What are the pros/cons of keeping a planted tank?

LoveLiveRide

Member
I have a 37 gallon tank, that I was recently thinking about planting, until I realized just how expensive it is! What I really want to know, is will it really improve the fish's life by planting the tank with live plants? All of my fish have been kept in tanks planted with artificial plants, and they seem perfectly happy..
 

sirdarksol

Member
Moved to the Aquarium Plants section. Hot Topics is meant for debatable topics, like evolution in aquarium fish.

I prefer live plants. I think they look better, and they do consume nitrogen, which reduces nitrate spikes in your tank.
Downside is that they require a bit more care (the amount of care depends on the type of plants you have, and the method you choose to maintain the tank), and if not cared for, they can actually increase nitrogen levels in the tank as they decay.
 

Julii Cory

Member
Having a planted tank can be expensive depending how far you want to go with it. A low light/low tech may not require much from your pocket, but growing plants in a tank with high lighting and CO2, daily fertilizing, can be expensive, challenging, and rewarding hobby. Sometimes you end up putting more emphasis on the plants than on the fish, but you can learn to balance both flora and fauna.

I myself have a fish and plants, T5 HO lamps, pressurized CO2 feeding, ADA Amazonia substrate, fertilizing on a daily basis... the plants really grow wild, which requires trimming or aquascaping, so your fish have room to swim.

It's a great hobby, lots of learning, and you can grow lots of nice plants without all the expenses I have gone through, your fish will like it more, you will like, it is a big difference going from artificial plants to real plants.

Whatever you decide, get real plants, I'm sure you'll like them

E
 

jerilovesfrogs

Member
I peronally don't think they are that much more than fake plants. 10 bucks for a tallish fake plant isn't that great of a deal imo. but you can get plants on aquabid for 2 something and up.

I love the look of them. I do low/med light tanks, with only excel (liquid carbon), not co2 injection. my plants have been great.plant geek has some good info. check it out =]
 

Mermaid77

Member
I have live plants in my tank. I chose low maintenance types and only provide fish poo for their fertilizer. I try to give them adequate lighting and so far so good. I hope they will spread eventually. I would recommend any of these for live plant beginners:
-pygmy chain sword (Echinodorus tenellus)
-dwarf hairgrass (Eleocharis parvula)
-Rubra Water Lily (Nymphaea sp. 'rubra') *which I grew from a bulb I purchased at Wal-Mart and it is happily growing*.

I am happy to say it is possible to have inexpensive and no fuss live aquarium plants!!! ;D
 

Deltrunner

Member
I have nothing but live plants. Prices vary depending on what you get. You do not have to fill up the whole tank with plants, just buy a couple and let nature take its course (they grow). Then you can trI'm and replant the trimmings.

I prefer live plants because it helps reduce nitrates in the water and I think my fish (20 neons) love it.
 

backflipfronflip

Member
I am pretty new to this whole business but I have a few crypts, a java fern and a sword of some sort. No fert, no CO2 just let the fish feed them with poo. They all seem to be rocking and after 1 month I have already cut off and replanted baby plants.

That is part of the joy, if you're worried about the cost then you could just buy 1 plant and then wait for runners or shoots to grow off of it and then plant them. Slowly phase them into your tank.
 

Nutter

Member
Live plants are the way to go. They look better, they consume nitrates as long as they are healthy, & a low light set up can cost less to plant live than fake. Most importantly the fish would prefer live plants. When can you honestly say you saw your fish swimming happily through the stiff, scratchy foliage of the fakes?

I would actually recommend against Dwarf Hairgrss & Echinodorus Tenellus as they are actually high light plants that do require ferts & co2. Without them the plants will die over 6-18 months. Stick with things like Java Fern, Java Moss, Anubius species, Bolbitis Fern, Cryptocoryne Wentii, Marimo Moss Balls & Water Sprite & you shouldn't go far wrong (or spend much money).
 

bubblynutter

Member
That's a great article Ken, thanks!
 

LyndaB

Member
Why have a planted tank?

Because the fish love it.
Because the live plants sway in the current.
Because it just looks better.
Because live plants help keep your tank healthy.
Because fish don't snag their fins on live plants.
Because the fish love it.



As for cost:

I incur no additional cost. I have low light in all 3 of my tanks. I have air stones instead of CO2. I don't use fertilizer. My only cost is the plant itself, which sometimes cost less than the artificial ones.
 
