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I would remove the trickle portion and add a bag filter.

Raise the level in the over flow up higher so there is less splash into the prefilter, that is where you will lose CO2 mainly.

You can use some sponge material in the sump if you wish.

The small amount of peat will not influence water chemistry, it will influence the substrate and cycling.
Add some fresh mulm from a LFS, a buddy's tank etc, make sure you do this. Rinse the Flourite 3x and that's all.

Read up and get a decent method to make large water changes easy on yourself.

I've never had much issue with tap water being hard, I prefer that over the soft water. One or two plants might act funny, but do not use the water softener Tap.

Once you have the CO2 set well, check its AM and PM level to make sure it checks out.

Keep the probe/Reactor etc in the sump, set it for 25-30ppm of CO2.
Have the returns spray down along the back wall into the plants along their base.

Plant heavy from the start, this is important.

This will get you going pretty well and nutrients/dosing routines will be easy to maintain from here.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

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Gloss did great at a GH of 25 and a KJH of 10, I think whoever told you it does better or worse is well ......quite clueless and helping to foster a myth.

I've consistently grown it for many years in hardwater, so have most folks like most so called softwater plants.

The only reason you need to soften water is for a few softwater fish, it's not for the plants at all.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 
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