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Discussion Starter #1
So, I was just wondering if there were any plants that would be good to start off with, especially for someone who has no experience whatsoever with planted aquariums.

Right now, all I have is some plastic seaweed stuff, and real plants are a whole lot nicer looking.

My tank's a Marineland Eclipse System 6, so is that big enough? I have medium-size gravel on the bottom, but I could get something different if I really had to.

Any help at all is much appreciated. :)

Chrissi
 

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I still consider myself very much a beginner when it comes to planted tanks... but when I bought my very first plant, it was hornwort. It's proven to be very hardy, and apparently fish don't like to eat it, which I can vouch for (at least, when it comes to guppies, platies, and harlequin rasboras) because I've seen them take it in their mouths and spit it back out a million times... it grows pretty quickly, and I've never added fertilizer or anything... just buried it a bit in the gravel and left it.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
About how big does it get?
 

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There are lots of plants that are good for beginers. One of my favorites that are good for smaller tanks like you have are the cryptocoryne wendtii it comes in red, bronze, and green. If you have driftwood another kind that is good are the Anubias for your tank I would suggest the Anubias Nana it stays small the anubias do best when attacked to a piece of driftwood or rock. You will want to stay away from most of the swords because while they are easy to care for they will grow too large for your tank. What kind of light do you have these are all low light plants and should do well for you even if you just have the bulb that comes with the tank setup. You will need to get some Seachem flourish which is a liquid fertalizer that you will does 1-2 time a week depending on the plants I would start with once a week and if the plants do well keep it at that if not go to two times a week. The Hornwort that iamgrey suggest is also an easy and very fast growing stem plant if you want a nice floating plant I would go with pennywort or wisteria they are both very pretty and can be floating or planted. Sorry its such a long post I just think its awsome when people go from plastic plants to real plants because its so much prettier and better for the fish to.
Edit the hornwort will grow very tall but you can trim it and replant it to make more plants. ; )
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Just a question... how are real plants better for the fish? Do they actually make them healthier? :D
 

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In a way yes they do make them healthier because they help control the ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates that are produced by the fish waste. In other words it makes the water more clean for the fish which it turns make the fish more healthy. ; ) You still need to do your water changes but in the mean time the plants help.
 

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About how big does it get?
It seems to just keep growing and growing... But when it gets tall enough that the tip gets close to the top of the water, i kinda just grab a section of it midway up and tuck that back down into the gravel with the tip still floating up... and then it keeps growing, and then I tuck it back down again... etc. etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Oh, okay, thanks.

What exactly is the difference between nitrites and nitrates?
 

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Oh, okay, thanks.

What exactly is the difference between nitrites and nitrates?
an ion... or an electron... or... some third thing...

On a scientific/chemistry basis... I don't have a clue. But... I know that nitrites get rid of ammonia... ammonia being toxic to fish... nitrites are also harmful to fish, so nitrates get rid of nitrites, and of the three, nitrates are the LEAST harmful but can still build up to toxic levels eventually, before which point you need to do a water change. Off the top of my head... I think levels around 20ppm for nitrates are okay, but once it gets closer to 40ppm you definitely should do a water change.

Someone who's been here longer/knows more than me, please feel free to correct anything I've gotten wrong...
 

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Ammonia is produced by the fish and converted into nitrites by bacteria, which is then in turn converted into nitrates. The bacteria that carry out this process live in the filter, in the substrate and on any ornaments in the tank. Ammonia is very toxic to fish and even low levels can harm them, nitrites are less toxic, and nitrates are less toxic again. Therefore we need to make sure there is an established bacteria colony that will convert the ammonia produced by the fish into nitrites and then less harmful nitrates.
 

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Ah so I DO have it wrong in my head. It's bacteria converting things into nitrites and nitrates, not the nitrite and nitrates doing the converting. Got it.
 

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Plants do several things for fish-

1- Absorb ammonia (preferred) and nitrates (sometimes)- can virtually eliminate the nitrogen cycle, keeping nitrogenous compounds in check.

2. Convert CO2 to Oxygen, helping the fish.

3. Harbor infusoria for young fish to treat as a first food source (If egg-layers happen to spawn)

4. Provide shelter and comfort to fish and fry.

5. Plants can help remove toxins from the air that end up in the water, or trace elements that are in tap water.

If you search the forum (on the top of the page, between new posts and quick links, or just click here) for "Low light" plants, there will be several topics.

My own reccomendation? Buy a good liquid fertiliser when you can, and make sure you have proper lighting. (It's cheap, don't worry.)

For lighting, use flourescent tubes (Or if you have a screw-in fixture, buy some CFLs AKA Compact Flourescents- the spiral bulbs) and make sure they say "6500k". They are often sold as "Daylight" or "Cool White", but make sure you see 6500k (6700k is ok too). Don't worry about the wattage, and just get what fits your hood.

For fertilisers, grab some "Flourish Comprehensive", and dose it once a week as directed.

