50 gallon - First time Aquascaping

AquaticsAH

Hey everyone, just starting my first Aquascape and had a few questions. I’m not really sure how many or what kind of plants to go get. I am thinking I want to do a few Angel fish, some corydoras and some sort of smaller schooling fish. And advice would be greatly appreciated!
 

barbiespoodle

Welcome to the fascinating world of aquascaping.

I started a couple years ago in one tank and will never go back to plastic anything again, now all my tanks are planted. It has been a learning experience as I went and I had some disappointments, but far more success's. And truth be known, my tanks have never been so healthy.

What plants? Oh boy what a loaded question. Personally I'm low tech, nothing more than one of the recommended plant substrates and just the over head aquarium lights. High tech give you far more options and generally lusher plants, especially if you want plants more in the red color range. But I do my tanks on a budget, so it's low tech for me. This is where you have to research your plants of choice to see what will do well in a low tech or need a high tech tank.

Substrate for plants? My first planted tank, a 20 gallon shrimp tank, I used eco complete. and the plants are doing great. Further tanks I did the dirted bottom with a gravel or sand topping to hold down the dirt. Far cheaper but takes a long time to cycle the tank unlike a aquarium planted tank substrate. And my 55 gallon only has gravel substrate with root tabs. But that tank is a very old tank so the gravel also has a wealth of fish waste in it which helps feed the plants.

But in my personal experience, a few bullet proof plants are first, the anubia's for the simple fact, they do not want to be planted. I take an interesting rock or piece of drift wood, glue or tie on the anubia, drape their roots in a pleasing pattern and it makes a pleasing, or at least pleasing to me, look. I love tucking one of the smaller ones in a nook or cranny of a piece of drift wood.

Java moss, subwassertang, riccia, Christmas moss, and the likes. Again, don't want to be planted and again, when attached to a stone, drift wood or on a piece of rope or netting, grows fast and can form any number of shapes to fit your personal taste. Even very easy to make a carpeting kind of plant.

Amazon swords, again easy and can come in a various of sizes. The hardest thing I have with this plant is finding the right one for the tank size, it just plain grows too well for me and I have mistakenly put the larger ones in tanks that are too small for it.

Crypt's. Wonderful plants and one of the few redder plants that do well in low tech. Lots to chose from.

Dwarf sags, a nice kind of taller carpeting plant, again, low tech.

Java ferns, I have a love/ hate thing with them. Again, not a planted plant, but since it reproduces by producing plantlettes on the leave and then the leaves die to release the plantlettes, it never stays where I put it. So while I have an never ending source of new plants, I also can't use it in a defined design. On the other hand, it is interesting to see where they end up.

And I'll end this long list with a personal fav, marimo balls. They are cute, fuzzy and you can put them anywhere. Glue them to an interesting piece of wood to make a tree, let them sit on the bottom of the tank to be move around by the fish, put them in mass to make a carpet, use your imagination.

Sorry to rant on, I'm just giving my personal experience in the hopes of making your aquascaping successful. Again, I'll never go back to plastic, the plants make the tank not only more natural and interesting, but far more healthy.
 
Upvote 0

AquaticsAH

Amazing response. Thank you so much lots of good information! What kind of fish do you put in your planted tanks? Still trying to decide which ones I want to put in mine. Do certain fish do better with other plants?
 
Upvote 0

JLAquatics

Hi there! I was just like you a few months back. I did not know where to begin with the world of plants. However, with some great guidance here on Fishlore, I was able to setup my first lush tank full of plants. Not only was my first tank a planted tank, I even consider it an aquascape of sorts. I would follow the advice of barbiespoodle on general guidance of planted tanks. As for plants, fish love live plants all around. As long as you don't have large boisterous fish such as a Pacu, large Cichlids, or Goldfish, it really is a matter of personal preference of what you choose. You fish will appreciate it either way. Although as mentioned, some plants are much easier to do than others. As well as the other good choices mentioned above, stem plants such as Water Wisteria and Bacopa Caroliniana make for great fillers in the back of your tank. Other great options include Water Sprite, Hornwort, Vallisneria or floaters such as Frogbit for variety. After you choose the plants you like as well as the fish you want, it is time to setup the tank. I generally think it is better to place your hardscape (rocks and wood) first and then place your plants last. I also made a resource here on Fishlore of aquascaping (for a visually pleasing tank) for beginners if you are interested in checking that out. I used my very first planted tank as a reference and if I can do a planted tank, so can you. I have included a link to the resource here. Feel free to ask as many questions as you like, nothing is more rewarding in the hobby than seeing healthy and happy fish swimming gracefully in a lush natural environment.
 
Upvote 0

fallfever

JL and barbiespoodle are in a different league when it comes to plants, so this is less advice and more about experience with angels. I'm not exactly the green thumb, but angels love to swim through plants that grow higher into the tank, and I have had great luck with amazon sword planted to the rear of the tank. They will also use the leaves to lay eggs if that interests you. Frog bit grows even if you don't want it to and makes a nice contrast to the lower level plants, provides cover and dims the light a bit. See JL's tutorial about setting up an aquascape and barbiespoodle for the other planted options. Just make sure to choose one tall growing plant that your angels can appreciate. They really look beautiful cruising through them.
 
