I am a bit of a plant novice myself but have 4 planted tanks and a good
amount of trial and error experience with them. My first tank is a 75
gallon in which I have very lush growth. It took about a year to get it
that way. I planted my plants straight into the gravel just as you plan
and use Tetra's Hilena Crypto (fertilizer tabs) with good results (BTW,
unless you are setting up a tank from scratch, or plan to break that one
down, you won't be able to use any substrate preparation such as
laterite or peat, as these need to be at least several inches below the
gravel). I don't use CO2 either and only have 80 watts of Ultra Tri Lux
lighting, and the tank seems to be doing pretty well. I use Tetra Flora
Pride liquid fertilizer also, but be careful to not overuse this, as
hair algae likes it too. I did have hair algae problems in the beginning
but that has been under control for over a year now. Coralife has a new
freshwater product out, a liquid fertilizer that supposedely discourages
hair algae, but I haven't used it yet.
My other tanks are at different stages of experimentation...one using
Tetra Initial Sticks a few inches below the gravel, another with peat
moss below the gravel and another with plain washed gravel and plant
tabs as the first.
On my new 30's I'll be getting I am going to try laterite and see how
that works. I'm going to try the Dupla product.
Hope you're able to gleen something out of this. If any other list
members can add to or refute any of this info. I'm all ears and still
learning. BTW John, I have found there is more to learn and more work
involved with plants than there is with the fish!
If you don't already have a good source for plants, try the Aquatic
Greenhouse, a mail order outfit that can be accessed through Fishlink
Central on the net. Go to Fishlink's commercial section and hit the
alphabetical section which will hot link you there. I purchased a whole
schmoo worth of plants there and they were AWESOME. Fishlink also has a
pretty good section on live plants. Good Luck