Beginner Plants In Gravel Question

Discussion in 'Aquarium Plants' started by Hyler, Mar 20, 2010.

  1. HylerNew MemberMember

    Hello everyone,

    This is my first time on the forums, and it's great to be here. I am a newbie fish keeper and I have a lot of questions, but I'll start with just one.

    I am trying to set up my 10 gallon freshwater tank with plants as I am not a very big fan of artificial, plastic decorations. I have what I would call medium-sized gravel in there (I'd estimate an average pebble size of about 1/4 inch) with a depth of just about 2.5 inches.

    I also have fluorescent lighting, 15 W and 8,000K color temperature, according to the bulb.

    I would like to add plants that are suitable for a beginner in that they are fairly easy to grow and keep alive. However, I do not want my plants to be floating around the tank, I want them planted in the gravel. There is a fish store close by and they have a setup exactly like what I have in mind—beautiful plants firmly rooted in the gravel—albeit in a far larger tank, so I know there must be some vegetation that does that.

    What advice can you guys give me? What should I get and how should I keep it? Also, assuming that I am successful in this, how do I clean the gravel once things are growing? Carefully around the plants or not at all? Questions, questions...

    Oh, I have four Cherry Barbs in there right now, with plans to add a few more, if that makes a difference.

    Thank you everyone!

    - George

    EDIT: Gravel size was incorrectly listed as being 1/2 inch. The post has been edited to correctly reflect gravel size of 1/4 inch.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2010
  2. xxSTEPHENSxxValued MemberMember

    Hello and welcome to Fishlore!!

    I am new to plants myself so I will let someone else give advice about that.

    Do you know about the Nitrogen cycle? You said you had some cherry barbs.

  3. HylerNew MemberMember


    Yes, I know about the cycle. Mine has not completed, but I read in another thread that it's okay to add plants at any time. And yes, I'm watching the water chemistry to make sure the fish live through the cycle.

    - George

  4. Goldwing_DonWell Known MemberMember

    Welcome to fishlore Hyler :;hi2
    Java fren is a good starter plant you need to look for low light type plants for the lighting you have ...the gravel you have is pretty large for a planted tank but the frens should be good.Harpua2002 and Nutter will be more of a help ..JMHO

    Last edited: Mar 20, 2010
  5. xxSTEPHENSxxValued MemberMember

    Awesome! I heard that plants will actually help the cycle.

    I am new to the plant scene myself. I don't really like the fake plants to much. I actually bought some plants from a member and she set me up with a few easy to grow plants. Harpua2002 is very knowledgable with plants as well as fish. This is just one member out of many who can help.
  6. HylerNew MemberMember


    I made a mistake in my original post and it has been corrected. My gravel size is actually 1/4 inch. I had to go measure again, and it turns out I measured it right the first time but I wrote it down wrong in my post.

    As a side note, I understand that Java Ferns are easy to grow but should not be planted in the substrate. Yet, some people have reported growing them planted after all. Should I just try it out anyway, since they are pretty cheap?

    - George
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2010
  7. ShineWell Known MemberMember

    I think it is Java Moss that isn't planted in the substrate... Java Fern on the other hand, is.

    I've found sword plants to be pretty easy to keep alive, and corkscrew val. I haven't been very consistant with lighting; but I haven't managed to kill either one yet ;)
  8. MindTravel3rValued MemberMember

    I am not an expert by a long shot, but I have been reading about the subject lately. From what I have read, you may want to consider adding aquarium sand to the substrate or replacing with sand. I have also read that once the tank is planted, your general maintenance procedures change. It doesn't sound terribly hard, but I would spend some time researching before I began.
  9. _Fried_Bettas_Well Known MemberMember

    I've never had trouble growing java ferns planted in the substrate. Hornwort is a fool proof plant that can be anchored to the bottom and gets all of it's nutrients from the water rather than the roots. It grows like a weed in my tanks. Anubias are another good low-light plant that doesn't need fancy substrate, often attached to rocks and driftwood but it isn't necessary as long as the rhizome isn't buried (it will grow roots into the gravel). As far as cleaning the gravel, work around the plants carefully (with siphon hose), it doesn't need to be perfect, you are just trying to get the major stuff so it doesn't rot or look ugly in the tank. What remains will be good for the plants. You will get best results if you use some fertilizer such as Flourish Comprehensive and perhaps root tabs for some plants such as swords.
  10. michael68Valued MemberMember

    If you have a petco nere you they are getting rid of there coralife line of light fixtures.I paid 99.00 for a t5 ho duel 24 watt fixture (thats 48 watts of grow lamp).The tubes are also on clearance.My plants in my 20 gallon have never looked better!!I paid 4.95 for a 6700k tube!!!On line that tube would cost you 21.00 plus 10.00 to ship!!
  11. NutterFishlore VIPMember

    Welcome to Fishlore Hyler. :;hi2

    I'll start by dealing with some of the things other members have suggested you should grow or that you need to do.

    First off, you do NOT need to replace your substrate. Sand is lousy for planted tanks as it requires higher levels of maintainance that will be a pain in the backside for a beginner. Your gravel will do fine.

