crushed oyster shells or marble chips
layer of gravel, 1-3mm is a good size.
a number of fast growing stem plants and deep rooted plants
Step 1. Locate yourself some soil, a cheap bag from the nursery is good provided it has no water saving crystals, wetting agents or added fertilisers in it. If it has bark it is wise to sift that out.
Step 2. Mix in your crushed shells or marble chips, 1 cup per 30 square centimeters is how much I use, doesn't need to be precise.
Step 3. add a 2-2.5cm layer of soil to your aquarium, ensure it is spread around evenl
Step 4. Now is when you plant your heavy rooted plants, spread the Roots horizontally over the soil and spoon gravel over the roots. If you are planting a large tank it is wise to mist the plants often to ensure the plants don't dry out.
Step 5. Add the rest of your gravel to a depth of around 3cm.
Step 6. At this point you have to options. You can fill the tank up and add a lot off fast growing stem plants to take up nutrients while the heavy rooted plants get established. The second option is to fill the tank so the water level is just below the surface of the gravel. The lids are placed on to keep in humidity and plants are allowed to establish emmersered prior to filling up the tank. Stem plants can be added once the tank is filled.
Step 7. Assuming you decided to fill the tank up fill the tank now with fast growing stem plants, as many as you can fit, when viewed from above you want little gravel to be seen. I often add fish on day 2, I test before I add fish to ensure no amonia had leached from the soil.
Step 8. Once the heavy rooted plants are established stems can be gradually removed and replaced by more heavy rooters.