Please visit our Sponsors

FAQs on Aquascaping Planted Tanks

Related Articles: Aquascaping the Freshwater/Planted Aquariums, Adventures in Aquascaping By Timothy S. Gross, Rock and Wood Use in Planted Tanks

Related FAQs: Aquascaping the Aquarium Garden

Investigate the habitats of the life you're keeping together.

Aquascaping Live! Contest Announcement at Aquatic Experience  – 06/18/14
Aquatic Experience Speakers-
Great plans are underway for the Aquatic Experience! I thank all of you who have spent time being interviewed for articles and posts.
A new program addition has been added to the Aquatic Experience - the Aquascaping Live! Contest. This program ends July 1st and has $3,900 in prize money! Would you help us get the word out about this new program? Please post the attached release or use the following social media posts in your channels! We are ever thankful for your help in making the 2014 Aquatic Experience a success!
Suggested Social Media posts to promote the Aquascaping Live! Contest:

The Aquatic Experience - Chicago is having an Aquascaping Live! Contest in both a Small and Large Tank category! Online registration deadline for the Large Tank Contest is July 1! Learn more: http://aquaticexperience.org/2014/06/10/aquascaping-live-contest-at-aquatic-experience-chicago/
The Aquatic Experience-Chicago is having an inaugural Aquascaping LIVE! Contest with $3,900 in prize money up for grabs! http://aquaticexperience.org/2014/06/10/aquascaping-live-contest-at-aquatic-experience-chicago/
Thank you!
Cindy Woudenberg

Aquascaping, planted sm. FW sys.    7/11/09
I am planning to start a new 10 Gal. Aquarium and I am wondering about what I can do for aquascaping.
<Before we go any further... do understand 10 gallon tanks often have very, very poor lighting systems; all those Dutch and Amano-style planted aquaria you see depend upon strong lighting. For that sort of growth, you need 2-3 watts per gallon, and most 10-gallon aquarium kits don't have anything like as much power. So your options are limited to plants that tolerate shady conditions: Anubias, Java ferns, Java moss, and some of the hardy Crypts like Cryptocoryne wendtii. Beyond these, you'll have plants that slowly die, no matter how good the other factors, such as substrate, might be.>
Its a freshwater aquarium and I was trying to do some sort of thing like in the video I placed in the link below.
<I see; typical large planted aquarium.>
But I have a problem, I don't know what would work as a big wooded centerpiece like the one in the video.
<It's aquarium driftwood; most shops sell the stuff, and if you go online or eBay, you can find all sorts of types: Mopani wood, bogwood, mangrove roots, Malaysian wood, etc.>
Do you know where I could perhaps find some? I plan to go around the beach tomorrow and find some rocks and for the plants I'll buy some artificial plants to make it out.
<Beach wood can be fine provided it isn't polluted with oil or whatever.
Does tend to float, though! Use silicone to attach to a glass or better get a Perspex or slate sheet, and bury that underneath the gravel.>
Also, for the mound how many packs of gravel should I obtain?
<Depends how big your packs are! Personally, I prefer to buy 25 kg bag of gravel or sand from a garden centre, which costs about 3 UK Pounds, and from that I could decorate several 10 gallon tanks, easy! Do see here for some options:
Sorry for so many questions but I am quite new to this aquascaping thing and don't know how many fancy guppies/neon tetras I should put in for the tank, with the whole deco and mound of gravel reduces the amount of water is provided in the tank.
<Guppies don't belong in a 10 gallon tank, period. But Neons work well, and you could have a dozen or so without any bother. Do choose a dark substrate or at least use plenty of floating plants if you want them to look good; in Spartan, brightly-lit tanks they tend to look washed out and unhappy. Keep them in a big group, ten or more, otherwise they won't school!>
Thank you for your time,
<Cheers, Neale.>

