How would you aquascape my 20 gal?

FLGirl

Member
Hey yall. This is my first tank but I'm pretty convinced that live plants are the way I want to go...Iv got lots of great help here... but I was wondering if anyone wanted to share some ideas? What would you do if you had my tank..like what would you put where basically? It doesn't have to be super detailed or anything Id just appreciate a few ideas. ;D Ya think I should get like a whole lot of plants or just start with a few. (right now I'm still cycling I also want to make sure I get the decor I really want an fish or future fish need since some of the plants I think I might get attach to things, and do you just stick the other plants right in your gravel?) Right now I 3 fake plants in there. Actually when I look at all yalls beautiful tanks it makes my 3 lil fake plants look awfully sad and lonesome . lol
 
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ryanr

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Member
I'm a fan of natural tanks, and avoid plastic/synthetic because I find they fade/discolour quickly, and also seem to attract algae.

That said, it's up to you, I always like the idea of a 'centre piece', whether it be a rock, wood, a large plant.

It also depends on where the tank is to be positioned and the viewing angles. i.e. if it is in viewable from all sides, then I'd probably go with some thing like:

Small plants around the edges (such as crypts), with a larger sword or something similar in the middle with rocks around the bottom, and a "moat" of maybe a 'carpet' of moss around the edges of the rocks. leaving a space of substrate (probably earth coloured) in between the moss and the glass.

If the tank is butted up against the wall, I'd go with some larger plants at the back, separated well with smaller plants etc and maybe some moss and rocks. Something that creates interesting areas for fish to swim, hide and draws your attention.

Live vs Fake Plants
Let's start with live plants.

Pros:
1. Provides oxygen during daylight hours
2. Fin friendly; won't tear fins
3. Helps filter the water
4. Provides another food source for the fish
5. Grows
6. Helps keep algae in check

Cons:
1. Produces CO2 during nighttime hours
2. Grows - needs regular pruning
3. Require fertilisers
4. May require CO2 injection
5. Require correct lighting in order to grow

Now for plastic plants.

Pros:
1. Doesn't produce CO2
2. No pruning needed
3. Will always look the same, doesn't grow
4. No need to invest in CO2, fertilisers, lights.

Cons:
1. Doesn't produce O2
2. Just another surface for algae to grow on
3. Always looks the same, not dynamic
4. Not fin friendly, could possibly tear fins if fish gets too close
5. Doesn't filter water

Have a look at for some great ideas.


PS - here's some pics of my tank
 

peacemaker92

Member
HI FL Girl,

ryanr has provided a great list of pros and cons of live and fake plants. Very interesting and nicely done!

In my opinion, it really depends if you have the cash. Live plants will really consume and eat up a lot of your cash because you'll need to spend loads on the C02 if you have a lot of plants in there, and more cash for the plants itself. But for fake plants, you'll only need to get the plants itself and normally in most LFS, they're quite affordable. For me, I don't really have a job yet so I planted my 55 gal with all fake/silk/plastic plants and some java moss. I tried to make it as realistic as possible by finding and buying green fake plants and it turned out better than I expected.

So yeah, it all depends on how much cash you're willing to spend. I'd suggest fake plants because it doesn't consume so much cash and you can make it beautiful depending on your creativity and time spent into it.

Best of luck!
 
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ryanr

Moderator
Member
Good point Peacemaker!

Live plants do require looking after, fertilisers, CO2, lighting, so there is a budget aspect to it, and depending on what plants you go for, some can be expensive.

BTW - just on the CO2 side of things, there's numerous DIY CO2 tips on these forums.

If you're interested, let us know, and we can point you in the right direction.
 

harpua2002

Member
Low light plants do not require CO2, ferts, or many times even special lighting... especially for a 20 gallon. I've had some killer planted tanks with just stock lighting and regular gravel as substrate. Crypts, anubias, java ferns, java moss, bolbitis fern, etc. are about as easy as it gets for planted tanks.
 

Nutter

Member
I'm with Harpua. Having live plants need not be costly to set up or to maintain. The reality is that fake plants will probably cost just as much or even more than live plants & a suitable light anyway so the set up costs are quite similar. As for maintenance costs, they depend on what sort of set up you have. As Harpua stated, many low light tanks don't need co2 or ferts so there is really no cost involved in maintainance. Even on high light tanks that do need ferts & co2 the cost isn't very high if you use a diy co2 rig. I run 4 planted tanks for under $20 per month & 3 of those would be considered med-high light tanks that run co2 & fertilisers. I would pick the low light live plant set up every single time over fake plants.

Tank layout is a different story. With the number of choices there are available & not knowing your personal tases I can't really say what would look good to you. I prefer natural tanks that only contain natural items like rocks, wood & live plants. Some people like to have fake ships etc & some people have full on themed tanks with ship wrecks, anchors, treasure chests, little pirates & all sorts of other ornaments. The one thing that I have learnt is that it is often better to under decorate a tank than to clutter it up with heaps of stuff. You could have one large rock or piece of wood just off from centre to create a focal point & then have a bunch of live plants growin all around it or you might like to have only plants with a large feature plant as the eye catching focal point. It's really hard to recommend for other people. Maybe google some aquarium pics & see if any of the results take your fancy. Many of the tanks in my profile album were inspired by pics of other tanks.
 
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ryanr

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Member
Hey FL,
I'd go with Nutter on whatever he says about plants The man is the undisputed king of plants on fishlore (and Nate isn't too bad either) :;hi5

But I hope we're giving you an insight, and some of the considerations. Good luck with it all, and keep us informed.
 

Nutter

Member
ryanr said:
Hey FL,
I'd go with Nutter on whatever he says about plants The man is the undisputed king of plants on fishloreQUOTE]

Thanks Ryan but I don't know that that is really true. There are plenty of people who know just as much about plants as I do on Fishlore & some of them know even more. Nates really good with the technical stuff & Harpua is pretty good all round to. I'm pretty sure Mathas knows more than he let's on as well. I think I'm just on here more often than almost anyone else so I tend to post more.
 
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FLGirl

Member
Thanks so much everyone, you all are definetly helping! I think some of the fake plants are really pretty but I think I'm going to go live of course it will be low light least maintinence plants for me right now I have a fake plant that looks kinda like elephant ears plant one that looks like a java fern and a pink one they all have some of that brownish dia stuff. I also have the decor that the tank came with a couple little critters holding signs a coral cave and a sunken ship but I want to go a dif direction. I might have to keep them awhile though since I'm cycling. If I added new decor after I'm cycled how long would I wait to take out the old? I'm going to write all these plants down and see if they are in the Lfs . Thanks again everyone all your input helps!
 

harpua2002

Member
Nutter said:
ryanr said:
Hey FL,
I'd go with Nutter on whatever he says about plants The man is the undisputed king of plants on fishloreQUOTE]

Thanks Ryan but I don't know that that is really true. There are plenty of people who know just as much about plants as I do on Fishlore & some of them know even more. Nates really good with the technical stuff & Harpua is pretty good all round to. I'm pretty sure Mathas knows more than he let's on as well. I think I'm just on here more often than almost anyone else so I tend to post more.
LOL thanks man, but you're definitely ahead of me in the planted tank dept, even though I have had many! A few years ago I shifted my main focus from planted to reef, so I stuck to low/medium light and never did anything with the high tech setups... I'm sort of a jack of all trades, master of none!
 
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ryanr

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Member
here's a couple of ideas that kind of explain what i'm talking about:





 
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FLGirl

Member
Wow, those are all beautiful!
 
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