My First Planted Tank! Need Your Input!
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My First Planted Tank! Need Your Input!

This is a discussion on My First Planted Tank! Need Your Input! within the Beginner Planted Aquarium forums, part of the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium category; --> So after finally acquiring my light off of craigslist, I'm ready to select my plants! Here’s some information that might help you help me. ...

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My First Planted Tank! Need Your Input!
Old 07-06-2010, 07:52 AM   #1
 
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My First Planted Tank! Need Your Input!

So after finally acquiring my light off of craigslist, I'm ready to select my plants! Here’s some information that might help you help me.

I have a 55gal peaceful community that includes cories, platys, serpae tetras, and zebra danios. The light I picked up off of craiglist is an All-Glass 48" 40W twin-tube strip light. I picked up two Phillips Daylight Deluxe 40W T12 6500k bulbs. Also for substrate I went out and bought the smallest diameter of gravel they had at Petco. All I know is that the gravel is not "super fine" but is a lot smaller than the stuff I had.

My plan was to order the $65 55gal plant package and two pieces of Malaysian driftwood over at Sweetaquatics.com. I ran this plan by my friend who has several planted tanks and tons of experience. He told me I could do a lot better if he selected the plants from their inventory. Here's the list that he sent me. I was wondering if anyone had any comments or ideas about his method to his madness?


Foreground
10 Sagittaria Subulata (Dwarf) $0.60
3 Cryptocoryne Parva Pot $3.50
1 Anubias Barteri var. Nana 'Petite' $7.50 - Very rare and awesome plant!

Midground
2 Cryptocoryne Wendtii Green 1.20
2 Cryptocoryne Wendtii Red 1.20
2 Cryptocoryne Walkeri 1.20
2 Cryptocoryne Crispatula 1.50
1 Anubias Barteri Var. Coffeefolia $4.00
1 Pennywort (Hydocotyle Leucocephyala) 1.95
1 Java Fern LG (MIcrosorium Pteropus) $5.00

Background
2 Cryptocoryne Retrospiralis 1.50
1 Crinum Calamistratum $7.50
6 Vallisneria Spiralis 'Leopard' (Italian Leopard Val) $1.00
1 Ceratopteris Thalictroides ( Water Sprite ) $2.25
1 Nymphaea Stellata Bulbs (Dwarf Lily) $1.00

Total $64.90

Last edited by IceBerg; 07-06-2010 at 08:10 AM..
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Old 07-06-2010, 11:11 AM   #2
 
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why not ask your friend for a few of their clippings from the several planted tanks? maybe offer some money but im sure it will be cheaper then $65
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Old 07-06-2010, 11:27 AM   #3
 
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why not ask your friend for a few of their clippings from the several planted tanks? maybe offer some money but im sure it will be cheaper then $65
We talked about that, but he lives several hours from me. Plus transportation is an issue. He said if I only had Paypal we could work something out.
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Old 07-06-2010, 11:43 AM   #4
 
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Nice plants, I have or have had all you list there except those two specific species of Anubias. You could save a bit on the Sagittaria, 2 or 3 will do, once established it will send out runners with numerous daughter plants. May take a few weeks to settle, so that's up to you. Vallisneria also sends out runners.

One thing missing though is a stable large plant, such as a sword (Echinodorus species). In 4-foot and beyond tanks these are very good to anchor the tank, by which I mean, they grow large (to the tank) and unlike stem plants remain as you plant them except for getting larger with more leaves. You have a large plant to fill this or that spot without constant trimming as you will with any stem plant like the Brazilian Pennywort, and nothing else in this list will grow to fill in spaces like that. In my Amazonian tanks I always use multiple swords to anchor the aquascape. They are also hardy, stable and moderately fast growing so they are good plants with respect to water filtration.

Echinodorus bleherae [sometimes seen under the former species name spelling "bleheri"] is a standard favourite with "typical" sword leaves. Two of these in a 55g would work. Echinodorus tenellus is a low plant for the foreground, a nice contrast to those crypts as E. tenellus has light green linear leaves, much like the Sagittaria but shorter--I can't tell these two apart in my present 90g except by the length of the blades. And Echinodorus parviflorus "Tropica" (Dwarf Sword in our profiles) is another nice foreground plant, dark green.

Byron.
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Old 07-06-2010, 12:38 PM   #5
 
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Nice plants, I have or have had all you list there except those two specific species of Anubias. You could save a bit on the Sagittaria, 2 or 3 will do, once established it will send out runners with numerous daughter plants. May take a few weeks to settle, so that's up to you. Vallisneria also sends out runners.

