I’m ashamed of myself and I want to make things right...

Ouse

I’ve been contemplating my fishkeeping choices as of lately and I feel as if I’m doing things wrong. I’m beginning to grow tired of using plastic plants because I’ve seen many users on the forum label them as bad, and they describe the many benefits of using live plants. I feel bad about myself, so I decided to create this thread so I can apologise and learn to make things right.

I have four aquariums. I have my newly cycled 5 gallon and 15 gallon tanks, which both contain big gravel chunks to which I feel aren’t suitable for live plants. There’s my 60 gallon, which houses large cichlids (such as a geophagus) that’ll likely uproot any live plants. These three tanks are out of question, but there’s one left which I feel could work: my 30 gallon community. This tank uses sand as the substrate, driftwood and rocks for decoration and has some plastic plants already. With help from others (and my parents) I could turn things around in this tank regarding the planting.

The filtration and airstone in the 30 gallon are both strong, and they need to be. Provided that this fast rate of oxygenation can deplete the tank of Co2 I can’t guarantee that it’s 100% safe for plants, so I’d like some clarification on this. I‘d also greatly appreciate advice on how to feed plants and provide nutrients to the substrate. The sand has a small layer of brown algae, and some spot algae is on the glass, so I’m wondering if this means anything. The tank is next to a window so any plants will have sunlight.

I’m not looking for plants that break off or transition from land-based to aquatic or vice-versa. I’ve heard that anubias and amazon swords are both tough plants that are hard to kill and are both suitable in fully-aquatic environments. I will decline getting moss balls. Any other recommendations (based on info I’ve provided) I’d appreciate.

Any plants I add will consume nitrate and hopefully introduce harmless hitchhikers to the tank that are also beneficial to the ecosystem. An aspect of live plants that’s scared me for the longest time is their tendency to introduce any hitchhiker to the aquarium, including dangerous ones such as anchor worms and zebra mussels (although the chance of these ones occurring is low). Is quarantining plants absolutely necessary?

Thanks for any advice I receive here; it’ll make me feel much better. With nearly five years of experience I should know all of this by now. If my parents allow for it I’ll try to incorporate live plants into my 30 gallon if it’s suitable. I feel bad...
 

Lucy

Java fern goes crazy in my tanks. I'm not into learning lighting, ferts and stuff so I gotta keep it simple.

Untill one of our experienced members can answer more thoroughly, ou can browse our member written articles:
Aquarium Plants

Edited my post...I meant until NOT unless!!
 
Upvote 0

Ouse

Java fern goes crazy in my tanks. I'm not into learning lighting, ferts and stuff so I gotta keep it simple.

Unless one of our experienced members can answer more thoroughly, ou can browse our member written articles:
Aquarium Plants
Thank you so much for the prompt reply. Most of my threads receive little attention and acknowledgement so I’m grateful for you stepping in to help. :happy:

I’ll check out the plant articles. I’m looking for something easy to keep, as more often than not, less is more. My fish are happy as they are but I want to make them even happier.
 
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darkcat

Don't worry! Everyone makes mistakes. We need to make mistakes to learn! I do recommend getting live plants.

Benefits:
Produce oxygen
Hiding place
More softer (maybe for me)
Prevents algae
Remove ammonia

Disadvantages
They CAN have diseases
More expensive
Need fertilizer
Fish might bite
Need good lighting
Reduces o2 at night

And artificial plants are opposite

Benefits
They don't carry disease
More cheap
Easy to clean
Don't need lighting
Don't have any relationship with o2 and co2
 
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Ouse

Don't worry! Everyone makes mistakes. We need to make mistakes to learn! I do recommend getting live plants.

Benefits:
Produce oxygen
Hiding place
More softer (maybe for me)
Prevents algae
Remove ammonia

Disadvantages
They CAN have diseases
More expensive
Need fertilizer
Fish might bite
Need good lighting
Reduces o2 at night

And artificial plants are opposite

Benefits
They don't carry disease
More cheap
Easy to clean
Don't need lighting
Don't have any relationship with o2 and co2
Thanks much for the reply. I feel it’s a mistake that can be corrected in less than almost five years. I hear users describe tanks with plastic plants as unattractive, so it lowered my confidence on using them.

I’m really tempted by amazon swords because I already have plants that resemble them in the background. None of my fish are notorious for eating plants, but my shrimps and pleco will love having plants in there!
 
