Love your tanks and your passion! Beautiful shrimps too- I'm sure you will take good care of them.
I started my first tanks well-planted, one with dirt capped with sand, another with Fluval Stratum. The Fluval was a little hard to plant in, but the plants really flourished. Another thing it did was it always held the pH in the mid 6's for me. A touch low for neos but very stable- as long as I introduced new water slowly. Hope you will have great success!
p.s. I'm thinking of the RO Buddie myself too, so I will keep an eye on your reports to see how it is