Originally Posted by DARKPHREAK
I have 2 - 4 inchs of normal gravel without any additives and was wondering would this be enough to allow plants to grow and florish? I'd like to add small carpeting plants around the rock in the center, any suggestions on that? I will add DIY CO2 if needed but wanted to keep the lighting to a minimum around 1.5 2 wpg, is that enough? A bubblewand is a nice effect but will it hamper the growth? As for fertilizer, should I be using anything for the amount of plants I have?
2-4 inches of gravel is a good substrate depth, and with mulm collecting plants will grow. Heavy root feeders like the sword plants in the corners always appreciate a more nutritious substrate. You could add root tabs around their base, or, less expensive, Jobes sticks. Just make sure they are buried well in the substrate, so their nutrients will not be released into the water column.
With 1.5 to 2 watts (good reflectors needed!) of light you can grow many plants, like the swords and vals you already have. For a nice green compact carpet it will not be sufficient. You could try Micro-swords or Dwarf Sagittaria for that purpose, but to successfully grow Glosso etc you would need more light, CO2, and a probably a better substrate.
A bubblewand will keep any dissolved CO2 to a minimum, which limits plant growth. As long as you don't add any CO2, it doesn't make much of a difference, but once you add it, it becomes detrimental to your intentions of raising the CO2 level.
As long as you do regular weekly water changes, you don't have to worry too much about fertilizing at this level of light and plants. You might consider some low Flourish doses to supplement any traces your tapwater might be missing.