Upvote 0

AquaticsAH

Also great information thanks again JLAquatics! Here’s a question, my tank currently has a fluorescent light. But I see a lot of talk that you should be using led lighting with plants. I don’t want to buy a new light fixture unless it’s absolutely necessary. Side note I have a glass top on my tank so I don’t know how much that effects the growth of plants as I imagine it lowers the intensity of the light. Will my plants still get enough light or is Led a must have?

My current light is an Aqueon T8 25W 36” Full spectrum bulb if that helps any. Thanks in advance for any help!

Thanks FallFever will definitely take note of that!
 
Upvote 0

JLAquatics

Also great information thanks again JLAquatics! Here’s a question, my tank currently has a fluorescent light. But I see a lot of talk that you should be using led lighting with plants. I don’t want to buy a new light fixture unless it’s absolutely necessary. Side note I have a glass top on my tank so I don’t know how much that effects the growth of plants as I imagine it lowers the intensity of the light. Will my plants still get enough light or is Led a must have?

My current light is an Aqueon T8 25W 36” Full spectrum bulb if that helps any. Thanks in advance for any help!

Thanks FallFever will definitely take note of that!
You could definitely get away the light you currently have, but it would be so much easier for you to grow plants well with an LED light in my personal opinion. It is really good you have a glass top, so you already have half of the equation for an LED. The LED would just sit on top of the glass lid, which is exactly what I am using in my own tank. Personally, I would check out the Nicrew lights on Amazon.com. They are relatively cheap and can grow plants quite well. I only paid 35 US dollars for mine, which is almost equivalent to a T8 hood and light fixture anyways.
 
Upvote 0

AquaticsAH

You could definitely get away the light you currently have, but it would be so much easier for you to grow plants well with an LED light in my personal opinion. It is really good you have a glass top, so you already have half of the equation for an LED. The LED would just sit on top of the glass lid, which is exactly what I am using in my own tank. Personally, I would check out the Nicrew lights on Amazon.com. They are relatively cheap and can grow plants quite well. I only paid 35 US dollars for mine, which is almost equivalent to a T8 hood and light fixture anyways.
Sounds good, will have a look at them on Amazon. Hopefully Amazon.ca has the same ones haha. I’m Canadian. But do the LEDs provide more lumens for the plants? Like what is the purpose of wanting the led over fluorescent?
 
Upvote 0

JLAquatics

Sounds good, will have a look at them on Amazon. Hopefully Amazon.ca has the same ones haha. I’m Canadian. But do the LEDs provide more lumens for the plants? Like what is the purpose of wanting the led over fluorescent?
The LED, especially an LED designed for plants is more optimized towards providing the right light spectrum for plants to conduct photosynthesis, so plants will generally do better. I checked out the Canadian Amazon for the item, they do have it. Although the price is a little higher, it is still an affordable option especially if you want to try many different plants. Here is the link to your Amazon for the light I am talking about.
However, if you want to just use the T8, your options are a little more limited, but still possible though. I would stick to Hornwort, Duckweed, Crypts, Anubias, and Java Ferns and other slow growing plants such as these, with Hornwort and Duckweed being the exceptions (they grow faster). I have included an image of my tank to show you how well this light can grow plants.

The Great Tanglewood Forest.jpg
 
Upvote 0

AquaticsAH

Alright cool! Great setup by the way. Looks really nice. How often do you fertilize? Do you use co2? What is your tank size?
 
Upvote 0

JLAquatics

Alright cool! Great setup by the way. Looks really nice. How often do you fertilize? Do you use co2? What is your tank size?
I like it simple, so no CO2. I use liquid ferts for column dosing (Aquarium Co-Op's Easy Green). Thrive C is also a great option sold on Amazon. I add one pump of Easy Green each day and my plants love it. I have all easy plants in this tank, but I do put some root tabs for my root feeders, particularly the S Repens in the front. Root Tabs are dosed when the plants begin looking yellow. My tank is a 29 gallon aquarium stocked with Neon Tetras, Lambchop Rasboras, Cherry Shrimp, and various snails. A few more easy options for a beginner with plants are the Aponogeton Ulvaceus and Dwarf Lily. These are both bulb plants that you should definitely try out if you get the LED.
 
Upvote 0

AquaticsAH

I like it simple, so no CO2. I use liquid ferts for column dosing (Aquarium Co-Op's Easy Green). Thrive C is also a great option sold on Amazon. I add one pump of Easy Green each day and my plants love it. I have all easy plants in this tank, but I do put some root tabs for my root feeders, particularly the S Repens in the front. Root Tabs are dosed when the plants begin looking yellow. My tank is a 29 gallon aquarium stocked with Neon Tetras, Lambchop Rasboras, Cherry Shrimp, and various snails. A few more easy options for a beginner with plants are the Aponogeton Ulvaceus and Dwarf Lily. These are both bulb plants that you should definitely try out if you get the LED.
Just ended up purchasing the LED. Figure if I’m redoing the tank I best do it right. Will look into thrive c, Canada doesn’t seem to sell easy green. Thanks again for all the help.
 
