what plants for a beginner?

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Decz

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Original poster
Aug 15, 2002
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BC, Canada
I want to start planting my tank. I currently only have silk and plastic. I would like to be able to scratch the plastic altogether and just have a mix of silk and live plants.

I tried once, about a year ago to have a planted tank. It looked awesome for the first 3 weeks, then they all died. I really had no idea how to take care of plants and, I still don't. I probably made the mistake of listening to my lfs and just adding a cap of liquid fertilizer a week.

Is there a rule for adding plants, like there is for adding fish? Not everything at once?

Can anyone suggest some good, hardy plants for the beginning of a planted tank? What about liquid plant fertilizer?

The tank I want to try to plant first is a 20 gallon tall ,with flourescent lighting, ph 7.4. HOB filter (can't remmeber what kind at the moment). The tank is fully cycled, It's been set up for a couple of years now.

Any suggestions? Thanks! :)
 

Fishiebusiness

Fish Newbie
Oct 8, 2001
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Berkeley, CA
www.picturetrail.com
The most important things to plants are, in general,
1. Lighting
2. CO2
3. Nutrients

The importance is probably in that order. I dont mean that plants can do without any of the above, but that it would be best to focus first on getting plants the right light, then the right co2, then worry about nutrients last.

Lighting depends on the type of plants you want to keep. If you want low light plants which you dont really have to take care of, then you can go with what standard lighting you have. Plants that would do okay would be any of the Anubias sp., Java moss, Java fern, Bolbitis ferns, Cryptocoryne sp. The down side to these plants is that it is harder to make the lush thick attractive aquascapes that people are often after. Plants will also grow very very slowly. If you're fine with that, the advantages are that plants wont need any CO2, fertilizer, or care.

If you want the higher light plants to make the amano-esque aquascapes you'll have to be ready to spend more money. Lighting you'll have to boost definately. For a 20 gallon tall (19 inches long?), a 36 watt power compact flourescent would do nicely. A 55 watt would be better, if you can accomodate its length. (check www.ahsupply.com or www.hellolights.com ) You'll want some form of CO2, either DIY or pressurized. If youre lazy like me, go with the pressurized, you'll grow plants a lot better.

I wouldnt worry about fertilization until you have the above ready. Fertilizers are a bit tricky and can promote algae.
 

Richer

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Aug 7, 2002
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Edmonton, AB
Welcome to the wild world of plants! uh..... right!

Unfortunately, I have to go against Fishiebusiness on some of the things he said.

There really isn't an "order" of importance when it comes to plants. The order of importance is really dependant on what kind of setup you wish to have.

In a high light setups (more than 2 watts of lighting per gallon of water), I'd have to say both CO2 and nutrients are on par in importance. Via CO2 injection, you must get CO2 concentrations up to about 20 ppm. With nutrients, you must keep nitrate levels at 5-10 ppm, continuely had trace elements, pottassium, phosphates and iron in the correct amounts. Without proper maintanence of CO2 and nutrients, you'll have nothing but algae covered plants.
In low/moderate light setups (less than 2 watts of lighting per gallon of water), strict control of nutrients is most important. Strict control of nutrients does not mean not fertillizing the plants, it just means you fertillize much less. Injecting CO2 into this kind of setup can also be benefitual although not needed.

Both setups can turn out to be beautiful, none has an advantage over the other when it comes to looks. High light setups however have a much faster plant growth rate (meaning more maintance in terms of trimming), while low/moderate light setups have a slower growth rate. In setups with 3 watts/gallon or more, you can just about grow anything, while you are limited in low/moderate light setups.

In either setup, getting off on the right foot is key. If starting a plant tank from scratch (tank has not been cycled yet) stuff the tank with as many cheap + fast growing plants as you possibly can. After a day or two, you can add a few algae eaters (ie. amano shrimp, SAEs, otos, etc.). After that, allow the tank a few weeks to stablize. When a month or two has passed, you can slowly begin to remove plants add other plants and start aquascaping your tank. If done correctly, you should experience no cycling as you would see in a fish only tank.
Substrate is also somewhat important. Enriched substrate is suggested (ie. Seachem's Fluorite, Onyx sand/gravel, laterite+gravel mixes, etc.). Start by putting a thin layer of peat at the bottom of the tank. On top of this peat layer, add the mulm that you suck out of a fish tank (a healthy one). On top of this peat+mulm layer, add 3-4 inches of your main substrate. You can go without the mulm, but its better for the plants if you do have it.

