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Welcome to the TFK side.:-D

I have not myself used FloraMax substrate, but I did have a tank with Flourite which from what I can gather is much the same thing. Eco-Complete (also made by CarribSea, who make FloraMax) is nearly identical to Flourite. I was very disappointed; it cost a lot to get this, and the plants were no better. Plus it was rough enough that substrate fish had problems. I would stay with sand. I prefer play sand as it is very inexpensive, very authentic in appearance, and substrate fish have no issues.

Sand substrates tend to level out, as there is a normal water flow through the substrate plus gravity. Building up higher areas with heavy rock or wood chunks can be effective. You seem to be going with forest fish, and the more wood the better, so perhaps this is the easiest way to achieve some contrast. Check the photos of my tanks under the "Aquariums" tab below my name on the left, you may get some ideas.

A very plain black background, such as black construction paper taped to the outside of the tank, can make the depth (front to back k) seem greater, as the fish and plants and wood will be more obvious.

For filter, with forest fish a sponge will be sufficient. I only use a dual sponge filter in my 20g and 29g tanks. The problem with HOB filters on such small tanks is the water flow can be greater than what the fish and plants prefer.

Hope this is of some help.

Byron.
 

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I appreciate your input guys. I've very interested in Galaxy Rasboras, I think another name for them are celestial Danios. I also Like the loches, but I need to do some more research. I'm very excited to get home and start transferring the plants. I may stop by the pet store to grab some root tabs and take a look at the driftwood they have.
I find the best wood to be Malaysian Driftwood, sometimes called ironwood and maybe other names. It is dark brown, and heavy so it sinks immediately [other types tend to float until water logged unless you somehow hold them down but this is not easy]. This is what you see in my tanks. Every piece is unique as it is real wood.

I use substrate tab fertilizer but only for the larger swords and the red tiger lotus. Other plants will be fine with just liquid, which is necessary anyway as it provides all nutrients and plants take some up only via the leaves so a comprehensive liquid provides everything.

Check our profiles for any fish (or plants) as some have very specific needs. You mention the Celestial Pearl Danio for instance. Profiles are under the second heading from the left in the blue bar, or click shaded names.

Byron.
 
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