Tank makeover...ramble warning!
I jumped into my first aquarium/planted tank about 2.5 years ago, and have been fairly successful growing a variety of different plants, and breeding different species of fish all within one 55 gal aquarium. The tank has gone through several fauna/flora changes (my LFS has been pretty good in this regard), reflecting the vast knowledge that is out there and my personal preference.
For the last two years, my set up: 55 gal reg, Rena XP2 canister filter, 28W-6700K + 28W-10000K (56W T5 total), 100% Eco Complete Black substrate (~2in), pressurized CO2 (Attempting to maintain a pH drop of around 0.8 from tap water. I was really just too lazy to measure actual [CO2]. However, b/c of the low light, I wasn't really concerned that much with absolute CO2. One thing I noticed: Addition of CO2, even in this low light setup, had a noticeable effect on several types of algae), dose micros only and root tabs to heavy feeders, H2O change ~weekly 35-40%, maintain NO3 ~10ppm and PO4 ~0.5ppm.
I won't attempt to list all of the fauna, but essentially the tank was always well stocked, e.g. tetras, dwarf cichlids, loaches, pleco, oto's, etc. Flora was mostly low light plants, obviously, java fern, anubias, mosses, baby tears, certain ludwigia, blyxa, hygro, all kinds of floaters, swords, vals. Foreground has been limited, but I've had nice carpets of baby tears and dwarf chain swords.
Pic from mid August '08. Pic 1 in attachment.
Everything was going great, maybe too well, so of course I decided to mess with things. Hey that's what I do!
Added another 56W of light, removed large piece of driftwood with tons of Java Fern/Anubias, increased CO2.
Pic after removal of driftwood. Pic 2 attachment.
I'm still tweeking with the tank, traded 6 cardinal tetras for 8 rummynose to add to my school, got 6 more silver hatchets to add to my lonely one, added a school of oto's, traded a bunch of P. taeniatus fry, and added dwarf chain and red indian swords which are growing nicely.
With the increase in light I increased CO2, and bioload. I'm going to watch closely to see if my plants actually need macros. It's been about 2.5 weeks, all the fauna is fine and plants are growing much faster than before. I've always been interested in the balance of fish waste/snails/excess food/plant mass/algae in a relatively closed environment. Will any macro imbalances happen?
I'm gonna be begging for different types of plants to try out in this type of setup. Once I can grow something successfully, out it comes!