I cannot suggest to you a fertillizing routine or a plant stocking list until you can give me the specs of your tank. I'm going to need your potential stocking options, and the amount of lighting you have on your 20 gallon tank.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask! (On top of that, I tend to give out misinformation when I type long responses).

HTH
-Richer
 

Blue goldfish

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Sep 15, 2002
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Hey i have a similar setup :D !!!! Luckily i got ahold of some water weed a.k.a. Egeria densa. This stuff took right off in the setup. All i did was weigh it down to keep it from floating and it sorta kinda just "poof" starting growing like duckweed. I haven't added any liquid fertilizer or anything. I haven't even touched it. If my digital camera took better photos i'd show u some of how it looks. Oh my tank is also coldwater with 1 6-7in goldfish, 1 5-6in sarasa comet, and some minnows. Try some egeria densa it's real easy to grow.
 

Skippy

Grand Poobah of Fun
Aug 22, 2000
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Well,

the one glaring difference between the tank you have there and the 20 tall next to my desk here is PH, my PH is about 7.0 and you're a shade higher.

One plant i've had sucess in about every environment i've thrown it in (literally ones I threw some clippings out and they ended up in a bucket on my porch and ever grew there) is called Foxtail. Unfortunately I don't have the scientific name of it available right now and i'm about to go to bed and pass out (long LONG day..)

There is a plant section on here which might be able to help you more. Also, check out www.thekrib.com and www.aquabotanic.com The latter has a Informational section with a newbie section I found useful when I first got intersted in greenery for my tanks.

Watch out though, i'm to the point now I wont even use plastic rocks anymore, all natrual tanks or I just dont like it....
 

Decz

AC Members
Original poster
Aug 15, 2002
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BC, Canada
oh boy.... :confused:


Richer, these are my specs.

-flourescent light tube, that measures 3 watts per gallon.
-playsand substrate that is spread out, minimum .5 inch depth, max 2 inch depth
-fully cycled (has been set up for about 3 years)
- real rocks, found them at a lake on a camping trip.
-crappy plastic plants that need to go
-silk plants, will keep them.
-ph 7.4, kh 4, gh 2, ammon 0, nit 0, nitrate 0.
-i do 30% water changes weekly.
-feed the fish shrimp pellets, freeze dried blood worms and flakes.
-hob sponge filter, use crushed coral to raise kh/ph (tap water is kh 0, ph 4.0)..


fish:
-young (small) spotted raphael catfish,
-1 red tail shark
-1 albino cherry barb
-1 australian rainbowfish
-4 serpae tetra's.
-2 zebra danios

the serpae tetra's and the rainbowfish will soon be moving back into their original tank, i just moved, and it's taken some time to get all my tanks back up and running.

otherwise, that is my tank.


can i do anything with this setup?


thanks :)
 

Sum-X

La Dee Da Dee Do
Sep 15, 2001
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Anacharis and/or Cabomba are best for beginning plant aquarists... Unfortunatlly, neither have roots, so it's kinda hard to keep em in your substrate. Especially if you have Cichlids, but in your case won't be a problem. ;)
 

Big Kid

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Nov 28, 2002
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hey richer when starting a tank from scratch not cycled. Would you put carbon in your filter or just fill with foam spounges? Im thinking of starting a planted ten gallon tank brand new and was going to buy an AC 150 for it. I see a lot of people saying you don't need to use carbon unless you are trying to get rid of any meds so im not going to put it in unless i need to? do i need to?
 

Richer

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Aug 7, 2002
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Edmonton, AB
Originally posted by Big Kid
hey richer when starting a tank from scratch not cycled. Would you put carbon in your filter or just fill with foam spounges? Im thinking of starting a planted ten gallon tank brand new and was going to buy an AC 150 for it. I see a lot of people saying you don't need to use carbon unless you are trying to get rid of any meds so im not going to put it in unless i need to? do i need to?
No need for carbon, even in fish only tanks. Carbon tends to saturate really quickly, and basically becomes nothing more than surface area after a few days or usage. Unless you replace carbon once a week, it will do nothing for your tank.
Carbon is not used in plant tanks because it will remove things from the water that plants require. Just replace the carbon with another sponge, and the AC150 will be more than enough for your tank.

HTH
-Richer
 
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