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Eclipse System 12 - help a newbie

 I've read much of the FINS archives under "Eclipse", Beginners FAQ's
and Aquatic Plants, so I've done some homework, but would really
appreciate if any experts would be willing to summarize the answers to
my questions.  I want to have a simple,*relatively* low  maintenance
(treat tap water for chlorine and nitrates), small planted tank just for
pleasure and relaxation.  I have space for either the Eclipse 6 or 12
and chose the 12 b/c of extra size.  It appears I can grow slow growing
low light plants from what I've read.  I picture my tank moderately
planted, a nice school of tetras, a central stone or driftwood
decoration and some bottom feeders. I don't want to get into CO2 or
replacement bulbs or other complications. My questions are:  Would I
benefit from a Seachem substrate (sand or gravel? and a dark color to
enhance tetra colors)?  Will this shallow a tank have enough room for
sufficient substrate depth?  What depth? Do Corys need a sand type
bottom to protect whiskers? Will this size tank support enough Corys to
make a school? (Beginner FAQ's suggested 6 or 7!)  Are other bottom
feeders better? If poss. I'd like to keep plants and fish from one
geographical area, but not essential.  Could some of you summarize for
me what you would do if you were setting up this tank, e.g. number of
fish, plants and type of substrate?  No changes in basic Eclipse set up
or lighting.  Sorry for length of post.  Thanks in advance!

Chet  -   crjs at umich_edu