South East Asian Tank Hello people <HI Mike how are you today?> I'm currently in the process of planning a South East Asian themed aquarium. And since you seem like knowledgeable folks I'd be grateful if I could run the current set of ideas past you for your thoughts. <You are too kind> I've read general info on these topics across your site (and many others), but it is really useful to hear others opinions on specific setups. <I think so as well.> Nothing about this planned setup is set in stone yet -- it's literally at the drawing board stage, <Very smart to plan it out in advance.> but any advice you can give to help avoid problems in the future would be much appreciated. So here goes'¦Juwel Rio 400 system -- I've not read anything on your website about these (so far! Its rather large'¦)<Bigger is usually much easier to take care of then smaller> but it's a very basic aquarium 'package' that's very popular in the UK  ( http://www.juwel-aquarium.de/uk/index.html). Size: approx. 151 x 62 x 51 cm Volume: approx. 400 litres filter / heater - fairly large (8 Litres) internal basket filled with poly pads, active carbon sponge and coarse / fine filter sponges - driven by a pump (1000 litres/hour). A 300W heater is also located in the filter basket. lighting - two 36 watt fluorescent tubes (fitted with reflectors). Internal layout - substrate of fine gravel or sand mixed with an additional "plant friendly" media such as peat or laterite, bogwood and a few pebbles. <There are some marvelous plant mediums out right now you are lucky to be doing this.> Plants being considered, Cryptocoryne affinis Cryptocoryne crispatula Cryptocoryne wendtii Cryptocoryne willisii Nymphaea lotus Eleocharis parvula Ceratopteris thalictroides Hygrophila polysperma Limnophila sessiliflora Vallisneria spiralis <Very nice selection and should give you many different textures and heights.> Fish, Dwarf Rasbora Rasbora heteromorpha Pearl Gourami Trichogaster leerii Clown Loach Botia macracanthus Glass catfish Kryptopterus bicirrhis Flying Fox Epalzeorhynchos kallopterus A few areas I'm already concerned about Pump power, too strong for this setup? <I don't think its too strong if you can disperse it into different areas, if its all coming out in one place could be a problem.> Could be downgraded to 600 litres/hour. <Might be necessary unless you find a way to send the current out from two places.> Lighting, sufficient? <I personally would prefer a bit more lighting.> The tank is upgradeable to carry another 2 tubes with reflectors bringing total to 4. <I think the more light the better.> Glass catfish, out competed for food? <I'd suggest you buy one of them that's a little big larger and I've had friends tell me they do better in pairs.> Overly boisterous clown loaches? <Start them out very small they will grow quickly.> Stocking levels, these have been hard to determine because of the potential size of the loaches and not knowing how long they will take to grow (assuming they achieve anywhere near full size) I've read eventual sizes anywhere from 10-50cm. Any suggestions for numbers & ratios of fish species? <My big concern with the clown loaches is that I've seen them pull plants up.> Clown loaches/plants, The plan is that hopefully the plants will establish when the loaches are small and being protected with a few (perhaps sizable) pebbles should manage to survive -- any loach that reaches anywhere near a foot is going in another tank. <Good way to address that.> I'm not planning to use any Carbon Dioxide injection apparatus, mainly because I can't afford the better equipment and cheaper models appear incredibly hit and miss to me - I'd rather not take the risk. The filter pump will be positioned to create little to no surface disturbance. <you have to have some surface movement or you won't provide enough oxygen for the fish at night.> Possibly running an air stone during the night to maintain oxygen levels -- if I need to'¦? <I don't think surface movement is going to be your problem so much as total current. I think if you use some kind of adaptor to split the current you'll be able to take care of this.> I actually have a smaller Juwel tank (54 litres/similar filter/heater on smaller scale) that I can use for quarantine. <Very smart, don't forget to quarantine your plants as well.> Sorry for such a long meandering set of questions, thanks very much for your time. <Great questions Mike, Let us know how it goes, MacL> Mike

Re: It's a jungle in there! Hi Ronni- hope you are well! <Hello Rosa! All is wonderful here, hope it's great for you too!> My fish tank tested 0 nitrites and 0 nitrates this morning so I was pleased and went out to get plants. Unfortunately neither of the 2 good fish places had either corkscrew Val, or Vallisneria spiralis- and the Anacharis they had looked incredibly moldy. I tried to grow this grass once before and it kept falling apart and getting stuck in filter. <I've had very good luck mail ordering plants (I've personally ordered plants from AquaBotanic (www.aquabotanic.com) and was very pleased with what I got. I've also purchased from a few sellers on eBay and Aquabid with good results. Just be *sure* to QT everything before adding it to your system. A good soak in Lime-It is also a good idea; this will kill snails and such so they don't infest your show tank. That's interesting that you had that problem with Anacharis. I've run into that with Hornwort if the filtration wasn't just right but never with Anacharis. I'll keep it in mind though and warn people about this problem.> I really wanted to get another plant but now I'm worried it was a mistake. I got a Bacopa monnieri, potted, which looked incredibly healthy and the guy told me it was a medium light plant. The other grass like plant that looked great, also potted, was something called a Mondo grass. He assured me it would be great for setup. I like it because it is tall and willowy- sort of like long hair. But when I got home and looked it up on a few websites I found it is 'not a good plant for aquarium" and they don't last long? Is this true - I'm bummed now. <Unfortunately, it does seem to be true. This is not really an aquarium type plant and doesn't do well when submersed.> Also, with these additions there is little 'free' space on aquarium floor- but you said this was ok with the Otos right? (I'm not at home and I don't have access to first email). <Should be OK. At least from my experience with Oto's.> Suddenly I think maybe there are too many plants in this 15 gallon setup - is it possible to have too many plants? <Yes, this is very possible. If you have too many plants the tank can become very crowded looking and it also cuts down on swimming room for your fish, effectively lowering the amount of fish you can keep. Since you're planning on smaller fish you should be OK with quite a few plants but make sure that they don't crowd each other out. Don't forget that the plants will most likely grow and spread pretty rapidly. I wish I still had the pics of when I had my 60g heavily planted. I did a brief study (just for personal reference) on how quickly various plants would grow. My tank had a medium-high plant load and a medium fish load when I began. Within 2 months, it was very hard to see more than ½ way to the back of the tank and the fish were getting quite crowded because of the plants. I've attached a picture (sorry it's not a better pic!) of the same tank now with a low-medium plant load and a fairly high fish load (about 25-30 Tetras, 5 or so Barbs, 1 regular Pleco, 1 Bristle-nose Pleco, 5 Loaches, 4 Corydoras, 1 Talking Catfish, 2 Bumblebee Catfish). This tank has only been set-up for about a month and already I'm seeing some good plant growth.> Algae showed up on glass today- first time ever. I take it this is a sign to get the Otos now? I guess there is enough stuff. So should I go with the Otos first and then the shrimp and wait for readings on nitrite/nitrate next week? <Should be fine, just be sure to add everything slowly.> I can borrow a digital camera and will take pics and send as jpg files- can I send to this address? Thanks, Rosa <Yep, you can send them to this address. Ronni>


