Looking for plant suggestions, please!
Hello everyone! I'm a newbie looking for suggestions on how to go about planting my tank. I have some idea of what I want things to look like, but I'm not sure what will work with my lighting/water/experience - or what I will have to add to make everything work!
The tank is a fully cycled a 29 gallon tall (about 30"wide, 18" tall, 12" deep)
Nitrates hang right around 7.5 (not sure if this information is needed)
Water in the tank (and tap) is soft, Kh and Gh both 3-6°, Ph 7.5
I've been dosing about once a week with flourish, and have a single Life-Glo 24" 20w bulb
At the moment, all the plants I have are Hornwort, Anacharis, Java Ferns, and a moss ball! All are doing well, currently, but I have a couple of other tanks, too - these plants will more than likely be moved to a new home, depending on what information I can find.
The back-round in the tank is flat black, and I have Tahitian Moon Sand as a substrate, and it's around 3" deep in the front and nearly 4" deep in the back. I intend to stock this tank with creatures who will do well in the water and environment I'm creating - but that's not the question right now!!!
I have a beautiful piece of Manzanita Driftwood that measures approximately: 17"x11"x11"
I chose this wood specifically because it is a nice hard wood that has the branchy rooty look that I'm going for, without being too thick, and doesn't leach as much tannin into the water as many other types.
So. . . onto my 'vision'
My driftwood is going to be turned upside-down, filling much of the left side of the aquarium, with the longer part extending out toward the center of the tank. Basically I'm kind of going for the tree roots in the water effect here. The branches on my Manzanita are thin enough for fish to easily swim around and between them. . .On the wood itself, I'd like to plant some sort of moss. Underneath the side of the tank where the root is, I'd really like it to have a carpet of some type of short grass - dwarf Hair-grass, perhaps?
I plan on using some river stone on the right side of the tank, but leaving the foreground on this side of the tank open for swimming, and bare sand substrate, for those who enjoy such things. I'm kind of stumped trying to think of a way to make the transition from grass into sand seem natural, as opposed to sharp, linear, or man-made. Perhaps a plant shorter than the hair-grass in between the two?
I would like to see the back row planted with tall plant(s), and perhaps the side walls as well.
I want some lower plants in front of that back row - still in the back of the tank, but not so densely planted. Since the substrate and back-round and wood are so dark, it would be awesome if there is something out there that can add a pop of color aside from green - red or purple perhaps?
I've been studying the requirements of different types of plants for hours and days, but there are SO MANY OUT THERE! I think I really could use some help from people who have actually grown these things!
In addition to suggestions on TYPES of plants, I also need some info on what I have to do, technically speaking, to make this dream a reality and keep these guys alive and happy!
Sorry for the long post - I tend to do that, I know. . . any and all help will be appreciated and fully considered! Thank you! :-D
anubias is good and easy to keep, so are sword plants, even lilycapis
So I will start by saying there are really only 2 different types of Planted aquariums. There is the natural planted tank and then you have the High tech planted tank. Its best to decided which way you want to go. Most of the people around here have natural planted tank (I will explain the difference in a minute). With a Natural Planted tank you will just continue with what you are doing now. The lights you have are fine along with what you are dosing. Then you can just pick plants that will do fine with what you got. Which should be somewhere in the low to medium lighting group for plants. There are lots of choices here and you can still have the tank you invisioned minus the colored plants (Those fall into high tech due to needs to bring out the colors.).
High tech IMO is much more involved. You would have to have brighter lights plus dose C02 and Flourish alone would not be enough fertilizer. It takes more trial and error getting the right balance with a high tech then a low or natural planted tank. Now some may disagree with me here but that's the way I look at it. Now I LOVE the look of high tech tanks and have even considered doing one. Here is where you can really get into some of those color plants you were talking about. Also the plant growth will be about 2x the amount then with a natural planted tank depending on the plants and how you have it setup. So more trimming. LoL Also more risk of different Algaes showing up easier if everything is balanced just right. Now the same can be said about Natural plant tanks with aglae the difference is you have less things to change in one. Main the lights and how long they are one. Anyways there is a little difference between the two. You can ask more questions and decide how you want to go.
Plants that will work with your current setup. I think Dwarf Sagittaria or Pygmy chain sword would work as a "carpeting" type plant. Both of those plants when established send out runners and will cover the substrate in no time. They both look pretty close to each other btw.
