This is my own method of creating an easy to keep and great looking Planted Tank. To start off I use only easy to keep hardy plants. My favorites are Java Fern, Java Moss, Anubias, Najas and Water Sprite and maybe even Duckweed. These plants do not require the high levels of light and heavy fertilization required by some other Aquatic plants. I also like to use the common easy to keep and maintain under gravel filter which is just fine for these particular plants or a small inside the tank power filter will do fine also. The pictured tank is a 10 gallon aquarium planted with Anubias and Java Fern, lovely and extremely easy, even with low light levels. These are my favorite easy aquarium plants to grow.
When setting up a new plant tank I try to get everything right the first time. For the above ten gallon tank:
- Rinse it out well (don’t use soap) and rinse the dust out of your substrate in a clean empty bucket
- Use a hang on back filter instead of an undergravel filter
- Use a good substrate designed for a planted aquarium such as Flourite by Seachem
- Place my plants in the desired position
- 2 or 3 Java ferns to one side, the roots just covered with a sprinkle of gravel to hold them down
- A few clumps of Java Moss here and there, just anchoring them with a sprinkle of gravel
- Top it all off with 2 or 3 Water Sprite plants floating on top
A 10 gallon Plant tank such as this will only require the one flourescent light that usually comes with the tank. The fish will provide all the fertilizer necessary and you can just sit back and enjoy it with little further action needed on your part other than the normal maintenance such as water changes and gravel vacuuming and feeding the fish.
The Secret to Success:
Plant heavy right off from the start. That way algae won’t have a chance to get a foot hold. Put them where you want and then don’t bother them anymore. Supply consistent light; (not constant light) that is a regular lighting schedule of about 8 to 12 hours a day. This is best accomplished with a timer, which will also reduce your chores, set it and forget it. Another point to mention in this particular set-up is that all the above plants are of the type that get their nutrients not from the gravel, but from the water itself. That is good on a couple of points 1. You don’t have to add fertilizer to the gravel, and 2. The plants will remove nutrients from the water. The fish will provide all the necessary fertilizer that the plants will need. And your regular water changes will provide any missing micro-nutrients. Using a full spectrum light in your fixture (LED, Metal Halide, Florescent) is also extremely beneficial. Increasing the quality of your light works even better than the quantity of light you provide your tank.
Sad But True:
A sad but true fact of life is that many pet shops sell “aquarium plants” that aren’t really aquarium plants. This is a disservice in my opinion. Plants such as the “Corn Plant”, instant seeds and bog plants like peace lillies and many others will only live a couple of weeks to months in water. And there’s a lot more that are really only “Bog Plants”, though they will live for a while in water, they will never flourish as they should. The plants I have listed above are “easy” aquarium plants. if you provide the stated conditions you shouldn’t have any problems. If you find another attractive plant that you want to try be sure to inquire if it is a “true” aquarium plant.