Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Miami Beach, FL
You can absolutely grow live plants without CO2 or massive lighting. Low light/non-CO2 tanks are very feasible, it just limits you on your plant choices and the speed of growth. Here are my recommendations:
1) Do some research on low tech tanks (generally considered to be low light and no CO2). Some even go without a filter.
2) Replace the gravel with Flourite or Eco-Complete.
3) Choose some hardy low light plants to start with: Anubias nana, Anubias coffeefolia, Java Fern, Java Moss.
4) Do some research on fertilizers that cover macros (Nitrogen, Phosporous, Potassium) and Micros (Iron and other trace elements).
5) Check your light bulb/tube: from the picture it looks like you have a standard T8 15 watt tube. Other than being low wattage, it is probably not a good plant growing bulb, sooo...
6) Look into upgrading the light. If you can upgrade to a double stip light, that would be fine. If you can't upgrade the light, at least improve the bulb by replacing it with a freshwater plant bulb, preferreably in the 6700K color range.
7) With no CO2, you can still get some carbon for the plants with a product like Flourish Excel.
8) Be warned: you tank looks pretty clean right now: when you start doing things like upping the light and adding fertilizers, you might get some algae bloom. Make sure you are putting in the plants at the same time or before you mess with the light and ferts to minimize the algae.
9) Keep coming to this site for help.