Aquatic Plants Digest V1 #300

>A friend of mine and I are having a decussion as to wheither or not plants
>can make use of ammonia. I an about ready to setup a new tank and I wasn't
>going to have any bio filter at all. I was planning on using a Magnium 350
>for the mechanical filtration and water circulation. He is saying that this
>will not work.
>I plan on having the tank pretty heavly planted with about 30 neons and some
>house keeping fish. The tank will be a 45g high with aprox 2 watts per gal
>The main question here is will the plants take care of the ammonia/ammonium
>and can a tanks be sucessfully setup without biological filtartion?

The setup you describe should have no trouble handling the ammonia from
the fish load you are planning to have.  Anyway, all a biofilter provides 
is lots of surface area where bacteria can grow, and lot of plants (even 
plastic ones) would provide a similar amount of surface area.  So don't 
worry about it; if you notice nitrates creeping up, increase your plant 
load or do more water changes. 

>Subject: Java Fern rotting
>Hi.  Had an interesting problem develop in the last 2 weeks I'm curious 
>if anyone's also seen.  I have a huge growth of Java Fern (four 
>different varieties, including two grown from Karen's cuttings) on a 
>piece of bogwood in my 45 gallon semi-high tech tank.  In the last week, 
>I've noticed a lot of the leaves have rapidly rotted away, first 
>developing brown spots which eventually spread to the whole frond.  Here 
>is what has changed in my tank recently:

I think you're on the right track with the nutrient deficiency theory. My
Java ferns seem especially sensitive to iron deficiency, and they show
the same symptoms you describe when I get lazy with the trace elements.