2 suggestions on using soil.. ok 3
1. use an old plastic strainer (spagetti style) and strain the soil. (look at my thread below, for a picture as to why in the first post) Twigs can release a LOT of tannin
2. Don't use ANY soil with Pearlite (spelling?) the little white balls that keep it light and fluffy..
3. Have a clue as to where you want your plants. Research your plants ahead of time. I put dwarf sag in my NPT and they have huge roots (almost as bad as swords) and they spread, like wild fire and I still have them poping up. When you go to move plants you will disturb the soil. I removed mine because they were EVERYWHERE.
Ok a 4th tip - Use sand as a cap. I recommend pool filter sand. It's heavier than play sand and needs almost NO rinsing. But with a NPT you can't do what I do with new tanks (add sand, add water, drain water, add water, drain water, add and done) .. Little to no dust. I'd recommend rinsing in a 5 gallon bucket.. put in your amt of sand (maybe place in aquarium first to know the amt?) and then dump into a bucket and give a quick rinse.. Play sand can take up to hours to rinse. It's very dusty and plain light brown (tan) and pool filter sand has dark specks and looks more natural. Play sand usually runs $4-8/50lbs (lowes and home depot) and pool filter sand runs about $12/50lbs and is available at Spa/Pool supply stores. If you get the pool filter sand the bag might have small slits in it. Bring a bucket for transport or it'll get all over your car
Here is my 5.5 journal.. btw the dwarf sag is planted on the left in the first couple tank pictures