  • Thread Starter

LoveLiveRide

Member
Thanks for all the replies!! Well, I think I'm going to try to convert my tank to a planted aquarium! Anyway, my budget is fairly minimum, so what are some plants that will thrive in a low tech- aquarium? ( No CO2)
 

Akari_32

Member
Maybe this will give you an idea?

New El Natual Planted 3 Gallon!!

Ignore my spazzing about Plutto. He's a little... stupid some times lol

so I decided i'm gunna go 'El Natural,' but change a few things up

Here we go! Theres a link in the 1st post there that explains it, and then the rest of the post is how I did it my way =D I think this is the best way to go planted, if you are ready for it. I have 4 of my 6 tanks like this, and I (and my fish!) loooooooove it =D Company gets a kick out of it, too ;D
 

Nutter

Member
You really try to push everyont into these El Natural tanks don't you Akari?

Plants suitable for a low light set up include but are not limited to:
Anubius (any species), Java Fern, Java Moss, Anacharis/Elodea, Bolbitis Fern, Marimo Moss Balls, Water Wisteria, Cryptocoryne Wendtii, Cryptocoryne Undulatus, Cryptocoryne Retrospiralis, Green Tiger Lotus & most surface floating plants.

There might be a few others depending on exactly what lighting you have but that's a good starters list.
 

Akari_32

Member
Nutter said:
You really try to push everyont into these El Natural tanks don't you Akari?

Plants suitable for a low light set up include but are not limited to:
Anubius (any species), Java Fern, Java Moss, Anacharis/Elodea, Bolbitis Fern, Marimo Moss Balls, Water Wisteria, Cryptocoryne Wendtii, Cryptocoryne Undulatus, Cryptocoryne Retrospiralis, Green Tiger Lotus & most surface floating plants.

There might be a few others depending on exactly what lighting you have but that's a good starters list.
Nooo! Its just the only kind of planted I know! T.T I do like them though, I think that all tanks should be done like that <3
 

Mermaid77

Member
LoveLiveRide said:
Thanks for all the replies!! Well, I think I'm going to try to convert my tank to a planted aquarium! Anyway, my budget is fairly minimum, so what are some plants that will thrive in a low tech- aquarium? ( No CO2)
In my experience, the dwarf hairgrass, pygmy chain sword, and water lily (like the type from bulbs you get at W-Mart). My operation is very low tech. I do nothing for the plants other than stick or drop them into the bottom if need be. My substrate is half inch of gravel with inch of pool filter sand on top. Everything seems happy and is slowly spreading. And most importantly, they were cheap! :;z
 
  • Thread Starter

LoveLiveRide

Member
Ok now that I've got an idea.. how long will it take for my tank to cycle before I add plants? What about fish?
 

psalm18.2

Member
LoveLiveRide said:
Thanks for all the replies!! Well, I think I'm going to try to convert my tank to a planted aquarium! Anyway, my budget is fairly minimum, so what are some plants that will thrive in a low tech- aquarium? ( No CO2)
Anubias do great. Just throw them in, they can float. So easy to care for. You can attach them to wood, rocks, or decorations. Anubias don't get planted and grow nice and healthy w/ low lights. (your current light will do)
A good hint, if leaves are dark green, then low light plant. If leaves are light green, then need high light.
Bannan plants are easy too, just throw them in and don't bury.
 

Mermaid77

Member
LoveLiveRide said:
Ok now that I've got an idea.. how long will it take for my tank to cycle before I add plants? What about fish?
You can add the plants now. They help the cycle.
Wait on the fish.
 

Nutter

Member
Mermaid77 said:
In my experience, the dwarf hairgrass, pygmy chain sword, and water lily (like the type from bulbs you get at W-Mart).
I'm sorry but Dwarf Hairgrass & Pygmy Chain Sword are most definitely NOT low light plants & do not suit a low light set up at all. I think you should read a few profiles on these plants as they are honestly terrible recommendations for low light. You wait for a few more months & they will start dying off in your tank & if they don't then you have a lot more than just 10w over a 10gal.

Sorry but I happen to have an awful lot of experience with both of those plants & I know exactly what I'm talking about.

