How Many Plants Is Too Many Plants


Hey guys,

I am planning on setting up my first 10 gallon planted low maintenance aquarium. The substrate I am planning to use is Seachem Flourite and I plan to use the Seachem Root Tabs as my fertilizer. However, my major problem comes with my plant stocking. I am curious if these plants all combined would require me to use CO2. I want to add
4 Amazon Swords
2 Water Sprite
Java Moss (Really don't understand how this plant works not gonna lie)
Tiger Lotus
Is this too much? Also, are these plants correct for the type of substrate I intend on using?


Short answer is flourite is fine for most all planted tanks, I would consider capping it with a layer of sand and/or pea gravel though as it is very dusty. You can opt to rinse it too but then you may end up rinsing away all the good stuff plants like. I have 2 tanks with flourite capped with either sand or gravel. Also, no CO2 needed for the plants you listed. Lastly, 4 amazon swords is about 4 too many. One mature amazon sword will fill a 10gal, I'd switch them to crypts, anubias, or a smaller sword species.

Long answer:
Lighting is more important than substrate IMO. Many of my tanks have plain old play sand and the plants do pretty well in them. Lighting is the limiting factor to plant growth, you can have the best ferts and substrate available but without proper light there will be no benefit to the plants. For the plants you listing you would want a decent light. I'm a lazy plant keeper so instead of getting everything right for plants I want, I see what grows best in what I have. For my low-medium light tanks I have horwort, cyrpts of various kinds, anubias, jungle val, duckweed and rotala. Some tanks get root tabs, other get liquid ferts when I remember (usually after a water change). If a plant doesn't like what I have to offer it dies off and becomes snail food.

Swords and lotus plants are root feeders, both require medium lighting if I recall. Water sprite is pretty adaptably and can even do well as a floater, liquid ferts and root tabs will benefit them though. Java moss is said to be very adaptable but I never works for me so no tips there, all I know is you should tie it to a rock, wood or other hardscape until it attaches itself.

CO2 is not really necessary for a planted tank, it is mainly used for high lighting tanks and high level aquascaping to keep carpet and stem plants in tip top shape. It boosts plant grow considerably as it allows the plants to photosynthesize faster and absorb nutrients at a greater rate. The down side is you really have to find that perfect balance of added ferts and you have to keep up on a fairly strict schedule from my understanding.


Never too many plants. If you are going to use swords though you should look into root binding to intentionally cause a bit of dwarfism. I have a 10 gal with 3 swords in it, it has a handful of ludwigia, and maybe half a dozen crypt wendtii.

I don't fertilize or use CO2, though I do use some advanced water chemistry, custom lighting and sand capping techniques to get where I do with my tanks. To keep the swords in check I buried drilled out Tupperware containers of different sizes to contain the root clusters.

Here's that tank at the bushiest:

And trimmed back:


I do have swords from the same mother plant that have grown to look to the same scale in 29s at 18" tall, it's about how you trim and plant as to whether or not you can get away with them. Even with my method though I might have a hard time getting 4 to fit and look like swords not stumps. Maybe add some dwarf chain swords, it can look like they are constantly baby swords, or if you let them run wild they will carpet.

Another good plant that tends to stay short for me is flame lace java fern, it could do great in a low tech 10 as well.


I have endochronus parviflorus , which I believe is a type of sword (?) in a 50g. It’s split into 3 and is now huge , the root tip above is a great idea and wish I knew this before I planted as the roots go everywhere !! I use just plain old sand and they weren’t great , but they LOVE root tabs and liquid ferts. I haven’t figured how to trim them yet and are now growing out of the water. I’d stick with smaller low light plants as recommended above like Anubias or crypts unless you want to me battling a monster plant :D sessiliflora is another pretty yet easy one with great colour.


Plants obviously compete for light, CO2 and nutrients. But if one plant deteriorates, people in general don't mind as much, as long as the other plants are doing OK and no visible algae are present. For this reason, it is best to have a surplus of plants in your tank. If one plant species seems to be having a hard time, you can take it out and place it in another tank or in a vase. With a bit of active soil and natural light from outside, almost any plant recovers.

In "my world", the aforementioned plants by the OP for a 10 gallon tank, would be considered "very understocked".

Just because one has many plants in a tank, does not require the use of CO2. It is all about balance. If CO2 is not used, then intense light is not required either, as well as lower concentration of nutrients. A heavily planted setup is still possible in a no CO2/dim-to-modest light setup; just don't expect your plants to grow as fast. Which is perfectly fine as one can (and should) have many plants in the tank to begin with.

The main downside of a no CO2/dim-to-modest light setup, are plants that are capable of producing anthocyanins, and who will not look as reddish in these conditions.

To establish a healthy planted tank in no CO2/dim-to-modest light setup, I would see to it that you have decent water flow in your tank. Ideally, all the leaves of your plants move a tiny bit.

Regarding fertilizers; I rely exclusively on fish and decomposing materials to feed my plants. My tanks have sandy substrate. I've never used root tabs. I'm not even sure if the OP would need it.

Regarding java moss. I believe it does require a decent amount of light, so best to place them higher in your tank, i.e. closer to the lights (e.g. attached to a wood branch that sticks out towards the surface). Alternatively, you choose a moss that also does well in the shades, such as Vesicularia ferriei.


i cant seem to get crypts to grow. they always disentegrate within a day or 2 of me adding them


i cant seem to get crypts to grow. they always disentegrate within a day or 2 of me adding them
Crypts tend to die back after planting. If you leave them there and give them time they will then grow again.

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