My Very First Planted Tank

mattgirl

Member
For years I had plastic and silk plants in my tanks. Last year I decided I wanted to expand my knowledge and learn how to care for live water plants. I have always had a green thumb when it comes to house and garden plants so thought this wouldn't be that difficult.

I was wrong. I killed a lot of plants until I found some that thrive in my water. This is my first attempt at an aqua-scaped tank with rocks and live plants in 5.5 gallon tank. The dual sponge is kinda an eye sore but eventually the plants should disguise it some.

 
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mattgirl

Member
StarGirl15 said:
Your picture isn't showing up for me
Well shoot. I don't really know why it isn't showing up for you



Can you see this one? I loaded it straight from my computer whereas I just did a copy and paste for the first one.
 

StarGirl

Member
mattgirl said:
Well shoot. I don't really know why it isn't showing up for you



Can you see this one? I loaded it straight from my computer whereas I just did a copy and paste for the first one.
Yes! Very nice I wish my plants would grow faster!
 
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mattgirl

Member
The water wisteria over on the right is growing very well. Iis already twice as tall as it was in that photo. The anacharis I have planted on each side of the filter are filling out and have already grown a few inches too.

The java fern up front isn't dying but isn't growing much yet. The dwarf sag on the left is growing well. Once everything gets well settled I am hoping this tank will be well filled in with its big variety of plants.

One day I want my 55 gallon tank to look like this one. It is going to take a lot of plants to accomplish that though. I have started by planting an amazon sword, some water wisteria and jungle val in there so far. It isn't picture worthy yet
 

StarGirl

Member
mattgirl said:
The water wisteria over on the right is growing very well. Iis already twice as tall as it was in that photo. The anacharis I have planted on each side of the filter are filling out and have already grown a few inches too.

The java fern up front isn't dying but isn't growing much yet. The dwarf sag on the left is growing well. Once everything gets well settled I am hoping this tank will be well filled in with its big variety of plants.

One day I want my 55 gallon tank to look like this one. It is going to take a lot of plants to accomplish that though. I have started by planting an amazon sword, some water wisteria and jungle val in there so far. It isn't picture worthy yet
Mine isn't very worthy yet either....
 
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mattgirl

Member
Yours is beautiful and will be even more so once your plants start filling it up.

What are you feeding them? I started out with Flourish and Flourish Excel but wasn't having much luck. I switched to Thrive and Thrive root capsules. Once I did my plants started doing much better.

I found that the TDS of my tap water was very low and it was determined that too could be the reason for the lack of luck with plants. I now use Equilibrium to keep the TDS up close to 100. Once I did that I started having some success.
 

StarGirl

Member
mattgirl said:
Yours is beautiful and will be even more so once your plants start filling it up.

What are you feeding them? I started out with Flourish and Flourish Excel but wasn't having much luck. I switched to Thrive and Thrive root capsules. Once I did my plants started doing much better.

I found that the TDS of my tap water was very low and it was determined that too could be the reason for the lack of luck with plants. I now use Equilibrium to keep the TDS up close to 100. Once I did that I started having some success.
I use Thrive C and Flourish root tabs. I only have Anubias, crypts and Vals. I just started them in May so I'm a newbie too.
 
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mattgirl

Member
StarGirl15 said:
I use Thrive C and Flourish root tabs. I only have Anubias, crypts and Vals. I just started them in May so I'm a newbie too.
Getting into plants is a lot like going through the cycling process. It takes a boat load of patience but pays off in the end.

I have a couple of anabias along with a tiny buce plant in the 5 gallon. They don't seem to be growing yet but if I understand correctly they are very slow growing plants.

I am glad I got the water wisteria. It is a fast growing plant so gives me something to watch actually growing. Most everything else seem to just be sitting there looking pretty but very slow growing.
 

StarGirl

Member
mattgirl said:
Getting into plants is a lot like going through the cycling process. It takes a boat load of patience but pays off in the end.

I have a couple of anabias along with a tiny buce plant in the 5 gallon. They don't seem to be growing yet but if I understand correctly they are very slow growing plants.

I am glad I got the water wisteria. It is a fast growing plant so gives me something to watch actually growing. Most everything else seem to just be sitting there looking pretty but very slow growing.
Vals are supposed to be faster growing plants. Mine haven't even grown 1 shoot yet...
 
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mattgirl

Member
StarGirl15 said:
Vals are supposed to be faster growing plants. Mine haven't even grown 1 shoot yet...
I am not having very good luck with jungle val. It was actually the very first plant I ever bought. I got a huge handful of beautiful 1 1/2 to 2 foot long plants at least 2 years ago. I managed to kill them off pretty quick. I still have some of them and I am just now finally starting to see some of them growing more than just a couple of inches tall.

