Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Oakland, California
Well the first thing I want to point out is that you cannot have such a strong light without co2. Otherwise you will farm algae.
If you want to be low tech you need to be low light. Do you mean low budget or low tech?
With low light you dont need to dose EI.
Why you need co2? Well, light will dictate the growth rate in the tank, co2 favors plants as it allow nutrients to be used by them. Algae can fix nutrients without co2. So, your light will determine the growth rate (photosynthesis=use of light) and co2 will determine who grows better, plants or algae.
Things work a lot better in colder water by the way. Gasses stay there.
Let your tap sit overnight and then test.
Usually ph drops.
Substrates like Ada or akadama will buffer the water to an specific ph... 6.5- 5.9ish respectively.
Don't worry so much about plant preferences. They are usually fine.
Livestock may be more picky.
The ideal is to choose the set up first...a good substrate to determine your ph and back up with nutrients. Then choose what to put in there.
When you have mastered the hobby a bit more you can do it the other way around easier. Choose the species first and then the set up.
Whatever you do, start planting as heavy as possible. The common mistake is to start a tank lean on plants or with slow growing plants. Guess who is gonna do photosynthesis then? Algae of course.
Use your 30 days of nitrogen cycle to play around moving plants and hardscape. Only after 30 days test the water to see if its safe to add critters otherwise you will hurt them.
A heavily planted shrimp tank is possible!