Tips For Planted Tank

Austin87
  • #1
Hey all! First post here!

I have a 5.5 gal tank right now with a f.betta and 1 nerite. I have them a few months now and they are doing awesome!

However, my plants aren’t doing great. They are alive but not thriving. My research tells me this is probably because I am using the “sand” that you can get from petsmart as substrate.

So I am thinking it would benefit my entire lil aquarium to change with a higher quality substrate. So I’m looking for suggestions on the best way to handle that change as not to kill my fish and snail.
 

Advertisement
Zigi Zig
  • #2
You don't have to change your substrate unless you really want to you tank is small so adding root tabs to sand should fix your problem. you can buy them easy in any LPS
 

Advertisement
jdhef
  • #3
Welcome to FishLore! I hope you find the site helpful and enjoyable...and maybe a little addictive.
 
alliemac
  • #4
Hey all! First post here!

I have a 5.5 gal tank right now with a f.betta and 1 nerite. I have them a few months now and they are doing awesome!

However, my plants aren’t doing great. They are alive but not thriving. My research tells me this is probably because I am using the “sand” that you can get from petsmart as substrate.

So I am thinking it would benefit my entire lil aquarium to change with a higher quality substrate. So I’m looking for suggestions on the best way to handle that change as not to kill my fish and snail.
I was having the same issue. I went on amazon and got the 40 ct Flourish Tabs for $23 and my pants are now doing great! Also, what kind of light do you have? That was another one of my issues with my plant. Got a better one and they love it!
 
Inactive User
  • #5
So I am thinking it would benefit my entire lil aquarium to change with a higher quality substrate.

I'm more-or-less in agreement with others. I think there's quite a lot been written about "inert vs active", "low CEC vs high CEC", "compacting vs non-compacting" substrates here and in other forums.

At the end of the day, I think it's more important to select a substrate that's moderately appropriate and looks good to you.

For what it's worth, my 47 gallon is filled with Eco Complete. ADA Aquasoil is generally recommended as the best substrate for planted tanks. But I personally hated the look of the tiny, round, brown pellets (they look like baby rabbit droppings!).

For your sand, are you dosing micro and macro nutrients? Utilising root tabs? Pressurised or DIY CO2? Those would be more important than substrate choice I think.
 
Zigi Zig
  • #6
The substrate for planted aquariums is the most important factor in the successful growth of plants. The substrate for a planted tank should have the ability to store and provide nutrients for the plants. The majority of the nutrients should be in the gravel and not in the water column. Plants do get their nutrients and minerals through the root system (hair roots).
The substrate of planted tanks should contain 2 layers. First a nutrient rich substrate as a lower layer. To prevent a possible washout of nutrients and as an anchoring device for the plants, regular gravel or sand should be used as a top layer. The lower level should be as high as the plant roots, generally 1-2 inches. The top layer should be about 2 inches in height.
 

Advertisement
max h
  • #7
First thing is what plants are you trying to grow, that will help us guide you in the right direction. Then what light do you have? I use Black Diamond Blasting sand and don't have a problem growing low/medium light plants using only liquid ferts at this time. When you need 150lbs of substrate you tend to try and find the cheapest alternative you can.
 
Inactive User
  • #8
The substrate for planted aquariums is the most important factor in the successful growth of plants.

A different perspective: Tom Barr, who developed the Estimative Index method for aquarium fert dosing, seems to be fairly indifferent to substrate choice and doesn't seem to consider it an especially important consideration for good plant growth.

He cited a number of studies on aquatic plants which demonstrated that they don't show a preference for feeding via roots or the water column: they'll seek out nutrients wherever they are.

Barr indicated that a robust root system isn't indicative of a preference for root feeding either, as many aquatic species with extensive rooting originate from environments with high water flow. The roots are more likely to arise from evolutionary selection to prevent it from being jostled about.
 
Woodsman27
  • #9
So my sister just got a brand new acrylic 50 gallon (super jealous btw) and she gave me her old 20 gallon for free and I'm wondering what to do with it. I'm thinking planted, more specifically high tech. I know what I'm getting for the light, but not sure where about the substrate.

I am thinking black sand, maybe soil with a black sand cap? Or soil with natural colored fine gravel?

I'm setting it up on this stand I found on amazon that holds a 20 gallon on top and will fit my 10 gallon quarantine tank under it.

