Real or Fake?
Im new to fish keeping, and it seems kind of overwhelming at first. I was wondering what everyone's opinions were regarding the use of real plants vs artificial ones. As a beginner, should I stick with fake plants? Or dive right in and get real ones? Is there an added risk adding live plants? I've seen a number of threads that talk about how live plants actually help filter a tank, so I know there are benefits to having the real thing. I just wonder if plants will make it more difficult to develop a stable environment. So I'm looking for suggestions.
1) Should I start out with fake plants, get my tank stable, then add some real ones?
2) In regards to adding real plants, is there a process like when stocking fish? Should I only add one or two at a time or can I add a bunch all at once?
3) If you suggest some fake plants, are there any particular brands/manufacturers you would suggest. Ive seen some peoples tanks on here with fake plants and some look pretty authentic while others don't.
4) Id I use fake plants, is there a need to turn my light hood on? Do the fish benefit from the light at all? My tank gets some indirect sun from a western facing window, so I think I get enough light during the longer summer hours.
Thanks in advance,
Killing beneficial bacteria?
When I do water changes, I dump my water onto a rock at the bottom of my tank so that the water doesn't spread my gravel around too much. By pouring tap water (treated with water conditioner), am I killing the beneficial bacteria that had formed on the rock in my tank? Or does the water just disperse the bacteria and it will settle back on the rock or other surface eventually?
1.) You can add real plants right away, they will act as a natural cycle for your tank and you can add fish almost instantly.
2.) There is no process to slowly add plants to an aquarium. I wouldn't throw 100 plants in at once, but I added about 12 to my 55G from the start and never had a problem.
3.) I haven't used fake plants in a while, but go with what looks best. Any sold at a LFS (local fish store) are going to be safe for your aquarium, so get the ones you like best for your decor
4.) Yes. Fish, just like humans need a steady balance of day and night. You may enough light coming through your window, but I would suggest buying a timer for your light and set it so it's turns on and off at the same time everyday.
No, you are not. Think about it this way, the rock constantly has water rubbing against it. I always use to set a bowl (which was never touched by soap) in the bottom of my tank and dump into that. It allows for the bowl to fill and not splash all over the gravel, which the rock carries the same effect.....
If you deicde to go with a planted tank, there are several other things you'll need to consider when diving in. One is a plant list, but most importantly is lighting and fertilizers. If you decide to take this road we can into this further.
Since you are just beginning, I would stick to fake plants. Real plants can get pretty complicated. You will have enough problems with just your fish, nevermind your plants. To find good plants, just go on ebay and search for them. There will be loads of cool decorations for pretty cheap. And yes your fish will definitely still do better if you have the light on for a few hours each day
When I was a beginner I left the starting gate with plants in hand and planted my tank the minute I had filled it with water, and also added fish right away. Plants aren't difficult (IME) and fish prefer real over fake, they help cycle a new tank, it's pretty simple to establish a nice balance with the right substrate (sand or very small type pebbles), full spectrum lighting and a weekly dose of Sheachem's Flourish Comprehensive or something similar. For me, I can't imagine NOT having a planted tank. All my tanks (except my QT/Hospital tank) are planted. I made a few doofus mistakes in the beginning which can all be avoided by listening to the many plant gurus we have here. (Byron, are you reading? Chime in!)
Good luck with whatever you choose! :-)
I would never go with fake (came close with a cool looking fake bonzai tree), but thats just me. I suggest going to the aquarium plants section and reading Byrons stickies on plants.
As previous responders have noted, live plants create more stable conditions due to their very nature of "filtering" the water.
I appreciate that when one reads some author's comments about mega light, special substrates, CO2, blah, blah...it seems daunting. But all that is not necessary for a successful planted aquarium. And I cannot agree that using live plants makes things more difficult, quite the opposite. But you have to understand the requirements of the plants as well as the fishes, and provide for them.
Someone referred you to the stickies at the head of the Aquarium Plant section, have a read of the 4 articles "A Basic Approach to the Natural Planted Aquarium." The photos of My Aquariums illustrate how all this comes together simply.
If you are a little apprehensive about going with live plants try starting out with just a few of the easy ones. I find Anubias and Java Ferns to be very hardy and easy to grow. They don't require much in the way of special lighting or ferts. Swords and Cryptocornes are also pretty easy. You could do a mix of live and fake if you want. As you get more confident in your fish/plant keeping skills you could gradually replace the fake with live plants.
Oh, just a note on live plants. I would suggest QTing them just like you would new fish. It has been known that ich can be brought in on plants. I put mine in a 5 gallon bucket of conditioned water for about 5 days or so before they go into the tank.
I always thought real plants were daunting. When I got back into the hobby however, I jumped right in, prepared to burn up a lot of money.
Plants have been the easiest part of the game. I treat with a weekly liquid based fert once a week. Just pour it into the water and done.
I would reccomend highly using a substrate called "Eco Complete." I mixed it in with a little of the gravel I'd been using, and I've seen a huge difference in how quickly my plants grow.
Im getting ready to setup a new 20 gallon tank. I think after reading everyones comments, I will put in 2 or 3 aquatic plants. Something relatively easy like Anubias. Plus, I love the way Anubias look. As I get more comfortable, I can add more. I've been focused on learning the cycle process, so I'll hit the plant section next and do some reading.
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