| | Re: This time Im gonna do it right!....Help me out :)
Fine sand from your former salt water setup is not going to work! Salt water sands are usually very high in calcium. High levels of calcium are not suitable as a substrate for planted aquariums. In addition, if the substrate was in contact with the salt from your former tank it will most likely still have residual amounts of salt that is leaching out into your freshwater tank. Sea salt is not good for plants (or most freshwater fish).
Best to change your sand to fluorite, eco-complete, aqua-soil etc…
In addition, anything with a powder-like consistency is not suitable for plants since the roots can’t exchange gasses (oxygen, carbon dioxide) through the fine sand. You also run the risk of allowing anaerobic bacteria a place to thrive. Cut off from oxygen these bacteria will multiply and produce a foul smelling sulphur gas that is poisonous to fish and other freshwater creatures.
For your second question, driftwood is a tricky thing. You must choose it very very carefully.
Wood that has any bark on it at all is not suitable. Do not use it, it will not be suitable for use until the bark has naturally been removed by the environment.
Wood that is too thin is not suitable, this means twigs and other wood that is less than an 2/3rds of an inch thick. This wood will rot and foul the tank.
Wood that is too young is not suitable. This means no wood that has been off the tree for less than a year.
Finally, any type of wood that is soft when you find it is not suitable. This wood has begun to rot and it will not stop in your tank. As it rots it will foul your tank.
If tannins are a problem, boil the wood in a pot of water for a few hours. Drain the water every hour and replace with new fresh water. The fresh water will saturate with tannins from the wood. At some point the wood will run out of tannins and you will know when this happens since the fresh water you add to the pot will not come out so brown after the hour of boiling is over. On the other hand, tannins won’t hurt the tank and some species of fish like it and will breed only in this water. Its also a good idea to boil the wood because you kill any unwanted pests that might be in the wood.