Upvote 0

JLAquatics

Just ended up purchasing the LED. Figure if I’m redoing the tank I best do it right. Will look into thrive c, Canada doesn’t seem to sell easy green. Thanks again for all the help.
Easy Green is not sold on Amazon, rather on the Aquarium Co-Op website. I believe they now send products to Canada, but I am not completely sure on that. Did you get the right size light bar for your aquarium lighting wise? I don't know how long your tank is so I just sent you a link to the light in general.
 
Upvote 0

AquaticsAH

Easy Green is not sold on Amazon, rather on the Aquarium Co-Op website. I believe they now send products to Canada, but I am not completely sure on that. Did you get the right size light bar for your aquarium lighting wise? I don't know how long your tank is so I just sent you a link to the light in general.
Yep I bought the 36-42 inch one. My tank is 36 inch wide so it should be fine. And alright I will look into that. Probably cheaper to go with thrive c rather than shipping easy green from USA to Canada though.
 
Upvote 0

AquaticsAH

Hey JLAquatics, have you personally used thrive c? I see there are lots of different kinds of it not sure which one is best haha.
 
Upvote 0

barbiespoodle

Amazing response. Thank you so much lots of good information! What kind of fish do you put in your planted tanks? Still trying to decide which ones I want to put in mine. Do certain fish do better with other plants?

I do have an angel in my 55 gallon, he's a rescue and I call him the brat fish because that is exactly what he is. And yes, he loves taller plants like the amazon swords, he's so beautiful cruising through them.

The big problem with turning my 55 gallon tank into a planted tank has been the trio of silver dollars, aka, the plant assassins. They are the main reason I recommended the plants I did, I'm actually able to grow these plants and the so and so silver dollars actually leave them alone (knock on wood that I'm not jinxing myself). In the same tank, because it has been going non stop for 30 years, there is a weird mixture of both very old and newer fish. There is not only the angel and silver dollars, but also guppies, mollies, a large herd of albino cories, 2 very old emerald cories, sae's, two very old giant danio's, and various snails. While this combo should not work, some how it does and it makes for a very interesting tank to watch since there are so many different colors, shapes, water collem swimmers, and personalities.

My other tanks have been far easier to plant, 2 (20 gallons) are mostly shrimp and snails, one red shrimp, one blue shrimp, the red tank has otto cats (totally adorable). I also use these tanks as live bearer growout tanks. Another tank is on the way of being upgraded. It's a 10 gallon cull shrimp tank, again planted, with a couple panda cories and 9 white cloud mountain minnows. I'm now cycling a 20 long, again dirted and planted, to rehome the residents of this tank because the 10 gallon just plain did too well.

The next tank hardly warrants mentioning. It is a 3 1/2 gallon tank I used to hatch and am now growing out albino cory fry (I am so totally in love with my babies). But even though I can't plant into the sand substrate, I do have a piece of cholla wood covered in java moss, a small terra cotta pot with a crypt, some subwassertang moving around, and a little floating hornwort that I rescued from the silver dollars. Another good tip, use pots to plant your plants if you don't have the right substrate, plus makes them easier to move around if the whim hits you.

And finally, a 10 gallon that is dirted, planted and now only housing a molly and a guppy, which is set aside to be a cory breeding tank since I have had luck with the albino's. The hubby wants it to be a panda cory breeding colony but OMG, they are so hard to find right now. Personally I wouldn't mind to do some julies or my beloved emeralds, but he's in love with the panda's.

Anyhow, some pics of my tanks.

first is the red shrimp tank

then the blue shrimp tank

Third the current cull shrimp tank that will be rehomed to the 20 long once it's ready.

And finally, a crappy pic of my weird mixture, but interesting, 55 gallon.
20201027_063325.jpg
 

Attachments

  • 20210213_163955.jpg
    20210213_163955.jpg
    251.4 KB · Views: 23
  • 20210209_063233.jpg
    20210209_063233.jpg
    314.4 KB · Views: 23
  • 20210403_162025.jpg
    20210403_162025.jpg
    266.7 KB · Views: 23
Upvote 0

JLAquatics

Hey JLAquatics, have you personally used thrive c? I see there are lots of different kinds of it not sure which one is best haha.
I have not personally, but I have heard great things about it from other members. I believe Thrive C is the one you want. If you want inverts such as shrimp or snails, go for the Thrive S. I would make another thread if you are unsure so you can get better guidance from other members who regularly use this stuff.
 
Upvote 0

Similar Aquarium Threads

Replies
7
Views
2K
BluMan1914
Replies
14
Views
502
kallililly1973
  • Question
Replies
12
Views
325
Kvandenplas
Replies
3
Views
192
Rye3434
Replies
2
Views
271
Swlws

Random Great Thread!

New Aquascaping Threads

Latest Aquarium Threads

Top Bottom