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LisaC144 02-02-2010 10:14 AM

Plant suggestions
Hi everyone,
I am looking for some suggestions for a 55g planted tank. Can you suggest some good background plants, midground plants, and foreground plants? This is going to be mainly for angelfish, so I guess more of an amazonian theme would be good for them. I always seem to make my tank look too symmetical so I'm looking for some advice on that too. THANKS!

Byron 02-02-2010 01:34 PM

Everyone will be getting tired of me, but as you've asked something that is right down my street...

The pattern on wild angels is the guide to their environment. They live amongst vertical plant roots, branches, and of course plants. Their vertical stripes allow them to blend in, and they live in large groups. They are not solitary fish in nature, same as discus. So if you can find branches, great. Have them sticking vertically up from the substrate, leaving some open area. Bogwood chunks representing fall trees or tree roots are authentic.

Around the sticks plant Echinodorus bleheri; in a 55g I would use three, not equidistant to avoid it looking contrived, as these plants will, given room and nutrients, grow to the tank in height and spread and be very obvious so have them spaced apart, maybe one slightly in from the left, one a plant width further in from that one, and one somewhere on the right side so there is different spacing between each and the tank walls. If you plant them close to the wall, they will tend to grow leaning; if away from the wall, they will be more symmetrical and vase shaped. Either is fine, it depends upon the effect you want. You can see both ideas in my SA tanks.

Another good plant is Echinodorus major, the leaves grow quite straight up so it does not spread out as much as E. bleheri, and they have wavy edges. This plant if well nourished (root tabs/sticks do immensely help this species) it will grow to the surface and even beyond, leaves laying on the surface. A nice plant in a rear corner, there's one in my 115g in the back right corner, and one in my 90g just left of centre.

If you have slightly basic water (pH 7.0 to 7.8) Vallisneria is a super plant. The corkscrew species is a bit smaller than the large V. spiralis. Angels love to cruise through these plants.

In the foreground, nothing would beat pygmy chain swords in this setup, the lighter green and narrow leaves contrast well with the darker green of the afore-mentioned species while retaining a vertical appearance. E. tenellus is smaller, E. quadricostatus a bit larger.

Floating plants are recommended since angels do not like bright light, like all the forest fish. Authentic plants like Amazon Frogbit, Salvinia work, or from India Ceratopteris (floating India fern or water sprite).

LisaC144 02-02-2010 01:47 PM

First off, I would NEVER get sick of all your suggestions and insight. That being said, you got me very excited to plant this tank. I'll sketch and layout out and psot it for suggestions.....THANK YOU!!!

LisaC144 02-02-2010 01:49 PM

By the way, since they live in groups, how many angels would you suggest for a 55g? The other tank mates are 3 black skirt tetras and cardinal tetras. I understand there is a chance for the cardinals to get eaten, but these angels are very small right now and I don't plan on getting more cardinals once they die.

Byron 02-02-2010 01:59 PM

Yes, cardinals and neons with angels is risky; I know, others on here will say it works for them, and it can, but not always. So not a good choice, which is why for colour I suggested the Hyphessobrycon species that are larger, colourful, peaceful... i.e., perfect tankmates. ...H'm, I think it was in the PM that I mentioned its public:-). The blackskirts should be increased or removed, I have read that in small groups they can be nippy, and the angels are quite a temptation for such fish. They would be similar in colouration of course, and something contrasting (like the rosy reds) might be a better choice. It's for this reason I never suggest black phantoms with angels, socially fine but too similar. Just don't get the serpae tetra species.

I would like five angels, but given their adult size of 6 inches in length and 8 inches height, three should work. Just thought, something else about Echinodorus bleheri plants, they are ideal spawning sites for angels.


LisaC144 02-02-2010 02:05 PM

I would never get serpae's. I know they are very nippy. I'll consider taking the black skirts back to the LFS, but I'm already taking the silver dollars back knowing they will out grow the tank and eat all my plants. If I increase the black skirts to 5, leavethe Angels at 3, can I still get a few rosy reds or will that be too much?

LisaC144 02-02-2010 02:14 PM

I can't find the Echinodorus major on either website I'm searching ( and Is there another name for it? I found the Echinodorus bleheri just fine.

Byron 02-02-2010 02:20 PM

Just to tie this in with our parallet PM thread...

I would have 15 tetras in two species with 7 or 8 of each species, 5 Corydoras, 1 Farlowella or Rineloricaria, plus the three angels. I would return the blackskirts, and look for one or two of the Hyphessobrycon species like H. bentosi, H. bentosi rosaceous, H. robertsi; I may have other options to suggest when I can get to my research on species that live in the same rivers as the angels. On this note, I could also find Corydoras for the specific rivers. The Farlowella or Rineloricaria might be outside such a geographic area, but that's no matter unless you want to be quite geographically correct. Geographic setups can be fascinating; I'm not meaning strict biotopes, but general geographic as my three aquaria. B.

Byron 02-02-2010 02:26 PM


Originally Posted by LisaC144 (Post 317951)
I can't find the Echinodorus major on either website I'm searching ( and Is there another name for it? I found the Echinodorus bleheri just fine.

According to Hiscock, synonyms are E. martii and E. leopoldina. I just did a quick search on another site I use, and found something similar called Echinodorus Var. "Rose" though no red colour, so no idea what the "Rose" is about. The leaves are similar, though my plants are much larger and longer leaved. It can be confusing naming plants. Every book I pick up has what I think are the same plants named differently.

LisaC144 02-02-2010 02:34 PM

Can this work as a corner plant?

Sweet Aquatics

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