Wanting To Plant My Tank...what Do I Need To Start?

madelyn anne

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Hello!

So, I currently have a 36 G cycled tank that's stocked, and I want to add some live plants.
I have a fine gravel substrate, approximately 2.5 inches of it, maybe a bit less in some parts.
I also just purchased the Fluval AquaSky LED light that has full spectrum lighting and is plant friendly.

So, my question is...what else do I need to plant my tank, once I choose the plants I want?

I've heard a lot about root tabs, Seachem Flourish/Excel Flourish (although with Excel i've heard about negative effects on fish), etc. Do I need one of those plant trimming kits? That Seachem Glue to attach to my gravel?

Could you guys help me assemble a shopping list of sorts? I'm going to stop at my LPS/LFS tomorrow and pick up some plants, as well as whatever else I will need, which I'm hoping you guys can tell me.

Also, if anyone can SUGGEST plants that would be good for me, I'd appreciate it! I'm looking for a few different things;

A short carpeting plant for my smaller 5 gallon Betta tank (maybe some sort of moss?) and for a small portion of my 36 gallon.

A tall, pretty, background plant.

A plant with some reddish coloring to it, if possible!


Thank you!
 

JenC

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Your choice of plants may dictate how you fertilize them. Root feeders appreciate root tabs while column feeders benefit from more nutrients in the water. That's not to say they all can't grow either way but it's ideal to feed the way they eat.

Long tweezers and scissors are helpful if you'll be trimming or planting a lot but some plants don't need them. A basic set of stainless steel implements should run you $10-$20 on Amazon. I use the tweezers for all kinds of tank maintenance.

The light you mentioned advertises being appropriate for low-light to moderate-light plants so sticking with those would be a good place to start if that's true.

I use Seachem Florish Comprehensive, not Excel. I'm not in a position to comment on the Excel debate but it's good you're aware of it. I use their root tabs too, which I cut into halves and quarters.

If you get moss or something like anubias you can attach it to driftwood or rocks with string, fishing line, or cyanoacrylate gel super glue.

For a pop of red I can't recommend red tiger lotus enough. It's a beast of a plant that would be a great showpiece in your larger tank and it does okay under lower lights. They're maybe $5 each. It's my favorite plant.

Remember to inspect, dip, and QT the plants! Bringing ich, parasites, or snails into your tanks would be a rough way to start. Potassium permanganate, alum, diluted bleach, and diluted hydrogen peroxide are popular treatments.

I think I spent as much time researching my plants as my fish. It can be a lot of fun. There are many good online plant vendors if you can't find what you're looking for locally.

Happy shopping.
 

Culprit

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A short carpeting plant for my smaller 5 gallon Betta tank (maybe some sort of moss?) and for a small portion of my 36 gallon.

A tall, pretty, background plant.

A plant with some reddish coloring to it, if possible!
Moss carpet would work well, you could also do monte carlo or marsilea hirsuta. Be aware though, that these, while still being able to grow in low tech, may take a long time to carpet. To make a moss carpet, take stainless steel mesh, put moss on one half, and fold it over. The moss will grow through the mesh until you can't see it. As you keep trimming it, take the cuttings and make more mats.

Vallisneria. Jungle Val specifically.

Rotala Rotundifolia. Its a stem plant, and it will grow in low tech. You will have to dose iron to get that good red, and probably have to dose excel as well. excel is is liquid carbon. It doubles as CO2 in your tank, but it is not as good. It works well in a low tech tank though. Also, Red Tiger Lotus.

Some other great low tech plants are crypts, Java fern, java moss, foxtail, anubias, and apongeton.

I've heard a lot about root tabs, Seachem Flourish/Excel Flourish (although with Excel i've heard about negative effects on fish), etc. Do I need one of those plant trimming kits? That Seachem Glue to attach to my gravel?