I can't seem to get them to grow in my 55 gallon tank but they are doing better in both the 5.5 gallon and in my plant only 2.5 gallon bowl.

The dwarf sag looks much like the jungle vals but isn't supposed to grow as tall. I am starting to have a tiny bit of success with them in the 55.

Do you have root tabs under your vals? I am thinking they are mostly root feeders.
 

max h

Member
mattgirl said:
Getting into plants is a lot like going through the cycling process. It takes a boat load of patience but pays off in the end.

I have a couple of anabias along with a tiny buce plant in the 5 gallon. They don't seem to be growing yet but if I understand correctly they are very slow growing plants.

I am glad I got the water wisteria. It is a fast growing plant so gives me something to watch actually growing. Most everything else seem to just be sitting there looking pretty but very slow growing.
Congrats for finally making the leap into live plants, they look so much better then the plastic plants. The one thing I like is that they are constantly changing the look of your tank as they grown and you trI'm them.
 

coralbandit

Member
You can buff your water right up to 200 TDS to see what your water is missing !
100 is low enough for my rams to breed and way lower then my tap .
With all the 'common comparisons' between pH /GH/KH few find out about their TDS...
I'll bet your water is lot like many others who have a much higher TDS then 100??
My tap is 7.6 /2-3 KH / 9 GH with 350 TDS while I know others with same Ph/GH/KH and a TDS of 110 ...
 
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mattgirl

Member
max h said:
Congrats for finally making the leap into live plants, they look so much better then the plastic plants. The one thing I like is that they are constantly changing the look of your tank as they grown and you trI'm them.
Thank you, I agree. I see all these beautiful planted tanks and finally decided it was time for me to at least try. I have had a LOT of failures along the learning curve but am finally, with persistence, having some success.

It is amazing how quickly some of the plants in this tank are growing.
 

max h

Member
mattgirl said:
Thank you, I agree. I see all these beautiful planted tanks and finally decided it was time for me to at least try. I have had a LOT of failures along the learning curve but am finally, with persistence, having some success.

It is amazing how quickly some of the plants in this tank are growing.
It is amazing how quickly they grow. I did some serious trimming the other week and removed a 5 gallon bucket full from my 150. I was able to give some away, I do have to work on the 55 today. I need to plant some of the Amazon Sword babies in it.
 
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mattgirl

Member
coralbandit said:
You can buff your water right up to 200 TDS to see what your water is missing !
100 is low enough for my rams to breed and way lower then my tap .
With all the 'common comparisons' between pH /GH/KH few find out about their TDS...
I'll bet your water is lot like many others who have a much higher TDS then 100??
My tap is 7.6 /2-3 KH / 9 GH with 350 TDS while I know others with same Ph/GH/KH and a TDS of 110 ...
The water straight from my tap has a PH of 7.2 and a TDS of 21. I thought my gh/kh testing solution had gone bad because I never got any of the colors one is suppose to get when using it. I think that is the main reason I have to use crushed coral and seashells in my tanks to keep the ph stable. I don't think my water has any buffering ability. It is very soft.

Do you think the Equilibrium will do the same thing as the crushed coral? I actually ask about how high my TDS should be but never got an answer so just guessed at somewhere around 100. My molly tank often gets up to 125 right before a water change.

If you think 200 would be better I can easily do that. I have black skirt, neon and red/blue columbian tetras, corys and Elbert in my 55. Would 200 be the right number for them?
 

coralbandit

Member
Raise it and test to see if GH/KH are raising also ..
With wondershells and baking soda I have had my red picta and swordtails at 1,100 TDS ..
The baking soda was to stabilize the pH as long term the wonder shells lower your pH despite adding minerals !
I never saw the TDS question this forum is so busy !
Your tetras will like between 100-200 IMO. The livebearers want 300+++ IMO..
Most add salt to live bearers not knowing there are other better ways to raise hardness.. Stay away from salt..
I will send you a nice link on wonder shells ..You should look into them .
My super reds breed in my tap 350TDS [when it is new and clean !] ...
21 TDS is the same as my RO system gets my tap without DI resin !
I have only used that water [straight ] for my rarest apisto the irinidae they say need the very softest of waters..
21 is very ,very ,very low ..IMO 50 is borderline too low for most fish ...
 
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mattgirl

Member
coralbandit said:
Raise it and test to see if GH/KH are raising also ..
I will run the gh/kh tests on the 55 today and see where they are at.