Java moss will work for the moss look on the tree stump or willow moss I think would look good.
Tall plants for the back and side welll hmmmm..... I don't know at the moment I am at a loss LoL others will have some suggestions I am sure.
Thanks for taking the time to clarify that to me :) I've actually kind of been trying to figure that out for some time! I can see myself going all out with a high-tech set up. . . but I should probably start off on a bit of a smaller scale to gain some experience first - even if it means giving up my colors! That said, I'm really still fairly determined to get the look I'm going for - and I'm willing to make some changes to the tank hardware to achieve the end-result I'm after! Thanks for the plant suggestions - I'm pretty familiar with all of the plants thus far mentioned in this thread, so will start by researching those further. Let me know if you come up with an idea for those back-round plants!
I know I have a lot to learn, and I'm excited about that!
What kind of look was you hoping for in the back?
I'll sort of pick up where Boredomb left off, starting with a comment or two on natural vs high-tech.
Most aquarium plants will manage in a natural system, depending upon the light. Nutrient supplementation is easy, sometimes hardly needed. As soon as you add diffused CO2 you are entering a higher level of light and nutrients. Plants will grow faster (except for a few that don't), and a few more species will be more likely to succeed. That sums it up; I have stayed with natural tanks for more than 20 years because I am first a fish keeper not a plant keeper and thus I want minimal light, and I prefer to use nature more than paraphernalia. There is less to go wrong, and it is less expensive to set up and maintain. With your stated water parameters and light, I would certainly go natural, you've got the basics already.
Substrate cover is tricky as many of the "lawn" type plants need more intense light. This can be done, but then you have the problem of balance with nutrients, esp CO2, so you are limiting yourself. I know lawns look nice, but very few natural tropical streams have these--few have plants actually--so the fish won't mind. I always use small plants on the substrate, it is not a carpet or lawn effect, but it is easier to manage. The pygmy chain sword Boredomb mentioned is my preferred plant, but crypts will also work.
I have a 29g with the same light, so I've a good idea what you're working with. My 33g is very close, 6 inches longer and the tube is a 30-inch, so much the same balance. Photos below are some ideas I've had over the past 3 years with these two tanks, just to illustrate some possibilities. There are many others. The last photo is my 70g but I'm including it to show how the pygmy chain sword can "carpet" the substrate if let go. All this from one plant.
Boredomb - I have a kind of long grassy look in mind - was thinking of the spiral/corkscrew vals, - Vallisneria Spiralis. Cyperus Helferi is a great suggestion to look into, I like the look of that one also! Thanks!
Byron - As always thank you for sound advice. Between what you and Boredomb have said, there is no doubt that a natural planted tank is what will be best for me. I want the look - but I want the fish to be happy, too! And in my experience, simple almost always works best. Thank you for putting those images up, it's really wonderful to be able to see a REAL version of what my tank *could* look like and get inspired! What exactly is it that you have growing in there, though!!? Aside from the swords, that is! I love your floaty rooty things! :roll: *hates not knowing what I'm talking about!*
I really do love the idea of the dwarf hairgrass. . . the pygmy chain sword does have it's own type of charm, and I can see where you're coming from with having a similar effect. As far as Crypts. . . some of them are nice, too! The Cryptocoryne undulata has a bit of color to it's center, as well. I'll look into these further. . .
What about the smaller plants that are not grasses, exactly, but would still provide ground cover? Things like one often sees attached to driftwood - only used as ground cover instead - Like Crystalwort (Riccia Fluitans), Star Moss, Zipper Moss (Fissidens zippelianus) or Dwarf Baby Tears - sometimes I see these listed as 'low to moderate' light - but also sometimes 'moderate to high!'. I would like to avoid having plants that form small clumps, if possible - except for toward the back. I don't know if that makes sense, but I really want a smoother 'feel' to the bottom of the tank - the half I want planted, anyway. It's really difficult for a novice to try to figure out what exactly is TRUE when reading plant profiles (and fish too, for that matter!). I find a lot of inconsistencies and variation from place to place, and many aren't listed in the Profiles here.
