There seem to be quite a lot of interest in plants lately, and also in pressurized CO2 aquariums. I have personally gone through many of the aquarium types from low tech to high tech. I want to share some ideas from my current 5ft aquarium setup. Initially I want to start the discussion, and then later I will post some pictures of my setup. It's been 3 months now since I rebuilt this aquarium. I am pretty happy with the results and progress. At this point, all the plants are growing nicely, the fish are happy and healthy and I have no maintenance / algae issues. This is a non-CO2 aquarium. I started some research into the Nature Style aquariums of Amano. I always preferred this style to the Dutch Style or Jungle Style. Based on information I picked up in interviews with Amano, some other aquascapers from the ADA company, and ADA's own best practices literature, I want to highlight a few key areas: 1. Use a nutritious substrate. This means Aquasoil, Contro Soil, or something similar with N, P, K and Traces that are available to the plant roots. 2. All the aquariums use CO2; regardless of the plant choice, but only during the photo period. At night, aeration is increased by adding air stones, etc. 3. No large fish which contribute to excessive feeding and spoiling of the water quality; no overstocking 4. Over sized filtration, with an emphasis on the biological filtration and water circulation in the aquarium 5. 20% water changes every second day for the first month; thereafter, 30% water changes every week. In my opinion this may have something to do with the known issue of ADA Aquasoil leaching NH4 during the first month. 6. Glass wiped with every water change 7. No liquid ferts for the first 6 weeks, unless you see an issue with the plants. This means you have to watch the plants daily and know what to look for. The exception is Brighty K, which is ADA's potassium product. This is to be added right from the start, but nothing else for 6 weeks. 8. Lights on for 6 hours daily for the first few weeks, and slowly increase the photo period after this up to a maximum of 10 hours per day. Some stems plants close up when they no longer photosynthesize, and this is a good indication that you should switch off the lights at this point in time. 9. As an option, but recommended, ADA propose that you dose ADA Phyton Git, which is an algicide, manufactured from naturally extracted phytoncide. Phytoncides are antimicrobial allelochemic volatile organic compounds derived from plants. Phytoncides work by preventing the growth of the attacking organism. According to ADA, it is extremely useful in the fight against algae. Interesting point this. Many hobbyists are totally against adding anti-algae "chemicals" to their aquariums, and would rather look for a natural or practical way to control algae, by changing CO2, lights, ferts, etc in order to find the elusive "balance". Here we have ADA proposing you add this natural chemical to aid in algae prevention, right from the start. So many people complain about algae issues which they can't solve by changing environmental parameters, and eventually give up and start over, or leave the hobby. I must point out that this does not imply that I propose you use any ADA products. They are hugely over priced, and when trying to find out what's inside, you are faced with terms like "harmonically balanced", etc; nothing scientific. But the Japanese are very meticulous folk and mostly prescribe to natural remedies and age-old traditions. There may very well be some value to some of these teachings. I was always interested in allelopathic relationships within an aquarium, it being such a closed eco system. I noticed many ADA aquariums have large meadows of carpet plants, grasses, and very often quite a few ferns. It appears that plants from Asia and Africa are known to consume lots of phosphates, while plants from South America are priority consumers of nitrates. There is a very old theory regarding limiting phosphates to inhibit algae growth. This was proved false by Tom Barr and others, but I have a feeling that certain elements of this theory still caries some value. Sure, you can add plenty of P and not get algae (Tom Barr's argument), but if the CO2 is very high and the lights are very strong, you would see an increase in demand for P and then this offsets the added P. If you have a few large fishes in your aquarium, and feed them well, there would in any case be plenty of P going around. But this is another discussion. My point here is that ferns like Microsorum pteropus appear to feature frequently in the Nature Style aquariums. Besides the fact that I think the needle leaf variety is a beautiful plant, it likely also provides a specific function in these aquariums (use up most of the dissolved phosphates). But this is just speculation; part of a theory I have, because I see this plant in just about every Nature Style aquarium. It may be only aesthetic; or it may serve a purpose, as indicted above. Another interesting point I picked up recently was that Tom Barr said in his forum he never had Green Dust Algae issues in aquariums with lots of carpets and grasses, but mostly in aquariums with lots of stem plants (if I read between the lines, those would be aquariums where you would dose a lot of N and P in the water and have fairly strong light). He also admitted to getting all different kinds of algae in his aquariums which always look algae free on the pictures he posts. How did he solve it? More CO2 and a variety of dwarf plecos. Not adjusting any dosing... I decided to try a modified version of the above approach. Modified, as this was going to be a non-CO2 aquarium. I also don't have a commercial nutritious substrate, so I had to make my own. I was going to use PFP with Chemicult, capped with silica sand. There was a lot of discussion recently and many people complain about difficulties with PFP, but I am yet to experience those problems. But we can continue discussing these on the PFP thread; not here. What I required was N, P and K in the substrate. Right now I think we can have a few discussions, and then I will continue with the rest of the method I followed, and also post some pictures.