Another thing that annoys me is people claiming that plants 'help' a tank cycle. That is completly false. Plants are actually consuming ammonia as a form of nitrogen. Because the plants are consuming it very quickly the magic numbers of 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite & 5-20 nitrate appear quicker. All it means is that there is less ammonia present so the bacteria colony doesn't take as long to develop as a larger colony would.
 

fishdaddy725

Member
Does this mean you're starting a new tank to grow plants in? I had been under the assumption you wanted to add plants to an established tank. If you are going to start a new tank, I wouldn't put plants in until it's done cycling. Keeping plants can be tricky and the fewer variables the better. As for fish, most fish get along fine with plants and if they don't a little research will usually tell you so.
 

Nutter

Member
Actually adding the plants before the tank has started cycling is the way to go. As I stated above plants consume ammonia (& nitrite & nitrate). Ammonia is actually the prefered form of nitrogen for all but a few aquarium plants. So it actually benefical to the plants to be be added before cycling is completed. Plus in heavily planted tanks where the plants are allowed to get settled in for a week or two before adding an ammoniaor fish, there may never be cycle at all. I've done dozens of planted tanks & only one of them ever had a positive reading for ammonia at all.
Setting up a brand new planted aquarium is best done as follows:

Set up tank, filter & heater (air stones & co2 as well if being used)
Install decor such as wood & rocks
Add substrate
Fill tank
Start filter & heater
Allow water to reach desired temperature
ADD ALL PLANTS
Allow tank to run for a week to give plants time to settle in
Start adding a few fish at a time or adding pure ammonia if fishless cycling

Now people can argue with that all that they like but this is a proven method that I've used more times than I can remember as have many many othes.
 

Akari_32

Member
Plus, if you buy live plants, not the bulby things you have to grow, they will already have good bacteria on them anyway, which should help the cycle out a bit (lol sorry to put to put it like that, Nutter XD)

I also do it pretty much like Nutter does, but I never really thought about what I was doing. It just seemed right to do it like that lol
 

Erica0107

Member
So plants are ok for a week without any ammonia source?
 

Mermaid77

Member
Nutter said:
I'm sorry but Dwarf Hairgrass & Pygmy Chain Sword are most definitely NOT low light plants & do not suit a low light set up at all. I think you should read a few profiles on these plants as they are honestly terrible recommendations for low light. You wait for a few more months & they will start dying off in your tank & if they don't then you have a lot more than just 10w over a 10gal.

Sorry but I happen to have an awful lot of experience with both of those plants & I know exactly what I'm talking about.

Another thing that annoys me is people claiming that plants 'help' a tank cycle. That is completly false. Plants are actually consuming ammonia as a form of nitrogen. Because the plants are consuming it very quickly the magic numbers of 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite & 5-20 nitrate appear quicker. All it means is that there is less ammonia present so the bacteria colony doesn't take as long to develop as a larger colony would.
I'm sorry.
I think you may have misunderstood me. I didn't say anything about a low light tank. I just said that in my experience, which has been quite a bit, they grow happily in a normal tank setup. That is to say, with a hood that has a light in it. Nothing special. Mine have taken root and begun to spread. No signs of dying off. I suppose there could be other variables such as how much natural light your tank gets. Mine happens to be in a sunny kitchen. But it by no means receives high light and no special treatment.
Sorry you haven't had much luck with those types of plants.:-[ And by the by...I've read tons of info on these and other aquatic plants. I'm a librarian. I read for a living!
 

jerilovesfrogs

Member
psalm18.2 said:
Anubias do great. Just throw them in, they can float. So easy to care for. You can attach them to wood, rocks, or decorations. Anubias don't get planted and grow nice and healthy w/ low lights. (your current light will do)
A good hint, if leaves are dark green, then low light plant. If leaves are light green, then need high light.
Bannan plants are easy too, just throw them in and don't bury.
you actually can plant rhizome plants (anubias, java fern) but just bury the little roots, not the rhizome. also don't bury crypts or swords too deeply. I have many anubias planted, they are great =]
 

backflipfronflip

Member
When you say don't bury the rhizome I think that they can be buried just below the surface of substrate just not stuffed right down to the bottom. So that the new shoots/rhizomes can poke out of the gravel easily.
 

Nutter

Member
DO NOT BURY THE RHIZOME. Sometimes you can get away with a rhizome planted partially below the substrate but not completely covered. It is best to just plant the actual roots of rhizome plants if you want them in the substrate & leave the rhizome itself completely uncovered. If you bury the rhizome too deeply the plant will die.]
 