Could you guys help me assemble a shopping list of sorts? I'm going to stop at my LPS/LFS tomorrow and pick up some plants, as well as whatever else I will need, which I'm hoping you guys can tell me.
With those plants, everything except for the red tiger lotus and the vals will not need root tabs. I would either get some flourish root tabs at your LFS, or order osmocote plus root tabs for way cheaper off of Ebay or Amazon. If you get vals, they do not do well with excel. However, all your other plants will benefit. Another option, if you want to use excel, is a big pretty sword. I like the ozelot swords coloring. It also stays smaller then amazon swords. For a sword, you will need root tabs for sure.

For ferts, your fish should be enough for your macros, and your plants won't be growing fast enough to need extra K, so seachem flourish should be all you need. Just so you know, the Fluval Aquasky is extremely bright. You will definitely want to start on around 50% power and then start moving up or down as needed.

You don't need a plant trimming kit, though it is very useful. I myself only have two, tweezers, and curved scissors. I got them both for I think around $6 off of eBay. I got the tweezers from the start, I don't what I would have done without them. I used to use just handheld craft scissors, but I got tired of trying to trim my carpet with them, so I bought some for like $3 off of eBay. Never going back lol. So much sharper, cleaner cuts, the curve is so nice, pointy tips for snipping exactly what you want. Perfect haha. So you don't need them but I would get some tweezers (10-12" or longer) for sure and mabye scissors if you want. You don't need the glue unless you get some java moss, java fern, or anubias. Those you do not plant, but attach to driftwood or hardscape. But, you can do the same thing with some super glue gel for cheaper. Its completely safe, I use it in my reef.

So:
Flourish Excel (if you aren't getting vals)
Flourish Comprehensive
Tweezers +mabye scissors
Plants
Root tabs (osmocote off of eBay or some kind of root tabs from the LFS)
 

Paradise fish

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Wow. Way to overwhelm the beginner guys.

I'll give you a list that fits your criteria pretty well but also are easy plants that you can have fun growing. Literally, almost no-brainer plants that are too stubborn to die from their owner's inexperience or mistakes.
No need for fancy fertilizers, no need for high quality substrate, no need for CO2, and no need for expensive $100+ high lighting.
(*) signs mean that root tabs will be beneficial
(**) mean that root tabs or good nutrient substrate is a must

Foreground plants:
Dwarf sag*
Anubias Nana
Anubias Nana Petite
Marimo moss balls
Java moss (attached to pieces of glass, flat rocks, wood, or stainless steel mesh)

Midground:
Java fern regular
Java fern Windelov
Java fern Trident
Java fern Narrow Leaf
Asian water fern
Anubias Coffeefolia
Other larger Anubias
Rosette sword** also can be a centerpiece or centerpiece compliment

Centerpiece Plant:
Cryptocoryne Wendtii 'Bronze'**
Tiger Lotus**
Barclaya Longifolia**
Red dwarf lily**
Bucephalandra (expensive and rare)

Background plants:
Anacharis/Elodia
Jungle val*
Brazilian pennywort (also can be a centerpiece compliment)
Water wisteria
Water sprite
Java moss wall

Floating/emersed plants:
Frogbit
Duckweed
Salvinia
Red root floaters
Water sprite (left floating)
Pothos (leaves cannot be submerged)
Lucky bamboo (leaves cannot be submerged)

All of these plants don't require repeated fertilizers nor CO2 and can grow well in low-medium lighting. They're also very tough to die and easy to acclimate to changes in parameters, only needing about a month to fully establish.

It's a big list! I recommend googling the plants to see what you like and learn about them, then decide which ones you want to get!

Side note: Adding some all natural, self hardening red clay (like Mexican Pottery) into the substrate will help provide more iron for a deeper red if you want.
 
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madelyn anne

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Wow. Way to overwhelm the beginner guys.

