Thanks for all the support chaps. I am getting option....which is great.
That's what TPT is here for
I have problems because:
1. I have to much light.
2. I have to few plants.
3. I have to few fish.
4. I have no CO2
5. I have no dosing.
Everyone here gave you good and sound advice, but it's based on a few separate routes, each route has its own balance of light, fert, and CO2. Let me break it down:
(1) High-tech: high light, dose ferts regularly, dose CO2 via gas. What this means is you can grow the most demanding of plants, and grow them fast; you'll have no algae issues, but this requires high maintenance (careful balance and high upkeep of all 3: light, ferts, and co2). But let's not go this route since you want a low maintenance tank / or maintenance free.
(2) Low-tech: with low tech you can go low-light or high-light routes:
(a) Low-tech low-light: people suggested you to go low light if you wanted to keep only anubias, crypt, easy growing low light low growth plants. If you go this route, too much light means the algae will outcompete the low light plants; also since you have fewer plants, you should stock less fish, otherwise too much fish poo (nutrients) may lead to an algae bloom.
(b) Low-tech high-light: if you want a high-light low-tech tank, you'll want to plant very heavily, remember that both nutrients (fert) and CO2 have to keep up with the lighting. This means you'll have to stock adequately (but not overstock), to provide sufficient natural CO2 and fish poo (fertilizer) for the plants. You will also want high-growth stem plants, and to plant densely to support your high fish/shrimp population, and to outcompete any algae growth.
The pic of my tank is the 20g Long in my signature, it's much smaller compared to your 48g (only have space for nano tanks) but might give you some ideas on stocking or plants (maybe double what I have?).
I think you should go route 2(b) low-tech but high-light, if I had your tank this is an approximate step-by-step of I would do:
1. Leave the substrate I'm sure it's fine, buy some osmocote tablets at your local nursery / garden / retail store, insert them into your current substrate, one of those tiny balls every other square inch or so
2. Buy a healthy variety of different stem plants, plant the taller varieties in the back, shorter growth ones in middle, and carpet plants in front. Just insert the stems into the substrate; some stem species I can think of off the top of my head:
- Ludwigia sp.
- Barcopa sp.
- Rotala sp.
- Green Cabomba (grows like a weed)
Try marsilea minuta for foreground, you probably can't sustain a good HC growth given the depth & light.
Also buy / find some floating plants, water lettuce will probably be the easiest to manage for a big tank and has the highest buoyancy (red root floaters tend to have trouble remain floating in high flows), avoid the smaller ones (duckweed, salvinia minima) since they get everywhere and it's difficult to maintain/remove.
3. Crank up the light to 10-12 hour cycles, wait for a week for plants to root, buy some Seachem Excel and dose the half recommended dose if you see visible algae growth
4. Introduce more fish and shrimp slowly, few at a time. Since it's a large community tank I would make sure all the inhabitants get along, I would probably do something like:
- 10+ malaysian trumpet snails - substrate aerator / cleaner
- 10 nerites - gsa, bba algae cleaner
- 10 amano shrimp - other algae cleaner
- 20 cherry shrimp - extra fish food / waste cleaner (starter colony, they will breed fast)
- 10 otocinclus - diatom algae cleaner
- 20 pygmy corydoras species (pygmaeus, habrosus, or hastatus) - bottom cleaner
- 10 rasboras species or tetras (I like galaxy) or 10 neon tetras or both - midwater feeder
- 5-10 fancy guppies - surface feeder
Give or take.
These are all pretty shy / docile community nano fish, I prefer to have lots of smaller fish as opposed to a few larger ones, gives the tank more depth and sense of scale.
If you have larger predatory fish you'll want to wait until your plants grow out (lots of cover).
5. Clip the stems as they begin to grow taller, and plant more densely, aim to cover all of the substrate (except for your negative space in the front where you want to view the fish)
*Whew* feel like I just wrote a book :/
Don't give up!