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In my experience no tank reaches a point of stability. People used to refer to this state as old tank syndrome. The assumption was that the fish had adapted to the mess and new fish would die from the chemistry if introduced. I don’t think that is too far from the truth. I’ve neglected enough tanks over the years to know that eventually things go downhill.
I’ve often kept tanks with simple 20% water changes once a month. More would probably be better but I would consider that a minimum. I’ve never used CO2 and I very rarely fertilize. Most plants will not thrive in those conditions. Though there are enough that will do okay and look quite impressive if one is not entering contests. Fish food is a very good additive, essentially a complete fertilizer.
The lights I use are typically considered low light. For the past several years I have mostly been using the spiral florescent bulbs. I find these to provide plenty of light or most plants, though I don’t have any tanks larger than 29g.
 

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Except if he ever goes on a 7 day vacation upon his return things will be ugly, very ugly
Just a silly statement. I go on vacation and leave my EI tank with no maintenance for 7 to 10 days regularly. Sometimes when I get back a little algae has developed. I get back into my normal routine and the algae regresses. No big deal. I've never come home to a disaster.

Niko has a fine point in this discussion about one planted aquarium strategy, but attacking other strategies and making over generalized statements only hurts his argument.

The fact is there are several planted aquarium strategies that work well. And each aquarium is unique. For example I have 2 adjacent 30 gallon NPT's in my fishroom. They were set up to breed apistos. They have the exact same light, same filter, same substrate, same water chemistry, they were started on the same day (over a year ago), I never add ferts to either one, and both house apistos only (a pair in one and a trio in the other). One tank has excellent plant growth with very little algae. The other is covered with cyanobacter.
 
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