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Coradee

Hi, I’m pretty rubbish at plants both land & aquatic but even I can’t kill Java ferns, anubias, Java moss & crypts (wendtii I think it is) Most of my tanks have no special lights, a couple have none at all as they’re just in a naturally bright room, no special substrate & definitely no Co2 (that scares me lol)
As Lucy suggested read some of the stickied threads.
Don’t be afraid of trying some live plants, if you find they really aren’t for you then there is nothing wrong with artificial plants,I’ve seen some lovely ‘scapes done with artificial plants
 
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Catappa

I’ve been contemplating my fishkeeping choices as of lately and I feel as if I’m doing things wrong. I’m beginning to grow tired of using plastic plants because I’ve seen many users on the forum label them as bad, and they describe the many benefits of using live plants. I feel bad about myself, so I decided to create this thread so I can apologise and learn to make things right.

I have four aquariums. I have my newly cycled 5 gallon and 15 gallon tanks, which both contain big gravel chunks to which I feel aren’t suitable for live plants. There’s my 60 gallon, which houses large cichlids (such as a geophagus) that’ll likely uproot any live plants. These three tanks are out of question, but there’s one left which I feel could work: my 30 gallon community. This tank uses sand as the substrate, driftwood and rocks for decoration and has some plastic plants already. With help from others (and my parents) I could turn things around in this tank regarding the planting.

The filtration and airstone in the 30 gallon are both strong, and they need to be. Provided that this fast rate of oxygenation can deplete the tank of Co2 I can’t guarantee that it’s 100% safe for plants, so I’d like some clarification on this. I‘d also greatly appreciate advice on how to feed plants and provide nutrients to the substrate. The sand has a small layer of brown algae, and some spot algae is on the glass, so I’m wondering if this means anything. The tank is next to a window so any plants will have sunlight.

I’m not looking for plants that break off or transition from land-based to aquatic or vice-versa. I’ve heard that anubias and amazon swords are both tough plants that are hard to kill and are both suitable in fully-aquatic environments. I will decline getting moss balls. Any other recommendations (based on info I’ve provided) I’d appreciate.

Any plants I add will consume nitrate and hopefully introduce harmless hitchhikers to the tank that are also beneficial to the ecosystem. An aspect of live plants that’s scared me for the longest time is their tendency to introduce any hitchhiker to the aquarium, including dangerous ones such as anchor worms and zebra mussels (although the chance of these ones occurring is low). Is quarantining plants absolutely necessary?

Thanks for any advice I receive here; it’ll make me feel much better. With nearly five years of experience I should know all of this by now. If my parents allow for it I’ll try to incorporate live plants into my 30 gallon if it’s suitable. I feel bad...
Bravo for realizing errors and wanting to learn more to make your fishes' lives better!

More knowledgeable members can answer you about substrate, gravel/sand and plant choices. I advise you to not welcome any hitchhikers. I always rinsed my newly-bought aquarium plants and even examined the leaves and ran my fingers over them gently to check for unwanted guests. Sometimes, I briefly quarantined them in a bucket of water. Until, some years ago, I discovered the error of my ways.
It wasn't enough! One day, while observing my fish, I noticed some strange movement -- what appeared at first to be a fish was going up and down in a corner of the aquarium. On closer observation, it moved gracefully from one end of the aquarium to another and then I could no longer see it. I couldn't imagine how another fish had gotten into my tank. I didn't see it again but fish began to disappear! This had never happened before. (I haven't had a sick fish in twenty years or maybe longer. They sometimes die, but it's old age. I currently have a 5 1/2 year-old Green Neon Tetra.)

I finally caught another glimpse of the intruder and realized it wasn't a fish. Googling helped me to identify it as a damselfly nymph. It managed to wipe out most the fish in my tank before I wiped it out. In the days that followed, another five showed up and a dead damselfly stuck to the inside of the aquarium hood. I read up on damsel flies and learned that they lay a great many eggs (I think it was over a hundred) and that the eggs can take years to hatch! YIKES! So I had to put the few remaining fish and whatever dwarf shrimps I could find into a quarantine tank and completely empty, clean and renovate my tank!

Ever since, I diligently go through the previous procedure but quarantine new plants for at least a week, sometimes longer. Some people "dip" their plants and I believe there are posts on the forum as to what they use. Please be careful. You could bring in parasites, diseases, killers like hydras or even those murderous damselfly nymphs!

Editing to add: the damselfly nymphs were masters of concealment and camouflage! Pale green, with long, slender bodies, they could easily pass for plant leaves (like Valisneria) and they hid grasping plants or vertically hiding at the side of the tank, where the frame was.

Snails can also sometimes carry diseases or parasites.
 
