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Want my first properly planted tank but just don't know where to start

Karmicnull

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Joined
6 Sep 2020
Messages
623
Location
Cambridge
just to reiterate what others have said:
  • Go for a low-tech tank so you have one less thing to juggle.
  • Choose "easy" plants to give yourself the best chance of success
  • Make sure your light is not too bright (too much intensity and you'll get algae)
  • Put a layer of aquasoil at the base - in a low-tech tank having soil for stem plants definitely makes a difference. There are lots of brands out there, all good. My personal preference is Tropica, but that's purely on an 'its worked for me' basis rather than extensive experimentation with many different brands.
  • You can cap the soil with gravel or not depending on your aesthetic preference, but if you do cap make sure the layer on top has bigger granules than the bottom layer, as there is some epic physics that means bigger granules always end up on top. There's many a scaper who discovered that the hard way trying to cap soil with sand...
  • Use some form of fertilizer. Cheapest is "EI", which you can get from Aquarium Plant Food UK as dry salts and make up your own solution. You can dose about 25-30% the recommended dose as all recommendations are usually for tanks with CO2.
  • Buy your plants from one of the sponsors of this forum: Aquarium Gardens / Scaped Nature / Horizon Aquatics, etc. You'll get good quality plants at fair prices with no hitchers.
  • Pick up a couple of pieces of structural wood or stone that will look good with the AT-AT. Again (spot the theme here) a visit to one of our sponsors is highly recommended. You'll get a load of help, esp. if you say they were recommended by UKAPS!
In terms of plants:
Some good stems to put at the back which will resist your best attempts to kill them, and grow pretty fast even without CO2 are:
  • Limnophila Sessiliflora
  • Hygrophila Siamensis 53B
  • Alternanthera Reineckii 'Mini' if you want something red

Other plants which lots of people have success with are:
  • Cryptocoryne (lots of varieties, wendtii is a good starting one)
  • Swords (try Helanthium Bolivianum "Chain Sword" as a reasonable foreground-ish plant)
  • Hydrocotyle (in particular Hydrocotyle Tripartitia)

You may also want epiphytes - the plants that don't go into the substrate, but get attached to your hadscape with gel superglue or twine:
  • Anubias (go for Mini, petit or bonsai varieties to get the sense of scale when you stick them on the side of your AT-AT)
  • Java Moss
  • Bucephelandra

And also Amazon frogbit as a floating plant to offer up a bit of shade and act as an eco-gauge (happy frogbit = well fertilized tank)

I've just named a few here - other people on the forum will have their personal faves which they swear by. Also as @Ghettofarmulous says above going and reading journals - esp low tech ones - will be super helpful in setting you up for success.

Oh and the other thing - bring any questions back to this forum. Someone will be on hand to help!

Cheers,
Simon
 

Tiber

Member
Thread starter
Joined
23 Feb 2022
Messages
50
Location
UK
just to reiterate what others have said:
  • Go for a low-tech tank so you have one less thing to juggle.
  • Choose "easy" plants to give yourself the best chance of success
  • Make sure your light is not too bright (too much intensity and you'll get algae)
  • Put a layer of aquasoil at the base - in a low-tech tank having soil for stem plants definitely makes a difference. There are lots of brands out there, all good. My personal preference is Tropica, but that's purely on an 'its worked for me' basis rather than extensive experimentation with many different brands.
  • You can cap the soil with gravel or not depending on your aesthetic preference, but if you do cap make sure the layer on top has bigger granules than the bottom layer, as there is some epic physics that means bigger granules always end up on top. There's many a scaper who discovered that the hard way trying to cap soil with sand...
  • Use some form of fertilizer. Cheapest is "EI", which you can get from Aquarium Plant Food UK as dry salts and make up your own solution. You can dose about 25-30% the recommended dose as all recommendations are usually for tanks with CO2.
  • Buy your plants from one of the sponsors of this forum: Aquarium Gardens / Scaped Nature / Horizon Aquatics, etc. You'll get good quality plants at fair prices with no hitchers.
  • Pick up a couple of pieces of structural wood or stone that will look good with the AT-AT. Again (spot the theme here) a visit to one of our sponsors is highly recommended. You'll get a load of help, esp. if you say they were recommended by UKAPS!
In terms of plants:
Some good stems to put at the back which will resist your best attempts to kill them, and grow pretty fast even without CO2 are:
  • Limnophila Sessiliflora
  • Hygrophila Siamensis 53B
  • Alternanthera Reineckii 'Mini' if you want something red

