The intake. I managed to find an old knee-high that had never been worn, and cut it up and used that to cover the intake. the flow isn't actually that strong, he doesn't ever have a problem with it until he tries to wedge himself underneath the filter...I'll try and hit the dollar store anyway in the next day or so.
I put in an order for a water testing kit and a new heater, and I found this
light on amazon. It's advertised at 6500k, and it looks like it'll clip on right where the one that came with the tank would clip on, so hopefully it'll be an acceptable stopgap until I can find some time to do something fancier to either supplement it or replace it. there was another one that I actually liked better because it came with blue lights for night time lighting, but the reviews said it wasn't strong enough for plants. I'm just worried because the one I ordered is so cheap even though it's advertised for planted aquariums.
As far as plants go:
I stopped by petco to check out the plants they've got there, since my lfs is ridiculously expensive (10-15 for their smallest plants, and they've got some priced up to 50! I don't begrudge them the price, but it's a bit too steep for someone starting out) but the plant tank was a huge tangled mess and all their plants in little sleeves were going brown and didn't look healthy, so I couldn't really get a feel for what anything looked like in person.
Aside from that, I've found a few I really like online:
Long, flowing stems with spiky leaves, supposed to be pretty easy to grow, but the only thing is the website says high light. so I don't know if the lighting I'm going to have is sufficient. If it'll work though, I'd like to use it as a background plant.
Everyone and their mother suggests this plant, and it's pretty. I was thinking maybe as a middle/foreground plant? The site says moderate-low light and that it's easy to grow.
Needle Leaf Ludwigia:
If the Egeria doesn't work out, I was also looking at this for a background plant; it's got thin red stems and dark green leaves, the site says moderate lighting and that it's easy to care for. I think it'd make a nice contrast with the bright green or brown crypt (depending what variety I can find)
Willow leaf hygro:
To fill in the gaps between the Ludwigia or the Egeria, the site says that this one also needs moderate to high lighting though, so again, I'm not sure. it's supposed to be easy to care for, and its muted green/bronze leaves are quite pretty.
Another high light, but this one I really really love. it's got green and red leaves that can get purplish on the undersides, and is also supposed to be quite easy to grow. unfortuneately I'm not sure if anyone around me carries it, and I don't want to order live plants just now, so all of this is just wishful thinking unless I can find time to get to one of the more distant aquarium stores on friday...
Petco also sells little baggies of bulbs? looks like they come with onion and a few others, anyone have any thoughts on those? Do they grow quickly? Are they fairly sturdy or am I likely to kill them with my noobness?