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Ouse

Hi, I’m pretty rubbish at plants both land & aquatic but even I can’t kill Java ferns, anubias, Java moss & crypts (wendtii I think it is) Most of my tanks have no special lights, a couple have none at all as they’re just in a naturally bright room, no special substrate & definitely no Co2 (that scares me lol)
As Lucy suggested read some of the stickied threads.
Don’t be afraid of trying some live plants, if you find they really aren’t for you then there is nothing wrong with artificial plants,I’ve seen some lovely ‘scapes done with artificial plants
Thanks to you too for replying. Those plants are the ones that I hear get recommended the most. There’s just so many to choose from! :wideyed:

I feel more capable of keeping some of the plants in the hobby now. However there’s another problem that’s brewing: choosing which one(s) to use!
Bravo for realizing errors and wanting to learn more to make your fishes' lives better!

More knowledgeable members can answer you about substrate, gravel/sand and plant choices. I advise you to not welcome any hitchhikers. I always rinsed my newly-bought aquarium plants and even examined the leaves and ran my fingers over them gently to check for unwanted guests. Sometimes, I briefly quarantined them in a bucket of water. Until, some years ago, I discovered the error of my ways.
It wasn't enough! One day, while observing my fish, I noticed some strange movement -- what appeared at first to be a fish was going up and down in a corner of the aquarium. On closer observation, it moved gracefully from one end of the aquarium to another and then I could no longer see it. I couldn't imagine how another fish had gotten into my tank. I didn't see it again but fish began to disappear! This had never happened before. )I haven't had a sick fish in twenty years or maybe longer. They sometimes die, but it's old age. I currently have a 5 1/2 year-old Green Neon Tetra.)

I finally caught another glimpse of the intruder and realized it wasn't a fish. Googling helped me to identify it as a damselfly nymph. It managed to wipe out most the fish in my tank before I wiped it out. In the days that followed, another five showed up and a dead damselfly stuck to the inside of the aquarium hood. I read up on damsel flies and learned that they lay a great many eggs (I think it was over a hundred) and that the eggs can take years to hatch! YIKES! So I had to put the few remaining fish and whatever dwarf shrimps I could find into a quarantine tank and completely empty, clean and renovate my tank!

Ever since, I diligently go through the previous procedure but quarantine new plants for at least a week, sometimes longer. Some people "dip" their plants and I believe there are posts on the forum as to what they use. Please be careful. You could bring in parasites, diseases, killers like hydras or even those murderous damselfly nymphs!
Thanks for the reply. I’m not sure you’ll see this reply as it’ll merge into my previous post. I sure wouldn’t like damselflies in my bedroom!

I don’t have a quarantine tank so I’ll either have to quarantine in a bucket somehow (I’m not sure I have the facilities to keep them alive in there) or add them directly to the tank. I have fish that’ll eat insect larvae such as angels, rainbows and pretty much every fish in there.

I was hoping that any plants I add would introduce a population of bladder snails or other harmless hitchhiker. I once saw a thread here where someone managed to introduce a bullfrog tadpole!

Again, I can only use live plants if my parents allow for it. I hope I don’t get the words “but what if they die and destroy the tank?” thrown at me lol.
 
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TClare

It really is not that difficult to keep live plants, and I am sure you will appreciate the benefits. Even in your smaller tanks with gravel you could have plants like Anubias or java fern that are easy, undemanding and can attach to rocks or wood. I am not totally sure about the amazon swords as maybe they need more light and root feeding, but others may know better. There are plenty of quick growing stem plants that would be easy as well. Personally I would not worry about hitchhikers. Ramshorn snails are very useful for cleaning algae from the glass and plants, and if they breed too much I am sure your green terrors would be very happy to help out with population control!
 
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Ouse

It really is not that difficult to keep live plants, and I am sure you will appreciate the benefits. Even in your smaller tanks with gravel you could have plants like Anubias or java fern that are easy, undemanding and can attach to rocks or wood. I am not totally sure about the amazon swords as maybe they need more light and root feeding, but others may know better. There are plenty of quick growing stem plants that would be easy as well. Personally I would not worry about hitchhikers. Ramshorn snails are very useful for cleaning algae from the glass and plants, and if they breed too much I am sure your green terrors would be very happy to help out with population control!
Thanks to you too for replying, but I’m not risking adding plants to my cichlid aquarium. They will be added into my 30 gallon only (that is, if I can add them).

I wouldn’t mind ramshorn snails at all! There are already trumpet snails in there and no harm has been done. I’m beginning to turn my back on swords because everyone here has described Java ferns and anubias as a better alternative. Thanks!
 
