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I agree that having some immediate initial success is very important to most of us. Even if you've been in the hobby for a while we all still have to deal with the new tank cycle and such. That is why Amano came up with is fert products. He has different things dosed at different times, as well as substrate additive that Jargonchipmuck mentioned. Since most of us aren't the Amano type (multiple $$$ to spend) we find other cheaper ways - like cheap stem plants, to do the same thing.

If you also have more patience and can wait weeks and sometimes months for things to fill in you can start with an emersed method for foregrounds etc. You can wait for the tank cycle before adding livestock. Most of us like futzing with the tank, trying this plant or that, watching growth etc.

I think the Aquascaping contest and Mr. Amano's demo tank were designed with that day in mind and no necessarily thinking about a new tank cycle. They also didn't have fish to worry about. I think these were in a different category than what most of us do.
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