  • Thread Starter

LoveLiveRide

Member
Although this is slightly irrelevant, is it possible to add plants to an already established tank?
 

Nutter

Member
It certainly is. There is no bad time to add live plants. Just that certain stages of tank development are better than others. If you want live plants, put them in whether the tank is cycled or not.
 
  • Thread Starter

LoveLiveRide

Member
Ok, well in that case, how would you add them? I'm sort of thinking about converting my other already established tank to planted.. I'm sure I'll need to change the lighting, substrate, etc. on this one too..
 

Danni

Member
Again...fish like them better.
 

jerilovesfrogs

Member
you may not need to change the sub....plants can live with substrate that is regular stuff....just not for plants. that stuff can be expensive too.

using root tab ferts are a good way to get food to the roots.

as for lighting, what do you have? do you want low, med or high light? co2?

ps. and planted tankare good places to learn about planted tanks =]
 
  • Thread Starter

LoveLiveRide

Member
Well, since this is my first planted tank, and I have a minimal budget, I'm thinking a low-tech tank, with no CO2 or DIY CO2. I'm going to be upgrading the lighting to support low light plants. I may be upgrading the tank to a little more high tech in the furture, once I get the hang of things that is.
 

Nutter

Member
Swapping to live plants is easy. Remove the fakes & plant the real deal. As mentioned you may not need to change the substrate, just make sure it is at least 2" deep so the plants can take root init properly. As for upgrading the lighting, that depends on exactly what you have now?

Just a gripe that I've got & this is NOT DIRECTED AT ANY ONE PERSON:
I see lots of people recommending that people go to Plantedtank or Plantgeek to learn about how to have a planted aquarium. Those two sites might be great for articles & plant profiles but as far as getting information from other members, they are terrible. I have found the members on those sites are more interested in telling people that they are doing everything totally wrong than answering the questions they are actually asked. I havn't used either of those sites in well over a year now because all the members there can do is find fault rather than actually be helpfull. Even to those that are already running a successfull planted aquarium. By all means if pople want to be members there they should do so but those sites leave a lot to be desired when it comes to other members being helpfull.
 
  • Thread Starter

LoveLiveRide

Member
Well, I think I've decided that I'm going to go for an "El Natural tank" planted with java fern, java moss, and anubius nana petites. I'm also going to have some pieces of driftwood from my LFS. How does this sound?
 

Akari_32

Member
LoveLiveRide said:
Well, I think I've decided that I'm going to go for an "El Natural tank" planted with java fern, java moss, and anubius nana petites. I'm also going to have some pieces of driftwood from my LFS. How does this sound?
Sounds like fun! The best place for the soil is WalMart. They have a huuuuge bag of top soil for like $2, and I used one bag for a 25 high and a 5.75 and I still have over 1/2 the bag left over. I don't remember the brand, but its a white bag, with red lettering, very simple, and it has "Eco" in the title. If you can find any, a grass type plant would look awesome with the drift wood, and help out with the less water changes thing
 
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LoveLiveRide

Member
I was wondering, is it OK to have filters in an El Natural tank? I'll have to check walmart for soil, and I've been searching my LFS and I found a grass-like plant, I'll have to check it out. I was also wondering if there are any tips/tricks to setting up one of these tanks?
 

Akari_32

Member
You can have filters. I just use filter sponges in my filters, unless all I have is carbon (I have to rig a sponge to fit in my Tetra 3i's).

Tips... Take all the chunks out of the soil. Theres all kinds of yummy things, like poop (I'm not kidding. Wash your hands good when you're done!), and sticks, and rocks and such. Be very careful not to stir up the soil; put the plants in (and anything else that goes into the gravel) before you put the water in. If you stir the dirt up when there's water in the tank, it can take about 12 hours to settle completely (depending on how bad), though it doesn't hurt anything, its just a pain in the butt lol This one isn't anything important, but its cool: Put a few plants up against the glass, so you can watch the roots grow. Its fun to watch the roots get longer as the plants grow. Also, plant the biggest plants in the back, or atleast plants the ones that will get the biggest in the back. The most important tip: have fun and go all out!
 
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LoveLiveRide

Member
Thank you so much!! I will hopefully be posting pics after x-mas when I'll start buying stuff.
 
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