Perry’s 10 Tips to Setting up a Planted Aquarium
A large aquarium containing live plants you saw in the lobby of an office building caused you to start thinking. You felt so relaxed and peaceful while watching the brightly colored fish swimming among the waving plants. You think your family could benefit from having such an aquarium. You have plenty of room for one in your family room. It would not hurt to engage in a little research about setting up a planted aquarium. You need information on the basic materials that go into a tanks and tank maintenance.
A planted aquarium, which has been correctly assembled and well maintained, provides a natural, healthy environment for your tank’s inhabitants. Live plants will lend natural elements to your freshwater aquarium. Your shopping list should include an aquarium, de-chlorinated water or a de-chlorinating additive for tap water, aquarium lighting equipment, pH and hardness test kits, several types of aquatic plants and substrate gravel. When you have your aquarium tank assembled and in a suitable spot in your den, you are ready to add your plants; the following tips might help you with the task of creating your planted aquarium.
1. Purchase an iron-rich, fine-grained substrate of high quality. This particular choice is one of the most important that you will need to make. The foundation of any healthy aquarium is the substrate. This is especially true in the case of a planted aquarium. Purchase the best that you can find. The nutrients for many of your plants will come from the substrate.
2. Place 3 inches of substrate on the bottom of your tank. The bottom layer should be fluorite gravel, which will offer iron and other nutrients. Add regular aquarium gravel to cover the first layer. Use finer-grained gravel to cover the substrate in the tank, and then finish with sand or very fine gravel. Other people’s experiences indicate that you will need 1.5 to 2 pounds of substrate for every gallon of water.
3. Carefully add de-chlorinated water or tap water treated with a de-chlorinating additive to the tank. If you have any qualms about the quality of your tap water, use distilled water from an aquarium store. If you think that pouring water into the tank will displace any of the gravel, sita small plate on the bottom of the tank and pour the water onto the plate. Pour enough water in the tank to bring it to within one or two inches of the rim of the aquarium. This should leave enough room to add your decorative rocks and other baubles.
4. Heater and filtration systems probably came with the tank when you bought your aquarium package. It’s time to add the heater and filtration systems to the tank if you haven’t already done so. Be sure to use an external filter designed to hang on the side of the tank. If the filter included in your package is not an external filter, you need to exchange it. Under-gravel filters are not recommended for use in aquariums containing plants. Set the thermostat on the heater between 72 to 82 degrees.
5. Using the test kit to check the pH and hardness of water make the necessary adjustments in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. The pH should run between 6.5 and 7.5. You may need to add a water conditioner to achieve the recommended pH level.
6. The light attachment usually included with aquarium packages is not strong enough for your plants. Your aquarium requires 2 to 3 watts for each gallon of water. A 55-gallon aquarium needs at least 110 watts of lighting. Increase the wattage according to the size of your tank. When setting up a planted aquarium, full-spectrum compact fluorescent lights are preferred.
7. Oh boy! Now it’s time to select the plants for your aquarium. Consult with the experts in your aquarium supply store for recommendations of plants which will flourish. If this is your first planted aquarium, use all the help you can get. Pick out an assortment of plant sizes and varieties. You have a choice among the different types of available aquatic plants: rosettes, floating plants, bulbs, stem plants and rhizomes (ferns and mosses).
8. On a table or the floor, make a pleasing arrangement by placing the tallest plants in the back and the shortest plants toward the front. You can play with the placement until you have an arrangement that you like. Putting a few shorter plants in the back will look more natural and give an illusion of depth.
9. When you decide that you like the arrangement, add the plants to the tank. Your experts told you all you need to know, so you are familiar with your plant varieties. To help the stem plants take root in the substrate, use special weights from the aquarium store, rock or driftwood. Set your rosette plants by burying the roots in the substrate exposing a little of the root. Plant the rhizomes as deeply as possible leaving no exposed root. Tubers and bulbs do best when they sit with half the bulb visible. Use aquarium weights as recommended to hold all of these varieties in place until they are established in their new habitat.
10. Your aquarium plants will need to be fed, and one essential constituent is carbon. Give your plants a few weeks to get established. By this time they will require nutrients on a regular basis. Plenty of supplements are available commercially, however, adding a couple of fish to your aquarium can provide some of these nutrients. Check with your aquarium experts on the feasibility of adding fish.
The novelty of the aquarium has worn off, and it is time to face the realization that a little maintenance comes with your aquarium. De-chlorinated water must be added to the tank occasionally. Search the internet, or consult with your new best friends at Perry’s Aquatic Centre – Lincoln, for information about maintaining aquariums.
How to set up a planted aquarium