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1. Yes, or you can use the brown

2. I have never seen plugged ones, but that would be a good idea, or you can cut slits/notches in them so the water can mix inside the spacers.

3. Silicone works great to hold rocks together, I used Great stuff foam to build my waterfall and hold the rocks together and filled in the cracks with grey silicone.

Pump Access:
Actually a lot of people use this exact method. If you ever need to access the pump, you can just stick your hand down the pvc, or pull the pump out.
Cork bark can last a pretty long time in water.

Everything sounds good, keep us posted.

Luke
 

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Washing a tank is not necessary unless it was previously used. You can just rinse it with water. The thing is not to have dust on the glass when you apply silicone, it won't stick as well.

As to the wood, I didn't wash any of my wood, but if you want to be more cautious, the best way is to boil it. You can also emerse it in a bleach solution (bleach:water, 24:1), but it then you will need to rinse it extremely well to make sure you get the bleach out of the wood.

Luke
 
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