Back to Basics (Year in Review)
It's been a year since I converted my dingy 55G to a low tech planted tank. Its been a year of successes, failures, borderline disasters, and mysteries. If I was to do it over again, I would probably do quite a few things differently, but I don't regret the decision to go planted at all.
But one change I am thinking of making are my lights. Currently I'm running 2 24" convered hoods retrofitted with 36w Compact Florescents. This is putting me right about 1.3 wpg and I'm wondering if this isn't the cause of a lot of my headaches. I mean, when Hygro won't grow in your tank, you have to sit back and reconsider your choices. I have a variety of Rotala that is doing just fine, as are most of the crypts (my Red Wendtii is slowly disappearing). My java ferns are doing well, but are small. My sword plant is hanging on (also small). My African Fern just up and disappeared one day, as did my water sprite (which went from one of my most beautiful plants for months to a heap of slime). And algae loves my tank. Not the fancy stuff, just this green matte that covers the glass and plants whenever it gets the chance.
So what to do.
I'm thinking there are two solutions to my problems. The first being the light. I'm considering updating to a Corallife Aqualight 48" 2x65 watt strip. This will dramatically increase my lighting, but as it will still be roughly 2wpg, I'm hoping it won't cause me more harm than good.
The other update will be adding some sort of mass additive to the substrate. As of this time, I've been relying on Flourish tabs and mulm in the gravel (YEARS worth!). Mixing some Flourite in with my gravel may not look pretty (yes, I'm still using my old black and blue gravel), but will probably help the plants considerably. I've long debated adding a layer of more natural colored gravel anyway. This is my chance.
So, to recap: Go from 2x36 to 2x65 watt lights and add Flourish. Does anyone think this is a fool hearty plan?