I spent a couple hours reading over el natural articles and it's really interesting, but I don't know if I can handle totally ditching the nitrogen cycle. Its been engrained into my mind for years!
If I did try it, I'd be worried that so many things would go wrong like green water, other algaes, too much organic waste, and out of control ammonia. I don't have anywhere to keep my cycled bio-max safe while I tried this...but maybe I could hook it to a bucket and feed it fish flakes. I'm just very scared that the plants won't soak up ammonia (or that I can find healthy fast growing plants) and the fish will get sick.
I'm thinking about maybe trying it with a small betta tank because the ammonia output would be more managable and with a smaller tank, the project would be less messy. I'd have to find some sort of light fixture since the tank is just a 3 gallon kritter keeper.
The one thing that really appeals to me is the less frequent waterchanges. In college I will have to share a community bathroom with my wing or floor, and I can't see myself dragging 3ish gallon buckets of water so far 2-3 times a week, spilling the whole way. I'm a small person lol. So an el natural tank be a great advantage there. Disadvantages: light source and vacations. I doubt the tank would get any natural sunlight since space is limited so much. During winter and summer vacations they turn off the power so fish and plants definately need to come home with me on a 1-2 hour drive/bus ride. With a traditionally cycled tank, I could bring the media home with me. With el natural...what would happen if I drained most of the water and took out the fish and plants for a month, then put everything back when school started again? Transporting the soil might be messy and then the fish wouldn't have any type of filtration while at home.
Could I keep my nitroen cycle, make the CO2, and buy some flourite to help the plants and discourage algae without investigating in expensive lighting? Or do I need to do all three or else it goes out of balance and growth is limited?
I just read somewhere that flourite doesn't actually have nutrients for the plants, and it just utilizes liquid ferts and converts them for root feeders. Is that true? What is a gravel that will directly feed the roots of my plants?
Gah. I'm starting to wish that I just had a single betta tank...it would be so much easier. I don't want to give away my other fish though