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HollyinWA 01-26-2010 03:16 PM

I am so torn....lives plants or not
I usually do not have trouble making my mine up on things, but for some reason I cannot decide if live plants are the way to go for me. I know that all and all it is best for the fish if done right, but then again, fish do very well with fake plants too. There are pros and cons to both for me and I literally am waving back and forth. I just cannot make up my mind. I know that you all cannot make up my mind and in the end, I have to be the one to decide. I guess I am just thinking outloud. When I look at so many beautiful live planted tanks on here it really does inspire me and makes me want it, but I am still facing pros and cons for me. Here are the pros and cons that I am struggling with:


If done right, live plants are best for the fish (again, if done right)

Will give me another avenue/challenge in the fish world to master/learn about

If done well, can be most beautiful

More upkeep....afraid I will not have time to keep them trimmed and dead leaves removed which would not be good for the tank. I may be good at the beginning but as life's busy days continue, I am afraid I will slack on it. I can keep up with water changes, etc. but not sure about the plant trimming since I have never done live plants before.

Have to limit water movement on surface and/or bubbles. I am not a big bubble user as in bubble bars (even though I like the look), but I do like surface water aggitation and some tini bubbles coming out of the powerhead near the surface or if a sponge is used in a small tank where a pump needs to be used I like the bubbles there. For some reason I have this hangup on thinking the tank needs this movement and I personally like it myself. I know it needs this movement if there are not live plants and also know that it is not needed and should not have it if there are live plants

Have to deal with the lighting situation...more expense, etc.

Will take some time for the plants to grow to the right height in my tall 56 gallon...background plants....have some ideas on this.

I do know that fish and an aquarium can also be healthy without live plants. If I thought for sure that fish cannot do well without live plants, I would not even question it.

I guess that is pretty much it. Maybe, since I am just getting back, I should do the basics for now and if later down the road I either get bored or feel like I can make the change to live plants and keep up on it and deal with the lack of water movement, I can do it then. Or, maybe I can just do live plants in the small tank for now and if I do well with it, I can then do them in my 56 gallon. Although, what do I do with the current water movement. The back filter creates some surface movement and I have a sponge filter which I feel is needed and want in there that is run with a pump so the tank is not over done with big water current. I really do not want to have to change all this right now and really can't for the sake of the good bacteria. I feel good about amount of filtration that is on this tank right now and do not want to lessen it.

Half of me wants them and the other half of me does not. LOL

Thanks for hearing me talk outloud. ;-)

Angel079 01-26-2010 03:52 PM

Holly, keeping live plants is MUCH easier then you apparently thing it must be!
Not only are they good & natural habitat for fish they also help you keep the maintenance DOWN by acting like a bio filter in your tank.
If you buy some giant Vallis for the back, they'll be grown up there in no time at all.

Leaf litter.....You do a normal weekly gravel vac w/c don't ya...IF you have a leaf fall off you suck it up then & there.
Trimming on a normal 55g till the plants are so tall you may consider trimming it takes a while to grow and you're is even taller. You can also NOT trim any and let it grow wild, that's very natural then.

I have pers not spoke to a fish about this yet; its its fact that most fish are from dimly lit forest rivers and naturally hide in plants and maybe even eat one every one's in a blue moon when its falling down. Not offering this can indeed stress your fish (stress-not healthy-short life yaddy ya).

And IMO fake plants are just that - fake - I don't like plastic house nor garden plants and I pers also do not want them in my tank.

Bottom line: Its easy, Beneficial all the way around - DO IT- you won't regret it

cmc29 01-26-2010 04:04 PM

I recently switched to live plants, and it's a little more work...but not much!!! I'm so glad i made the switch and my aquarium keeping is more rewarding now. I watch the fish and the plants grow. It's Great!

