Join Date: May 2009
Location: Los Angeles, CA
I've always wanted a low-light plant list like this. Thanks, James.
I almost got out of the hobby about a year ago, because I was traveling quite a bit and just didn't have time for everything. I was using Tom Barr's EI method. Virtually every stem plant I put in it grew about 2" per day. I would go away for 2 weeks, and when I got back, there was hardly any room for the fish to swim! Ground covers like glosso formed a 4" turf ... crypt wendtii took over the tank ... When using EI, you really need to keep up with the pruning and maintenance.
Well, rather than get out of the hobby, I decided to give Tom's non-CO2 method a try. I do light dosing of KNO3, KH2PO4 and micros (Tropic Plant Nutrition). I do NOT use Excel or any other carbon source, but I do have some serious flow in my tanks. I actually put an airstone in my 29G, which seemed to help a lot -- perhaps it increases the CO2 ppms slightly, not sure. My plants are corkscrew vals, crypt wendtii, java fern, Christmas moss, anubia, and some other type of crypt -- I also have floating anacharis, hornwort and water lettuce. End results: haven't done a water change in months (and my fish load isn't as light as you might think), my CPDs and Cories and shrimp breed like crazy (so I know the water quality is fine). I also set up Rondomatic feeders, so I can be away for more than a week and nobody has to feed my fish. The only thing I do is add a pint or so of RO water every 2 to 3 days and fill my feeders every 9 to 13 days -- since I have glass over all of my tanks, there is very little evaporation. When I'm home, I do a batch of BBS almost every day.
My low-tech tanks will turn into jungles in time (the corkscrew vals spread like crazy), but it takes much longer.
I now have 4 low-tech tanks (1 x 29G, 2 x 20G, 1 x 10G [for fry], and they are much less work than my one high-tech was. Do I miss some of the high-tech plants? Sure I do. And, honestly, I hope to have time at some point to go back to a high-tech tank. Low-tech, however, has some major advantages and worth a try for most folks.