Plant stocking opinions

  • #1
Hi! I have a 36 gallon bowfront that I'm going to be planting. It has LED lighting but the room has a bay window, though it's not in direct sunlight, obviously. The filter is high flow and not adjustable, and I will be minimally dosing with CO2 and no fertilizer, as my LFS doesn't sell any that are safe for shrimp.

I'm planning on stocking different varieties of shrimp - vampire, bamboo, algae - and I'm unsure about a fish variety yet (I'm letting my roommate choose for the most part.)

What I want is some suggestions on plants to put inside. I have a dirt and gravel bottom with some driftwood and aquarium rocks so it can support plants with larger roots. I have a two foot long anubias plant I'll be putting in, and wanted something that will cover the ground nicely but not spread that fast. I also want something for the sides that is taller, and something that can sort of grow on the rock. I'm hoping for less dense plants so that I can still enjoy my small shrimp and be able to find them.

Honestly, anything that will grow in gravel with lowish light and minimal CO2 is a suggestion I'd appreciate! ^__^

PS: I put a pic of my tank that is half finished so you can know what I'm working with. I need more rocks for it so just waiting on that.


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  • #2
What form of cO2 are you planning to use, and what LED light is on the tank? not all lights are created equal.
  • #3
Ah - I see that you're looking for low light - if that's the case, you're wasting time and money with cO2. It only becomes really beneficial in a high light setup. Swords are medium-ish demand for light. Java fern is a great option, comes in a variety of leaf shapes for you to play with texture in the tank.
  • #4
Java Moss and X-Mas moss are both great for shrimp and can be tied or glued to driftwood and rocks. They both dont really need CO2 or crazy lighting and will grow just fine without ferts. Moss balls are loved by shrimp and found in every LFS. They can also be propagated just by tearing them in have and forming new balls. Tie them up with string so they hold their shape and plop them back in. They will grow slow but its cool to see.

Anubias will also go well with your rocks and driftwood and can be tied with string or glued to them just like the moss. They will grow slow without ferts or CO2 but are hardy and should be fine.
Anubias Barteri are low growing about 6-10 in and look good. Or you can try the Anubias barteri nana which is even smaller. All will do fine with your setup

Some slow growing carpeting plants you could use is Dwarf Hairgrass or if you want something a little more challenging you can do baby dwarf tears. I actually like to use the moss from above to make a sort of carpet but it will grow fast and cover your tank bottom where as hairgrass is much slower and will propagate through runners.

Hornwort or Moneywort would go well on your tank sides along the glass. Both will grow fast even without ferts or C02. I personally like having moneywort all along a tank side. Wisteria is another fast growing plant that is super easy and hardy. Rotalia Indica or Rotalia rotundifolia are pretty awesome but do need a little better lighting to get the reds to really come out.

For the background I LOVE Enchindorus. They are swordplants are fill background and hide equipment superbly. THey are heavy root feeders so you might want to add some root tabs to help them out. Other swords fall along the same lines. may just need some root tabs but should do fine even without CO2 or ferts. Just note most swords will melt when first put in your tank. This is normal. Just let it die off and watch as new leaves start to sprout.

Sagitaria or Vallisneria can be used for the background. They are long grass like looking plants and do well in a background.

Note: Seachems line of ferts is completely shrimp safe. I also believe Aquarium CO-OP sells their all in one fert which is shrimp safe. I use it with my cherry shrimp
  • #5
Nice tank!
A few things to discuss here:

First, all fertilizers are safe for shrimp. Anything reputably branded/made for planted aquariums especially. I really highly recommend you use one, even if it's a lower dose, because aquatic plants simply need many nutrients. Tap water and waste do not supply it all.

Next, I am assuming you have a "liquid carbon?" Correct me if I'm wrong!
So you won't really be dosing CO2. CO2 supplements in a bottle are not CO2, because CO2 doesn't exist in liquid form at atmospheric pressure. Instead they are a chemical called glutaraldehyde. It functions primarily as a disinfectant, and in aquariums is a good algae killer. I personally believe it does also supply some form of supplemental (non-CO2) carbon, but there are lots of skeptics. It is dangerous when overdosed. I use it sometimes to kill nuisance algae.

Also, you might want to upgrade lighting. Did the light come with the tank? Lighting that comes with a tank is usually not good for growing much.

I would not get a carpeting plant if I were you. They like finer substrates and primarily aquasoil, gravel is not the best for small plants.

I recommend you cover the rock and wood in epiphytic plants, which are plants that grow not in substrate but on hardscape. There are many attractive varieties of java fern, anubias, and moss, which are all very easy to care for.
In the substrate amazon sword, cryptocoryne, hygrophila, are all easy to care for. They will like more light and will need fertilizing though.
  • Thread Starter
  • #6
Wow. Thank you all so much! I'm not entirely sure what light I have, but I know it's not for growing plants. I don't think it came with the tank as I bought it all second hand.

I don't have any CO2 yet so skipping it makes me happy, I love to save money!

Thank you for all the great suggestions! I already have the anubias nana, like, two feet of it haha, so I'll be adding that for sure. Maybe I'll skip the carpet and just go with something small, or maybe I'll get the dwarf grass and put it along the "river" I have going.

Also, I forgot about rotalia, I really like that one!
  • #7
The Dwarf Grass might struggle a little in gravel but its a pretty hard plant so it will adapt usually. Rotalia is one of my favorite plants. It looks crazy good when you can get it all bunchy and bushy. If you look up Jacobs Aquarium on youtube he has a tank that he grows his rotalia in and its actually insane how cool the plant looks imo. It does thrive with co2 and better lighting and with some iron it'll really shine.

I do recommend people skip the carpet. It is usually a lot more work than people expect and unless done well imo is hard to really get it to look the way you want. Especially without good soil. I find things like small patches of the hairgrass or a small anubia or java fern can really make a substrate pop a lot more for people who want to use gravel.

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