Forgot to mention my lighting, 20 watts to my 10 gallon tank, I've been getting mixed signals on the necessity of CO2. I'll look into DIY setups. How can I check my KH or GH? I did put some pH down in it last night and lowered it to around 7.2 and now is back up to 7.6-7.8 which makes me think the GH is high (or is it low?). Would I be good if I got the micro/macro mix from aquariumfertilizer.com? Would that fulfill all the ferts I'll need?
Thanks for the reply
Get KH2PO4, KNO3, CSM+B, and GH Booster if your tap is soft. CO2 is going to be your limiting factor if you don't use any. Seriously, CO2 is the hardest thing in this hobby. It is worth it to invest in a good regulator setup if you plan to be in the hobby for a long time. You can also use excel, though some plants are sensitive to it like hornwort. DIY can work, but it's unstable and a lot of work to maintain stable. You will probably induce unwanted algae with the instability. KH and GH, I would ask for a water quality report, or maybe use some sort of test kit. Typically aren't that accurate but it can give you a general idea.
Without CO2, the rate of plant growth is going to be significantly reduced. This makes it harder for your plants to outcompete the algae and you have a higher chance of inducing algae. Additionally, it limits the species that you can grow as many more difficut and unique species require CO2 and an acidic environment...or at least do better in them. CO2 will lower the pH of your water FYI.