Planted Tank Beginner

  • #1
As many of you know, I'm helping my mom setup a tank. We have decided to go planted and are going to be purchasing this light

Is this ok? Should I look at others? We're not looking to spend more than $30, I just spent over $300 on lights for my dad's cichlid tank(finnex planted plus) and don't want to have to spend a ton on lights this go around.
The tank is a 20 long, will be stocked with guppies, khulI loaches, ember tetras, RCS and mystery snails.
We have an aqueon quiet flow 200gph filter if that means anything.
For plants, we want easy low light ones. We will most likely be ordering from trinsfish, so anything on their list or that is commonly found at Petco and PetSmart would be great.
So far I know we will have Taiwan moss. That's the only thing I already have(well, I don't have it yet. But it's coming)
Here are some plants I've been looking at-
Sword varieties
Vallisneria varieties
Cryptocorne varieties
Anubias varieties
Java fern varieties
Dwarf sagittaria
Banana plant
Water sprite
Ludwiga varieties
Red root floaters
Mermaid weed
Water wisteria
Myrio green
Dwarf lobelia cardinalis
Moss balls
Subwassertang moss
Scarlet temple
Madagascar lace plant
Aponogeton species
Hygrophilia varieties
Willow moss
Staurogene repens
I know absolutely nothing about these plants, except that swords and crypts are root feeders, frogbit and red root floaters float, and that moss, java fern, and anubias need to be tied to things.
Obviously we won't be getting all of these, this is just a list of stuff we like.
I would like to have bushy plants for the sides, something tall for the back, at least one sword, another type of moss(I love subwassertang moss, but willow moss is just as pretty), an anubias, a nice foreground plant and something floating. I want the tank to look filled in, but I don't want to have to pay an arm and a leg, so the fewer species the better!
Do I need any fertilizers? I ordered osmocote plus root tabs for the swords in my dad's tank, aside from that I don't have any. Will I need any?
Are my lights ok? I haven't ordered them yet.
What plants would be a good starting point? I don't want to buy a ton.
Do I need fertilizers? If so, which ones?
I'm sorry I'm such a newbie at this... Most of my plants are java fern and anubias which are extremely hard to kill lol. Thanks for any help
Sorry for all the threads on my mom's tank, it's her first real deal tank and I want it to go as smoothly as possible.
  • #2
The light looks ok to me!

As for plants, Pygmy Chain Sword is a nice one. It makes a nice foreground plant. In a tank as short as a 20 long you might want to consider it as a midground plant.

For swords, their root systems are enormous. You might want to look at Blyxa sp. Mine has been fairly well-behaved and is in a low-light tank.

Vallisneria is a good choice, just be sure to pick a smaller variety like Corkscrew. Jungle val is a very bad choice. Trust me! LOL

If you like lilypads in your tank then you might like the dwarf lilies. I have a red variety of Nuphar japonica. It also has amazing roots but the plant itself has been surprisingly well behaved!

For floaters, Red Root Floaters are really nice, but so is Salvinia natans

Another to add to your list is Alternanthera reineckiI 'Mini'. It's very bright red/pink and stays short. Mine grew very well! I got it through Tropica.

Choose your Aponogeton carefully. A lot of them get big. I've had one that stayed small but I have no real idea what it was since most of the plants I've purchased from that store were mislabelled
  • Thread Starter
  • #3
Thank you aqua!
I don't know why I thought chain sword was high light. I will definitely research before we make any decisions. I will look at smaller sword species, I actually really like pygmy chain sword so we might go with that.
I've never had vallisneria before, I've heard it melts when you first put it in, is this true?
  • #4
Nope, I've had good results with it under even low light

I've never had my Val melt in any tank, that's more of a problem with Crypts. Val seems to be one of the more hardy and determined weeds out there
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
Really? I've never had my crypts melt.
  • #6
Honestly, I don't think any of my Crypts have melted either. But it's what I've heard and I don't have that many crypts. I don't think you'll have any trouble with vals though
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
Any way to help me convince my mom to order fish/plants online? Trinsfish has both khulis and embers in stock, and cheaper than any stores near us, as well as a ton of plants I haven't even heard of.
She hates when I order fish online because she's always stressed about them, but it would be cheaper buying the plants and fish together online rather than trying to find khulis(I haven't seen any near me) and paying $5 an ember tetra.