With wondershells and baking soda I have had my red picta and swordtails at 1,100 TDS ..
The baking soda was to stabilize the pH as long term the wonder shells lower your pH despite adding minerals !
Wow!! Since I don't totally understand the effect of high or low TDS if I saw something like that it would have me reaching for the water changing equipment

I never saw the TDS question this forum is so busy !
Not a problem. I am learning now
Your tetras will like between 100-200 IMO. The livebearers want 300+++ IMO..
Most add salt to live bearers not knowing there are other better ways to raise hardness.. Stay away from salt..
Sounds like the level I have in the 55 is pretty good then. I do need to raise the level in the molly tank though.
I will send you a nice link on wonder shells ..You should look into them .
I have actually done a bit of reading about them at one point in time but didn't know if they would be helpful to me. That was back when I decided to go with the crushed coral.
My super reds breed in my tap 350TDS [when it is new and clean !] ...
If that is the case should I gradually raise the TDS in the container I have my pleco fry in. I actually filled it with my 21 TDS water not knowing any better.
21 TDS is the same as my RO system gets my tap without DI resin !
I have only used that water [straight ] for my rarest apisto the irinidae they say need the very softest of waters..
21 is very ,very ,very low ..IMO 50 is borderline to low for most fish ...
That is what I was told when I posted the readings on my tap water shortly after getting my TDS meter. Others were wishing they had my water.

It seems my fish have mostly thrived in my very soft basically empty water. It wasn't until I wanted to try growing plants that I got more into what they need. I have found they need a lot more than what my water gives them.

They really started getting healthy once I started giving them ferts and some of the minerals missing from my tap water. Ferts alone wasn't doing it.
 

StarGirl

Member
coralbandit said:
You can buff your water right up to 200 TDS to see what your water is missing !
100 is low enough for my rams to breed and way lower then my tap .
With all the 'common comparisons' between pH /GH/KH few find out about their TDS...
I'll bet your water is lot like many others who have a much higher TDS then 100??
My tap is 7.6 /2-3 KH / 9 GH with 350 TDS while I know others with same Ph/GH/KH and a TDS of 110 ...
My tap water 6 KH 10 GH
My Tank is 7 KH 13 GH

Ammonia 0
Nitrites 0
Nitrates 20
PH 8.0
Temp 78* Bumping that up as we speak... Starting to cool off at night now.

StarGirl15 said:
My tap water 6 KH 10 GH
My Tank is 7 KH 13 GH

Ammonia 0
Nitrites 0
Nitrates 20
PH 8.0
Temp 78* Bumping that up as we speak... Starting to cool off at night now.
What is TDS?
 
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mattgirl

Member
StarGirl15 said:
What is TDS?
It stands for Total Dissolved Solids. I am not 100% sure what exactly those solids are but think it has a lot to do the the amount of minerals in the water.
 

StarGirl

Member
mattgirl said:
It stands for Total Dissolved Solids. I am not 100% sure what exactly those solids are but think it has a lot to do the the amount of minerals in the water.
How do you check that?
 
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mattgirl

Member
StarGirl15 said:
How do you check that?
I bought one of These It is a very easy to use TDS meter.
 
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mattgirl

Member
max h said:
It is amazing how quickly they grow. I did some serious trimming the other week and removed a 5 gallon bucket full from my 150. I was able to give some away, I do have to work on the 55 today. I need to plant some of the Amazon Sword babies in it.
Well if you end up with another bucket full of trimmings keep my 55 gallon tank in mind for them if you don't have room for them. Quote me a price and I'll get 'er done
 

max h

Member
mattgirl said:
Well if you end up with another bucket full of trimmings keep my 55 gallon tank in mind for them if you don't have room for them. Quote me a price and I'll get 'er done
I do have some Amazon Swords babies, maybe a few others cuttings here when I get around to trimming the 55. Yeah I didn't get to it yesterday SEC football got in the way.
 
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mattgirl

Member
max h said:
I do have some Amazon Swords babies, maybe a few others cuttings here when I get around to trimming the 55. Yeah I didn't get to it yesterday SEC football got in the way.
hehehehehe, football does have to come before anything else

I am pretty well set on amazon swords for now. I have 2 pretty big ones and 5 little ones. I have been promised some hornwort but am still looking for some Brazilian Pennywort.

I have a very hard time keeping floating plants healthy so the pennywort was recommended as an alternative to the dwarf water lettuce and red root floaters I have managed to kill off. I am having a little bit of success with frogbit but even it isn't as healthy as I would like.
 

sbahtijarevic

Member
StarGirl15 said:
Mine isn't very worthy yet either....
That’s what you say Star! Keep it up, looks great for now. We want more density, right?
 