Any tips for a beginner of planted tanks?
Thanks!
 
danhutchins
  • #10
I would get eco complete for substrate. You can of course do some research and decide for yourself but I have used eco complete for 3 years now and wouldn't use anything else. Its very good for the plants and actually takes in ferts that are dosed into the water column so you basically never need to change it. Are you going to be doing pressurized co2 or DIY? I use pressurized, I tried the DIY method but the pressurized version seems to be better for the plants, not sure why but that's what I have seen. What were you getting for a light? Here is a pic of my tank to give you some thoughts.
So my sister just got a brand new acrylic 50 gallon (super jealous btw) and she gave me her old 20 gallon for free and I'm wondering what to do with it. I'm thinking planted, more specifically high tech. I know what I'm getting for the light, but not sure where about the substrate.

I am thinking black sand, maybe soil with a black sand cap? Or soil with natural colored fine gravel?

I'm setting it up on this stand I found on amazon that holds a 20 gallon on top and will fit my 10 gallon quarantine tank under it.

Any tips for a beginner of planted tanks?
Thanks!
I would get eco complete for substrate. You can of course do some research and decide for yourself but I have used eco complete for 3 years now and wouldn't use anything else. Its very good for the plants and actually takes in ferts that are dosed into the water column so you basically never need to change it. Are you going to be doing pressurized co2 or DIY? I use pressurized, I tried the DIY method but the pressurized version seems to be better for the plants, not sure why but that's what I have seen. What were you getting for a light? Here is a pic of my tank to give you some thoughts.
20181113_173600.jpg
 

Advertisement
Wraithen
  • #11
I would never do a dirted tank for anything less than a 4 foot tank. If you want to go high tech, you may as well get the higher end soil products. Ada or its copycats.
Co2 can have a seemingly high cost, but its the only way to go with high ferts dosing.
Lighting is a constantly, crazy range. You can go with cheaper led bulbs that fit in regular lamp housings, fluorescent tubes, or leds. If you want leds that produce good lighting you have to pay for it. In a 20 gallon long, its pretty cheap at 100 bucks or so. You can try the budget lights, but they always seem to give people issues and they really aren't putting out a whole lot of par.

Honestly, get into a scientific mindset and look into the work done by Dr. Tom Barr and Diane Walstead. Tom Barr has his own forum and is still active in it. The level of knowledge on his forums can make your head spin.
 
Woodsman27
  • #12
Thanks for your comments, I plan on a finnex planted+ and pressurized co2. I thought about diy but it seems like a pain in the a. I kinda thought that fluval plant and shrimp stratum would be good because I have seen tanks with it and I like how its a dark color but does it turn to mush? danhutchins would I have to cap the eco complete? I know I really like the black sand look but then id have to use plant tabs right? Also what do I use for fertz?
P.s. really nice setup danhutchins
 
LeviS
  • #13
I second the option for eco complete. I have 4 dirted tanks and granted they do have good growth I’ve had minor issues due to initial release of nutrients. I’m gonna do another 20L and do ecocomplete.
Fluval stratum seems good. Soils like ADA would be awesome but it’s so expensive and after time have to add root tabs etc so my thing was why drop $100 on substrate and not have a show type competition tank. I just wanted something that did it’s job and was pleasing to look at.
Root tabs I’ll be for the plants like an amazon sword and other heavy root feeders. Fertilizer could be something like thrive or easy green, I’m sure there are other all in ones as well.
 
danhutchins
  • #14
Thanks for your comments, I plan on a finnex planted+ and pressurized co2. I thought about diy but it seems like a pain in the a. I kinda thought that fluval plant and shrimp stratum would be good because I have seen tanks with it and I like how its a dark color but does it turn to mush? danhutchins would I have to cap the eco complete? I know I really like the black sand look but then id have to use plant tabs right? Also what do I use for fertz?
P.s. really nice setup danhutchins
Sorry, you wouldn't need to cap the eco complete.

Eco complete doesn't require the use of tabs. Ferts are sucked in from the water column.
As in substrate sucks up the nutrients so root tabs aren't necessary. I don't use them and you see what I have.
 

Advertisement



LeviS
  • #15

38B0F834-D7D2-4488-B120-7D2A5CEEA9EE.jpeg No you don’t cap the eco complete. It’s kind of like a fine gravel lava rock. It will absorb some fertilizer when you dose. I like it better than dirt, it’s not nearly as messy. Just dump it straight into the tank.
 
