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A Guide To Aquascaping And Plants.

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#1 Redevilz

  • Forum Member
  • Joined: 02-September 12
  • Location:Perth
  • Location: Scarborough

Posted 22 July 2014 - 05:19 PM

Hey all,

Thought I would share some Aquascaping tips that I have learned from experience, research and fellow aquarists.

So, whether you are an experienced aquarist or a new person to fish keeping, a planted aquarium is a fun experience, and not necessarily difficult to maintain. If anything a planted tank would be easier to maintain than a non planted tank because of the plant's ability to produce oxygen in the aquarium and absorb nitrogen.

I guess I will start at the bottom and work the way up, starting with the substrate.


Arguably the most important part of a planted/nature aquarium. It is important to provide plants with nutrients in the substrate because certain varieties of plants absorb most of their nutrients from the substrate. Cryptocoryne sp. and sword plants absorb most of their nutrients from the substrate.

A common mistake made by aquarists is buying the cheapest gravel/sand that they can find which won't allow their plants to thrive. ADA Aqua Soil is a favourite substrate of mine however, for a cheaper substrate get a substrate with a small to medium size grain and fertiliser tabs and/or dino dung. Place the dino dung on the base of the aquarium, then add the substrate over this to prevent the fertilisers from floating up into the water column.

With the thickness of the substrate for ground covers I recommend a thickness of at least 2cm, crypts a minimum of 3cm and stem plants should have a substrate no thinner than 4-5cm (depending on the size of the plant. Note that these are minimum thickness recommendations and plants thrive in a deep substrate.

A money saving option is layering your gravel. For example if you had a 2x1x1 foot aquarium I would recommend having approximately 9 litres of substrate. So instead of buying a 9kg bag of an expensive substrate you could buy 4-6kgs of good but expensive gravel for the nutrients, then cap it off with cheap gravel/sand.

Some good plant substrates include:
ADA Aqua Soil
Fluval Stratum
Ista Water plant soil
Eco complete
Caribsea Floramax
And many more

The water and additives/liquid fertilisers.

In a planted tank the pH should be approximately 5-8 depending on the plants and fish you plan to keep. Most planted tank friendly fish such as:

And many more

With the hardscape in a planted tank if you have driftwood in your aquarium then that will lower the pH and limestone will raise the pH.

There are many fertilisers out there gang you can use. ADA Brighty K, green gain, dino spit, dino wee and many more. All these will help your plants grow, however, it is important only to add the recommended dose because if you add too much you will help algae grow and multiply.

Dealing with algae:

If you find that algae is growing in your tank, don't worry, there are a few ways to remove it, some methods include; removing the algae manually, then reducing the duration of lighting, upping the frequency water changes if high ammonia levels are present in the aquarium and possibly reducing the amount of fertilisers used in the tank.

Otocinclus and Whiptail catfish are good catfish to have in a planted tank because they are good at eating algae and they will not damage/eat your plants and moss.


Usually planted tanks have a small-medium amount of fish so a large filter is not needed, however, it does help to have an oversized filter to keep the water crystal clean for your plants and fish to thrive in. External canisters are usually the best filter if you can afford them because they do not affect the appearance of the tank and they can store large amounts of filter media for developing/keeping good bacteria and cleaning the water.


Another important component for the health of aquatic plants, without proper lighting your plants will struggle to grow. I recommend 2.5-4 watts per gallon in a planted tank for growing aquatic plants, it depends on what plants you want to keep. For example most moderate light plants will be fine in 2.5 to 3.5 watts per gallon, however there are some harder plants such as HC that requires high lighting (3-4 watts per gallon)

Some low light plants include crypts, java fern, java moss and Anubias.


Co2 (Carbon Dioxide) is important for the health of aquatic plants because plants absorb the Co2 (either produced by your fish or Co2 setup) and then put out oxygen in the water to keep the good water quality. If you have an aquarium your plants will require more Co2 but if your plants are getting less than 3 wats per gallon Co2 is not necessary. However, with some plants such as HC you will needs Co2 for them to survive/grow properly.

I hope this post has been useful to you and I wish you all luck with your tanks. Thanks for reading, if you have any questions feel free to ask here or PM me.


Edited by Redevilz, 22 July 2014 - 05:21 PM.

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