  • Thread Starter
  • #8
Bumping this up
The light should be here sometime this week!
I need to know what fertilizers to get. I read about liquid Co2, which I heard is good for the Taiwan moss I got in today! And I know seachem makes good products. I also want to know, will osmocote plus root tabs be good for swords? The ones in my dads tank aren't growing.
  • #9
The swords I think will really appreciate the Osmocote root tabs! They're such heavy fedders that I don't think it matters to them where their food comes from
  • #10
So--I'm mapping out a plan for a 20 gallon tank----was looking for long but am seeing better deals on the highs so may end up with a 20 gallon high. I just want low lighting plants. I'm really interested in the pennywort as a floating plant---do I have to be careful about what filter I choose if I do the pennywort? I'd like to have a hang on the back filter---but wonder if that will cause problems with my floating plant---suggestions?--I'd also like to use the java moss as cover for some driftwood or other ornamental decor.....What are some good carpet plants for low lighted setups? And if anyone has specific recommendations on the kind of bulbs that work best---that would be awesome. Planning on Ecco complete for this a decent choice---and how many bags do you think it would take to hit that 3 inches of substrate number? Also---I'd like this tank to include an apple snail---would that be a horrible idea? I keep reading conflicting info about whether or not they tear up plants...Any good recommendations for low light plants would be much appreciated---along with any easy tips for aquascaping. Thank you!
  • Thread Starter
  • #11
Awesome! Just ordered some!
Would you get any other ferts?
  • #12
Awesome! Just ordered some!
Would you get any other ferts?
Potassium (I use apI leaf zone) and Flourish Comprehensive. Trace minerals intended for plants and potassium which isn't introduced into the water by feeding and pooping like nitrogen and phosphorus.

I've read up on plants enough to figure out the minimalist approach of flourishing and this is the best I've come up with. I can't really suggest other things as I'm new to plants myself

Edit: just reread the first post. That light may not be suitable for plant growth. The Kelvin rating is quite high, meaning the light contains far less reds and more blue. Beamswork does sell lights in the 6500K range for the budget saavy that are suitable for low light plant 'growth' and not just sustaining them. These are roughly $10-15 more expensive. I'm low on time for my break, but an amazon search for '30 inch 6500K beamswork LED" should yield you some positive results. PAR data is pretty slI'm on this brand, but there's plenty of success out there with them, just not with high demand plants.
  • #13
I'd probably keep searching for a good deal on a 20 gallon long. Not sure if the Petco $/gal sale is still on. Footprint is more important when stocking a tank and you'd have more options in a long than a high.

I'm not familiar with pennywort as a floater but I have water sprite and duckweed (not by choice) with my two HOB's and they both are doing great.

Plants that give a carpet effect in a low light setup would be dwarf sag or s. repens. They won't really carpet but you can clip and propogate to give it that carpet look.

I've only had experience with the Finnex Planted Plus and it grows my low-medium light plants well. But if you got a 20 long, I would probably get the Finnex Stingray.

I don't have experience with Eco-Complete and most low light setups don't require a plant substrate. You can just add root tabs in the sand or gravel for your root feeders. Stem plants and floaters take nutrients from the water column so for your low light setup, the fish waste alone could be enough. You could add something like Seachem Flourish too if you wanted.

I don't have experience with apple snails but I don't think they eat plants? Not sure though.

For low light plants, I like water wisteria, water sprite, bacopa caroliniana, hygrophila salicifolia, crypts and vals.
  • #14
I would go with the 20 gallon long also. A 20 gallon high is harder to stock, and you won't be able to keep many species because it will have a small footprint. A 20 gallon high is also hard to keep plants in because you'd have to have higher lighting because the tank is taller. Eco complete is a very good substrate, seems to be one of the best. As for carpet plants, there's dwarf hairgrass, dwarf baby tears, stauroygene repens. However, I keep my hairgrass in medium/high lighting. I don't know what the other plants lighting requirements are. I'd go with a nerite snail just to be safe. I always recommend horned nerite snails because they're smaller.
  • #15
Good info above, I'll just add that there are species of Apple snail that will eat plants but Mystery snails don't. They just don't grow quite as enormous as the Apple snails
  • Thread Starter
  • #16
The light just got here Is there any way I could make the tank a little more "plant friendly" by getting a red light while still having it look not red? Thoughts?
  • #17
What's the return policy? I'm not sure about adding a red light.

I know top dog sellers has an amazon page too you could get a light from, but I haven't really dug too deep into switching an accidental purchase. I'd try emailing them and seeing if you could pay the difference in the two?

Sorry, I can't seem to be of much better help here.

Edit: while people have kept plants in similar lights with low growth, I'm running with the idea you are looking for the ability to let them grow and flourish easily. I know assuming is bad, but there's difference to me in spending money on a full tank of plants and planting them to have them grow into the tank.

  • Thread Starter
  • #18
The seller has a 30 day, money back or new product return policy. But I think I might have found a solution. My dad has 4 planted plus 24/7's on this tank.

I might be able to trade one out for the new light...
  • #19
4?! Holy cow. Up to you and dad. That might be the best option for the price (heh heh heh).

