Ecology of the Planted Aquarium

Updated August 12, 2019
Author: Mike - FishLore Admin
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A Practical Manual and Scientific Treatise for the Home Aquarist By Diana Walstad
Publisher: Echinodorus Publishing; Third edition (1999, 2003 and January 1, 2013)

Ecology of the Planted Aquarium

The Ecology of the Planted Aquarium by Diana Walstad has been around since 1999 when the first edition came out and it's still quite popular and recommended to those starting a planted tank. The author focuses on running low-tech planted tanks but gives the reader tons of information on nearly every aspect of planted aquariums.


A planted tank is definitely a step up from running a normal freshwater aquarium and it can be somewhat challenging for someone new to the hobby to take in all the information. From lighting choices to substrate choices to the plants available... it can be somewhat confusing. What this book does is break everything down into the various components of planted tanks and explains them in very good detail.

The topics covered in this book:

Introduction - The author briefly touches on all the subjects to come and explains what a planted low-tech aquarium is and how plants benefit aquariums.

Plants As Water Purifiers - The book starts to get rather detailed from here on out. Heavy metals, ammonia, nitrites and how plants are used in wastewater treatment facilities are discussed at length.

Allelopathy - just like algae and corals, plants also may release chemicals into the water column that can affect other species around it. Chemical warfare of plants vs. plants and plants vs. algae take place in nature and in our aquariums but the big difference is that the effects may be more pronounced in the small confines of an aquarium.

Bacteria - the tiny little things that help make fishkeeping possible are talked about in this section. Everything from how they are involved in nitrification and denitrification along with hydrogen sulfide production and destruction. Bacteria processes in the home aquarium are quite interesting.

Sources of Plant Nutrients - There are several ways you can get nutrients to your plants including from fish foods, nutrients from biological processes, soil in the tank and from water changes. The availability of these nutrients and how they affect the plants are discussed in this section.

Carbon - The inter-play of alkalinity, pH and CO2 along with the carbon limits and the effects on submerged plants start the section. Plant strategies for increasing their carbon uptake are presented and you will also learn about carbon sources.

Plant Nutrition and Ecology - Here you will learn what nutrients plants need and how to get them these nutrients.

Substrate - Everything from the make-up of soils you can use in your planted tank to the problems some can introduce. How to select the right soil, fertilization and additives are topics also covered.

The Aerial Advantage - Aerial plants have some advantages over fully submerged plants and the author explains those in this section. Faster growth rates, more efficient use of CO2 and oxygenation of the root area, etc.

Algae Control - Common methods for algae control such as light reduction, water changes, algae-eating fish species, shrimps, snails and phosphate removal. How plants compete with algae for nutrients and the factors involved with controlling algae growth in your aquarium.

Practical Aquarium Setup and Maintenance - My favorite part of the book! After getting up to speed with the sections preceding this one you should be well armed with the knowledge you need to set up your very own planted tank. The author explains how she has some of her tanks set up and she has low-tech planted tanks. You can still apply the information provided in this manual to high-tech planted tanks too.

This book is very detailed. Some may find some of the scientific information in it to be a little dry at times but it is good to know these things and those wanting this detail will be pleased. I give this book 5 stars.

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