Plants for a softwater 29 gal community
So I'm finally getting my community off the ground. My water is 3dGH, 2dKH, and the pH from the tap is 7.5 (it will probably drop in this tank; at least I'm hoping it will). I'm currently using Flourish and will have (new) sand substrate. The lighting over the tank is a single tube T8 6500K bulb. I have the fish chosen: 10 kuhli loach, 12 cardinal tetra (possibly subject to change), and one thicklips gourami (weekly water changes 50%). But I still need some major help with the plants. I've attached a beautifully drawn aquascape plan. I know I will have driftwood, java fern (the dark banana-like things in my drawing) attached to driftwood, anubias. Now I need the community's help to choose a few more plants.
In the back right corner I had originally wanted to add vals, but upon learning they don't do well in my soft water, that idea was thrown out. I've been looking at either Aponogeton crispus, Broad leafed sagittaria, or Dwarf sagittaria (upon hearing it could grow to 20 inches tall). Am I barking up the wrong tree here? I really have no clue about these as I've never had anything like them. I guess if I was choosing on appearance I would go with the dwarf sagittaria as those look more like the vals. Point is, which one would be best in my tank?
In the middle back I have what is supposed to illustrate a stem plant. For that plant I've been looking at either Bacopa monnieri, Rotala indica, or Pennywort. I know Pennywort should because it does okay in low/med light (not really too sure what mine is called). I like the look of the Rotala and Bacopa the best, but I don't know if they will do fine in my tank. As we don't have a profile for them (and finding plant info online is difficult) I'd really appreciate some personal experience with either the Bacopa or Rotala in med/low light.
And finally, the foreground plant which is so beautifully illustrated by the circle and arrow. Crypts maybe? This is the part where I have no clue what to put there. I had thought something like undulating crypt, Cryptocoryne pontederiifolia, or tiger lotus. Basically I'm looking for a short-ish foreground plant. Not really a carpeting plant, just something in the foreground. Are any of these options good? What are some other good options?
As this is my first heavily planted aquarium, I'm trying to stay on the easy side. I don't mind if one of the plants presents a bit of a challenge, but I don't wanna need to micromanage the plants. I want to stick them in there and be done with them (aside from ferts). Fish have been and always will be the main focus of my hobby. And if you couldn't tell from my fish selection, I'm not looking for any kind of biotope setup.
I don't know if it will help, but here is a picture of the tank as it is right now. The gravel will be switched for sand on Saturday.
Larger image here
I don't think either of the sagittaria is what you are looking for. I've had dwarf sag in my 20 gal (18" single T8) for a while. When I first bought it, it had long leaves 10" or longer, but once those leaves died back the new growth has never been more than a few inches tall.
If by broad leaf you are talking about Sagittaria platyphylla, I tried this once before. It had very thick, stiff leaves with wide growth pattern rather than tall. It didn't last long in my tank and so this may have been emersed growth, submerged it may be different.
I got some rotala for free with a recent order, but it died fairly quickly under light similar to yours, the pennywort may be a better choice, though I have no experience with it.
For the background (I agree, Vallisneria would not likely do well) try the chain sword [this is the taller one, mine reaches 8-9 inches in low/moderate light, with wider leaves than the more common pygmy]. Dwarf Sagittaria grows about the same length for me, but it is very slow, and the leaves are thin, more like reeds. If both, a nice mix.
Stem plants i tend to avoid, other than Pennywort, as they generally need more light. You can try them, but they might not last.
For the front/mid area, i would suggest crypts. C. wendtii can grow to a foot, this is another possible rear plant. Some of the others remain smaller. And the pygmy chain sword should be OK.
I think I will try a mix of dwarf sagittaria and chain sword. If one decides it doesn't want to flourish, I will still have the other. I'm still thinking about the foreground plants. I might try a mix of tiger lotus (because I really like the look) undulated crypt, and pygmy chain sword in the very front. But I'm still hung up on the plant for the center background. I'm worried that C. wendtii might put a little too much red in the tank with the tiger lotus and the undulated crypt. What else could go there? I'm not really a fan of the shape of the pennywort. I kinda wanted something with stem plant shape. Is there anything else I could use?
And a quick question about planting. Some of the profiles specifically mention not adding these plants to new setups. If the profiles don't mention anything like that can those plants be added to a new setups? The tank itself isn't new, but I'm about to replace the substrate.
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