UPDATED PHOTO: September 8, 2013
I started this tank in May. It is a 20 gallon long with 2 T8 bulbs about 11 inches above the substrate. I use DIY C02, but mine does not produce very prolifically for an extended time. I still continue to experiment with the mixture. I use dry fertilizers which I mixed up into liquids using EI principles.
I have been giving one dose of EI per week (split up into two half doses), but I believe I will have to increase it, as I am starting to notice small holes in the leaves of my sword and hygrophila. However, I only change around 4 gallons per week (rough estimate), and I do not want to have to change any more.
The interesting thing is that I have to obtain all my tank water from a (stiff) hand pump well (yes, the very old-fashioned kind) and then haul it a good ways (and partly uphill) to my house. So doing 50% water changes would totally not be an option! We live in the country, and obtain our drinking/cooking water this way. The tap water is not something I would want to use in this aquarium.
The substrate is Safe-T-Sorb. It was very dirty, and needed very good washing (we ended up using a kitchen strainer under running water). I had almost given up on it before that point, but I am sold on it now. It looks nice, seems to work well, and is cheap.
The plants I'm currently growing are hygrophila corymbosa "Green Temple," egeria najas, bacopa caroliniana, java fern, java moss, cabomba pulcherrima, contortionist vallisneria, hornwort, anubias nana, echinodorus quadricostatus var. xinguensis, cryptocoryne petchii, and hydrocotyle sp. Japan. This week I'll be adding hydrocotyle leucocephala, myriophyllum aquaticum, cabomba caroliniana, ludwigia repens, ludwigia sp. Red, hygrophila difformis, micranthemum umbrosum, and rotala indica. It's probably quite a few plants for a 20 gallon, but I think I am more into collecting and learning to grow all these interesting plants than into aquascaping. I'm also starting up my 10 gallon for extra stems.
That said, I would like it to look nice, so I appreciate all suggestions. The plants seem to be doing quite well for the most part, but the java moss seems to be struggling somewhat. For a while it had a problem with algae, but that seems to have largely resolved. However, parts of it look dark as if old or unhealthy, while the newer growth looks very nice. The moss is floating near the substrate in a loose clump, between some driftwood and my hygro forest. Any suggestions?
This is my second planted tank. The first one ended some years ago after a repeated battle with a furry algae that would not wipe off. I even did the bleach treatment on the plants, but in those days I did not know enough about how to achieve the needed balance. There was some direct sun on the tank, no CO2, and potting soil in the substrate. Any of those things could have contributed. So I'm thrilled that things are going better this time. Of course, it hasn't happened by magic, but with a lot of study and a better-planned setup.
The only inhabitants I have are a family of beautiful silver/blue guppies, and bladder and ramshorn snails. I'm hoping to add red cherry shrimp one day.
Thank you for looking!