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I'm not sure if that has been discussed before here but lately as a result of some threads on APC I started to think more and more about running a "lean" system.

My first CO2-fed planted tank had no fish and it ran completely void of algae from the get go. In that tank I tried careful dosing of N, P, and Fe/Traces but at levels that were barely readable on the test kits - N=1 and P of 0.1 or so, few drops of Fe/Traces every other day. That tank would be a typical example of a very lean system - it had 100% Fluorite and I vacuumed it every week.

Later I started dosing my tanks heavier and some did great and some had problems. The common things for all of them was that I had to keep up with the fertilization and water changes or else.

Of course I'm not saying that there is one and best way to run a planted tank.

Because of some discussons here on APC as well as observing the consistent success of some aquascapers lately I started thinking that in the quest for a sparkling clean, stable systema a few things really make sense:

1. Rich substrate
Either prepared, commercial, or just mulm gathered over the months.

2. Extremely clean water
That means not only removal of small floating particles using UV and/or a micron filter. It means water that has not accumulated unnecessary elements or molecules. I find the 3 responses to my question in this topic to be of great value:

4. Steady but limited supply of nutrients in the water column
Both from fish and careful daily dosing. N and P may not even be necessary if the fish load is adequate.

5. Consistent care of the tank
Water changes, fertilizing, feeding, prunning, and so on.

6. Light
Consistent photoperiod of course. But also - a lean stable system would allow increasing the wpg to very high levels or take it as low as you wish. To me personally a brightly lit tank is something extremely attractive.

A good example of a system lean on N and P would be this tank:
If Luis runs that tank the way he runs his other tanks then that is an example of the 6 things I noted above.
And here is something truly amazing to me; Typically Luis uses a lot of light - 4-6 wpg. Now note the positioning of one of the Anubias groups in that tank - close to the surface, right under the light. I can bet that there isn't a single spot algae on that Anubias. Unreal.

Do you have an experience with running a lean system?
Is it a question of making the plants adapt to such an environment?
Any other thoughts or questions?

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