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Pfrozen

Running an airstone won't have an impact on the growth or health of your plants as long as you aren't blasting them out of the substrate. Water will only hold sold much oxygen to begin with and generally speaking more is better. Most people don't worry about the oxygen dropping at night either unless they're running a CO2 system 24/7, which some do. If it really concerns you then there are some terrestrial plants that produce oxygen by performing a process similar to photosynthesis at night. Pothos is an excellent example
 
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Ouse

So will I have to add fertiliser or plant food?
Running an airstone won't have an impact on the growth or health of your plants as long as you aren't blasting them out of the substrate. Water will only hold sold much oxygen to begin with and generally speaking more is better. Most people don't worry about the oxygen dropping at night either unless they're running a CO2 system 24/7, which some do. If it really concerns you then there are some terrestrial plants that produce oxygen by performing a process similar to photosynthesis at night. Pothos is an excellent example
Thanks for stepping in to help. Your reply is very useful as oxygen and Co2 is what I’ve been most worried about. Thanks for clearing things up!

What’s meant by “blasting them out of the substrate?”
 
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TClare

I didnt
Thanks to you too for replying, but I’m not risking adding plants to my cichlid aquarium. They will be added into my 30 gallon only (that is, if I can add them).

I wouldn’t mind ramshorn snails at all! There are already trumpet snails in there and no harm has been done. I’m beginning to turn my back on swords because everyone here has described Java ferns and anubias as a better alternative. Thanks!
Sorry, I didn't mean you to put the plants with the cichlids, I just meant that they would be happy to eat any excess snails...
 
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Ouse

I didnt

Sorry, I didn't mean you to put the plants with the cichlids, I just meant that they would be happy to eat any excess snails...
Ah I see. Maybe I can attempt raising live food again... :emoji_imp:
 
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Pfrozen

So will I have to add fertiliser or plant food?

Thanks for stepping in to help. Your reply is very useful as oxygen and Co2 is what I’ve been most worried about. Thanks for clearing things up!

What’s meant by “blasting them out of the substrate?”

Haha sorry, I meant that the only way an airstone will harm your plants is if you use a giant airpump and point it directly at the plants. Just a joke but probably not funny

You will need fertilizer but depending on what plants you choose you might not need anything too crazy. You could fill your tank with easy column feeders like anubias and java fern for example and use a weaker all in one fertilizer like Thrive S. I only use Thrive S and a bit of extra potassium in all my tanks because I like to keep things simple
 
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JLAquatics

Hey, CrustyDusty. The way I see it is that you should be able to make the tanks the way you want as long as you accommodate the fishes needs. If you really don't want to deal with live plants, you should definitely not feel forced to do so. However, I was like you a few months back. I only used plastic plants because I felt intimidated to start anything live. With the right LED light and some all in one ferts (with root tabs), you can grow many easy plants, more than even the ones mentioned here. I started my first planted tank a little while back which you have seen before and I will personally never go back to plastic as the pros outweigh the cons in my opinion. I'm sure the friendly members (including myself) would be more than happy helping you transition your tank to a planted tank. But of course, whatever you choose is the right choice for you, so don't feel ashamed by your décor choices despite what others say.
 
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TClare

I would definitely include some easy stem plants as well as the java ferns, since many are inexpensive and grow so quickly with just a weekly dose of general purpose liquid fertilizer ( I use azoo plant premium). You can trim them back when they reach the surface and replant the cuttings, the cut pieces will also grow side shoots, so you soon fill a space without spending more money, even if the tank looked a bit bare to start with. It would probably be best to consult with your local shop which ones would be the easiest and quickest growing as it seems to vary according to water conditions etc. Or experiment with a few types to see which do best for you. I have found hygrophila and Ambulia and Heteranthera to be particularly fast growing.
 
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Brp933

Thanks to you too for replying. Those plants are the ones that I hear get recommended the most. There’s just so many to choose from! :wideyed:

I feel more capable of keeping some of the plants in the hobby now. However there’s another problem that’s brewing: choosing which one(s) to use!

Thanks for the reply. I’m not sure you’ll see this reply as it’ll merge into my previous post. I sure wouldn’t like damselflies in my bedroom!

I don’t have a quarantine tank so I’ll either have to quarantine in a bucket somehow (I’m not sure I have the facilities to keep them alive in there) or add them directly to the tank. I have fish that’ll eat insect larvae such as angels, rainbows and pretty much every fish in there.

I was hoping that any plants I add would introduce a population of bladder snails or other harmless hitchhiker. I once saw a thread here where someone managed to introduce a bullfrog tadpole! :eek:

Again, I can only use live plants if my parents allow for it. I hope I don’t get the words “but what if they die and destroy the tank?” thrown at me lol.
An easy fix to that is checking out the beginner plant packs at h20plants, buceplant and other online distributors. It makes it easy to determine whats easy for you to grow and what isn't. I got my first set of plants from h20plants and couldn't be happier.
 
