I like fish, but looking at Iwagumi and other planted tanks is awe inspiring. I know I couldn't do something like that with my current time responsibilities, so I was looking for low tech. Aside from browsing here and reading other sites, I have no idea what I'm doing.
I found a biocube 8gal on Craigslist for $20. Both lights were burned out, and 1 LED was dim and the other was pretty much dead. This tank uses the power compact 18W fluorescent straight 4-pin lights. That would give me 36w of light on 8gal which would put me into the HIGH light. I decided that I would only run 1 bulb at a time since that's a lot of light.
I bought new component LEDs that were 460nm and soldered them into the existing housing with the appropriate resistor. Now the tank has working moonlight LED and daylight.
Then I filled it up with water and added Flora-Max, and started dosing ammonia to build up the bacteria for cycling. It took about 3 weeks, but I was able to dose 4ppm of ammonia and have it down to 0ppm in about 24 hours.
I found a neat piece of driftwood and boiled it for 8 hours to release the tannins and then needed plants! I found someone local on CL and picked up a whole mess of plants for $30. Unfortunately, I don't have a grasp upon which plants are low/med/high but thought I would see what I could grow.
I am starting to get some algae on the glass and the diatoms are growing crazy fast. I need to get a timer on the lights since I've been turning it on when I go to work and turn it off when I get home. I have it stocked with a male/female Endler, and a baby snail that hitched a ride on the plants.
I am still trying to figure out ferts and what plants I actually have. I know I have
Echinodorus Vesuvius, java fern, and limnophila sessiliflora.
Here are some pictures, first is upon initial planting (9/26/14), then with DIY 9/30/14, and 10/1/14 and 10/5/14 with CO2 ladder.
I am amazed how fast the limnophila sessiliflora in the back is growing, about .5" day with new growth at different parts of the plant.