How to Set Up a Beginner Planted Aquarium
If you’re looking to level up in your aquarium keeping skills, consider adding live aquatic plants. Not only do they add a natural beauty to your tank, but they also help consume toxic waste chemicals and purify the water for your fish. We will walk you through setting up your low-tech planted aquarium.
Before you begin: Gather the necessary supplies for your planted tank
Let’s start by making a list of the necessary materials. If you are new to planted aquariums or are working on a limited budget, there’s no need to get a rimless, low-iron glass aquarium that costs a fortune. You can find out more about A.
regular glass tank
The rim from your local pet shop works perfectly and serves a purpose to buffer against any unevenness between aquarium and stand.
The fish tank should be placed on a hard and level surface, such as an aquarium stand, kitchen counter, or solid piece of furniture. You need to ensure that the aquarium setup (and the floor underneath it) is strong enough to support the additional weight of water, substrate, equipment and decorations.
A aquarium lid is an expensive option, but we recommend it because it reduces heat loss and the use of electricity. A lid also decreases evaporation, which can cool the tank and cause swinging water parameters that stress your fish. Plus, a fish tank cover is a simple way to prevent fish, shrimp, and snails from accidentally jumping or climbing out of the aquarium.
An aquarium lid stops fish from jumping out and other household pets from getting in.
An aquarium backdrop is optional, but it is nice to have as it hides the power cables & airline tubing. Plasti Dip rubber coating can also be used to cover the back panel of your tank. Or you can tape posterboard directly to your aquarium. We personally like black backgrounds since the color seems to make plants stand out more and hides algae better.
A heater and thermometer are usually necessary if you plan to keep tropical fish. Learn how to choose the right heater for your situation.
There are many lighting options available. For beginners, we recommend a plant LED light. They are specifically designed to produce the best spectrums and levels (Photosynthetically Active radiation) levels to grow aquarium plants. The Finnex Stingray light is our personal favorite because of its solid performance and great value for low to medium light plants, but for more choices, read our article on how to pick the best planted aquarium light for your specific needs. A light timer is also extremely helpful for making sure your plants get a consistent amount of light every day and preventing algae growth.
Substrate has been a hotly debated topic in the field of planted aquariums. While enriched soils and dirt are often considered the best choices due to their high level of nutrients, excess nutrients can cause water quality issues and algae blooms for inexperienced hobbyists. For beginners, we recommend using inert substrates without nutrients such as aquarium gravel, coarse sand, or sand. For more information, find out how to pick the best substrate for your planted tank.
Tweezers allow you to plant aquarium plants or add root tabs in the substrate.
You can design your aquarium using only live plants, but many people like to add hardscape, such as aquascaping rocks and driftwood that are safe for fish tanks. For inspiration, you can search online or simply pick what looks best to your needs. Other useful supplies for planted tanks include:
– Dechlorinator to remove chlorine and other toxins from the water – Easy Green all-in-one fertilizer to feed your plants – Water test kit to measure how much fertilizer you need to add – Algae scrubber to clean the aquarium walls – Planting tweezers to insert new plants or root tabs into the substrate – Pruning scissors to remove dead leaves or propagate plants – Aquarium siphon to change water and vacuum the substrate if needed
Let’s move on to buying the live aquatic plants. Because you should wait until everything is in place before buying them, we have saved them for the last part of our checklist. For instance, it would be very unfortunate if you bought your plants but realized you didn’t have enough substrate for 2-3 inches of the tank base. Here are some helpful tips when making your plant selection:
If you’re just getting started with planting plants, consider starting with beginners. They tend to be hardier and more forgiving when we make mistakes. It is a good idea to buy many different plants to test out, as some plants may do well in your particular water conditions. If possible, save your money and buy many plants at once. A high plant density can help to reduce algae growth, and it will also increase the amount of nutrients that are available to the tank.
How to Set Up a Fish Tank with Live Plants
Once you have everything ready, we will show you how to build your aquarium.
1. Pick a suitable location. Ideally, the fish tank should be near an electrical outlet, as well as a source of water for easy water changes. Avoid placing the tank in direct sun or near an air conditioning vent. This will reduce algae growth and temperature swings. Also, avoid high traffic areas where the tank may get bumped into by adults or explored by curious pets and young kids.
Choose a location to house your aquarium. It should be in direct sunlight and close to an outlet or water source.
1. Prepare your aquarium stand or counter space by installing the stand and cleaning it. 2. Rinse aquarium and accessories. Next, wash the substrate, tank and hardscape in water. This will help reduce cloudy water. If necessary, you can then install the aquarium background. You may also want to quarantine your live plants to get rid of pest snails and duckweed. 3. Put the tank on the stand, and then add the substrate. Most planted tanks require at least 2 inches (5 to 7.5 cm) of substrate. Also, insert root tab fertilizers into the ground if you are using inert substrate and have cryptocoryne plants, sword plants, or other species that feed heavily from their roots. You can read this article to learn more about root tabs and the plants that require them. 4. Place the equipment and hardscape in the aquarium. The heater and filter are not turned on at this step but are merely positioned in the tank so that you can use the plants and decorations to hide them. Your “skeleton”, or framework for your planted tank design is made up of rocks and driftwood. Take your time and arrange the pieces as you need.
Move around the hardscape to plan the future layout of the plants.
1. Fill the tank partly with dechlorinated drinking water. This helps support the plants leaves as you plant them, so that they don’t bend and break. When filling the aquarium, pour the water through a colander or onto a plastic bag or bowl to avoid disturbing your aquascape design. 2. Plant the flowers. A blog article that explains the various techniques for each type of flower is available. The taller plants should be placed in the background to not obscure the smaller plants at the front. Also, consider where the aquarium lighting will be so that you put the low light plants in the shadows or the edges of the tank and the higher light plants right underneath the light. You should not move the plants after they have been planted. The plant will need to adjust each time it is moved before it can become well-rooted again. 3. Add the light and lid to the tank. Make sure that everything is working correctly. If you are using a heater, you may need to wait 30 minutes for it to acclimate to the water temperature before turning it on. 4. You should start with low levels of fertilizer, lighting, and water at first. This will prevent the plants from getting too used to their surroundings and may not grow as well. For the first 5-6 hours, set the timer. Slowly increase the amount of lighting and Easy Green fertilizer each week as you start to see plant growth.
Don’t try to imitate the professional aquascapes online. Use your creativity and design your planted aquarium in a way that is most pleasing to you.
You should not throw away any plants that have their leaves starting to melt. Most likely, they are producing new, smaller leaves which will adapt to living under water. If your plants still haven’t been doing well after three to four weeks, you can read our article about plant nutrient deficiencies.