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John58ford

Most swords in the US(maybe the uk has a different market structure) pet stores are land based/emersed with spoon shaped leaves, then when we plant under water/submerged they grow the nice sword shaped leaves. The old leaves aren't efficient so the plant will cannibalize then for extra nutrients.

You really can't go wrong with anubias and ferns, though I have killed some ferns with too much light. Those two options are great anywhere, even with the larger rock since you usually would glue/tie them to a larger rock and let the roots go searching. They also do better than most other plants in a tank that has shallow (less than 3 inches) substrate.

Also as mentioned by coradee, cryptocoryne wendtii is very resilient and will adapt to most lighting/nutrient conditions. I have some in everything from 1" river rock, down to fine sand. In my experience, Crypt is one of the best to propagate quickly, second to stem plants like ludwigia. I have gotten about 50 wendtii plants spread throughout the tanks over last 2 years and started with only one.

The quickest propagating plant in my tanks is ludwigia, it can go from one stem to a series of forks that cover a 10 gallon in about 3 months, you can cut all the forks and replant as desired and the process will repeat. Eventually even your neighbors will have too much for their tanks. Ludwigia does shed leaves as it grows and shades itself though.

That goes to the cost side of things, you don't have to spend a ton to get a planted tank, I run a wall of planted tanks(5 of them are pretty decent), and have only bought 3 swords, 2 dwarf chain swords, 2 anubias, one java fern (rip). I was given a couple ludwigia stems, one lace java fern and some lilly roots, they were destined for a trash can. Since you already have fake plants to make your fish feel comfortable, I would try to go slowly, pick a couple plants that propagate well and just buy one or two. Plant them in a well draining sand substrate and wait for the babies.

The one thing that may reduce success in your case would be if that tank has moon sand or something else prone to compaction, most medium and course sand gets plenty of oxygen at the root even up to 5" deep, and with some attention to your cleaning habits can achieve a layered nutrient system your plants will love. If your sand is too shallow to be optimal, it's a great time to start some plants. Before planting your first plant, wash and prepare an 1/2 inch worth of brand new sand, do not tumble your existing sand with the siphon, just layer the new stuff on. You can then plant some root plants and the roots will look for that dirty, nutrient rich layer and spread across it. A couple months later, do it again with a fresh 1/2" of sand. Repeat until you have about 3 inches of sand, then you can do occasional sand tumbling to the top 1/4-1/2" to keep it bright and clean and all the sand under it should replenish nutrients and stay pretty rich for your root system. Basically, that's my layering method that helped me get my tanks where they are without root tabs or fertilizer.

There are some changes I had to make to my water, I have to add calcium and magnesium at water changes in equal parts to fix my 3 dGH, was having deficiencies. With my natural fert method plus stocking I have ample bacteria making conversion and it uses up my taps 2-3 dKH so I boost that too. If you have harder tap water (with a decent magnesium balance) you should be set, otherwise the supplies I use to do the above cost about $10 per year across 160 gallons worth of tanks.


I'm not going to go too far into this part; don't be ashamed of your tanks as they are. If you play with some plants and the extra work turns your hobby into a job, well, keep the plastic ones handy. It's better to be a fish keeper and do a couple more water changes but have happy fish, than to be a burned out plant keeper and get tired of the work. Some people I understand, find it therapeutic to replant. I can understand that, on the rare day my kids are gone (they are involved in every aspect of this hobby except the planting) I enjoy turning on some music and going elbow deep in a 29. If anything is going on around me though, I just can't handle it. Even if my older son is just changing water in the tank next to me, it's too much for the crazy underwater, half blind basket weaving required to keep the plants "perfect"; so they're not.
 
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JettsPapa

I’ve been contemplating my fishkeeping choices as of lately and I feel as if I’m doing things wrong. I’m beginning to grow tired of using plastic plants because I’ve seen many users on the forum label them as bad, and they describe the many benefits of using live plants. I feel bad about myself, so I decided to create this thread so I can apologise and learn to make things right.

I just wanted to say that I don't believe you have anything to apologize for. If your fish are doing well, and you like your tanks the way they are, that's what matters, and you don't have anything to feel bad about.

I'm a big fan of live plants, and have recommended them many times, but that doesn't mean they're for everyone, or that anyone not using them is doing things wrong, and I wouldn't judge anyone who chooses not to use them.

Also, it may be difficult at your age, but one of the great things about getting older is learning not to worry so much about what other people think; especially people I don't even know (and even some I do know).

Now that I have all of that out of the way, if you still want to try live plants I'd encourage you to do so, but do it because you want to, not because of what others think, or because it's something you think you "should" do.
 