Byron 01-26-2010 04:46 PM

I happened to be researching something in Peter Hiscock's Encyclopedia of Aquarium Plants this morning and came across the following paragraph that seems relevant to this thread.
Just like any other aquarium, a planted aquarium needs regular maintenance to keep the environment and the fish and plants within it healthy and active. Thankfully, a well-planted aquarium will virtually look after itself, as healthy plants will act in part as water purifiers, keeping the water conditions good for both fish and plants. ...A mature planted aquarium will need only minimal attention, allowing you more time to spend appreciating the display.
The fact that prior to the availability of all the electrical gagetry we now consider essential for a successful aquarium, aquarists maintained healthy tanks of fish and plants is more evidence that nature can manage itself very well without our intervention. It is indeed possible to have an aquarium of fish and plants with no mechanical equipment that looks after itself, and even though this requires a minimal fish load to balance the plants, this is something that cannot be said of an aquarium without plants. The benefit of live plants cannot be understated.

stephanieleah 01-26-2010 04:54 PM

Hi Holly

I'm biased, but here are my pros and cons of a planted tank:

happy fish
(should I take a video of my fish and send it to you? believe me when i say they are happy to have live plants)
healthy fish (plants use some of the toxins so my nitrates are always 5ppm or below even right before WC)
healthy tank (previous posts can attest)

plants are as addicting as fish...I'm always gazing at my plants! Okay, so it's not really a con. That was a stretch.

leaf litter: i just pick them up during gravel vacs, or if they're floating and my hands are clean i'll grab them. otherwise i let nature and filter do the work until the next WC.
lights: Natalie can options are available! and I like that when my plants are healthy, it's a testament that they are in a natural environment, and therefore the fish are in a natural balanced environment. I knew when my plants started to burn, the light was too strong and in fact the fish seem more at ease with less wattage (ie. cheaper bulbs).
"done right": i don't have anything close to a green thumb, and my plants are still alive!

WisFish 01-26-2010 07:46 PM

Sounds like you're focusing on the water movement issue. It's not really an issue. True, water movement can cause the CO2 to escape. But I use Excel to suppliment the CO2 the fish provide. Water movement doesn't affect liquid carbon. I also still use an Under Gravel Filter which uses air stones. Take a look at my tank pics to see what effect they have.

HollyinWA 01-28-2010 10:28 AM

Thanks to everyone for all your input and encouragement! I have decided to give it a try. I already have some plants due to getting them before I had trouble with the lighting issue and getting cold feet. I will keep you all posted on how it goes. :-) I am close to ordering them from I keep going on there but I am having trouble deciding what ones I want to get out of what has been suggested on here and some others that I have eyed. :roll:

HollyinWA 01-28-2010 10:34 AM


Originally Posted by WisFish (Post 313541)
Sounds like you're focusing on the water movement issue. It's not really an issue. True, water movement can cause the CO2 to escape. But I use Excel to suppliment the CO2 the fish provide. Water movement doesn't affect liquid carbon. I also still use an Under Gravel Filter which uses air stones. Take a look at my tank pics to see what effect they have.

Thanks, and sorry it took me so long to get back. Your tank is beautiful! I had left a compliment on there previously. It caught my eye.

As for the water movement thing, I am little subborn....I prefer least some. I have gotten mixed opinions on this. Most on here say no air stones and minimal surface aggitation, and then at a LFS where the owner is very experienced said that if I was injecting C02 then I would not want a lot of surface aggitation or a big amount of air bubbles coming from a sponge filter, but if I am not injecting C02 it is not a big problem and actually can benefit it somewhat. This is what confused me and the fact that I prefer a little more surface movement than what most planted tanks have.

I think where it may bug me is, my tanks are not fully planted so I can't even imagine having no top movement. I think once I get all the plants in there and it is set up like nature is set up then the stillness will be more natural. I hope that makes sense. I have always had fake plants.

Your tank is a good example of what can be done well even with airstones. Thanks again!

BTW, when you say you use Excel to supplement the C02 the fish provide, what exactly is that? I will look it up.

Angel079 01-28-2010 10:38 AM

Well post your idea list (that's for the 55g right?)

HollyinWA 01-28-2010 10:45 AM


Originally Posted by Angel079 (Post 314530)
Well post your idea list (that's for the 55g right?)

Yes, for the 56 gallon and the 14 gallon. I need to get ready to go somewhere. Hard to get off here! Once I narrow it down, I will post it before I order. Thanks again for all you help. :-)

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