Looking for Hardy Mosses/Grasses for a 110 Tropical Tank... Hi I'm setting up a 110 for rather large fish...2 Pacus, Arowana, Pleco... I've got time and would like to aquascape the tank before adding fish... Anyway, I'm just looking to carpet the tank with one moss and one type of grass...I will add driftwood and some medium sized rocks. Because of the fish size... I'm trying to maximize room for swimming...so the "carpet" will be the primary decoration...besides, larger plants would be easily uprooted by the fish...can you recommend one type of moss (want something to grow on driftwood and rocks) and one type of grass that are easy to grow and prolific? Thanks! <Java moss is very easy to grow and grows fast but watch out because it can rapidly take over a tank. Dwarf Sagittaria Subulata is a grassy type plant that only grows to about 6-8 inches. True dwarf tenellus is smaller than the Sagittaria and makes a good foreground type carpet. Lilaeopsis is another grass like plant that grows into a very thick sod like lawn. But this plant requires bright light and a soft nutrient rich substrate. It's often called Micro sword and grows to about 3 inches. Ronni>

Driftwood plants To Robert, could you please tell me what plants can attach to driftwood. I know that java fern, java moss, Anubias nana can. Could you please tell me all the plants that you know that can attach to driftwood? <Hmm, well other aquatic ferns and mosses do... Am trying/typing to think of a reference I have or somewhere to send you that might list these... What books on general aquarium gardening do you have access to?> Preferably the easy ones! Could you send me a link if you know where I could find pictures of them. <I wish. Would gladly even post my images on part of our site: Home Page if/when have time/general resources to sort them all out.> 1) Can Spathiphyllum attach to driftwood? Someone told me that they can but they need to be 'very young', when they are still growing. Is it possible for it to attach to driftwood even when 10cm tall? <Spathiphyllum? Not really. These are "short timers" in submersed settings... Really bog plants at best, terrestrial ones for a certainty.>  Thanks  >> <Be chatting... I do encourage you to consider actually writing articles, making photographs to go with writing/selling articles about your above insightful questions... Bob Fenner>

Driftwood with live plant Dear Robert, I recently purchased some driftwood and the pet shop said to soak it in water for 2 weeks, changing the water every day. They said that doing this gets rid of the 'tannin' that the wood releases. <Much of the tannins... among other potentially discoloring, damaging compounds...> I'm worried as my wood is not sinking. I am also equally concerned as I read your notes that driftwood could still release harmful properties into my tank-I wouldn't want to harm my trop. fish. I have a Aquaclear 300 and Clearflow undergravel filter.  <I hear you... Take a look at the site: Home Page and Freshwater Index piece and FAQs on the "sinking" issue of driftwood... you may need to boil the material, maybe use some chemicals with it... even attach something chemically inert (like slate) to its base to get the overall density high enough to weight it down> 1) Do you recommend that I continue with preparing the drift wood? and if so, what should I do to make it sink? 2) Will it release harmful chemicals that may affect my fishes' breeding patterns? if so, what can I do? <What sorts of fishes, other livestock? Many are not mal-affected by such exposure...> 3) The piece of driftwood is very long and I cannot keep it fully submerged in a bucket and I can't use the sink either, mum won't let me! Does it need to be completely submerged to 'sink'? <Yes... as in to waterlog the whole mass... and prep. it... and get it, keep it down!> Thank you I would really appreciate it if you could send me a reply at your earliest convenience. Keith >> <Be chatting my "unsinkable" friend. Bob Fenner>

Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: