[Q] new 20 gal planted tank...

> From: mtate at laurel_ocs.mq.edu.au (Marcus C. Tate)
> 1). Given my light levels, what would some good plants be for this
> tank when it is established? I intend to replace some of the hygro.
> and I'm not sure if I have high, low, or moderate illumination. Water
> temp 76 degrees.

Once the tank is established, try any plants that you can find
locally (or anywhere, for that matter).  Don't worry about trying to
find information about the requirements of plants.  This information
is either based on where a plant was originally found in the wild or
"what worked for the author".  Plant are very adaptable.  See which
ones "work for you" since your situation will be different in some way
than anyone elses. 

> 3). I intend to buy iron, nitrite, hardness, and nitrate test kits
> soon (in addition to the ammonia/pH kits that I have).  Will these be
> worthwhile, and am I missing any ??

Ammonia and nitrite kits are only useful while the tank is cycling and
a planted tank won't have much in the way of spikes anyway. I wouldn't
bother unless you are an analytical and *like* to measure stuff. 

Get both GH and KH hardness test kits.  The El Cheapo Tetra kit is
perfectly adequate for plant tank use. 

An iron test kit is definitely a must if you are dosing with iron. It
becomes less important after you have established your dosing levels
and can judge from appearances how things are going, but is still
needed for regular "checkups". 

A nitrate test kit is also useful.  Once your tank is stable and you
have established a water change schedule that keeps nitrates low, it
is also just used for "checkups". 

If you are using CO2 injection, a *good" pH test kit is important. I
would recommend the Lamotte "Narrow Range" test kit (6.5 to 7.5). This
gives very good resolution (at least 0.1) and is relatively cheap for
what you get. The calibrated reader is the expensive part; refills are
very cheap. Again, get the "Narrow Range" kit.  Most places stock the
wide range kit so it can be used on all types of tanks. 

I would ESPECIALLY recommend a good pH test kit if you are using an
automated CO2 controller.  The controller needs to be calibrated
regularly and a manual test kit is a good (and necessary) means to
check the calibration.  

You can determine CO2 from accurate pH and KH readings, but a CO2 test
kit is useful also.  

I would recommend Lamotte for all but the hardness test kits. A little
more expensive, but well worth it.