If I remember correctly, that's (Planted+) putting roughly 40-45 par down on substrate at 12". Just keep an eye on algae with that, though it should help with diatoms in a fresh tank. Algae will out compete them for food under higher par.

On a glass top, deduct roughly 15%, so about 35-38 PAR, which is perfect for those plants in this setup. I only learned way late about glass tops and lighting so I'm throwing 25 at the bottom, which is playing part in my diatom bloom

Edit again: those numbers are for the 20 long, not pop's tank. I see his is semI open, which aids in light penetration. Kudos on that, and I like the setup. The plants will fill in nicely
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  • #20
Yeah, he definitely got more than he needed, the tank is only 18" wide... I might actually order another one of these lights so it looks the same on both sides and move one to my tank I'm such a bad child.

Here's the tank with the fancy lights.
Edit: I'm proud of it, I did all the aquascaping and stuff, he just picked the fish(mbuna). I'm just hoping they leave the plants alone.
  • #21
Wide or deep?
  • Thread Starter
  • #22
Wide, bit that's dad's tank. I was referring to the 4 planted plus light being overkill.
  • #23
Hard to tell. Everyone puts different words with which direction. So it's a 48x18x18? The plant placement would suffice with a single strip, but I'm not sure on PAR at depth with the Planted+ but the tall plants should do very well. I've researched lots about lights and still learning.

Any who, bad indeed. I like your style >:^)

Edit: second look "+" is planted+ "*" is your new light. Should be best placement

+ *
+ +
  • Thread Starter
  • #24
It's a custom tank(he built it himself 20 something years ago)
It is 60x18x18 with a 36x12x12 sump. It is length(front of tank, end to end), width(front to back of tank) and height(I don't think I need to explain this one lol). That's dad's tank. His currently has java fern, anubias, swords, and bacopa. I just ordered root tabs for that one. With 3 planted+ and one of the beamswork.
Mom's tank has one planted+ "stolen" from dad's, is a standard 20 long, with no plants yet, except for a pothos in the filter. Will be using root tabs(osmocote plus), potassium(most likely API leaf zone), and flourish comprehensive thanks to your advice. Should I be dosing liquid Co2? I've heard good things about flourish excel as well, do I need either of those?
What are some easy to find plants for this one? It will definitely have Taiwan moss( medium light, likes Co2(was sent to me in the mail by a member)) and Java fern. I have been looking at crypts, anubias, swords, anachris, water sprite/wisteria, banana plants, vallisneria, ludwiga, and moss balls.
Thank you lol.
I will definitely do the light thing you suggested!
  • #25
Leaf zone is nice because it's iron as well, something comprehensive lacks in high enough for "proper" amounts.

Excel can melt plants sensitive to it. Vals are notable for this, but slowly increasing dosage amounts over a long period will mitigate/eliminate the issue. 1/4 dose to begin with and slowly increase up to the full dose.

Oral dosing syringes are awesome for liquid ferts. The seachem bottles are too narrow for my one that I can dial the dose. I got them from Walmart.
  • Thread Starter
  • #26
So I should be using root tabs, leaf zone, and comprehensive.
Do I need to dose excel or liquid Co2? Could I get away with just root tabs, leaf zone, and comprehensive? How often and how much should I be dosing?
I have some dosing syringes already so I don't need to but those.
Sorry for all the questions
  • #27
So I should be using root tabs, leaf zone, and comprehensive.
Do I need to dose excel or liquid Co2? Could I get away with just root tabs, leaf zone, and comprehensive? How often and how much should I be dosing?
I have some dosing syringes already so I don't need to but those.
Sorry for all the questions

Excel/liquid CO2 is optional. It's an algae deterrent so there's that plus too. I'm attempting to go without though it may change.

Not ideal to dose close to a WC, but right after or a day later.

Leaf Zone - 10ml twice a week
Comprehensive - 4ml once a week (3.7 really but a small round won't hurt)
Root tabs - 20 tablets monthly
Excel - haven't looked too far into this one, sorry

Edit: I'm terrible at thinking of all the info at once, aren't I? My tank is half the size and requires half the amount, so I just doubled the numbers for twice the volume. I'm unfamiliar with osmocote tabs, so I'm not sure how fast they disappear. Minimum monthly, for sure.

As for skating by on those, my tap has high nitrates and use nitrazorb, but I only have a single betta. I would surmise to say that the bioload would meet my nitrates over the week. Feeding fish introduces phosphates as well, since your mom would be feeding more than I do my betta, she'd be fine there too. These plants don't demand a lot and there isn't injected CO2, so there isn't a need to excessively fertilize them.