PNWBettas
  • #16
Hey yall,

I'm trying to up my tanks a bit by getting more live plants in there. I have 3 tanks, 5.5, 16, and a 20g. All have some plants currently but not nearly enough for my liking.

The one I've been having issues with is my 20g. Its a divided betta tank. I have angustifolia, filigree myro, and wisteria in it as well as some baby java fern on drift wood. All but the java fern are slowly dying. I just upgraded the light from the hood it came with to LED and added some root tabs. The substrate is a mix of gravel and sand.

I'm thinking I'll need to upgrade to a nutrient rich substrate or a dirted tank for plants to actually do well there. Any tips on substrate brand or how to go about changing substrate. I currently have my betta in there and I have heard you cant add fish right after using dirt for a substrate.

(the plants look OK in the photo but up close many parts are withering away )
 

Attachments

  • IMG_2977.JPG
    IMG_2977.JPG
    94.7 KB · Views: 55
Addictedtobettas
  • #17

Advertisement



GingerV513
  • #19
How long ago did you get a new light? Mine took a few days or more to help the plants grow better. The lighting turned out to be my biggest issue. For substrate I used gravel for planted aquariums and root tabs
 
PNWBettas
  • #20
How long ago did you get a new light? Mine took a few days or more to help the plants grow better. The lighting turned out to be my biggest issue. For substrate I used gravel for planted aquariums and root tabs
I got the light about 2 days ago. Root tabs added today. Probably wont be enough to save the plants that I have tho.
 
UnknownUser
  • #21
Root tabs aren’t a complete fertilizer. You might want to try dosing some liquid all in one fert like Thrive
 
PNWBettas
  • #22
I’ve heard good things about thrive. Would it be a better investment to do a better substrate?
 

Advertisement



GlennO
  • #23
I’ve heard good things about thrive. Would it be a better investment to do a better substrate?

Not in my opinion. Keep your substrate and add liquid fertiliser. You can continue to add root tabs occasionally if you wish.
 
PNWBettas
  • #24
Hmm ok. Sounds good. I’m just exhausting be throwing so much money into this tank haha. Trying to just do the right thing first to reduce more spending.
 
Argos
  • #25
I agree with the previous advice given. You need to add ferts to the water column. It might seem more costly financially, but if you factor in the time removing the substrate adding a different substrate in, the time and hassle is probably not worth it; especially factoring in that a different substrate will still not aid the java fern as it needs ferts in the water column.

I love dirted tanks, but these release large amounts of ammonia and need to be packed with plants otherwise you will have a tank full of algae. The cost is actually less with just the liquid ferts.

I second the rec of thrive.
 
GlennO
  • #26
Yes well it's up to you. Depends if you want to go low or hi tech. If you really want to you can completely redo it with a fertilising substrate and then if you wish cap it with a decorative inert substrate. But if you're going to that effort and expense you may as well add pressurised co2 and quality lighting and make the most of it. With a low tech setup your plants don't require large amounts of fertiliser.
 

Advertisement



Mike1995
  • #27
Hey yall,

I'm trying to up my tanks a bit by getting more live plants in there. I have 3 tanks, 5.5, 16, and a 20g. All have some plants currently but not nearly enough for my liking.

The one I've been having issues with is my 20g. Its a divided betta tank. I have angustifolia, filigree myro, and wisteria in it as well as some baby java fern on drift wood. All but the java fern are slowly dying. I just upgraded the light from the hood it came with to LED and added some root tabs. The substrate is a mix of gravel and sand.

I'm thinking I'll need to upgrade to a nutrient rich substrate or a dirted tank for plants to actually do well there. Any tips on substrate brand or how to go about changing substrate. I currently have my betta in there and I have heard you cant add fish right after using dirt for a substrate.

(the plants look OK in the photo but up close many parts are withering away )


Try fluval stratum or eco complete for substrate. I personally like to use both. Using root tabs will also help. There are many liquid fertilizers out there you can look at. I like using aquarium coop easy green. Has a lot of different nutrients in it. I've had a lot of success with it.