Other plants which lots of people have success with are:
  • Cryptocoryne (lots of varieties, wendtii is a good starting one)
  • Swords (try Helanthium Bolivianum "Chain Sword" as a reasonable foreground-ish plant)
  • Hydrocotyle (in particular Hydrocotyle Tripartitia)

You may also want epiphytes - the plants that don't go into the substrate, but get attached to your hadscape with gel superglue or twine:
  • Anubias (go for Mini, petit or bonsai varieties to get the sense of scale when you stick them on the side of your AT-AT)
  • Java Moss
  • Bucephelandra

And also Amazon frogbit as a floating plant to offer up a bit of shade and act as an eco-gauge (happy frogbit = well fertilized tank)

I've just named a few here - other people on the forum will have their personal faves which they swear by. Also as @Ghettofarmulous says above going and reading journals - esp low tech ones - will be super helpful in setting you up for success.

Oh and the other thing - bring any questions back to this forum. Someone will be on hand to help!

Cheers,
Simon

Thank you! This is a very helpful post!

I think I now have a decent idea of my plan. I already have gravel which came with my tank (brand new gravel, used tank) so I am going to use that, with a layer of plant substrate- probably Tropica

In terms of the actual plants. Just currently deciding whether to go for a bundle like the jungle one from aquarium Gardens (for some reason I can't post a link) or just going on one of the tropica sites and buying a fairly random selection of those which are described as low light/co2
 

Stu1407

Member
Joined
27 Nov 2018
Messages
116
Location
Wirral UK
If it's of any help I spoke to the guys at Aquarium Gardens, told them what I wanted to do and they picked the plants based on our discussions but also sent me a very useful list of what went on the background, middle and foreground.
 

Tiber

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Thread starter
Joined
23 Feb 2022
Messages
50
Location
UK
If it's of any help I spoke to the guys at Aquarium Gardens, told them what I wanted to do and they picked the plants based on our discussions but also sent me a very useful list of what went on the background, middle and foreground.

Oh that would be very helpful
 

Tiber

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Thread starter
Joined
23 Feb 2022
Messages
50
Location
UK
I have had a few problems which are holding things up. I decided to take the 3d background off because it was filthy. The previous owner had basically used a lifetimes supply of silicone to attach it. I got all this off, but there is a residue I can't seem to shift and any sort of glue remover is no doubt toxic to the aquarium long term so I may need to find a new, cheap internal background.

On the positive side, my at-at arrived and I absolutely love it!
20220301_114930.jpg

I imagine very few tanks on here will include a random Star Wars decoration, but it's very me!
 
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Hufsa

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Joined
22 Aug 2019
Messages
1,739
Location
Norway
What if you used Riccardia to plant on the areas where the decoration has moss, I think that could make it blend really well with the scape :D
Its not my preferred style but I can really respect just totally going for it, and I really want to see how this tank turns out!
 
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Tiber

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Thread starter
Joined
23 Feb 2022
Messages
50
Location
UK
I have had a few problems which are holding things up. I decided to take the 3d background off because it was filthy. The previous owner had basically used a lifetimes supply of silicone to attach it. I got all this off, but there is a residue I can't seem to shift and any sort of glue remover is no doubt toxic to the aquarium long term so I may need to find a new, cheap internal background.

On the positive side, my at-at arrived and I absolutely love it!
View attachment 183790

I imagine very few tanks on here will include a random Star Wars decoration, but it's very me!

I was hoping to grow some sort of moss or something on the base and legs if it had any chance of growing attached to resin
 

Konsa

Member
Joined
20 Nov 2010
Messages
1,015
Location
Lostock Hall
Hi
the silicone should come off pretty easy with razor blade type scraper.You may see some residue while tank is dry but is pretty unnoticeable once tank is full.
You can see here where tank had a divider right in middle
20151221_174614.jpg

After I removed it you can see where silicone has been more on back as thats plastic.
20211206_191808.jpg

And flooded almost invisible
20220222_165642.jpg

I used cheap paint scraper not even razor scraper.
Regards Konstantin
 

Tiber

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Thread starter
Joined
23 Feb 2022
Messages
50
Location
UK
Hi
the silicone should come off pretty easy with razor blade type scraper.You may see some residue while tank is dry but is pretty unnoticeable once tank is full.
You can see here where tank had a divider right in middle
View attachment 183795
After I removed it you can see where silicone has been more on back as thats plastic.
View attachment 183793
And flooded almost invisible
View attachment 183794
I used cheap paint scraper not even razor scraper.
Regards Konstantin
The actual silicone (and there was A LOT of it) came off ok but there is a very noticeable residue:
20220301_122027.jpg

I haven't seen it with water in the tank though - maybe it would be less obvious?. Scrubbed and scrubbed it with vinegar but it made no difference
 

Konsa

Member
Joined
20 Nov 2010
Messages
1,015
Location
Lostock Hall
I will suggest to fill tank and see if you happy with it.Other option is film background on outside if you plan one may camouflage it too
 

Tiber

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Thread starter
Joined
23 Feb 2022
Messages
50
Location
UK
I will suggest to fill tank and see if you happy with it.Other option is film background on outside if you plan one may camouflage it too
It's actually more noticeable when you put a background behind the tank. My ideal solution would be putting a vinyl sheet on the inside of the glass, but I know that would never work!
 

