Thanks for the descriptions of your solutions at home.
So I bought some Seachem Meridian- it's meant for salt water tanks and will buffer the pH. I'm a little nervous about it so I think I'll test a sample in a nano first. If it's ok, my plan is to re-use my flourite sand in the areas I plant (put in fresh root tabs and divders of some sort) and then create open spaces with this new sand- basically a 50-50 space division.
I wanted to try the sachel in the filter idea except I don't have an extra comparment for that- just 3 and I don't want to bump the ceramic beads, the filter fiber or the sponge.
Since I live in a small apartment, I can't really pre-treat my water before a water change (no garbage bins or anything large to hold 20+ gallons in). I'm also not around during the week so I can't really monitor the parameters throughout- I have to make small changes every weekend. Again, makes me nervous with this new substrate but I'm trying to subscribe to the "nothing ventured, nothing gained" theory.
I'll post my results after the test tank.