If you get one of the substrates I suggested, as long as you can keep your biological media alive, you won't have to worry about waiting to put your fish back in afterwards. Idk if you want to change any of your plants but there are many to pick from that are easy. I'd recommend hygophlia. Many varieties. fast growing and undemanding. also cryptocornes. Also many varieties. and easy to keep. If you want something nice for your bettas to hang out in, rotala is a good choice.

Getting a good fertilizer and a nice 2-3" deep substrate bed will help a lot.
 
PNWBettas
  • #28
Thanks for all the advice. I’m actually in the process of getting a different light for this tank. The one I have on it is just too short for a divided tank and the new one I got as a replacement is not bright enough (tried to get a more budget friendly one and it wound up screwing me over haha)

For substrate I can try adding thrive to this tank. Since I need to order the new light anyways it will be an easy addition. If that doesn’t work out well I will upgrade the substrate. I will try one of the recommendations. I agree a dirted tank isn’t worth it right now. It will alter the water too much to add my fish back immediately (they are baby betta so more sensitive to water being out of wack)

im not going to be adding CO2 atm. It’s just too much of an investment and I should be able to grow some easy plants without it. I might consider it when I set up 55 g next fall.
 
Argos
  • #29
Thanks for all the advice. I’m actually in the process of getting a different light for this tank. The one I have on it is just too short for a divided tank and the new one I got as a replacement is not bright enough (tried to get a more budget friendly one and it wound up screwing me over haha)
From the looks of it, you purchased a Nicrew light. These are budget friendly but are great little lights. I use one on a heavily planted tank and it does great; I also know of many who use the Nicrew lights.

I would start with the liquid fertilizer and go from there.

I wouldn't advise keeping throwing money at your issues, as many people do that but never fix the underlying short-comings. You keep mentioning "upgrading" your substrate, but there are an uncountable number of people who have great success growing plants in gravel/sand. I have even used blasting abrasive for plants.

Plant growth is relatively simple. CO2 (O2 at night)+ light+ nutrients= plant growth. With CO2 addition not mandatory as it occurs naturally.
 
UnknownUser
  • #30
I believe most people here use inert substrate like eco complete or sand and just use root tabs and liquid ferts. Even if the substrate wasn’t inert, any benefits of it will be used up quickly and then you’d be left in the same place, needing ferts
 

Advertisement



PNWBettas
  • #31
Hmm ok. What I mean by getting a new light is I will be ordering a new Nicrew light, but longer. It just doesn’t distribute light because of the divided sections, they block the light. I tried to order a longer one and chose a cheaper brand and it was junky.

Are there any other affordable fertilizers people recommend. I know thrive is like $17 on their site but then I have to pay shipping. On amazon it’s like $27. I would love to try it but it might not be doable right now. I’ve heard flourish isn’t a complete fertilizer. Is there something I could supplement it with?
 
GlennO
  • #32
I’ve heard flourish isn’t a complete fertilizer. Is there something I could supplement it with?

Flourish lacks macro nutrients (apart from a small amount of potassium) so you may have to supplement it with their nitrogen and phosphorous fertilisers, depending on your nitrate and phosphate levels. It's generally easier to use a complete fertiliser, although there is some risk of overdosing macros in a low tech tank which is why the primary fertiliser from most major brands is nitrate and phosphate free. Fish waste in the average stocked medium planted tank often contributes sufficient nitrate and phosphate but the only way to know is by checking your levels.
 
-Mak-
  • #33
Hmm ok. What I mean by getting a new light is I will be ordering a new Nicrew light, but longer. It just doesn’t distribute light because of the divided sections, they block the light. I tried to order a longer one and chose a cheaper brand and it was junky.

Are there any other affordable fertilizers people recommend. I know thrive is like $17 on their site but then I have to pay shipping. On amazon it’s like $27. I would love to try it but it might not be doable right now. I’ve heard flourish isn’t a complete fertilizer. Is there something I could supplement it with?
IMO Thrive is well worth the money, if you get flourish you'd have to buy the nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium separately. Try ThriveC, it's meant for low tech and is like a dollar cheaper lol.
 

Similar Aquarium Threads

Replies
4
Views
398
CoconutTheBetta
Replies
6
Views
176
stxpidcorr
Replies
9
Views
906
EMR
  • Locked
Replies
4
Views
265
Celeste1427
Replies
8
Views
264
Birbfish
Advertisement



Advertisement



Top Bottom