Stage 3 (September 2009):
Contains: 6x Cardinal Tetras; 1x Ghost Shrimp; 1x Otocinclus
Lighting: 1x 15w Coralife Trichromatic 6500k T8 Florescent bulb
Substrate: Onyx Sand
Plants: 2x Amazon Swords, 2x Anubias, Dwarf Hairgrass, Marsilea minuta, narrow leaf java fern, Narrow Leaf Giant Hygro, don't know the ID of the others...
Filtration: Aquaclear 20 HOB
Fertilization: Flourish Excel, Phosphorus, and Potassium; Pfertz Nitrogen
I feel very comfortable with the way the tank currently is setup. The light, although low, is a better spectrum than all other attempts. I've made the switch to using only RO/DI water from my LFS which has dropped the tank's parameters down to a suitable level. I've made several attempts at DIY C02, with the last attempt being successful, I've decided to keep this tank excel dosed for now instead of DIY C02. I still need to get a trace element mix for my fertilizer dosing, and once my flourish fertilizers are used up, I plan to switch to dry ferts. I maintain the tank with 50 water changes weekly, and dosing of the different fertilizers throughout the week. My Swords use to be very large, (stage 1) but are now small little plants in the corners now, I'm hoping they will bounce back with time.
I've experienced a bad case of BGA, which when I look back has been with me ever since the tank was at stage 2, it just never took off till the current setup. The BGA has been fully removed due to the added fertilizer/excel dosing, and a 3 day blackout. I've been BGA free for around 2 weeks now...
I plan to make this current tank setup into a successful aquascape, but I'm afraid its current design is too symetrical. I want to create more of an imbalance so I may move the large stem plants in the back corners around to create a more asymmetrical design, as well as adding a few more fast growing plants to fill in the background. I am also currently trying to grow a carpeted foreground with the plant I picked up today (bottom right pic) along with the dwarf hairgrass that's slowly growing in the center, I don't know what its called but Ill look up its name (along with all the other names of the plants I don't have an ID on. I do know this will be difficult with low light, if not impossible. If that is the case, I'll probably upgrade to higher light and C02 in the future.