Tips of Starting & Maintaining a Planted tank

zbfishy

Hi, I've been super interested in getting my first live planted aquarium set up.
I used to have fish tanks but never with real plants and so I was wondering what I will need.
I'm not sure if I need specific plant substrate or if it'll be okay with just sand?
I eventually want to add fish to this aquarium but I want to have a very lush planted tank before I even consider adding inhabitants!

Tank wise, I'm thinking between 5.5 - 10 gallon tank to start. Something not too big

Please let me know anything and everything you guys know!
 

JLAquatics

First of all, Welcome to Fishlore! I hope you find all the information you may need here! Now, onto your questions!
I used to have fish tanks but never with real plants and so I was wondering what I will need.
If you are doing your first planted tank, I recommend going with a low tech setup. This essentially means you will not have a pressurized co2 system running and many of the plants you will use will be easier to grow. In my opinion for low tech aquascapes you will need just a few things on top of the regular aquarium supplies.

1. A liquid all in one fertilizer. This will supply nutrition for your aquairum plants and with many you pour right into the tank water. All in ones will contain Macro and Micro nutrients that can be of equal importance to plants, and having a lack of nutrition will cause the new growth to be stunted or even die back. Some good examples many on here recommend include Easy Green by Aquarium Co-Op, Thrive by NilocG, and my personal favorite APT Complete. I don't recommend doing things separate such as dosing the Seachem line especially if you are a beginner with planted tanks. Having everything in one bottle will make things much easier for you.

2. An LED Planted Aquarium light. If you have a tank kit, the stock light that the aquarium comes with is much too weak to grow any sort of stem plants and many other plant types will struggle. I recommend the Finnex Stingray or the Finnex Planted 24/7 ALC which both can be found on Amazon.com.

3. Ground Fertilization. This will be what kind of substrate you decide to use in your planted tank setup. I personally use Aquasoil in all my tanks and if you plan on growing any sort of carpet/stem plants you will need to use Aquasoil for long term success. Aquasoil will leech a ton of ammonia in the beginning so it is imperative to do at least 50 percent water changes every other day for the first two weeks in order to curb algae growth and keep the cycle going. You will also want to plant heavily from the start as planting light in aquasoil is just a recipe for disaster (you will have algae everywhere) .If you want to grow mainly epiphytes such as Anubias and Java Fern or just an occasional root feeder such as a Crypt or Amazon Sword there is no need to get expensive soil. Inert sand can also make for attractive low tech aquascapes and they will not break the bank either. If going with sand, make sure you get root tabs for any of your root feeders you intend to purchase.
I'm not sure if I need specific plant substrate or if it'll be okay with just sand?
Answered above at number 3 bulletin. ;)

I eventually want to add fish to this aquarium but I want to have a very lush planted tank before I even consider adding inhabitants!
Great Idea, this will allow your tank to mature and stabilize before getting your livestock. I like your way of thinking, patience is key for planted tanks. :)

Just throwing out an idea for you, you should try some Cherry Shrimp sometime in this tank. You can have a colony of them in a 10 gallon and they are definitely festinating little creatures to have. Combine the shrimp with a school of 8-10 micro Rasbora and you will have yourself a stunning aquascape teeming with life in no time.


Additional Pointers:

When you get live plants for the first time they may melt at first. Do not panic! They are merely adjusting themselves for the different conditions they are placed in. Soon they will be growing new leaves optimized for your tank in not time!

I find that my aquascapes are generally at the most stability parameters wise when roughly 70 percent of the tank is covered in plant growth.

When you get your first plants don't be surprised to find tiny hitchhikers on them. There are many harmless organisms that make their way into our tanks from live plants. Do not freak out, most of them are completely harmless to everything in your tank. You may consider doing bleach dips if you do not want any pest snails making their way into your tank. I personally keep pest snails in all of mine for the positive functions they provide but they are certainly not for everyone.

Have patience. While it may sound easy in concept, having patience it the most important thing in the aquarium hobby, and is no different when keeping planted tanks. Keeping plants and fish together is largely different than just fish, but I feel that once you discover the beauty and functionality of live plants you will never go back to plastic ever again.

This is just one of my planted tanks, both images are within 2 months of each other and the first was just after setup.


IMG_20211205_113254138.jpg

IMG_20220112_112741133_2.jpg

Welcome again and I hope I helped you out some friend. :)
 

zbfishy

First of all, Welcome to Fishlore! I hope you find all the information you may need here! Now, onto your questions!

If you are doing your first planted tank, I recommend going with a low tech setup. This essentially means you will not have a pressurized co2 system running and many of the plants you will use will be easier to grow. In my opinion for low tech aquascapes you will need just a few things on top of the regular aquarium supplies.

