To start a new FW I use anacharis and vals plus a mix of small potted types and large amazon sword. the idea is to get a mix of fast growing plants to initially condition the tank and slower growers to maintain the tank longer term. On a 10g tank I use 4-8 bunches of anacharis, 4 vals, 4 potted and a single amazon sword.
For a substrate I have found the following works well especially for neon tetras.
1" peat moss
1" play sand
1" pro choice select or aquarium gravel.
I put in each layer then add water. Clean the tank then add the next layer.
After the last layer I "plant" plants.
then with a dish to spread the water around fill the tank with water.
I have found that creates an almost clear tank right from the start. Which it almost totally clear the next day.
I also use no filters and no mechanical circulation of any kind.
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