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I have a very nice planted tank with almost no maintenance. It's not packed
with plants but there is about 1/3-1/2 of the tank with plants. It's a 70
gallon with a alot of Crypts, driftwood, no CO2,small outside filter, no
laterite, an occasional plant tab, almost no water changes, chinese algae
eaters and AF rift cichlids. Growth is slower than the CO2 tanks. 

I think the  key is balance and picking the right plants for such a tank.
Amount of sunlight also plays a very big role! Some might place the tank in
direct sunlight for 6-8hrs a day. I haven't tried this much light. I get a
hour and the rest is indirect but light come in from both sides of the tank.
 C.affinis and aponogetifolia do very well in such a tank. Some vals can do
very well in such a tank too.
Another idea is submersed and emersed growth coming out from the top of your
    It can work well for you too.
Tom Barr