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sairving

There's nothing wrong with having fake plants. Some people just don't want to deal with live plants. You can grow plants in sand, just make sure it's not play sand. The grains are too small, and compact making it hard for roots to grow. My lfs keeps all their plants in sand.

Currently, I use sand and seachem flourite in my planted tank. Flourite is an inert substrate for planted tanks. My red flame sword and Tiger lotus are fertilized with root tabs. I have a java fern tied to driftwood and duck weed floating at the top. Plants like java ferns and anubias are rhizome plants. The rhizome can't be buried or the plant will die. They pull nutrients from the water column. Stem plants and floating plants feed from the water column as well and require liquid fertilizer. Root feeders like Amazon swords need root tabs.

Plants need good lighting. You could try low-light plants anubias and java ferns. They just need to be tied to rocks and driftwood.

If you have a decent lfs nearby that sells plants, go visit and ask for help. My lfs has been extremely helpful. I've learned it's better to buy a variety of plants to see what does well. My water is very hard; has a high ph, gh, and kh. Some plants just die on me or exist. Looking at you java fern.

Have fun and experiment a bit. Just realize, you will lose plants.

How to Get Started with Aquarium Plants

 
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carsonsgjs

Just to add my penny’s worth here crustydusty - go for it. You dont have anything to lose (besides money of course) but plenty to gain in terms of experience and satisfaction when you see your plants growing and the feeling of having created a thriving mini ecosystem. When i was your age i used artificial plants but they have come a long way since then to the point where they are almost life-like. Nothing wrong with using them in my opinion and in some cases it is better to use them.

But as others have said, stick to the hardy plants to start with - anubias and java fern mainly. They have their own varieties as well so some plants you see will look different to others. I only use those in my tanks now and they do well, no ferts or fancy lighting required. I once kept swords and they did really well too - just planted them straight in the gravel with no special substrate or ferts. Had to remove them in the end as they were huge (and one smaller red ozelot got buried by my t-bar digging all the time, wasnt happy about that).
 
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Ouse

I’m struggling to pick plants now lol! Anubias is the most convincing one ngl. Thanks to everyone who has replied; I’m also having trouble thanking everyone now! :happy:
Most swords in the US(maybe the uk has a different market structure) pet stores are land based/emersed with spoon shaped leaves, then when we plant under water/submerged they grow the nice sword shaped leaves. The old leaves aren't efficient so the plant will cannibalize then for extra nutrients.

You really can't go wrong with anubias and ferns, though I have killed some ferns with too much light. Those two options are great anywhere, even with the larger rock since you usually would glue/tie them to a larger rock and let the roots go searching. They also do better than most other plants in a tank that has shallow (less than 3 inches) substrate.

Also as mentioned by coradee, cryptocoryne wendtii is very resilient and will adapt to most lighting/nutrient conditions. I have some in everything from 1" river rock, down to fine sand. In my experience, Crypt is one of the best to propagate quickly, second to stem plants like ludwigia. I have gotten about 50 wendtii plants spread throughout the tanks over last 2 years and started with only one.

The quickest propagating plant in my tanks is ludwigia, it can go from one stem to a series of forks that cover a 10 gallon in about 3 months, you can cut all the forks and replant as desired and the process will repeat. Eventually even your neighbors will have too much for their tanks. Ludwigia does shed leaves as it grows and shades itself though.

That goes to the cost side of things, you don't have to spend a ton to get a planted tank, I run a wall of planted tanks(5 of them are pretty decent), and have only bought 3 swords, 2 dwarf chain swords, 2 anubias, one java fern (rip). I was given a couple ludwigia stems, one lace java fern and some lilly roots, they were destined for a trash can. Since you already have fake plants to make your fish feel comfortable, I would try to go slowly, pick a couple plants that propagate well and just buy one or two. Plant them in a well draining sand substrate and wait for the babies.

The one thing that may reduce success in your case would be if that tank has moon sand or something else prone to compaction, most medium and course sand gets plenty of oxygen at the root even up to 5" deep, and with some attention to your cleaning habits can achieve a layered nutrient system your plants will love. If your sand is too shallow to be optimal, it's a great time to start some plants. Before planting your first plant, wash and prepare an 1/2 inch worth of brand new sand, do not tumble your existing sand with the siphon, just layer the new stuff on. You can then plant some root plants and the roots will look for that dirty, nutrient rich layer and spread across it. A couple months later, do it again with a fresh 1/2" of sand. Repeat until you have about 3 inches of sand, then you can do occasional sand tumbling to the top 1/4-1/2" to keep it bright and clean and all the sand under it should replenish nutrients and stay pretty rich for your root system. Basically, that's my layering method that helped me get my tanks where they are without root tabs or fertilizer.