And... since we're at it... tell me about the more important stuff. Should I plant a lot of things at once and get the meddling in the tank over and done with? Or would it cause more stress to do it that way, and be better to go little by little. Usually, patience and baby steps is the law of aquaria, but when dealing with things like this - I don't know! My tank is cycled, but not established/matured. . .What exactly will happen in there when it goes from sparsely planted to being much more dense? Will I be able to measure anything with testing (aside from possible slight Ph change due to driftwood) What should I watch for? Are there any serious dangers? My tank is in a sunny room, though not in direct sunlight. You're saying lights should be on for no more than 6 hours a day - does that mean total darkness for the rest of the time? I need more info on how this all will work together!
Thanks again for taking the time to help me out here, I really appreciate it, and love learning all you have to share!
Hey, thanks again for the info!
I'm glad that you mentioned this, because I'm fairly confused with trying to figure out the soft water thing as far as it applies to plants! Most plant profiles give a Ph range, and since my Ph is 7.5 it seems to be okay for most types of the plants that I'm looking at. Occasionally, I'll see some mention of a plant being better suited for hard or soft water, but that seems to be the exception. Maybe I'm looking in the wrong place!
It IS a bit frustrating to see so many cool plants and be unable to figure out what on Earth they are, lol! But I'm new at this, and I know it will come in time. I often surprise myself with the vast amount of fish that I can easily identify, having never kept or thought about keeping them. I'm sure the same will come with plants once I have a bit more experience! One can hope...
I figured I'd have to do a dramatic overhaul on the tank, and was hoping that it would be the best way, because it really IS the easiest way to do it. I intend to have a very set idea of what is going where, so that I can do it as quickly as possible and be done, but I also expect that things won't go exactly according to plan - they almost never do!
I already know that my fish like plants! I've seen it with my own eyes, and can't wait to see how happy they'll be when all is said and done - I'll be happier, too! I'm very aware of how plants can affect toxins in the water. I've cycled a tank without ever seeing an ammonia or nitrite spike - and I was testing twice daily! Plants are amazing. . .
I am concerned about the possibility of algae. Right now, everything is fine, I think? I have a very light white algae that occasionally appears on the glass, and have had the occasional strand or two of a white hair-like algae attached to a plant or two - nothing major (yet!). This happened immediately after I switched to the new daylight spectrum bulb and adding nutrients to the water. When I noticed it I got more careful about feeding and turning the light off a bit earlier, and everything has been fine since. The tank isn't anything like overstocked, I actually want to get all of the planting taken care of and settled before I truly stock the tank to cause the least amount of stress as possible on my aquatic friends...
As far as lighting. . . I know I'm going to have to work on this and adjust my 'routine' quite a bit. I'm fine with that! My lights are on FOREVER! I turn them on around 7am, and I was leaving them on until close to 10-11 at night. When I started seeing a bit of algae, I started turning them off by 8 at the latest, and I know that's still too long! This is something I need some direction in, because I really just like to SEE the fish all of the time - especially at night. I've been wondering if it would be best to leave the lights off during the morning and afternoon, since the room is sunny, and turn them on later in the day through the evening, when we really need them to be able to enjoy the fish. I've read that people that have multiple lights in one tank often turn on one, then another several hours later, then create a 'peak' in lighting before dialing it down. . . something like that, but the 'peak' would be as the sun is losing it's brightness - so I don't know if this would bother the fish OR plants! I suspect I'll have to kind of work this bit out with some trial-and-error, but am 100% open to suggestions on how to do it right! The tank IS in a sunny room, but it's all ambient light. The sun isn't directly shining on that side of the house until around 3:oo pm, so it isn't high-noon sunny! There isn't anywhere else to move the tank, and *I* can't live with the shades drawn - so I'll have to figure something out here!
Lots left to learn!
The best thing I can say about the hours of lighting is that is just needs to be constant. Have it come on everyday at the same time and then off at the same time. Most ppl use timers for this. Now when to have it come on well you can have it adjust your hours. If you like to enjoy looking at your fish but can't do this until the evening hours then you can adjust the time to then have it come on like at say at 2pm and shut off 9pm (or whatever hours works best). I know lots of ppl do this and it is fine. I have mine come on at 12pm and shut off at 7pm. I work nights and like to watch my fish before i got into work. That time works best for me. Now I have heard of having one light come on then several hours another and have both on for several hours then one goes of then the last one. This is also okay and the fish will like this as when one light comes on it isn't as bright as have 2 come on at once. You can do something like that just going to need another light. I would just make sure during the "Peak" time to have it set at 6hrs. Plants need atleast that amount of time to do their thing.
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