Posted 19 October 2006 - 12:10 AM
First off, you dont say if you intend to only use native plants, I have one sunfish tank which I have severel non natives that work well. I have never had a problem with the sunfish intentionally disturbing the plants, they seem to benefit more from the cover. If you are considering non native plants i can suggest some,just shoot me a message.
As far as natives, anythign you can plant or that floats on the surface is fine. Locally I have found some plant Im not sure what it is growing in creeks, i put some in my tank and it does well and eventually roots itself. My sunfish love it. Also many people seem to doubt it can be done but duckweed and lily pads can thrive in a larger tank as long as the water level is kept high enough to keep the water relatively still.
For substrate/gravel. I use a commerical aquarium substrate in my main community tank, I almost looks like black sea salt and only clouds the water for a few hours, it is denser than water and settles nicely esp. when i cover it. I have not noticed any dramatic changes in water quality due to it. If you decide to use pots I find the best soil for me is to scoop up a good amount of mud from a pond/creek bottom. I let it sit by itself in some water that i add some aquarium water treatment to to kill off any parasites. After 48 hours I pot the plants and put them in.