    Hornwart is going to be unsuitable in your set up. Under low light it will shed all of it's leaves making an unholy mess that you will have to clean up. The leaves would grow back but it would take time. Secondly, your Barbs will destroy the plant anyway, even if it were to remain healthy. (Barbs love eating soft leaf plants)

    The T5HO light mentiond by Micheal is unsuitable for your tank. Using a fixture like that over a 10gal would mean mandatory co2 & nutrients supplementation. Not a good idea for a beginner that wants an easy to care for set up. The fixture would be too large for your tank anyway.

    Java Fern is best grown attached to decorations but can be grown in the substrate if you so choose. The trick is that the plants rhizome needs to be exposed above the gravel & only the finer roots buried in the substrate. If you were to bury the rhizome, the plant would slowly die. If you want to try growing Java Fern in the substrate I recommend tying the Fern to a decent sized pebble & then just sitting the pebble with Fern attached on the substrate where you want it. That will keep the rhizome exposed but will allow the roots to penetrate the gravel if they want to.

    Some plants that I think would be suited to your set up & can be planted in the substrate are: Elodea (Anacharis), Anubius Barteri 'var' Coffeefolia, Anubius Gracilis, Anubius Barteri 'var' Round Leaf (& most other Anubius varieties), Red Tiger Lotus, Water Sprite, Water Wisteria, Hygrophilia Polysperma 'var' Tropic Sunset, Bolbitus Fern (treat the same as Java Fern), Cryprocoryne Wendtii & Crytocoryne Undulatus.
    Here's a link to help select plants by thier light requirements:  

    Wether or not you need to use fertilisers will be decided by the plants themselves. Have a bottle of liquid fertiliser such as Flourish Comprehensive on hand but don't start dosing it until the plants are well established. Probably about a month. Only start to use the fertiliser if the plants start to show signs of deficencies. There is little point to adding fertilisers if the plants do not recieve enough light to make use of them. Fish wastes & weekly water changes will provide many of the nutrients your plants need. If the tank is heavily planted the fish wastes may not provide enough nutrients for all of the plants & then you would need to look at dosing ferts. If you use well water or rainwater you may need to use a Trace Element fertiliser. Trace Elements are usually provided in sufficient quantities for plants in our tap water but if you are using water from a different source, having a trace element fertiliser will probably be handy. I recommend Flourish Comprehensive or Flourish Trace if you are using well or rainwater.

    During vaccuuming just be a little gentle when working around the plants. You only need to vaccuum the surface of the gravel so don't go digging down into it. As LetDiceFly mentioned, it doesn't need to be perfect & what is left will be good for the plants.
    Here are some other links that will provide you with some very usefull information about planted aquariums:

    I hope that lot helps clear things up for you a bit.:)
  12. michael68Valued MemberMember

    Sorry nutter didnt mean to step on your toes.I just wanted to suggest where Hyler could aquire a great fixture for very cheap.My plants have never looked so great and are growing like weeds,Although i do FERTILIZE with flourish excel.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2010
  13. NutterFishlore VIPMember

    No problem Michael & no need for apologies. Your not stepping on anyones toes. Everyone is free to post thier ideas. :) I was just pointing out that the fixture is physically too large for a 10gal tank & that the use of a light with that intensity would require ferts & co2. The flourish Excel combined with the light is what is making the difference in your tank. Excel is a liquid form of carbon. Worth noting that Excel is not a mineral form of nutrients, only a source of carbon. If your not already using a mineral fertiliser you might want to think about getting one. Combining the Excel with the higher light levels & sufficient mineral nutrients will give you even better growth. On the other hand you may be perfectly happy with how things are going for you now, in which case you should just leave it all alone.
  14. michael68Valued MemberMember

    I am also using flourish comprehensive.Question Nutter;How often should i use the two products in combo?
  15. NutterFishlore VIPMember

    Can you send me a PM with the details of your system rather than us hijack someone elses thread? Lighting type & hours they are on, what plants you have, what fish you have & your feeding shedule as well as the type of substrate you are using & your current fertiliser shedule. From there I can work out what changes you can make if you need to make any at all.
  16. michael68Valued MemberMember

    Didnt mean to hyjack the thread actually thought about that i was doing it.Call me dumb but how do i send you a personal message?(assuming thats what pm means).
  17. NutterFishlore VIPMember

    Just click my name. The option to write a message is in the box that pops up.
  18. HylerNew MemberMember


    Thank you, everyone, for so much useful information! I feel like there is someone out there who cares whether I get this thing right or not, and it's a good feeling. I only hope that one day my advice would be of some service to someone else who is in need. Thank you!

    - George
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 20, 2010
  19. FishVixenValued MemberMember

    George, Your doing the right thing by asking for help. Soon your tank will be full of beautiful plants just keep asking questions there's a lot of knowledge on this forum. Yes one day you'll say hey I went through that and this is what I did. Thanks for being on the forum.
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2010
  20. AquaristFishlore LegendMember

    Hello Hyler and Welcome to Fish Lore!

    I hope you enjoy the site.

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