One thing missing though is a stable large plant, such as a sword (Echinodorus species). In 4-foot and beyond tanks these are very good to anchor the tank, by which I mean, they grow large (to the tank) and unlike stem plants remain as you plant them except for getting larger with more leaves. You have a large plant to fill this or that spot without constant trimming as you will with any stem plant like the Brazilian Pennywort, and nothing else in this list will grow to fill in spaces like that. In my Amazonian tanks I always use multiple swords to anchor the aquascape. They are also hardy, stable and moderately fast growing so they are good plants with respect to water filtration.

Echinodorus bleherae [sometimes seen under the former species name spelling "bleheri"] is a standard favourite with "typical" sword leaves. Two of these in a 55g would work. Echinodorus tenellus is a low plant for the foreground, a nice contrast to those crypts as E. tenellus has light green linear leaves, much like the Sagittaria but shorter--I can't tell these two apart in my present 90g except by the length of the blades. And Echinodorus parviflorus "Tropica" (Dwarf Sword in our profiles) is another nice foreground plant, dark green.

Byron.
Once again thanks Byron for the great advice! Are you saying to replace the Sagittaria for Echinodorus tenellus? Because it will make for a more attractive shorter foreground? Or just to add too it? Also will I be fine adding two Echinodorus bleherae without removing any plants from the list? I don't want to get carried away here.

Last edited by IceBerg; 07-06-2010 at 12:42 PM..
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Old 07-06-2010, 01:22 PM   #6
 
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Originally Posted by IceBerg View Post
Once again thanks Byron for the great advice! Are you saying to replace the Sagittaria for Echinodorus tenellus? Because it will make for a more attractive shorter foreground? Or just to add too it? Also will I be fine adding two Echinodorus bleherae without removing any plants from the list? I don't want to get carried away here.
E. tenellus and Sagittaria are near identical except the latter grows (about) twice as tall. So both are nice in different spots. I have both in my 90g flooded Amazon forest tank if you take a look, the taller are Sag. which grows taller in spite of its common name "dwarf."

I would add the swords, E. bleherae are one of the best and readily available. Of your plants none except the stem Pennywort and (once settled) the Vall and Sag are fast growers, so in a 55g these will not fill it in. Crypts are very slow, as is Anubias. And both like shade. So planting these under the "canopy" of swords is ideal. It provides interest under the larger plants, they (the crypts anyway) are colourful as there are green, brown and red species, and they love shade. They are slow to establish and spread, though if left alone (crypts do not like being moved at all, once planted try to leave them alone) they can settle and send out runners, but it is not anywhere as rapid or thick as swords, vall, sag. The E. bleherae will in time (a few months) grow to the tank, by which I mean up to the surface and spread out over a good (leaf tips); have a look at the three in my 115g Amazon riverscape, far left, and two sort of middle-tank. And all those inflorescences (flower stalks) with daughter plants are from the middle two plants. I've had these parent plants for almost two years now.

Byron.
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Old 07-08-2010, 06:36 AM   #7
 
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Thanks Byron, I took your advice and picked up the 2 Amazon Sword's. Also, since this is my first planted tank I have zero experience aquascaping . Do you have any advice on plant placement, or any tips or tricks? Basically if my order came today I would be lost. I know which plants go front, middle, and back but that's about it. Any and all advice is welcome!


55gal Build



Foreground
10 Sagittaria Subulata
3 Cryptocoryne Parva Pot
1 Anubias Barteri var. Nana 'Petite'

Midground
2 Cryptocoryne Wendtii Green
2 Cryptocoryne Wendtii Red
2 Cryptocoryne Walkeri
2 Cryptocoryne Crispatula
1 Anubias Barteri Var. Coffeefolia Pot
1 Pennywort (Hydocotyle Leucocephyala)
1 Java Fern LG (MIcrosorium Pteropus)

Background

6 Vallisneria Spiralis 'Leopard' (Italian Leopard Val)
2 Echinodorus bleherae (Amazon Sword)
2 Cryptocoryne Retrospiralis
1 Crinum Calamistratum
1 Ceratopteris Thalictroides (Water Sprite )
1 Nymphaea Stellata Bulbs (Dwarf Lily)

Driftwood
2 Pieces of Malaysian driftwood, pre-drilled.
(Planning on planted the Java Fern and the
Anubias Barteri Var. Coffeefolia Pot on them.

Last edited by IceBerg; 07-08-2010 at 06:39 AM..
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Old 07-08-2010, 10:08 AM   #8
 
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Originally Posted by IceBerg View Post
Thanks Byron, I took your advice and picked up the 2 Amazon Sword's. Also, since this is my first planted tank I have zero experience aquascaping . Do you have any advice on plant placement, or any tips or tricks? Basically if my order came today I would be lost. I know which plants go front, middle, and back but that's about it. Any and all advice is welcome!


