the lighting, substrate, CO2, fertilizers, will all depend on what kind of plants you want. Low light plants may not need CO2, an enriched substrate, or ferts. If you decide to go with more lighting, it will cost a little bit more.
There's not much you can grow with the standard strip light that comes with tank kits. There are low light plants that could get by with it, but if you want it to really be a nicely planted tank, you'll need to upgrade the lighting. I have a Hagen GLO T5 lighting fixture, and it works awesome! It's about $90-$110, depending on where you buy it. You can get a single bulb, or double buld unit. Of course you can find cheaper fixtures, or more expensive fixtures, but it all depends on what you want to grow. T5 lighting is much better than standard flourescent lighting.
If you go with higher light plants, it would be a good idea to add CO2 and use an enriched substrate, like Eco-Complete or laterite mixed with small-ish gravel. I know that some people use pool filter sand instead of gravel. For 29 gallons, you could do DIY CO2. It's pretty simple to set up and maintain, and will be very beneficial to medium, and high light plants.
You can add fish and then plants, or the other way around. It doesn't really matter. Some fish may be more suited for planted tanks, so adding some plants before the fish may be a good idea. Otherwise, I think it's just a personal choice.
As for choosing fish, there are a ton of options for a planted tank. What kinds of fish are you interested in? If you let us know what you like, we can give you a better idea of what might be a good choice for you tank.
Total cost will depend on what type of setup you want, how heavily planted you want the tank, the lighting you decide on, ect. But, if you think of it as a project, and build it up over a little bit of time, it's not that huge of a deal. A nice planted tank can look amazing!!