I'll give you a list that fits your criteria pretty well but also are easy plants that you can have fun growing. Literally, almost no-brainer plants that are too stubborn to die from their owner's inexperience or mistakes.
No need for fancy fertilizers, no need for high quality substrate, no need for CO2, and no need for expensive $100+ high lighting.
(*) signs mean that root tabs will be beneficial
(**) mean that root tabs or good nutrient substrate is a must

Foreground plants:
Dwarf sag*
Anubias Nana
Anubias Nana Petite
Marimo moss balls
Java moss (attached to pieces of glass, flat rocks, wood, or stainless steel mesh)

Midground:
Java fern regular
Java fern Windelov
Java fern Trident
Java fern Narrow Leaf
Asian water fern
Anubias Coffeefolia
Other larger Anubias
Rosette sword** also can be a centerpiece or centerpiece compliment

Centerpiece Plant:
Cryptocoryne Wendtii 'Bronze'**
Tiger Lotus**
Barclaya Longifolia**
Red dwarf lily**
Bucephalandra (expensive and rare)

Background plants:
Anacharis/Elodia
Jungle val*
Brazilian pennywort (also can be a centerpiece compliment)
Water wisteria
Water sprite
Java moss wall

Floating/emersed plants:
Frogbit
Duckweed
Salvinia
Red root floaters
Water sprite (left floating)
Pothos (leaves cannot be submerged)
Lucky bamboo (leaves cannot be submerged)

All of these plants don't require repeated fertilizers nor CO2 and can grow well in low-medium lighting. They're also very tough to die and easy to acclimate to changes in parameters, only needing about a month to fully establish.

It's a big list! I recommend googling the plants to see what you like and learn about them, then decide which ones you want to get!

Side note: Adding some all natural, self hardening red clay (like Mexican Pottery) into the substrate will help provide more iron for a deeper red if you want.
Thank you so much! This is so helpful! I'm going to look into the plants you listed and then track them down today! I'm excited to get going on this! I think the fish I have will really appreciate a planted tank.

Thanks again for all your suggestions! That was awesome!

Thank you everyone! I'm gonna head to the store today and see what I can find!
 
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madelyn anne

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Put some moss ball in your tank it gives it more oxygen and a cool look.
I already have some moss balls, I'm looking to get into the planted tank thing but thanks!

& Can anybody shed some light on the Flourish Excel debate?
I don't want to put anything in my tank that could possibly hurt my fish!
 
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madelyn anne

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Not really. It's a fact glut is a toxin. It's also a fact many people use it without killing their fish.
Yeah, I know that cause otherwise they wouldn't be able to keep it on the market. However as @JenC mentioned, there is a debate going on about it and I've heard from other people that they have noticed ill effects and fish death using it. I just would rather be safe than sorry.
 

junebug

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Fish people will debate everything 'till the cows come home. That doesn't mean it is true. I mean I still see people on Fishlore adamant that melafix and bettafix will kill any and all bettas treated with the products. It's not even close to true. The truth is neither has much if any effect on any fish at all, betta or otherwise. But people will still debate it on a daily basis.

Thousands of people use Excel with no ill effects. I've personally used it with no ill effects. You can probably use it with no ill effects. But you won't need to use it unless you're overdoing it on light and ferts for the plants you're keeping, so I wouldn't worry too much. I use it only if I see an algae bloom.
 

Culprit

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If you have enough plants I would mabye dose it at half dose unless you start seeing algea.
 

KirkyTurkey

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My personal experiences with the flourish excel argument:

I had my tank planted for about 3 months, no ferts or co2 or root tabs, nothing. Plants were doing meh (not dying and not thriving). I started "under-dosing" excel, the next morning I woke up to some scaleless fish (clown loaches) being dead. Fish continued dying the week I used it. I stopped using it for a month, and dosed one more time. My last scaleless fish (clown knife) died the next day after dosing it again.

I do not use flourish excel on my tank with fish, I still use it on my tank without fish. I am not saying that excel causes death in fish, but it was an odd correlation that definitely dissuaded me from continuing use of it.
 

Paradise fish

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...& Can anybody shed some light on the Flourish Excel debate?
I don't want to put anything in my tank that could possibly hurt my fish!
Flourish Excel is a type of glutaraldehyde (had to Google this to spell it) which is a form of algaecide. It is the best way to defeat black beard algae. It produces carbon as it's natural breakdown which the plants can take up. Honestly, I wouldn't use it unless you have black beard algae.

Many of the plants I've listed also don't like CO2 because they come from fast moving oxygen rich waters. Liquid CO2 (like Excel) is actually harmful to completely aquatic plants like vals and anacharis.
 
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