55gal Build


Foreground
10 Sagittaria Subulata
3 Cryptocoryne Parva Pot
1 Anubias Barteri var. Nana 'Petite'

Midground
2 Cryptocoryne Wendtii Green
2 Cryptocoryne Wendtii Red
2 Cryptocoryne Walkeri
2 Cryptocoryne Crispatula
1 Anubias Barteri Var. Coffeefolia Pot
1 Pennywort (Hydocotyle Leucocephyala)
1 Java Fern LG (MIcrosorium Pteropus)

Background
6 Vallisneria Spiralis 'Leopard' (Italian Leopard Val)
2 Echinodorus bleherae (Amazon Sword)
2 Cryptocoryne Retrospiralis
1 Crinum Calamistratum
1 Ceratopteris Thalictroides (Water Sprite )
1 Nymphaea Stellata Bulbs (Dwarf Lily)

Driftwood
2 Pieces of Malaysian driftwood, pre-drilled.
(Planning on planted the Java Fern and the
Anubias Barteri Var. Coffeefolia Pot on them.
When setting up a new tank, first do the hardscaping (substrate, wood, rocks). I always wash the gravel (worst part of all this) and dump it in, at least 3 inches level. Then if using rocks I work at getting those set; making rock terraces at the sides or back, or having a grouping of rocks, whatever. Move the gravel around accordingly to build the terraces, etc. Then I decide where I want the wood. If you can, always use 3 or more pieces, or just one large piece; two pieces of wood or two rocks always looks obvious, but one or three or more is more natural. Depends upon the tank size. If you are in a 4-foot tank, arranging small focal points works, 1 or more. This means considering a small area, say 2 feet, as its own "tank" and having a piece of wood or rock, or 3 pieces, in a natural looking formation. Then either leave the rest or create another focal point in the other area with another piece of wood or rock. Just never divide the tank in half, it looks contrived; and never repeat, each focal point should be different.

Sometimes I work for days on the above, just arranging the rock and wood, maybe trying different types of rock or used differently. Some tanks come together in less than half an hour, esp if there is no rockwork involved. I find the rock is what takes the time. Wood you can move around, rocks tend to be more substantial because they usually involve the gravel as in terraces.

Once you've got the above, and I always fill the tank to within 4-5 inches after this, you can plant. It's much easier to plant around rock and wood than nothing. Larger plants obviously go towards the back--but be careful not to have it balanced equally, like one sword in one corner and the other in the other corner, it will immediately be "obvious" and un-natural. And distances should always be odd or staggered, never have the plants in a line with equal space between, but staggered. Small plants like crypts, chain sword, can go at the ends or along the wood or rock to soften the edge; this is absolutely natural--plants like to grow next to objects. Leave some open substrate, esp if bottom fish are included. And having one sight line to the back (being able to see to the back) either with substrate or between plants, or both, adds to the perception of depth, but never a straight line, always sort of zig-zag like a forest pathway. Plus a dark background, black seems to work best, or a dark appropriate picture. Nothing with plants in it as this always distracts from the live plants (the colours in the background will be so vibrant), but a background scene with rocks and a tree stump or something, if it is fairly dark, works well. I have this on all three of my larger tanks, but if you look at the photos I'll bet you won't see it unless you look for it.

Hope this helps. I'm working on my 70g re-build, setting up a SE Asian stream. For the past week the tank has sat there, with water, gravel, rocks and this Tuesday the wood and a few plants. I'm still "working" on it; every time I go into the fish room I spend some time sitting and observing this tank, seeing if this or that needs fixing, plus it needs more plants and I may be trekking to the fish store this morning to complete that part. I don't usually spend this much time; when I set up the 33g pond tank last week it was done within an hour, wood, plants and fish all in. The photos I took the next day after setup and to me it looks like its been running for months. But I used stuff I already had, and that is always easier because you can think ahead with the shapes in your mind.

Byron.

Last edited by Byron; 07-08-2010 at 10:11 AM..
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IceBerg (07-08-2010)
Old 09-17-2010, 03:30 PM   #9
 
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So my planted tank has been up and running for a couple months now. Even after months of research and hundreds of dollars spent trying not to epically fail, I'm well on my way. The site of my plants this mourning makes me depressed. I've tried to stick to the game plan but almost everything is dieing or dead. I have no idea what I'm doing wrong? The only thing that I seem to be good at is growing algae which is attacking my plants.
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Old 09-17-2010, 04:22 PM   #10
 
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So my planted tank has been up and running for a couple months now. Even after months of research and hundreds of dollars spent trying not to epically fail, I'm well on my way. The site of my plants this mourning makes me depressed. I've tried to stick to the game plan but almost everything is dieing or dead. I have no idea what I'm doing wrong? The only thing that I seem to be good at is growing algae which is attacking my plants.
This is not the sort of post I like to see. There is always a reason, we must help you find it.

Can you start by describing things; water parameters (pH, hardness, temp), frequency and amount of water changes, light specs, tank size. Specific fertilizers being used and how often. Type of substrate. Plant species, and what is occurring.

A photo would help.

Byron.
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