Plants for the Newbie...
As the title states I'm completely new to the idea of a planted tank. I've been looking around and trying to work out what I can use and what is too advanced for me at this stage.
The tank is a 3 foot community tank. (see my signature). I've spoken to my local store and I've gotten my hands on some basic plants. I wish I could remember what they were called but unfortunately I've never been good at remembering scientific names.
I am trying to plant a very established tank so any advice/tips on the best approach would be greatly appreciated.
If anyone has suggestions on plants which don't have special CO2 requirements, are easy to root and preferably grow quite quickly it would be a great help.
This the tank. The group of plants in the left corner are silk plants.
Hi Richard welcome to the forums. I suspect that I am not the only one who is going to first point out that your tank is overstocked and probably has some fish in it that should not be together especially the clown loach - from what I recall that is far too small of a tank for it.. There are others on here that can better explain this than I can.
As far as plants it is going to depend on what lighting you have as well as your water parameters. Gravel bottoms don't usually make the best substrate for a planted aquarium when using rooting plants. Anubias and Java Ferns that can be attached to wood or rocks can do well with gravel bottoms. Can you tell us more about your tank?
Last edited by mrramsey; 10-29-2013 at 05:16 PM.
The Clown Loach is unfortunately going to have to be traded in as he gets bigger. He's currently less than an inch in length. I am aware that they can easily reach 6+ inches however I was told that they are extremely slow growers and that I could maybe expect an inch of growth in the first year. He'll have a future home in my friend's 8 foot tank.
I've also been told that the Angel will prey on the smaller fish. Luckily mine is a softy and doesn't care about anything except his flake food. For some reason the fish I get don't behave according to the norms. For example, my Red-Honey is the most aggressive of anything in the tank.
The nitrates and ammonia levels were absolutely perfect according to my pet store. I gave them a water sample about two weeks ago. I perform 20-30% water changes every week on a Saturday morning. There's a Dolphin filter pump in the tank's cupboard. There is also a Purigen filter pack in the Dolphin.
I'm hoping that the plants will prevent me having to siphon every week.
The light is a 20W neon.
I will happily admit to being new to the hobby/passion. This tank was originally my parents but it was neglected really.
I took it over in January and the picture was taken today.
The Dolphin is a C700 model
I know you are asking about plants, but I might as well mention several other things.
first of all, take all advice from pet stores with a grain(tablespoon? ton? truckload?) of salt. they profit from selling you fish. if your fish die and you buy more that is good for them.
most pet store employees actually have no idea about fish. they just are there to catch them. getting your water tested by the store is also dubious, especially if all they say is your water is "fine".
ammonia has to at 0, nitrite at 0 and nitrate below 20 parts per million. if it isn't that, then it isn't "fine". I hope you've cycled your tank too.
according to your signature you have 5 gouramis in your tank. that is 4 too many. they are territorial and will not coexist with other labyrinth fish(gouramis, bettas, etc). so pick one(I'd go with a pearl, they are big enough to stand up to the angel, yet still very peaceful for a gourami). eventually though you may even have to choose between the gourami and the angelfish. both are territorial, and although they aren't closely related they still may view each other as enemies.
schooling fish(tetras, minnows, cories, etc) should always be kept in schools of at least 6 of the same species. I doubt your tank has enough room for 6+ schools of all your minnows and tetras and cories so some may have to be rehomed. the siamese
algae eaters will each reach 5 inches with good care and may get slightly territorial with each other as they age, so beware. all 4 of your algae eaters(plecos, SAE's) will require supplemental feeding, as your tank is likely too bare to provide enough algae for them all. cucumber or spinach pinned down on a fork will be relished, as well as algae wafers. as you already know, the clown loach will reach immense sizes and also requires a school. at least you already have a plan for it. in the future please always thoroughly research your stock before buying.
now to your question about plants. first off, your 20 watt light is insufficient for plant growth. good plant growth generally requires at least 2 watts per gallon of flourescent light, maybe 1.5 for the hardiest of species. that means 70-90 watts of lighting for your tank. it also cannot just be any old light. most lights for indoor applications have a color temperature that plants cannot utilize very well. "daylight" bulbs or special plant growing bulbs are best. most plants will also require some fertilization as well as carbon supplementing, and a good plant substrate. getting plants to grow well can actually be more complex and expensive than keeping fish alive. there are however some very tough species that can survive without most of the stuff I just mentioned. hornwort, vallisneria, anubias, java fern, duckweed, frogbit and some mosses will survive without a special substrate, fertilization or carbon addition, but still require a good light source. anubias, the mosses and java fern will grow too slowly to make much of a difference in your water quality, but the floating plants(duckweed, frogbit) as well as the hornwort can become great nutrient absorbers if you get them to grow well.
