Did you ever consider the possiblity of failure with NPT's when you started NPT's?
Anyone ever have that awful thought after buying everything "Wow what if I can't get this to work?" I had that thought today. I have been really good at growing plants outdoors so to me growing plants in the aquarium was like "sure I can do that!" I've got my 29 gallon, something like 18 female bettas, MTS, a Nerite, Cories, plants many which don't look so hot. I kind of had that OMG moment today. This has to work, I want it to work. Heck I even want to be able to sell some plants to cover my costs. However, it's funny to me that until now the possibility that I would not do great at this would not occur until today. I guess I should celebrate my positive outlook. Hopefully, I will be celebrating a successful tank soon.
Mine's not a true NPT, but I never expected to have any real trouble with it... until trouble started. And now my tap water is testing in troublesome ranges and I'm freaking out while I wait for a person from the water company to call me back.
Every. Single. Day. :) I have 5 heavily planted tanks (not NP tanks with soil), and I think of complete destruction all the time. I keep a close eye on conditions, but feel one slip-up or oversight could destroy my lush, green betta havens. It's been a trial and error (a lot of error) education, but so far, last couple months have been relatively crisis-free. Fingers crossed. :)
I never had the thought (not a NPT, just planted). I started my first tank after doing lots of research, asked many questions and watched a lot of videos. I started it just as easily as any other tank setup but then the algae came and then it became a never ending problem, no solution and no idea of the source of this problem. Im setting up my second tank and now i have my thoughts about the same algae problem surfacing.
I have read if you let the subtrate sit wet for 3 months to go through the anerobic cycle covered by plastic wrap that algae will not be a problem. It was on a website with Japanese aquascapes. I hate the waiting though. I am considering trying it with a couple of tanks for comaparison. Also allepathy of certain plants eliminates algae. This discussed in Ecology of The Planted aquarium but I don't completely understand the alleopathy stuff yet.
I remain continually surprised that I, she of the black thumb, can grow plants in my tanks so well. I have even killed a cactus, and I live in Arizona! My husband says, well, they're water weeds- he's such a hater.
I have discovered that trial and error are the key. Some plants just don't do well in certain tanks. Some plants look like they're gonna kick it when first introduced, but a month later they start perking up. So I try and be patient and give them a chance to adjust.
Speaking of failures, though, I have found that my foray into NPTs was a complete fail. I try not to be discouraged. There are so many different theories of planted tanks out there, there are plenty of options. I'm going to try Tom Barr's EI method. But I sure am going to be cursing myself as I'm trying to catch crazed kuhli loaches and demonically fast otos!
As with anything...always a chance of failure, however, what I have found with the soil based tanks and live plants in general-its all about proper lights-not just the correct kelvin or color temp of the bulb-but age of bulb, photoperiod, placement over the tank, the partition between light and water/plants can all impact photosynthesis.
I agree with Nicci lu too-in that the plant species can make a difference from tank to tank. Some species will do great in one tank and fail in the exact same setup sitting next to it.
Don't give up or try to begin with based on fear of failure.
With the soil based systems and fish keeping in general-you don't want to over think it and make it harder than it really is.