Originally Posted by esarkipato
So you see reef tanks as simple? Whoa dude, planted tanks should be a breeze. If you don't want the fertilizing and such, go low light and no co2 injection. A very nice discus tank comes to mind, but then there are frequent water changes and concern about pristine water quality (but likewise for reefs!).
Reef tank maintainance is not so hard, IMO. The hard part is the planning stage, making sure you understand the issues regarding substrates, filtration, lighting, etc. However, once you have a well-designed reef system set up & running, actual maintainance is pretty straightforward: regular water changes, feeding the right foods, and gradual water top-off with kalk (unless you use some alternate method like calcium reactors or some sort of other dosing). The last one adds the most complexity, however it can be automated pretty reliably.
Oh, then there's the cost.
But geeze, trying to understand the whole fertilization scheme here with planted tanks is tough. there's a dizzying array of different compounds people add multiples times a week, not to mention the added confusion when they refer instead to brand name supplements instead of the individual chemical compounds. I will definitely go the low-tech route.
But back to the issue, I'm starting to get the impression that the substrate of planted tanks, and the chemistry & dynamics that takes place within, deserves greater scrutiny (just as the sandbed of a reef tank is a major player in the tank's chemistry).
I think for my first tank I'm going to go with 4 inches of substrate - a thin layer of peat, followed by an inch of potters soil, followed by two inches of eco complete, followed by an inch of larger gravel. I suspect that the greater thickness as well as the differing grain sizes will offer the plants a better & more diverse substrate. And re-burying the clippings may help with CO2 production & elem replenishment (hopefully they would be buried deep enough to localize the decomposition effects, such as ammonia, beneath the surface.)
Another issue is aeration & circulation in the substrate... I may have a powerhead gently blow water along the substrate surface. Other options are undergravel heaters (though kind of pricey), or perhaps some sort of undergravel water circulation system (using submerged PVC) <shrug>
Another question: Are worms or any other creatures used for substrate aeration?