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mattgirl

Member
mattgirl said:
I will run the gh/kh tests on the 55 today and see where they are at.
coralbandit I ran the GH and KH tests and it seems adding the Equilibrium to get the TDS up to right at 100 hasn't made a difference in the numbers. PH is still holding steady at 7.2

I still don't get the expected blue to begin with in the KH test but it does turn a very pale yellow at 3 drops. More drops don't change to a darker yellow.

I don't get the expected orange in the GH but do get a very pale green at 6 drops. Doesn't matter how many drops I add after it turns the pale green. It doesn't get more color.

I truly do not know what that means.
 

coralbandit

Member
IMO it means you can keep trying to increase all levels using TDS as a safe guide..
None of those numbers should change as much as TDS IMO..Even changing my water for ram breeding barely shifts any of the other levels ..
 
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mattgirl

Member
coralbandit said:
IMO it means you can keep trying to increase all levels using TDS as a safe guide..
None of those numbers should change as much as TDS IMO..Even changing my water for ram breeding barely shifts any of the other levels ..
Thank you. I really didn't know what to expect since adjusting my water is a whole new ball game for me. Well, other than adding CC and seashells to stabilize the PH. It surprised me to see that the hardness didn't go up at all but I feel better now that I know not to expect a big change in those numbers.

I do know my plants are doing better now that I am getting the TDS up a bit. I am more comfortable about going even higher now.

Thank a lot for putting my mind at ease.
 

86 ssinit

Member
Congrats on moving to plants!! Both of you . It does take time to figure out what will grow in your tanks. Me I like to get what grows growing than move into something else. Mattgirl something to add to your 5.5 would be cherry shrimp. For me the cherry shrimp tank grows everything . Also Val have a tendency to melt when first added. They do grow back. Crypts are strong growers. Many different types.
Lighting and ferts are the most important things. Good luck on you new adventure.
 

coralbandit

Member
Rich has water that is under 50 TDS and his rams would not breed in it at all !
When he raised it to 100 he started to have success.
TDS is not a replacement for other test but much quicker if you already have a baseline to go off of .
I think you should shoot for 150 depending how much more of what ever you adding it takes .Don't add more then recommended doses of anything without testing carefully first ..
 
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mattgirl

Member
coralbandit said:
Rich has water that is under 50 TDS and his rams would not breed in it at all !
When he raised it to 100 he started to have success.
TDS is not a replacement for other test but much quicker if you already have a baseline to go off of .
I think you should shoot for 150 depending how much more of what ever you adding it takes .Don't add more then recommended doses of anything without testing carefully first ..
Thank you for that very good advice. If not for reading a lot of your posts in your angel breeding thread I wouldn't have known anything about TDS. In fact I didn't even know what the letters meant I certainly didn't know how important it is to know something about them and how important it is to have an idea where mine are.

If not for that I am not sure I would ever have any success at having a planted tank. Knowing where they were and raising them has made a big difference.
86 ssinit said:
Congrats on moving to plants!! Both of you . It does take time to figure out what will grow in your tanks. Me I like to get what grows growing than move into something else. Mattgirl something to add to your 5.5 would be cherry shrimp. For me the cherry shrimp tank grows everything . Also Val have a tendency to melt when first added. They do grow back. Crypts are strong growers. Many different types.
Lighting and ferts are the most important things. Good luck are you new adventure.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You are actually one of the ones that prompted me to get more into real plants.

I have considered shrimp. I have a 2.5 gallon planted tank that I have had up and running for about a year. I asked the experts if it would work for shrimp. That is when I first really started learning more about what both shrimp and plants need to thrive. I found my super soft water wouldn't be good for shrimp. It was also determined they were too low to grow healthy plants.

I started remembering what I had read about TDS. I started doing something about my super low ones and now I am actually having some success.
 
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mattgirl

Member
Oh what a difference a couple of months makes

 
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mattgirl

Member
Since the plants are growing so well and are filling this tank so well I removed the dual sponge filter and replaced it with a small HOB filter. I also turned the vinyl background around so it is black now instead of printed. Amazing what a difference that made. You should actually be able to see the difference between the black and printed in the 2 photos above.

I need to do the same with my 55 gallon tank but all I have is a blue background for it. It won't be as easy to do it on the 55 but I think it will be well worth the effort. The 55 is close to photo worthy but not quite yet The printed background on it right now kinda takes away some of the beauty of the live plants.
 

KSo

Member
Oh wow - what a difference!! Ok I see I’ve got some more research to do! Lol this is going to be a full time job!
 

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