My First Planted Tank - How Am I Doing?

Adam T

I just planted my established, previously fish-only tank. 30 gallon tall 12 x 24 x 24 high. Eclipse 2 hood. My substrate is 3" of epoxy coated gravel (about 3mm). I have put some fertilizer blocks from my LFS in the gravel at the recommended spacing.

My current plant list is:
Amazon Sword
Hair Grass
Water Wisteria
Java Moss
Indica Crypt
Gold Ribbon (Dracaena variegatus) (non-aquatic, purchased in ignorance from Petco as my one of my first plants)
Kyoto (Ophiopogon japonica) (non-aquatic, purchased in ignorance from Petco as my one of my first plants)

My water parameters are:

Temp: 83F
pH 6.5 (measured at the end of the lighted day)
Total Alkalinity: 120 ppm
Total Hardness: 120 ppm
KH: 4
GH: 7
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: >20 ppm
Calculated CO2 value: 40 mg/l

Right now I'm only running 30 watts (1 wpg), but my AHS 55 watt PC light is on its way. (See my retrofit thread, which I will update with pictures, here: ). Lights on 12 hours/day from noon to midnight. Tank is at core of house, so it only gets ambient light from a well lit room from sunup to noon.

I'm injecting CO2 with a yeast unit connected to a powerhead which disburses the CO2 as microbubbles about an inch above the substrate. I'm running the power head during lights on, and I run a bubble wand for 3 hours in the middle of the lights off period. I'm a bit worried about the CO2 level because it's supposed to be between 20-30, so I may start cycling the CO2 powerhead on and off during the lighted period, but my fish seem ok and I'm not sure the calculated value is accurate -- it's based on a chart included with my Tetra Laborette liquid test set

Here's how it looks:


First, how does this all sound?

Second: I fear my aquascaping will require some adjustments unless I really keep the foreground plants well groomed. How hard is it on the plants to relocate them later?

Third: One of the things I did was spread a thin layer of Java Moss on my rock work, which I secured with some mono-filament that I'd like to remove once it takes root.

How long should it take for the Java Moss to take root and start growing into the fluffy green mound I'm looking for? Just looking for some guidelines to see if the plant's performance is as it should be.

Thanks very much!


Looks nice. I'm no expert on planted tanks but do have a bit of expierence. I would move the amazon sword to the back now, once it starts growing it will get massive and you want it in the back. The hair grass I've heard is a bit hard to grow. Depending on the plants depends on how easy it is to replant. The root feeders like the sword will be harder once their roots develop but the stem plants like you have on the left will be easy since they don't feed that much out of the gravel but through their leaves or something, those are the plants that will be easy, just cut off the top and replant. I would suggest adding some hornwort and leave it floating or planted to keep algae away. Once the java moss is green and seems to have a grip I would remove the stuff tieing it down, but if I remember correctly you can probably just leave it on and soon you won't see it.


Co2 is a little high but after you add more light it should come down some. You may want to consider pressurized Co2 with a Ph controller. Nice tank, looks good. ain't this fun


Looks great but like ATMMachine suggested you should move the amazon sword to the back now. Once the roots spread its going to be a mess to move it. They will get big quick as long as they get enough light.


hey, if you have a sword, do u have to put fertiliser pellets next to the roots on top or in the gravel next to the roots?


you don't have to do either, but if you're going to use fertilizer pellets, you probably want to put them next to the roots under the substrate (to avoid algae blooms/greenwater)

hope that helped

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