It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.

Please white-list or disable in your ad-blocking tool.

Thank you.


Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.


Help ATS via PayPal:
learn more

Anyone Do Planted Tanks?

page: 1

log in


posted on May, 15 2015 @ 03:59 PM
I've kept aquariums for years, and I'm very experienced with fish only freshwater setups. However, I don't currently have an active tank, and it's time to correct that.

I have a 20L that I'm thanking about setting up, and my son misses having fish. I think even my husband misses having a tank around.

This time, I want to try something new - I've never done a planted setup. So, I've been researching ... It seems that I'll need about two inches of substrate, half strained organic potting mix and half regular sand like always. I should look at investing in a canister filter for the bank. Being fish only and cichlid at that, I've always used double HOB setups both for insurance and for extra aeration which I don't want in a plant tank.

Then there's the question of the plants and lighting. It seems that using the 20L is to my advantage because it means it will be easier to achieve the high lighting level all the way through the water column. That saves a bit there because I will have to invest in a new hood.

I am also game for the chemistry of DIY fertilizer. Husband is scientifically minded and I'm no dummy when it comes to aquarium water chemistry. Between the two of us, we should be able to figure out what we need to mix so long as I can find some good places to diagnose the signs in my plants of mineral deficiency. I can also always be prepared stuff.

Finally, I need some plant suggestions. I know about Anubias having successfully kept at least two different kinds in the past and who doesn't know about Java fern? I think that stuff is impossible to kill even when you try.

As for fish, son has put in a request for blue, yellow and orange. Right now, I'm pondering an eventual trio of Apistogramma agassizi "metal blue" or maybe Apistogramma borelli with maybe three platies. The big problem I have with the platies is sourcing them. It's so hard to find reliably healthy live bearers. Right now, I'm almost thinking online since I'm going to have to get the Apistos that way. And, of course, a group of around four Oties to eat algae. If there is space in that bio load, maybe a school of tetra like cardinal, but I'm just so unsure of the load when plants are involved. I wouldn't hesitate with the load if it were fish only.

posted on May, 15 2015 @ 04:39 PM
I've always had cichlid tanks myself but I haven't had any for years. I will be definitely setting one up by the end of the year. I miss it. So relaxing to sit and watch the fish.

I used to try live plants in my setups but as you mentioned, there are a lot of factors and maintenance to keep everything healthy. I eventually just gave up as it wasn't worth the trouble.

Good luck to you and I would like to see some pics posted once you have everything up and running.

posted on May, 15 2015 @ 05:39 PM
Good Luck. Lets see some pics and progress. Great idea!

posted on May, 15 2015 @ 06:44 PM
I'm too afraid to have plants. I'll mess it up. We do rocks and fake plants. I feed the fish frozen peas to make up for the not being able to nibble on plants. She loves 'em.

posted on May, 15 2015 @ 07:57 PM
a reply to: ketsuko

I've seen a lot of videos on youtube on that very subject, both fresh and salt water. The ones I saw looked really cool.

posted on May, 15 2015 @ 08:07 PM
a reply to: ketsuko

Since I'm a nice guy and I like you, and you've helped me out with quite a few things, I found some videos for you. I hope they'll be of some help.

Not much verbal instruction here but there are printed words and shows what you need as far as sand and whatever goes.

Here is for a low tech planted tank.

Same guy as before but this one covers fertilizer, lights, CO2, and other stuff

Here's another on low tech aquascaping. He seems to go into some more detail.

I hope that these are of some help.
edit on 15-5-2015 by Skid Mark because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 15 2015 @ 10:01 PM
a reply to: ketsuko
I had a planted tank for quite a few years.
You have to plan well before you start as you have to get the substrate correct if you want such plants as dwarf hair grass which can spread like a lawn if grown correctly. em19e126458c