1. A liquid all in one fertilizer. This will supply nutrition for your aquairum plants and with many you pour right into the tank water. All in ones will contain Macro and Micro nutrients that can be of equal importance to plants, and having a lack of nutrition will cause the new growth to be stunted or even die back. Some good examples many on here recommend include Easy Green by Aquarium Co-Op, Thrive by NilocG, and my personal favorite APT Complete. I don't recommend doing things separate such as dosing the Seachem line especially if you are a beginner with planted tanks. Having everything in one bottle will make things much easier for you.

2. An LED Planted Aquarium light. If you have a tank kit, the stock light that the aquarium comes with is much too weak to grow any sort of stem plants and many other plant types will struggle. I recommend the Finnex Stingray or the Finnex Planted 24/7 ALC which both can be found on Amazon.com.

3. Ground Fertilization. This will be what kind of substrate you decide to use in your planted tank setup. I personally use Aquasoil in all my tanks and if you plan on growing any sort of carpet/stem plants you will need to use Aquasoil for long term success. Aquasoil will leech a ton of ammonia in the beginning so it is imperative to do at least 50 percent water changes every other day for the first two weeks in order to curb algae growth and keep the cycle going. You will also want to plant heavily from the start as planting light in aquasoil is just a recipe for disaster (you will have algae everywhere) .If you want to grow mainly epiphytes such as Anubias and Java Fern or just an occasional root feeder such as a Crypt or Amazon Sword there is no need to get expensive soil. Inert sand can also make for attractive low tech aquascapes and they will not break the bank either. If going with sand, make sure you get root tabs for any of your root feeders you intend to purchase.

Answered above at number 3 bulletin. ;)


Great Idea, this will allow your tank to mature and stabilize before getting your livestock. I like your way of thinking, patience is key for planted tanks. :)

Just throwing out an idea for you, you should try some Cherry Shrimp sometime in this tank. You can have a colony of them in a 10 gallon and they are definitely festinating little creatures to have. Combine the shrimp with a school of 8-10 micro Rasbora and you will have yourself a stunning aquascape teeming with life in no time.


Additional Pointers:

When you get live plants for the first time they may melt at first. Do not panic! They are merely adjusting themselves for the different conditions they are placed in. Soon they will be growing new leaves optimized for your tank in not time!

I find that my aquascapes are generally at the most stability parameters wise when roughly 70 percent of the tank is covered in plant growth.

When you get your first plants don't be surprised to find tiny hitchhikers on them. There are many harmless organisms that make their way into our tanks from live plants. Do not freak out, most of them are completely harmless to everything in your tank. You may consider doing bleach dips if you do not want any pest snails making their way into your tank. I personally keep pest snails in all of mine for the positive functions they provide but they are certainly not for everyone.

Have patience. While it may sound easy in concept, having patience it the most important thing in the aquarium hobby, and is no different when keeping planted tanks. Keeping plants and fish together is largely different than just fish, but I feel that once you discover the beauty and functionality of live plants you will never go back to plastic ever again.

This is just one of my planted tanks, both images are within 2 months of each other and the first was just after setup.


IMG_20211205_113254138.jpg

IMG_20220112_112741133_2.jpg

Welcome again and I hope I helped you out some friend. :)
thank you! Is there a particular soil I should choose? or is that a brand of soil already?
Also -- if i use aquasoil, can I cover it with some sand as well? Just for the aesthetic look
 

JLAquatics

thank you! Is there a particular soil I should choose? or is that a brand of soil already?
I use ADA Amazonia version 2 in my tanks with good success. This one can be found on Amazon.

I have also used ST International Aquasoil with great success as well. You can find this one on Amazon.

Another good one to consider is UNS Controsoil that many here have used before. This one can be found on BucePlant.

ADA Aquasoil probably leeches the most ammonia out of the three but is likely the richest in nutrients. ST International Aquasoil is less messy than ADA and will not leech as much ammonia in the beginning. I can't speak for UNS soil but many have said this is a great option as well. Overall, either of these three options I listed should work well for you. :)

(Note: The tank pictured above uses ST International Aquasoil)
 

ProudPapa

thank you! Is there a particular soil I should choose? or is that a brand of soil already?
Also -- if i use aquasoil, can I cover it with some sand as well? Just for the aesthetic look

If you want to keep it simple you can grow many plants just fine in sand. I have either pool filter sand or Black Diamond sandblasting sand in all my tanks, and they're all planted and doing well. No CO2, and inexpensive LED lights.
 

zbfishy

Do you guys have any recs for plants that don't require CO2?
 

Stoner1993

Anubias and Java fern as well grow great without CO2
 

yeti79

Crypts, anubias, dwarf aquarum lilly, tiger lotus, buces, dwarf sagittaria is what ended up alive after starting out trying planted tanks
 

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