  • Thread Starter
  • #28
Thank you so much Hopefully we will be getting plants/driftwood/a background/fertilizers tomorrow. I'll keep you updated!
Edit: It says they last 3-4 months.
  • #29
Thank you so much Hopefully we will be getting plants/driftwood/a background/fertilizers tomorrow. I'll keep you updated!
Edit: It says they last 3-4 months.

Hmm. I'll check link tomorrow in the AM. Edited post again, lol. I'll get back to you on those tabs. I'm using the API brand ones.

I still have driftwood I want to add, but I'm leary because my KH is only 4° with a pH of 7.4. I really want to add it, but I'm scared to. Input? Sorry, just asking, not hijacking.
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  • #30
Just dosed leaf zone and comprehensive for the first time!
I got some plants in, I will be going to a specialty store Saturday to get the last cichlids for dads tank, they have nice driftwood and more plants there.
So far, plants are 3 aponogeton(came in betta cup), Taiwan moss, rosette sword, anubias, and water wisteria.

The cheesy decorations will be removed this weekend!

I don't see any problem adding driftwood, I say go for it!
  • #31
Comprehensive will go a long way in use. Mine will last greater than a year.

Leaf zone is pretty cheap even if you have to replace it every 3-4 months, I can't remember how large the bottle is.

Looks nice.

I'll just chuck it in after a quick boil and monitor the pH. I may wind up having to use coral if it swings between weekly WC's. Thanks for the push!

Sometimes a cheesy piece is needed! I have my eye on a large bust of an Indian-ish(?) inspired statue and figured I could roll with a deserted temple theme. Hopefully within the next couple weeks, Speed gets his own 10. I found this pretty, blue colored sand

Edit: just looked at Excel. It's pretty straight forward, though it's daily dosing for that particular product. It states 5ml/10 gal initially and WC>40%, then 1ml/10 gal daily. It's something I'm considering myself lately, though I'm still on the fence. I'm doing more digging as it stands and I'll keep you posted as well with my results.
  • #32
Okay. So, I've found two things with Excel, if you're interested.

You don't need the large initial or WC dose. el337 doesn't bother with it and I think I can trust him on it so the bottle will go a lot farther than I initially thought it would for both our tank sizes.

Two, the best info I can get about Glutaraldehyde sensitive plants, is 1/4 dosage and slowly increasing it over time. My best guess is, for the 20, 0.5ml for one week, then up it another 0.5ml the next week until you are at the full 2ml daily dosage. I'm not quite sure if this is slower than others experience, but I'm erring on the side of caution here.

As for the osmocote root tabs, I've read up on those today and found that they last far longer than the API and Seachem brand tabs. The general consensus I've found is every 3 months, insert new ones. That's also an investment I'll have to look into myself.

Any other stuff you want to know?
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  • #33
Thank you so much! You have been extremely helpful, I think I'll pick up some excel next time I'm at the store
Do you have any plant recommendations? We definitely want to get Val's and anachris, I think my mom is interested in S. Repens. Aside from that we don't have a clue(except for what we already have).
  • #34
Thank you so much! You have been extremely helpful, I think I'll pick up some excel next time I'm at the store
Do you have any plant recommendations? We definitely want to get Val's and anachris, I think my mom is interested in S. Repens. Aside from that we don't have a clue(except for what we already have).
I like the tiger lotus and Corkscrew Val. I currently have two Crypts as well, I think they might be different varieties. I'm probably going to just pick more plants from my local as I see them, so I don't have any recommendations at the time being.

Ludwig and Swords are on my list as well as chain swords as well for a want list. Just stay away from high light plants that need gaseous CO2 to thrive and I think you'll be fine.
  • #35
Get to the store yet? I just picked up excel and a new substrate myself though dunno when I'll change it yet
  • Thread Starter
  • #36
Sorta, we are on our way back from Miami, with no plants.

We got too many fish, more than we should have. We decided against plants since the fish cost so much, so it will be a month or two until we can fork out the cash to get them. We did get a nice piece of driftwood!
  • #37
Lol. I know that feeling. That's quite a bit of fish.

Edit: what all was gotten on this excursion? I'd like to see the driftwood too. Mines a small piece of malaysian I picked up for $5. How big and how much?
  • Thread Starter
  • #38
More pics and such are on the actual build thread.
10 ember tetras
6 male guppies
12 demasoniI cichlids
4 aceI cichlids
1 male bristlenose pleco
1 dragon goby(upset about this)
1 male betta(all mine lol)
1 piece of Malaysian driftwood

The driftwood is between 12 and 16 inches, $12.

I added some bacopa the cichlids uprooted.
  • #39
Why upset about the goby?
  • Thread Starter
  • #40
They are brackish fish. He is adorable, but I feel bad knowing he's going to die in there. I couldn't convince my dad he wasn't freshwater.

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