The substrate should be of small sized granules so the roots can spread easily and about 2.5 inches to about 3 inches.
The tank should not be too deep as light has to infiltrate the lower regions,try and get a rectangle tank where the sides are shorter than the length.
I think lighting should be at 2.5 watts per gallon so for a 55 gallon I had 4 light bulbs at 54w each in one unit and I probably only needed 3.
Also the light range should be from around 5000k to around 7500k,get a range of lighting from daylight to actintic blue if you wish the tank to have a nice colour especially on the fish like Neon Tetra's.
If you can get LED lighting as it lasts longer,some bulbs are expensive to change and do not have a long life span.
Temperature should be around 74 degrees and max around 76,the plants do not like the water to be too hot.
Do not use Oxygenated water and I mean like from one of those air pumps that puts out air bubbles into the water as it kills CO2, you should use an external filter and/or one of those underwater powerheads,i recommend the one that looks like a fan as nothing will get sucked into it.
If your fish are seem to be gasping for air in the morning you can use an air pump at night that is on a timer that comes on when the lights are off and goes off when they come on as a lot of CO2 is given off at night and the Oxygen will not effect the CO2 as much.
Do not have the light on longer than about 8 hours a day as you will get a lot of Algae and they may be detrimental to the plants health although I used to have mine on about 9 hours.
Fish-----pick wisely,do not get fish that grow bigger than about 3 inches and study their online profiles to see if they eat plants or dig up substrate.
I would have Neons and or other small tetras.If you want the Neons to school do not get other tetras as some swim through the school and constantly break them up,you could get some really nice looking pencil fish as well that float above them
Janitors you should have Ottos, Chinese Algae eaters and Siamese Algae eaters.
You can get cherry shrimp as well.
Plants...some plants in the store are not ideal for planted tanks.
I had Anubias, Java fern,dwarf hairgrass,try and not to get plants that look amazing but have loads of ferns on them as they will shed and you will have to keep cleaning the filter and water.

You should also do a partial water change about once a week if possible,about a quarter of the water,add the dechlorinator into the water before you pour it in,and it really sounds like you are already well versed in Aquariums so excuse me if I am already telling you stuff you know.
The first planted I did I made the mistake of using smallish pebbles and although the tank looked amazing I could not get the lawn look I was craving
There is nothing more tranquil than a planted tank.

posted on May, 16 2015 @ 12:18 AM
I got 4 tanks now and I wouldn't go without planting. It balance the tank, help a lot in first cycling, process and oxygen, give hiding, etc...It also absorb nitrogen compounds including nitrite and ammonia from the water. You don't need a lot of light. Just pick the low light needing plants at first so you won't struggle. Avoid duckseed stuff that puts to much shadow in your tank. The must is a good substrate. I used ones from Seachem: Flourish Black. It does the trick and last for years (be carefull some need replacement after x months) Tried Flourish Red but it took forever to settle and the water was murky for a week. Black is great. For lighting I use a top with 2 Life-Glow lighted 10 hours a day.

Here's somes plants, but ask away there's plenty of 'easy care' fresh water plants:

Also for chemical I just add some chelated iron for plants. The rest is in your fish poop. Now you can add other products like the ones from Seachem like Trace but as long as you stay with basic plants no need to. I like their products because they very diluted so cheaper to use and efficient.

If you have ? feel free to ask. I even made some home aquaponics experiments that I'm kinda proud of

edit on 2015 5 16 by LoveSolMoonDeath because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 16 2015 @ 01:52 AM
I added plants to my aquarium and my fish seem so much healthier.

I say, forget about trying to process your own soil from soil for potted plants and just spend a little more to get soil/pellet/grains specifically designed for aquariums. You will save yourself a lot of grief.

Amano makes the best, but you can find similar products for cheaper.

I added plants to an existing tank by making little holes and then dropping aquarium soil in those spots. Be careful because mixing up old substrate can release material dangerous to fish, so you want to do a partial water change after that.

Most important is choosing the right plants for the setup you have; certain plants are much easier to keep. Consider the light levels you have, whether you will use co2 supplementation etc.

edit on 16-5-2015 by nOraKat because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 16 2015 @ 12:46 PM
a reply to: ketsuko

I found another video for you. This is from a company called Green Machine. It shows step by step directions for planted aquariums using the substrate method.

Here is the same aquarium one year later.

edit on 16-5-2015 by Skid Mark because: Add video

posted on May, 16 2015 @ 04:39 PM
I think we're going to try to DIY a double LED floodlight setup for the lighting. I found a YouTube that had one, and we already had a shelf setup from a previous 55g where we hung a light over the tank. My husband saw the double floodlight setup, and his problem-solving DIY lights clicked on. I could almost see the gears turning.

As far as straining out the organic potting soil for substrate ... You are talking to someone who did the necessary geology research to go out in the Flint Hills and gather my own aquarium rock for my cichlid tanks (one is 135g; someday I will have it set up again). I had to boil all of it too, so a little elbow grease to properly strain and prep the potting mix for a little 20L shouldn't be that big a deal.

And thank you for the research vids. Every bit helps. The big thing is just not killing the plants.

As far as the fish mix. I've kept all the species I've listed in the past except for cardinal tetras (but neons ought to be pretty close). The dwarf Aggis will sift sand in foraging, but they aren't prone to real digging like most cichlids. I don't even recall the females moving wrigglers to pits like some cichlids will do after a successful spawn. One day she was guarding her cave and the next she was shepherding her fry. And of course, platies are, well, platies.

If I can't source clean platies, my back up idea is a pair of dwarf honey gouramis.

new topics

top topics


log in