Last edited by madagascariensis; 10-29-2013 at 10:36 PM.
I generally agree with everything madagascariensis said, certainly re the fish, but I would suggest that we can be a bit more optimistic on the plants. But the light is going to hold you back. I assume it is T8 (as opposed to T5), a single tube 24 inches in length, thus 20 watts, correct? Over a 3-foot length 45g tank. Are you amenable to upgrading the light, or is this going to have to be it?
To the fish, just seconding what mad said...remove the clown loach immediately. This is a highly social fish, and without a group it is going to have trouble. Even aside from the size in this tank. And the Siamese Algae Eaters can be problematic in smaller spaces, so I would remove these quickly. The longer fish that are going to be problems remain, the more likely there will be problems sooner.
Last edited by Byron; 10-30-2013 at 12:40 AM.
Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada
Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
I know that the pinch of salt proverb applies to the vast majority of pet stores where the job is merely a job. However, I have not found that to be true with this store which is why I drive for half an hour to get to it. They used a Tetra liquid test, the one that changes colour. The staff all keep their own tanks and I've never seen any sick fish at the store. On a side note, the display tanks there are incredibly beautiful.
Earlier in the year we had a massive problem where it turns out that my mom slipped in a seashell without saying a word to me. It was buried under the gravel within the day and I wasn't aware of it. Needless to say that I lost a good few fish.
The employees were able to assist me in correcting the tank and I've not lost a single fish since then.
The tank was properly cycled and has been running for about 4 years with minimal fish.
In terms of the Gouramis I am very surprised that they are aggressive fish. I know that Golden and Cosby variants can be aggressive but when I researched the Pearls they were classified as peaceful fish. This has certainly been the case. Is it possible that the breeders are creating a more peaceful and less aggressive strain?
The Loach and the Corys actually spend a lot of time schooling with the SAEs. I unfortunately had to trade in my big SAE because he simply became aggressive. The two I do have are about half and inch at the moment.
I feed the tank on Nutrafin Max and Pro's Choice Bottom Feeder Wafers. They love this food compared to the Tetra Min that they were feed. I also feed them some Brine Shrimp once a week.
Please understand that I fully respect the knowledge that is being shared here and it is appreciated. I really just wonder why none of my fish have the textbook characteristics.
The neon is a T8 I think. It certainly matches the requirements you gave me.
The T5 was mentioned as a possible future requirement but there is currently a shortage of stock. I hate to think what it is going to cost with the current exchange rates. Would it run off of the same mounts and fittings?
I have two light fittings but I need to repair the one because it shorts out. Unfortunately that is waiting till late November when I will finally have free time.
Out of interest, why would this tank's behaviour be so different to what is expected? No aggression, multiple-species of fish schooling etc.
To deal with tap water, ammonia, nitrites etc. I use a product called Prime. It removes chlorine, chloramine and ammonia. It detoxifies the nitrite and nitrate and provides a slime coat.
I suspect that most of your fish are still juveniles. As they reach maturity this is when things will likely change.
A lighting upgrade will definitely be needed but again how much light depends on the types of plants. A lot of people just want a low tech low maintenance set up. That is what I have albeit my lights are a bit too powerful so I am currently making adjustments due to some algae issues.
Do you have any ideas of what kind of plants you want to grow?
As far as I can tell only three of them are still juveniles. The Clown Loach and the SAEs.
I'm primarily looking to grow simple, tough plants. I would like some to have broad leaves and a few that grow well together. I know that my neons love to dart between the leaves of the silk plants.
I'm also hoping that the plants will help create a self-sustaining eco-system. At the very least I would like the tank to require less maintenance from a cleaning point of view.
Ideally I would like plants that will be fine with gravel and require lower light levels. Are there any that will be happy with the current 20W set-up?