The substrate is Estes' SpectraStone from Clifford W. Estes Co. based in New Jersey, I picked it up at my LFS.
Thank you for all the info by the way! I'm going for the 10 hour photoperiod you suggested.
I put a sponge cover on the filter intake (to keep out curious shrimp!) and I think I could probably use my fish net on the sponge then remove it for cleaning, if I don't net it first it all just falls off when the suctions stops, haha.
As for adding the Betta, I'm waiting to hear back from the transshipper on costs, I'm planning on buying online. The bettas in the 3 LFS here are so very sad looking and misidentified. I want to rescue them, but I can't rescue them all!
More pics tonight!