First tank ever, originally just wanted to be fish-only, but got some random plants.
Starting: sandblasting sand, driftwood piece from Hong Kong trip (per piece, $20 HKD = $3 CDN = $3 USD), stock 18" 15w T8 lighting
Plants: cabomba caroliniana, hygrophila polysperma, mondo grass (petsmart girl tricked me, once I got home, found out mondo grass not true aquatic plant)
Note how puny the hygro was because I just planted the entire bunch together.
Since I got tricked and lost $7 from the mondo grass, I started researching about aquatic plants so the next time I would know what to get. Soon I stumble upon PTF and the hobby begins!
Changes: Took out the cabomba cause it was too messy and took over about 50% of the tank in one month, loose thin leaves everywhere, clogging the filter intake, and it started dying with limited lighting. Obviously the mondo grass had to go, started turning the sand around its rooted portion into dirty grey. Upgraded heating from unadjustable 25w to Eheim jager 75w, much better temperature control now. DIY CO2, Flourite Black above original sand layer, rearranged driftwood, added more sand to right-front corner. I've done about 3 trimmings already (each time cut hygro in half, net out half of duckweed minor). Look at how fast the hygro is growing! Upgraded lighting by adding two more 18" 15w T8s. Arranged all 3 tubes in an ugly wooden canopy.
Plants: Hygrophila polysperma, Hygrophila corymbosa, Vesicularia dubyana, Microsorum pteropus, Salvinia cucullata, Spirodela polyrhiza (less), Eleocharis parvula
Future changes: More low maintenance plants, increase fish stock. Few water changes, possibly remove DIY CO2, upgrade lighting with new reflectors, new canopy, go open top with chicken plastic grates.
Goal: low-tech with high lighting, no CO2, no water changes by checking nitrates, nitrite, ammonia, pH every week, GH and KH too. Limited dry-dosing of trace, KNO3, KH2PO4. Feed once or twice a day. Skip a feeding day occasionally.
If you wanted to know what my background is... it's a black garbage bag cut and taped.
You probably didn't notice the difference! Recently bought a 55g, going to be low-tech as well, aiming for no water changes, heavily planted, no CO2, high lighting.
Also, see video of tank when it was early November.