Re: False bottom vs Hydro
I'm probably a weirdo here, because I build a false bottom, then add a layer of hydro balls on top of a sheet of window screen, then another sheet of window screen topped with charcoal, then my ABG on top of that. I usually try to put another layer of window screen between the charcoal and ABG, but sometimes I forget due to being so excited to get planting. I like to give the springtails lots of surface area, and I feel like the hydro balls give me a little extra insurance in case my water level gets too high without my noticing. It allows for a bit of an air gap before the water can directly touch my substrate (though there will still be some wicking).
A life without a dog is one not worth living.