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new tank

I have been lurking here awhile since I tore up the last plant tank
because I was lossing fish although the plants looked great, even the
formerly dying Amazon Swords.

So now I am really confused. Do I want to go ahead and put in an insand
(gravel) network of pipes to circulate the water and its O2 around the
roots?  I have had sand and super coarse sand go anaerobic on me several
times. Several ppl have said hte underwater circulation is unnecessary,
but right now I have the sand/gravel in and can work some pipes wiht
holes in them in easily before I add the plants.

Do I need a fitler on a forty gal plant tank for one Ancistrus adn a
bunch of otos and cories and baby loaches? At the moment I have a small
Aquaclear adn a Rio 200 with filter boxes moving the water around.  I
want to keep the Rio, I can direct and control the current on this, and
lose the AC. Do I need to add air?

Someone lead me to light here, please.