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Planted Aquariums Setup

11 March 2015 Comments::DISQUS_COMMENTS

A big question mark appears to new hobbyist. They start thinking on how could I manage it.  As when they surf the net they find many links and are totally confused on Lights, Substrate, Ferts and so on.

Well keeping a planted tank is bit of learning by your own. Be patient in its periodic stages and you will be successful. Reading on the net helps a lot, but understanding it might take some time. Also you should be asking suggestions from your hobbyist friends on how to go about, and trust me everyone is willing to help at anytime.

Hobbyist come from all parts and have different backgrounds for setting up their tanks. Join various groups via  local messaging and social media to understand what other hobbyist are doing and keep you updated. One should always share their success and failures with each other. Do not hesitate to ask a question rather than doing anything wrong. After having spend 3 years in the hobby, I would like to take opportunity of writing something for fellow hobbyist which can help them achieve their goals. When I first started, I had very hard times finding things how its done. It was a nightmare, but kept patience as I knew I can only learn by studying my mistakes as its not a gift at birth. In simple words

  • Dedication
  • Efforts
  • Patience


1. Base Layer: The base layer is the most crucial layer for the growth and vitality of plants as the heavy root feeder like Crypts, Amazons, And other stem plants get all the nutrition. There are many options for a DIY base layer such as Peat moss, laterite, etc. which come at a very reasonable price. This layer should be about 1-2 cm in height.

2. Second  Layer: Equally important as the first as it give necessary anchorage to carpet and mid ground plants. River sand is the best , effective and cheap option as it also increases the aesthetic image on your aquarium. River sand should have a 3-4 cm layer in the front and about 7-8 cm at the back forming a slope , so the debris would be accumulated in the front for easy siphoning.

3. Hardscape: If you are wanting a mountain scape, or just some only rocks setup in your aquarium, choose the type of rock that will not alter the aquarium water negatively. Adding limestone rocks into your aquarium could be disastrous in the long term, as you will constantly battle high water hardness. So please chose the right type of rocks. Common rocks found are slate and laterite. Always use one single rock of your choice, so it will be pleasing . 

4. Woods: Aquarium come in various varieties and sizes from small to big, root woods, etc. While chhosing a wood put in a position from your viewing angle as how it will look in your scape. Woods which are taken unsoaked should be treated for some days so they do not leech anything in your aquarium. Woods can create a good focal point . You can also get some woods from a trip collection near rivers, but make sure it is solid wood.

5. Lights: When selecting lights there are many options to choose from like T8’s, T5’s, Metal Halides or the LED’s.











































You can choose from 6500k to 8000k as per your plants for good photosynthesis. 

6. Filtration: A good filtration system is the most important part for the success of your planted aquarium. You can use internal filters or canister filters depending on the size of your aquarium .  While selecting a filter make sure that its 5-6 times the aquarium volume per hour.  If you think that you do not have enough flow, then you can install a small powerhead in the aquarium. You will need t add filter media like ceramic rings, bio balls for establishment of beneficial bacteria.

7. Carbon Di Oxide ( CO2): Carbon Dioxide is essential in the planted aquarium.  Its always insisted to go for a pressurized Co2 setup as only the initial cost is high compared to liquid or DIY co2, but the effects can be clearly seen by the lush growth of plants. Do take care while installing the CO2  and always seek help while doing so. It can be diffused with help of canisters, diffusers or reactors whichever best suits your budget.

8. Fertilizers: As your tank goes through siphoning processes, the nutrients in the water column are exhausted. Thus you need to add liquid fertilizers at a steady rate to ensure that the plants get enough nutrition for their vibrant growth. 

9. Maintenance: As now your aquarium is filled with water, give it sometime to settle down. Schedule a weekly maintenance for water change , cleaning of the glass, pruning plants, removal of unwanted debris.

For the first 1 month after setup twice a week 50% of water should be changed to avoid building up of unwanted nutrients which can cause algae issues. Fill in new de-chlorinated water  every time.

Hope you enjoyed reading . Happy scaping



Last modified on Thursday, 12 March 2015 12:33
Nilesh Sahasrabuddhe

Nilesh Sahasrabuddhe is a professional chef from Mumbai.

Likes all pets. Has planted aquarium and a labrador.