There are some changes I had to make to my water, I have to add calcium and magnesium at water changes in equal parts to fix my 3 dGH, was having deficiencies. With my natural fert method plus stocking I have ample bacteria making conversion and it uses up my taps 2-3 dKH so I boost that too. If you have harder tap water (with a decent magnesium balance) you should be set, otherwise the supplies I use to do the above cost about $10 per year across 160 gallons worth of tanks.


I'm not going to go too far into this part; don't be ashamed of your tanks as they are. If you play with some plants and the extra work turns your hobby into a job, well, keep the plastic ones handy. It's better to be a fish keeper and do a couple more water changes but have happy fish, than to be a burned out plant keeper and get tired of the work. Some people I understand, find it therapeutic to replant. I can understand that, on the rare day my kids are gone (they are involved in every aspect of this hobby except the planting) I enjoy turning on some music and going elbow deep in a 29. If anything is going on around me though, I just can't handle it. Even if my older son is just changing water in the tank next to me, it's too much for the crazy underwater, half blind basket weaving required to keep the plants "perfect"; so they're not.
Anubias seems like the plant for me. My sand is natural (and is only a few inches deep), my tap water is hard (hence the limescale buildup) and everyone seems to recommend it. Thanks so much!

I’ll also thank you for your kind words. Many hobbyists choose one of two solutions and hate the other, which is the case with plastic and live plants. I feel better now that most people don’t seem to mind!
 
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JettsPapa

Anubias are a good choice (I assume you know not to bury the rhizome). Crypts are another great beginner, low maintenance plant. There are many varieties.

If you want something with more height water wisteria grows well for most people (I know it does great for me in my hard 8.2 pH water). Bacopa is another one.
 
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Ouse

Anubias are a good choice (I assume you know not to bury the rhizome). Crypts are another great beginner, low maintenance plant. There are many varieties.

If you want something with more height water wisteria grows well for most people (I know it does great for me in my hard 8.2 pH water). Bacopa is another one.
I’m not quiet sure what a rhizome is yet. I’m considering a few anubias, java ferns and crypts to start off with. Hopefully I can grow a colony of them and make my tank even more beautiful.
 
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sairving

There are so many varieties of anubias too.
 
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TClare

There are so many varieties of anubias too.
yes, Anubias should be ideal, but bear in mind they are slow-growing, that is why I recommended some stem plants as well.
 
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sairving

I’m not quiet sure what a rhizome is yet. I’m considering a few anubias, java ferns and crypts to start off with. Hopefully I can grow a colony of them and make my tank even more beautiful.

Crypts are root feeders. You will need to add root tabs. They also melt when moved into a new tank or even around in the same tank. Plant them, add a root tab, and leave them alone after.
 
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StarGirl

You can have whatever you want in your own tank. No need to apologize for it. Having fake plants is not failing your fish. To each his own I say!
 
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Ouse

If crypts melt that easily then I’m not sure I want them in my tank if there’s no workaround to this issue. I guess that applies to all fully-aquatic plants?

For crypts would I have to add a root tab one time and never again, or do I feed them regularly? Do I add the root tab into the substrate?

Also, what‘s the full name for the crypt plant?

Sorry for all the questions...
 
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sairving

If crypts melt that easily then I’m not sure I want them in my tank if there’s no workaround to this issue. I guess that applies to all fully-aquatic plants?

For crypts would I have to add a root tab one time and never again, or do I feed them regularly? Do I add the root tab into the substrate?

Also, what‘s the full name for the crypt plant?

Sorry for all the questions...

Cryptocorynes come in different varieties. The most commonly seen variety is Cryptocoryne wendtii. It comes in different colors like green, brown, and red. I've had Crypt lutea. Some varieties get large and some stay small. Crypts melt a bit when they're adjusting to new water parameters. All you need to do is remove the melting leaves and eventually the plants will get new growth. They are very cool plants.

For root tabes, you shove them into the substrate by the roots every 2 months or when you notice less growth. My red flame sword needs tabs about every 7 weeks.
 
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Ouse

Cryptocorynes come in different varieties. The most commonly seen variety is Cryptocoryne wendtii. It comes in different colors like green, brown, and red. I've had Crypt lutea. Some varieties get large and some stay small. Crypts melt a bit when they're adjusting to new water parameters. All you need to do is remove the melting leaves and eventually the plants will get new growth. They are very cool plants.

For root tabes, you shove them into the substrate by the roots every 2 months or when you notice less growth. My red flame sword needs tabs about every 7 weeks.
That seems easier then I thought! If I get anubias I’ll also plant that in the sand rather than on a rock or piece of wood.

