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[APD] low maintenence tank?

I am a bit of a newbie so hopefully this is ok to ask... I am little confused about all the parameters involved in a planted tank. I am new to this, so forgive me if I am vague, I'm still figuring it out.

I guess my overt goal is to have an easy to maintain tank that looks nice. 

Basically I'd prefer to work with:

Existing aquarium hood, ie no retrofitting. 

No Co2 added. 

I'd like to see some growth - if I were to see some noticeable growth after a monthish that would be fine by me.

And then the rest I have to figure out. I mean what substrate would you use under these circumstances? Does it really matter? I would probably plant some rooted plants. And avoid stem plants (I don't like the idea of cutting tops off and replanting. But I don't mind removing dead leaves now and then). I will probably want to move the plants around from time to time as I am learning and will probably re-landscape as I go.

I don't mind fertilizing some. But I'd rather limit maintenece to 1x per week max, so I could do everything at the time of water change (I think anything more intensive I'd have trouble maintaining).

I don't think the photos that I've seen of Walstad's tanks are that great; but I don't know if it's possible to do much better considering the level of maintenence I want to put into it? I'm willing to go a bit beyond the levels I've set depending on the results. I mean if adding a retrofit kit, which would be a one time task, would make a whole lot of difference I'd be willing to do it. But I really don't want to go into co2 for now. I would probably keep the tank at this level for a long time (like a year or so). I'm also assuming that it's better to go slower than throw too many things in at once and get frustrated. 

Thanks! :)
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