How to get dirt-like growth with sand/gravel and DIY ferts?
I have a 125 low tech planted. Basic plants like swords, vals, java ferns, etc nothing crazy. Originally was a low tech dirt (miracle grow organic) capped with gravel, no other ferts. could not BELIEVE the growth (see 1st pic)... swords pushing my lids off, etc. It was incredible.
Well, the soil became depleted after 1.5 years or so and was just inert and messy at that point, so several months ago re-did the tank and now use pool filter sand capped with gravel. I fertilize roots with seachem tabs and osmocote + tabs every couple months, once in a while add some mag sulfate (epsom salt) to water column.
Problem is, growth is no where NEAR that of when I had dirt substrate. Minimal growth at all, actually (see second pic) from either rooted plants or water column feeders. Im a big fan of DIY... what are some DIY ferts I could/should add to re-create the conditions of the dirted tank? I have heard fleet enema or stump remover might be a good place to start for increased phos and K.