03-27-2008, 04:05 PM
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Okey dokey. You have picked a very controversial subject, that's for sure. I have both high tech and low tech tanks. The high tech tanks are larger, 90g and larger. The low tech tanks are normally 75g and below. My two favorites are a 180g high tech tank and a 29g low tech tank.
First let me define low tech vs. high tech. Low tech can have special gravel, something like EcoComplete or a gravel Laterite or Fluorite/gravel mix. Lighting may be upgraded. But, basically it is your everyday, common set up. Liquid ferts are normally used as are plant tabs.
High tech can be described as a tank that utilizes all, or some, of the technology available to the hobby. This would include CO2 injection, light timers, special substrate, intricate fertilizer dosing (usually dry ferts), dedicated monitoring of pH, KH, and GH. Adding buffers to maintain the levels of the afore mentioned. But in all actuality, a high tech tank is no harder to keep than keeping some fish. The difference is you are maintaining the tank for plants and not piscivores.
In my low tech tanks, I use Pfertz liquid fertilizers and Flourish excel. Lighting is on for about 14 hours a day. In the newer tanks I use EcoComplete for Planted tanks. In the older ones, I used Fluorite and gravel mix, since I used a red/black flint for a substrate, the r/b Fluorite blends right in. I just didn't want to recycle the tank(s) with new gravel. It worked out well.
I have set up a plant area in my fishroom. This is gonna be Mama's baby. I did use a high tech set up as I intend to propagate and sell some of the plants locally to lfs's in my area. I spent a bundle, at least more than I budgeted, to make it a friendly, low maintainance set up.
Plants, if you just want to go with the basics, require attention to three major areas. Lighting, fertilizing and water conditions. Give them those three things and you will be successful.
CO2 is a great thing. The initial cost of setting it up can be intimidating, at best. The valves, regulators, controls and tanks for just one of my tanks ran me almost $450 and that included buying a more advanced test kit. Is it worth it? Who's to say? The plants grow like weeds though. No algae problems what so ever. My biggest problem was getting the dosing right. That took some time and patience. Ph was all over the place for a while
I hope this helps. Feel free to PM me if you have any questions.