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I am not a newbie, but i thought i might pass on some of my experience in the hope it may make your first tank that much easier to establish.
I had fish only tanks for 15 years and then made the transition to planted
tanks 2 years ago. Why? I was sick of the constant maintenance in my fish only tanks, esp. the weekly water changes in my 6*2*2 ft tank.

My goal was to set up a planted tank in the above 180gal tank. I wanted to grow a variety of plant species with minimal maintenance.

I have a high tec tank with minimal gadgetry. The end result is luscious growth, weekly pruning to avoid a jungle and 10% monthly water changes and top ups as required from evaporation.

This is my set up.

2inches laterite as base. 2in gravel on top. Lots of fast growing plants initially for a few months
followed by addition of slower growing plants.

Fertilisation: I tried Tom Barr's EI dosing It worked well. The only problem is i had to do 50% weekly water changes. I switched to PPS Pro. i now dose once a day and as stated only do 10% water changes monthly. As far as i can see. the growth rate and type of plants i can grow has not changed from one dosing regime to the other. I like the latter due to its low maintenance without sacrificing plant growth.

CO2. Pressurised system. I don't bother with reactors any more. I had an Aquamedic 1000. Sure it worked well, but too much upkeep.So i threw it out. I now feed my CO2 directly into the intake of my submerged powerhead.So much simpler. I get a fine mist . So how much CO2 do i have? Don't know and don't care. My bubble rate is 3-4bps, i get lots of pearling . My plants grow phenomenally and my fish aren't at the surface. I only have CO2 on when lights go on.

Lights. OK a little high tec here. Two 4ft T5's on for 12 hrs a day at 0.7watts/gallon, supplemented with two 150watt metal halides (2WPG) for 4hrs per day only!

Algae. Mainly first 2 months of set up, then things settled down. I now have some mild BBA on some plant stems and powerhead and a few spots on the glass but that's about it.

Fish. Very light load for my size tank. 5 angel fish, 3 bristle nose, 5 oto cats one red tail shark and 3 siamese flying foxes. I feed once every 2-3 days.

I used to test my tank for nitrates, phosphates, iron GH KH but not any more. OK i check every 3 months or so if i have nothing better to do. My tank is in a state of equilibrium so the readings don't change much.
Water agitation. This is very important. Helps with CO2 dispersal ,O2 transfer and keeps algae under better control i feel.I have two powerheads with coarse sponge filters. One has the CO2 line that is submerged and the other is at the opposite side of the tank just below the water line that provides a ripple effect. I don't have any biological filters/cannisters etc.

That is a summary of my set up. I have achieved the goals i wanted, to be able to grow many different plants (hence high tec) but with minimal maintenance and hassles.

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