I’m not sure how fish shops package plants; I assume mine would just bag them as they would with fish. Thanks again for helping me.
 
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carsonsgjs

That seems easier then I thought! If I get anubias I’ll also plant that in the sand rather than on a rock or piece of wood.

I’m not sure how fish shops package plants; I assume mine would just bag them as they would with fish. Thanks again for helping me.
Dont plant the anubias - tie it to a rock or some wood with black cotton, fishing line or a small elastic band. If its planted into the substrate the rhizome will be buried and it will die.
 
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fallfever

Having followed you on this forum I am seriously not sure what there is to apologize for. I find you to be a responsible, yet good humored, fish keeper Having said that, I like things I have trouble killing. And floating plants (hornwort, duck weed) are awesome - for all the reasons mentioned above and for cover. Even cichlids dig them (dig means like for the younger folks). I use more rocks and driftwood for my SA/CA tanks but I simply attach anubias or java ferns with either super glue or thread and voila I have a planted tank. My fish like it. My water likes it. My wife likes it. Everybody's happy. Do your thing. You already do it quite well.
 
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Ouse

Ok I won’t plant the anubias in the substrate then. Thanks for warning me. I’m not sure how I’ll tie it down or make it look nice but I can do some independent research to help, or gain advice here.

I was just talking to my mum about getting live plants and I managed to interest her a bit. Here is my plan:

- Anubias (rock)
- Crypt wendtii (substrate)
- Java fern (substrate)

Please make corrections to my plan where due because I want the plants to live a happy and healthy life in my tank.

And BTW fallfever, I was apologising for being almost five years into the hobby and only just being bothered to learn about live plants. I’ve made plastic plants work, silk plants not so much, and I want to try something new. It’s about time I add live plants.
 
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carsonsgjs

Ok I won’t plant the anubias in the substrate then. Thanks for warning me. I’m not sure how I’ll tie it down or make it look nice but I can do some independent research to help, or gain advice here.

I was just talking to my mum about getting live plants and I managed to interest her a bit. Here is my plan:

- Anubias (rock)
- Crypt wendtii (substrate)
- Java fern (substrate)

Please make corrections to my plan where due because I want the plants to live a happy and healthy life in my tank.

And BTW fallfever, I was apologising for being almost five years into the hobby and only just being bothered to learn about live plants. I’ve made plastic plants work, silk plants not so much, and I want to try something new. It’s about time I add live plants.
Same for the java fern - attach that to a rock/driftwood too. Otherwise that looks great. Personally i use little elastic bands because im hopeless at tying knots! Once the plants have established strong roots i remove the band and hey presto - the plant has tethered itself and life is good.
 
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Ouse

Same for the java fern - attach that to a rock/driftwood too. Otherwise that looks great. Personally i use little elastic bands because im hopeless at tying knots! Once the plants have established strong roots i remove the band and hey presto - the plant has tethered itself and life is good.
Thanks so much. Ok, here’s the REAL plan:

- Anubias (rock)
- Java fern (rock)
- Crytocoryne wendtii (substrate)

I think I know there I’ll keep the crypt(s). There’s a spot behind my pleco’s driftwood house where it’ll look nice and the leaves will overhang. I’ll research ways of binding the other plants to the rocks. Thanks again! :happy:
 
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JettsPapa

I’m not quiet sure what a rhizome is yet. I’m considering a few anubias, java ferns and crypts to start off with. Hopefully I can grow a colony of them and make my tank even more beautiful.

The rhizome is the horizontal stem, with leaves and roots coming off of it (see the portion inside the red oval below). It shouldn't be covered in the substrate. Many people, including me, use a drop of Super Glue to attach the rhizome to a chunk of wood or rock. Others tie them with thread.


1617040413337.png

Crypts are root feeders. You will need to add root tabs. They also melt when moved into a new tank or even around in the same tank. Plant them, add a root tab, and leave them alone after.

I will respectfully disagree. Crypts will benefit from root tabs, but they will grow just fine with liquid fertilizer. i will agree that they will probably melt back some when introduced to a new tank, but it's not a big deal. The outside, older leaves will die as the new ones are coming in. Like any dead plant material, it's best to remove those dead leaves when that happens.
 
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Ouse

I’ll keep an eye on the crypt leaves, should I end up getting crypts. The anubias and java fern will be attached to my rocks somehow, likely using superglue if I can source any.
 
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JettsPapa

I’ll keep an eye on the crypt leaves, should I end up getting crypts. The anubias and java fern will be attached to my rocks somehow, likely using superglue if I can source any.

I said Super Glue, but that's just one brand (in fact, I use Gorilla Glue). Any cyanoacrylate based glue should work fine.
 
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