Aquarium plants and Aquascaping for beginners

Aquarium plants and Aquascaping are for many people the pinnacle of aquatic beauty, here we will go through a beginners guide to aquascaping. 

Plants for Aquariums need Substrates, CO2 and Fertilisers

Planted tanks benefit from high-quality substrates, these can be purchased either wet (containing live bacteria) or dry.  Much like when gardening outdoors the soil provides essential nutrients to the root systems that may not be present unless the tank is fully matured for 1-2 years. On top of the soil, it is recommended to use a reasonably sized grain to allow for easy root penetration and also allows for the plants to grow down into the soil without too much resistance.

When planting a fish tank, make sure to follow all guideline requirements for the plants.  It is generally a good idea to calculate the lighting requirements of your system before purchasing any plants and doing research into their requirements. Calculation of W/LTR is easy, just take the wattage of your light unit e.g. T8 30W and the total volume of your tank, let us say it is 180 litres. 30/180=0.16 so that is 0.16 W/LTR. 

CO2 should be switched on 2 hours before the lighting systems to ensure  CO2 saturation in the system during the photo-sensitive period, allowing your plants to optimise their growth.  It should also be noted that  CO2 should be turned off in the evenings when plants are expelling  CO2 instead of oxygen, especially in planted aquaria containing fish.  As an additional extra liquid fertiliser can also be added to the water to give your plants that extra little boost - especially ideal in a heavily planted aquarium.

Fish Tank Plant Preparation

Plants should be positioned and placed in the tank before filling; this makes it much easier to space the plants without worry of overly disturbing the substrate or getting overly wet.  This also gives you the opportunity to meticulously plan your play distribution and make sure that everything is in an optimal position when the tank is fully grown.

 CO2 drop checker must be used with 4dkh water to allow for accurate readings, these solutions can be slow (up to 2 hours) to give an accurate reading.  Slowly adjust CO2, especially in larger tanks until the solution turns green for appropriate saturation.  Avoid the use of air stones/curtains as this can disperse the CO2 out of the water system removing any benefits it may provide.

Plants should arrive either in baskets or bound in weights:

Remove the plants from the baskets to expose the iron wool underneath

Gently tease the wool off of the root mass, the use of water can aid the process. Then trim the roots to expose fresh ends and encourage new growth, the plant is now ready to be put in our tank!

Root system exposed and trimmed to encourage new growth this plant is now ready to go into our tank!

Once the substrate has been installed, partially fill the tank to help bed down the aquatic soil.  This can then be used to help settle the plants. It is generally easier to plant the tank whilst it still has a low water level and then gently add water later on.

So what can you put into your aquarium to live with the plants? Shrimps are an amazing idea and will help control any excess algae blooms you may have appeared. However, it is hard to find suitable tank makes for shrimp as other fish will eat them, see our compatibility chart to see what you can pair with your shrimp. 

There are also a wide range of plastic aquarium plants

We hope this helps, enjoy your new aquaria and feel free to contact us you need any advice!