How difficult are real plants?

  • #1
I am doing my best to remain an ethical, but casual aquarium owner... and turning into a "this is so awesome!" owner. I know the benefits of real plants so what I need to know is how difficult is it and what is the expense/extra work involved? I would be looking at hardy, cheap plants. I have a flourescent(sp) hood and standard gravel substrate. Thanks guys!
  • #2
It really depends what sort of plants and how many you want. I'm only a beginner and know very little about aquatic plants and the more complicated stuff like CO2 injections. But there are very basic plants out there such as anubias and java fern that are very low maintanence. Right now I only have 1 or 2 anubias in our tanks. It doesn't require high levels of light so 1 light per tank seems to suffice. Other than that all I need to do is pull off dying leaves every so often and add small amounts of Seachem Flourish (liquid fertilizer) to the tanks once or twice a week. So far mine are doing great and I'm looking at adding a few more plants!
  • #3
It's exactly as difficult as you want it to be. If you stick with low-light plants like the one Skysong suggested, then you really don't need to worry about much. If you do get anubias or java fern, be sure not to bury the rhizome (the thick rooty part) as it needs access to water or it will die. There are also simple liquid fertilizers (such as Seachem Flourish Comprehensive) that you can add to give your plants an extra boost.

Or, you can up your lighting a bit, an have a bit wider range of choices, however you'll need to worry more about fertilizers.

OR you can up your lighting even more, and venture into "high-light" territory. This will require careful monitoring of fertilizers or algae can grow out of control (as I am unfortunately finding out the hard way), and you'll need to dose carbon dioxide. With increased light, the plants will photosynthesize more, and use up more CO2, so you'll have to supplement some. There are liquid supplements, or you can actually inject CO2 gas into your tank (more complicated and more room for error, but more cost-effective in the long run).
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  • #4
Looked at the java fern profile. When it says tie to driftwood what do you tie it with?
  • #5
Sewing thread, fishing line, rubber band.....
  • #6
Keeping live plants is really not very difficult. The hardest part is finding a balance between nutrients (CO2, macro and micro) and light. Much of these nutrients are already provided by fish (nitrates) and even by fish food. In terms of CO2, you can either purchase a reactor or a DIY yeast reactor using a couple of soda bottles works fine for a for a low-tech setup. As for light, it is important to get the right kind. Plants grow best under 5000K or higher light temperatures. (Some standard "daylight" fluorescents work great)

Of course, there are exceptions as some plants require much more light and Co2 to thrive. Generally for easy to keep plants I would recommend java fern, anubias, crypts, some of the swords and vallisneria.
  • #7
A planted tank all starts with the light. There's low, medium and high light. For a beginner low light plants is a good place to start. Since you have a standard flourcent hood then low light plants is what you want to take a look at. Fish waste and weekly water changes is what low light setups can get by with but it doesn't hurt to dose once a week a balanced fertlizer like Flourish Comprehensive.

Here's a link for tips and list of some low light plants.

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