KirstyF

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Joined
25 Jul 2021
Messages
664
Location
Kidderminster
Razor scraper is definitely a good plan and you might try alcohol which is supposed to be a little more effective than vinegar. I think that as long as you then rinse everything thoroughly afterwards you should be ok
 

hypnogogia

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Joined
6 Apr 2017
Messages
1,255
Location
Oxfordshire
You might try this

I’ve used it on glass in shower and worked well.
 

lazybones51

Member
Joined
18 May 2017
Messages
258
Location
Northamptonshire
You might try this

I’ve used it on glass in shower and worked well.
This stuff works well, but i'd be very careful using it inside the tank as you don't want to accidentally dissolve the silicone holding that tank together!
 

Tiber

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Thread starter
Joined
23 Feb 2022
Messages
50
Location
UK
I gave up. I tried acetone, even some proper glue remover. That stuff is never coming off.

Ordered 2 sheets of the Juwel polystyrene one that's as cheap as I could find online. Think it will look decent enough when the tank actually has water. There is a gap at the back but I need some space for the filter hose etc anyway do I don't think it will be too noticeable when the tank is planted. The background that came with the tank had the same gap

Might have to cut another inch off to make a bit of room for the heater though.

20220305_113044.jpg
Think the lines are meant to run vertically rather than horizontally, but doing it this way means I need 2 sheets instead of 2 and a half and I think it still looks fine.

Whole thing has been a massive pain in the bum. I never considered a bit of residue would cause so much trouble
 
Last edited:

Tiber

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Thread starter
Joined
23 Feb 2022
Messages
50
Location
UK
Hi folks

I have always loved seeing beautiful planted tanks online. Sadly my efforts have never stretched much further than a few swords and a moss ball.

After a long break from the hobby, I recently purchased a 190l tank. I would love to turn this into a proper planted tank. I have an idea in mind, it will not be everyone's cup of tea (and I have always used drift wood in the past) but my partner and I are both huge Star Wars fans, I recently saw this ornament and have been obsessed ever since:

View attachment 183344

I have an idea in my head of this, surrounded by a fairly heavily planted jungle scene. But to be honest? I don't really know how to make that happen or what the best plants would be. I would very much appreciate any suggestions.

I was in my LFS recently and the owner said the best option would be to put a layer of nutrients under my gravel (I forget the name, but it was in a yellow tub) and I am open to trying this! In terms of the actual plants, I find choosing them a bit stressful. My LFS sells them for £8.99 per plant, which feels a bit expensive if you need quite a few, but maybe this is just how it goes. I saw a number of competitively priced bundles of plants on ebay and etsy, but maybe this is a bad idea?

Very open to any ideas and suggestions you folk may have. This is my first planted tank, I don't really know what I am doing but I would love to get it right! I currently have the tank cleaned and ready for substrate

Very little has gone right so far, but I am enjoying the process now some actual progress has been made.

I now have a layer of tropica, black gravel, the new background (which I didnt want to have to use but quite like considering its the cheapest money can buy) and some decorations.
20220307_134707.jpg

I ordered a big bundle of jungle plants from Aquarium Gardens over the weekend. Once those arrive I might actually get some water in the tank.

I know the AT-AT will fill much of this forum with horror, but I'm so pleased with it lol
 
Joined
28 Dec 2020
Messages
238
Location
Basingstoke, UKw
Very little has gone right so far, but I am enjoying the process now some actual progress has been made.

I now have a layer of tropica, black gravel, the new background (which I didnt want to have to use but quite like considering its the cheapest money can buy) and some decorations.
View attachment 184188
I ordered a big bundle of jungle plants from Aquarium Gardens over the weekend. Once those arrive I might actually get some water in the tank.

I know the AT-AT will fill much of this forum with horror, but I'm so pleased with it lol
We're a very forgiving bunch. So long as your plants are happy, your fish are happy and you're happy then that's all that matters!
 
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