Originally Posted by Francis Xavier
In regards to the low-tech
Okay, here's the thing on low-tech. The current interpretation of a low-tech aquarium is kind of BS.
More or less someone's idea of a low-tech tank right now is "well, I'm not going to do co2 (because I can't afford it), so I'm going to go low-light and hope for the best."
Then we get a list of plants together that grow in lower light levels, and you have a moss anubias tank. Which kind of stays idle. For a long time.
There are two points to stick two on this topic:
1.) If you really want a low-light tank, stick to something cool growing emmersed in a bowl similar to wabi-kusa fashion. You'll save yourself a lot of head ache and still get something that looks great.
2.) The fundamental premise of low-tech is off. It takes a ridiculously low amount of light to really grow almost anything. What people are doing right now is just using the wrong lights.
I totally respect operating on a budget. I understand the idea that what you want is something great - you have a passion for it, but you just simply don't have the money. Not having the money doesn't make the feeling of wanting to do it go away.
If all you were to do is stick to core principles, and stop defining tanks as low-tech or high-tech, you would open yourself up to a whole world of possibilities.
There is no such thing as a high tech tank. There is no such thing as a low tech tank.
There is only one methodology and one planted tank that works. One that follows rules and secrets to success.
Takashi Amano successfully grew layouts that make the highest tech tanks today look like absolute jokes back in the late 80's early 90's, before the ADA product line was really developed, more or less using a sand gravel bed.
What were the few things that really carried over from those days? Bacter 100, Clear Super, Tourmaline BC, 8000K (flourescent at the time) lighting, Co2.
So if you have the low-tech mind set, stop it.
Your budget constraints shouldn't in any way, shape or form, limit your ability.
Really when we talk 'low-tech,' we're talking Co2 and lighting. Get yourself any cheap fixture that will hold an ADA 27w 4 square pin bulb (on a nano) or 36w 4 square pin bulb (need 2 for a 20 gallon, 4 for a 40 gallon).
Always, always, always use Co2
Even if you cannot afford a pressurized unit, rig up a DIY yeast system and just make it work until you can afford a pressurized unit. Don't even bother trying to do a layout without Co2. It's not worth the hassle.
This is where I disagree with you. If you thoroughly plan a "low tech" or non-co2 tank, you can have fantastic results. You can do it with budget being a limiting factor as well. I am not talking about Java Moss and Anubus either. As long as you have some fast growers in there, and you light is right, you can really branch out into other plants that supposedly need high light and massive amounts of CO2. I have grown some seriously colorful plants with no co2, no ferts, not even root tabs.
Here are two examples of my own:
I don't particularly like the rock scape but this had the traditional low tech approach
This one never matured and had more color than the pictures show
I have done more than this (and better) but I don't have pictures of all my tanks. Neither tank had growth problems, neither seemed to limit the plants I used, and neither had any algae issues through the entire life of the tank, not even on the glass. I am talking about as close to zero maintenance as it gets.
I am not saying that you shouldn't put co2 on any tank but I personally feel that if you plan right, you can be very successful without it. The second tank had Petco gravel so it only got nutrients from fish.