03-22-2009, 03:47 PM
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How you go about setting up a planted tank depends upon what you want and what you're willing to spend. If you view some of the members' tank photos you'll see thriving planted tanks that go from hi-tech to low-tech and everything in between. A hi-tech setup has more light, CO2, and substrate additives (either gravel with added materials like laterite, soil, etc, or special plant substrates. The important thing is that all this has to be in balance. A low-tech setup would use regular gravel or sand, 1-2 watts of light per gallon, and maybe liquid fertilizer periodically; here again it has to balance. In a low-tech setup some plants will probably not grow, but those that will grow (swords, vallisneria, anubias, crypts, some stem plants) will do so more slowly.
In any setup, the duration and strength of light has to balance the available nutrients (trace elements and CO2) to provide what the plants require and not excessive algae. If it does, the plants will be healthy and beautiful. There are previous posts that describe various ways of achieving this; you might want to check them out and then decide which way to go to achieve what you want in the end.