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Jeffrey Ludwig wrote, "Maybe I'm off base here, but should not someone's 
first planted tank be under 2W/gallon, non-injected, rich substrate, no 
fertilizer except potassium and maybe trace?  And then when you understand 
this ecosystem and simple chemistry well enough then go out and buy one of 
those "high-octane" setups?"

Yes, but...is my answer. That's just how I started. My first planted tank, 
which is all of two years old, was a stock 29 gallon tank with a eclipse II 
hood. Came in a box. I put in regular gravel and lots of plants, most of 
which died. No enriched substrate, only Flourish Excel added as fertilizer. 
I slowly figured out which plants would do well in the tank with 1 WPG. I 
found this list, among other sources, and read and learned avidly for at 
least 6 months. I realized that in order to grow the kinds of plants I 
really liked (mostly the red ones and the ones with fine-needled leaves) I 
would need more light, better substrate, CO2, etc, etc. I felt pretty 
confident that I understood the chemistry & nutrient stuff.

So I bought the new 72 gallon tank, the 220W of light from AH Supply, the 
CO2 system from M3, flourite, and so on. Put it all together and BOOM! Green 
water so thick you couldn't see through it. Various hygros turning a lovely 
bronze. Got that all dealt with, and WHAM! Hair grass a punk rocker would 
envy - long, thick, and bright green. If you do a search of the archives 
under my name you can watch me learn how to use the different additives to 
cure various kinds of problems and see what the algae cycle looks like in my 

I don't consider myself particularly inept or thick-headed (maybe I 
should!), but I am not sure spending a year with the low-light tank and 6 
months reading books & this list helped me at all when I went to set up the 
other tank. The conditions are so different, and in the 1WPG eclipse tank 
with slower growing plants I really didn't need to understand anything about 
nutrient balancing or anything. This is just my experience, YMMV, etc, but I 
did not find the low-light tank experience to be much help at all.


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