Soils & Lights

Hi everyone,

        I'm setting up my 100 gallon for plants in the near future and with
the recent posts on soils as a substrate, I was wondering what you think
about my proposed substrate

        Small (1/2 inch) layer of gravel
        1-1 1/2 inch layer of laterite mixed with vermiculite
        1 1/2 inch layer of earthworm castings
        1 1/2 inch layer of gravel

From the Kelly article, it seemed that laterite's main advantages were as a
source of iron and as a phosphate remover.  Vermiculite had a higher CEC and
doesn't compact as much so by combining the two, I was hoping to get the
best out of both.  The earthworm castings are in lieu of soil as the soil in
my area tends to raise the hardness and alkalinity of the water (I'm keeping
apistos and altum angels).  They should provide a rich substrate for the
plants to get nutrients from.  I think Jim Kelly used the pond tabs to
provide the nutrients for his plants.  I also thought about simply mixing
the three components together.  I'm sure there are probably several holes in
this idea but can anyone enlighten me (gently)?

On a separate note, I was planning on using either 6 or 8 4 ft T8s for my
tank. Does anyone know if I can cram that many T8s in a hood with dimensions
(72" X 18")?  I plan to stagger them and have a two piece hood with 4 bulbs
in the back section and 2-4 in the front.  

Thanks in advance,


Thanks Shaji for running things in the past and thanks Cynthia for taking
things over.