You do this, and you can grow nearly anything. If you can't afford new lighting, there are a couple plants that are nearly bullet-proof, but they appreciate good lighting and ferts too.

Hardy plants-
Ludwigea Repens
Echinodorus species AKA sword plants(many get large)
Dwarf Sag
Aponogeton Crispus
Anubias
Java Fern
Java Moss

Anubias, Java Fern, and Java moss grow slowly and should be tied to decor or gently placed on the substrate (not planted). They all grow fairly slowly, but can get fairly tall.
Stem plants (most of the others I named, often called bunch plants) have no predetermined height- they will grow forever. When they get too tall, just cut them to the height you want. You can even get the parts you cut off, remove the lower set of leaves, and plant them to form new plants.
Dwarf sag will grow taller in low light (4-6 inches), but will stay short (<2 inches) if it's well lit.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks for all the help, everyone!

So, I was at petsmart today getting fish for myself and a friend, and I got some plants as well. :) I got an Amazon sword, and some wisteria. Hoping they do well. :D
 

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And the addiction begins...LOL
 

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Discussion Starter #16
XD lol

Yeah, I'm already addicted to fish... my parents are just gonna love my new addiction to plants! XD jk
 

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Ammonia, Ammonium, Nitrites, and Nitrates areall forms of nitrogen. Different bacteria and plants use nitrogen for fuel by either breaking chemical bonds and using extra electrons or by breaking bonds and using left over electrons. Ammonia, and Nitrites are more reactive and less stable, and are a better fuel source for things that can utillize them for this reason, but are more dangerous to complex animals that cannot use them for the same reasons. Ammonium and Nitrates are much more stable and complex animals like fish, frogs, etc tolerate them much better, but can still be dangerous in higher concentrations. Ammonium does not typically occur in the aquarium unless an Ammonia "remover" is used. The remover actually converts the ammonia to ammonium. Nitrates are the natural end of the nitrogen cycle in aquariums and are typically removed wither through water changes (which is one reason water changes are so important) or are trapped and fixed in the plant and removed when the leaves fall or the the plant is trimmed (which is a major benefit of live plants.
 

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Ammonia, Ammonium, Nitrites, and Nitrates areall forms of nitrogen. Different bacteria and plants use nitrogen for fuel by either breaking chemical bonds and using extra electrons or by breaking bonds and using left over electrons. Ammonia, and Nitrites are more reactive and less stable, and are a better fuel source for things that can utillize them for this reason, but are more dangerous to complex animals that cannot use them for the same reasons. Ammonium and Nitrates are much more stable and complex animals like fish, frogs, etc tolerate them much better, but can still be dangerous in higher concentrations. Ammonium does not typically occur in the aquarium unless an Ammonia "remover" is used. The remover actually converts the ammonia to ammonium. Nitrates are the natural end of the nitrogen cycle in aquariums and are typically removed wither through water changes (which is one reason water changes are so important) or are trapped and fixed in the plant and removed when the leaves fall or the the plant is trimmed (which is a major benefit of live plants.
I would just add one semi-correction on the ammonium issue. I agree that in an aquarium with basic water (pH above 7) ammonium would only occur when an ammonia detoxifier is used (example, water conditioners like Prime that "detoxify" ammonia do so by changing it to the less harmful ammonium). But in an aquarium with acidic water (pH below 7) the ammonia produced by fish and bacteria immediately changes into harmless ammonium. Nitrosomonas bacteria still use the ammonium same as ammonia, so the cycle operates the same in either acidic or basic water; but the benefit of acidic is that no ammonia poisoning will occur. However, the second stage of the nitrification cycle, the conversion of the nitrite resulting from the nitrosomonas bacteria must still occur via nitrospira (and perhaps other) bacteria, and in either basic or acidic water nitrite is nitrite and toxic to fish and plants.

Plants solve the whole issue very well. They prefer ammonium as their source of nitrogen, and in acidic water will take it up directly. In basic water, they have the ability to take up ammonia and change it to ammonium to then assimilate as their nitrogen nutrient. So with plants in any aquarium, be it basic or acidic water, the initial "cycle" will normally not be detected. Provided there are sufficient plants, and the fish are balanced, the plants take up the ammonia/ammonium fast enough that there will be no traceable amount of ammonia or nitrite, and thus no "cycling" issue. The nitrosomonas and nitrospira bacteria will still establish themselves, but in far reduced numbers than in the same tank without plants, and without plants the time required to become sufficient to handle the fish load can be weeks, hence the "cycle" problems. But plants avoid this cycle issue.

Byron.
 

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I did not know that ammonia was immediately converted in acidic water. Thats probably a product of me always having basic water. Good info to know if someone asks though. Thanks for the correction.
 

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In order for anyone to make any suggestion, we need to know more about your tank- the ph of the water, the lighting of the tank, etc. But off the back, id suggest plants like java moss, java fern, moneywort.
welcome to the forum ^^
 
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