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Substrate is the one thing that is hard or impossible to change once an aquarium is set up. None of the out-of-the-bag substrates sold in the USA (prior to ADA) work well without adaptation.

Lighting is expensive, but buy the best possible before buying and setting up the aquarium. DIY lighting systems are not for everyone. It takes time and special tools to get a professional finish. At the end of the day, you might do better buying an Arcadia or other good quality system, after all "time is money".

Test kits are useful. When you need them - you need them instantly, not have to wait for them to be delivered by USPS or UPS. Have them on hand prior to starting the set up.

Nothing happens in this hobby quickly. Ordering plants takes time - days, sometimes weeks. Ordering equipment - even from the larger sellers - sometimes results in incorrect delivery, delivery of a part broken in transit, the need to return something. Bear that in mind. If you order a computer from a famous US vendor, you can expect it to be drop shipped immediately. But plants, filters, test kits, CO2 regulators etc come more slowly. Often , though, the need for the item is instant.

Utricularia is a pain in the neck. It often gets delivered with Riccia.

Be patient and SEARCH sites like APC before asking questions. There are years of experience detailed in databases such as that of the APC board. Almost always, your question has already been asked and answered.

Andrew Cribb
 
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