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How to begin a planted aquarium

Discussion in 'Planted Aquariums' started by red devil, Dec 2, 2017.

  1. red devil

    red devil AC Members

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    I am sure there are good, well developed threads on this, including links to other pages. What I am looking for: what order do you put the plants in - back to front, according to growth rates, etc? Should I fill the aquarium to the top in the beginning? When to put fish in? Also, is it worthwhile to raise some species of snail in a separate tank to use in case of an algae outbreak?
     
  2. SnakeIce

    SnakeIce AC Members

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    To start planting it is wise to have some plan, and start with the low plants up front. Before you start planting put just enough water in the tank to completely saturate the thinnest areas of substrate, which is usually the foreground areas. As you move up the slope of substrate to midground and background plants add more water so that the areas you are planting are just at the waterline again. This will begin to submerge the previous planting areas. Keep a spray bottle handy with clean water to keep the plants not yet submerged wet as you work.

    If you tie epiphytic plants such as java fern, moss, anubias to wood or rocks that can be done at any time, and may be easier to visualize the space for those so later substrate plantings don't get shaded by them if you put them in last. Again keep them moist with the spray bottle.

    It would take getting everything just right to be fine adding fish right away, but it is possible. It would be wiser to start adding fish after a day or two. I'd wait long enough for stem plants to straighten up and orient to the light before you add fish. You have more water quality help with growing plants so you can stock the tank faster. I still like to spread it out over a week or two. That lets me observe what I have and gives a chance to see if the level of activity has the appropriate room as each group of fish is added.

    As far as algae is concerned there will be some. What algae you get depends to some degree on what isn't being made available to the plants. Each algae has it's niche, a set of conditions that favor it. Those conditions tend to be the lack of something plants need: 0 phosphorus available is conditions for the green spot algae, 0 Nitrogen available is conditions for cyano called blue green algae, others gain entrance by an insufficient carbon source. Yes having a clean up crew is helpful but first make sure you aren't making conditions unfavorable for plants which gives entry room for algae to take over.

    If you have the above covered so you have happy plants then the clean up crew will be able to handle the algae that does grow. Snails may be part of that, but you don't have to use them unless you like having them. Ottocinclus, nerite snails, and amano shrimp are the smaller tank best cleaning crew. Assuming you won't have fish that would bother an otto those very recommended in a planted tank, but the others are more up for consideration depending on what else you want to put in the tank. Some planted tank safe fish would eat snails and/or shrimp.

    A hospital/quarantine tank becomes more needed if you consider shrimp or snails, because some of the medications you might use to treat fish would kill the invertebrates.
     
    bren likes this.
  3. red devil

    red devil AC Members

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    Thank you! That is very, very helpful. Combining your advice with the answer on another post, it seems wise to first stock the tank with small fish, then after it settles, consider upgrading to larger fish?
     
  4. fishorama

    fishorama AC Members

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    I would say decide on substrate & hardscape arrangement (rocks & wood) first. Then what plants you want in relationship to those, along with what lighting & co2. I tend to fill the tank ~halfway for easier planting. Be careful of shading low front groundcovers, as SI said. & be ready to move things as needed as plants grow (or don't, lol).

    As for adding fish, unless you have truly wall to wall heavy planting (not likely), plan to cycle the tank with ammonia or media from an established tank. If using ammonia & you get to the point of 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites & rising nitrate, you can pretty much fully stock your tank... but allow for adult sized fish. If using filter media, stock much, much more slowly.
     
  5. SnakeIce

    SnakeIce AC Members

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    Yes, that would be better. An established planted tank that is growing well will absorb the additions of larger fish much better than a newly planted tank will. It is possible to do from the start, but getting enough plants can be more expensive. Easier to wait till the plants you started with have expanded and have more growing tips.
     

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