Changing from Unplanted to Planted

Cub Fan
  • #1
Has anyone had any experience with planting an established unplanted tank? I realize that I will have to upgrade my lighting and either supplement CO2 or supply CO2 to the tank.

My biggest concern is the substrate because right now I just have basic gravel (~2" deep). Will have to change out the entire substrate? I am interested to hear if anyone has proven procedure to do so. My LFS claims fertilizers will sufice with the basic gravel.

38 gallon tall tank
2 columbian tetras
3 pristella tetras
ph ~8.0
5 dKH
9 dGH
Filtered with Eheim ECCO Canister
 
David C
  • #2
I switched my 10gal to planted after it was running for a year. I used plants that only use the roots for holding on and not getting nutrients... it worked out good. You can also use the flourish excel instead of a CO2 system. The lady at my LFS told me it adds CO2 or something like that and that you can get by without the expensive system. plant geek has some great info if you are really serious about it.
 
Devon
  • #3
Don't forget to sterilize the plants.
 
Darlene
  • #4
I just came across this post as we are going to a planted tank from fake plants...this may be a silly question, but how do you sterilize plants?
 
angelfish220
  • #5
I always search them over for hitchhikers, snails and whatnot that you don't want in your tank, before I put them in, I don't know what Devon means by sterilizing though.
 
Darlene
  • #6
Thanks, I just got some today and checked for new little critters, I wasn't sure if I was missing something with the sterilizing.
 
joy613
  • #7
If you decide you want to have heavy root feeders like crypt or swords you can use root tabs.
 
David C
  • #8
Sterilizing the plants is easy, soak them in ice water for 10-15 seconds and it kills all the snails and snail eggs. I learned this only last week
 
Darlene
  • #9
Sterilizing the plants is easy, soak them in ice water for 10-15 seconds and it kills all the snails and snail eggs. I learned this only last week

Thanks that will be helpful to know when we get a bigger tank up and running.
 
David C
  • #10
I wish I knew about it when I first planted. I went from 2 snail to LOTS in only 3 weeks, but I have a whole other thread all about my snail issues, lol.
 
ER9
  • #11
I was talking about this with my LFS owner yesterday. he has these beautiful planted tanks in his shop.

I currently have a 20gal with very low wattage lighting and a java plants that can survive in this condition. they have all survived but grown very slowly.

I thought I knew what I was doing....basically. i'm about to upgrade to a 45gal tank and have decided to establish it heavily planted. I found out yesterday I have a lot to learn...

here is what I found out. there are different types of plants. some as mentioned above get nutrients from the water mainly and use roots just to hold on. a small gravel size (1/16" to 1/8") aquarium gravel is adequate for these plants. they require nutrients to be added to the water to thrive. I won't say survive because I have never used any for my java plants and they seem ok....not really doing much....but alive and green.

the second type of plant uses its roots to get its nutrients mainly from the soil. these plants require a special type of soil and the soil has to be enriched with nutrients on a regular schedule. some soils like 'Amazonia Aqua Soil' come pre conditioned with nutrients but eventually will have to be enriched. he mentioned enrichment tabs as the other poster above did.

the other two important things, that I have figured out so far are lighting and CO2. the lighting I had figured out. I bought these light to get my watts per gallon around 2. for most plants I have determined from reading that 2 watts per gallon is a bare minimum for them to thrive and grow half way decent. even at 2 watts per gallon I will have to be somewhat choosie as some plants won't do well even at that. 3-5 watts per gallon seems to be a bit more ideal.

the other thing that was stressed is CO2. this waas new to me and I can't offer any advice other than you might want to look into it. I was told a decent CO2 setup will run $180+ so its something I personally will have to put off for a while. it was mentioned CO2 could be added in other ways but I might have misunderstood this point.....I wasn't to sure how.

you can have a planted tank without an expensive CO2 setup and your plants will survive. there is a difference it seems between a tank with it and a tank without it though. what that actually means for a plants chances of surviving or how fast they will grow I don't know.

from one noob to another I hope this helps some. i'm sure many others could elaborate a lot more.
 
Cub Fan
  • Thread Starter
  • #12
Thanks to everyone that has responded. I hope that I will get the ball rolling in another month. Keep thet comments and suggestions coming.
 
Blub
  • #13
OK. Here's the thing. You do not need CO2 or any fancy lighting to have a planted tank. You see, CO2 and that are for High tech tank, which lots of light, lots of fertilizers... And a lot of difficulty math. To have a basic planted tank, all you need is 1 WPG of light. Sure, you can only grow a few kinds of plant but it works and you can get some brilliant results. You won't need to do much, just you water changes. You might want to invest in a special planted tank substrate mind! Vals, Crypts, Amazon sword, Hygro, Java fern, Africa fern, Moss, Dwarf hairgrass, Anacharis , Anubias and Hornwort can be grown with ease like this!

Abut aquascaping. You want to start with the centerpiece. That's easy, put it in the middle! Not. Say that this is a Planted tank:

OOOOO

I will highlight in red the good places to put a centrepiece:

OOOOO

Only put one centrepiece in the tank! Remember, the centrepiece must be an eye catching specimen, Anubias and red plants are good. Try Echindorus 'Ozelot'.

Then, think about hardscape. Try a long branch of driftwood to move your eyes around the tank! It's good to have something like this 'errupting' from the centrepiece plant, and guiding your eyes to the secondary centrepiece. Try and incorporate lots of movement into the tank like that as your eyes will feel guided around the tank.
 
Ghostfish
  • #14
Planted aquariums are great. I quickly went to a fully planted tank after buying my first real plant. You really do not have to go with anything elaborate if you just want to get started. Not all plants require great lighting and CO2 injection. Micro swords would be a good start and even some anachris. Just research the plant and make sure of its lighting requirements. You can pick up bottles of flourish to give them a boost. One of there products is an organic carbon source which works fairly well. if you decide to go all out, a do it yourself co2 system works great. I constructed mine with about $30 worth of parts. I use 2-2 liter bottles injecting into a canister filter to dissipate the gas. Since your tank is established, you have to be careful. The pH will drop.
 
KyWildFish
  • #15
Don't forget to sterilize the plants.

THIS. I ended up giving my fish a fungus from not doing so. Also be weary of where the plants come from, they can bring all kinds of nasties into your tank.

Any more info on substrate? I have the run of the mill gravel as well and am concerned about what I can and cannot plant.
 
Biscato33
  • #16
I went from a plastic-plant tank to a fully planted tank. I got some snails here and there, and didn't know about sterilizing the plants! Oh well. I must warn you though, planting the plants into the substrate needs lots and lots of patience. You will get some plants that float up every few days if you don't plant them properly! I had that problem, and it was pretty frustrating, but I'm all good and set now! lol!

~ Ali
 
Cub Fan
  • Thread Starter
  • #17
Planted aquariums are great. I quickly went to a fully planted tank after buying my first real plant. You really do not have to go with anything elaborate if you just want to get started. Not all plants require great lighting and CO2 injection. Micro swords would be a good start and even some anachris. Just research the plant and make sure of its lighting requirements. You can pick up bottles of flourish to give them a boost. One of there products is an organic carbon source which works fairly well. if you decide to go all out, a do it yourself co2 system works great. I constructed mine with about $30 worth of parts. I use 2-2 liter bottles injecting into a canister filter to dissipate the gas. Since your tank is established, you have to be careful. The pH will drop.

Never heard of injecting into a canister filter. How did you do it? What kind of canister do you have?
 

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