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Hi my name is Bill and I am new to planted aquariums though I have lots of experience with fish keeping and breeding.

Right now I want to start choosing the substrate for my plants. My thought is to create a black bottom tank with layers of mesh bags full of some sort of black aquarium soil to build elevation in the back of a 55 gal tank. I am open to any suggestions such as flourite, peat etc. I will likely keep snails and shrimp initially and possibly six or seven female bettas.

I have already bought Carib-Sea, Eco-Planted Black Aquarium for the second layer and will push it up over the mesh bags for more elevation. When I get to that point I will hide the the bags with both black bank run stones (rounded) and pieces of Manzanita, Malaysian or Mopani driftwood.

I found a source of Ash Beach Pebbles which seem suitable for aquariums. They are black polished quartz from India and they range in size from 2 to 6 inches. They look beautiful. I am washing them now. Let me know if these stones are problematic. I found one site that listed black quartz as being neutral in a tank. I going to want a fair amount of tannins (almond leaves and alder pine cones etc) to reduce hardness and keep the pH from rising. I will likely chlorox them as well. Bettas and shrimp like tannins.

My lighting is a suspended 30 inch dawn to dusk smart LED bar an many of my plants are here already. Unfortunatle I didn't know what plants I was buying and many came with generic names from big box pet stores. But they are doing well in my Betta bowls for now.

So I am very glad to be in this forum. I just found you yesterday and already found many articles to read. Thanks for your help.
 
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