Aquarium Decoration (Rocks, Plants and Substrates) • Aquascaping/plant suggestions wanted

For discussion of aquarium aquascaping.

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Aquascaping/plant suggestions wanted

Postby mathas » Mon Jul 21, 2008 11:06 pm

After finally deciding what types of fish I want to stock the tank with, it's time to get some aquascaping advice to make the tank as friendly as possible for its future inhabitants.

Here's what I have so far:


The tank in question is a 90 gallon tank, measuring 48"W x 18"L x 24"H, with a substrate of pool filter sand. Stocking list will include angelfish, bolivian rams, rummynose tetras, corydoras, and plecostomus.

The water is still cloudy, but I expect that will calm down after I stop stirring up the substrate by rearranging things daily. I (and my budget) are happy with the amount of driftwood and rock in the tank, so the only other non-plant items I would want to add might be some narrow caves for the plecos, depending on what species I choose and whether they need that or not.

From what I understand, most of these fish like planted tanks, and I'm certainly willing to give them live plants, but I only have about 1.4 watts per gallon and no CO2 system. That limits me a bit on what plants I can choose; likely java ferns and/or Anubias, but I'm open to all suggestions. I've never done live plants in a tank before so I don't really know what I'm doing.

Any general pointers, or pointers on plant placement if it even matters, would be greatly appreciated.

I'm also interested in obtaining an artificial amazon sword plant or two, because I don't have enough light to support a real one. All of the stores around here sell fake ones, but they look really cheap... if anyone can recommend a good artificial plant source, I would appreciate it. All I've found so far (other than the same Tetra ones I can buy locally), is this one from SeaGarden.

Thanks in advance for any feedback and/or help!
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Postby alicem » Wed Jul 23, 2008 2:43 pm

1.4 wpg is a little low for that deep of a tank, but you can grow some plants.
Before I start my long-winded advise, a word of warning:
When you introduce plants, snails, along with other undesirables, can hitch hike into your tank.
There are some ways to disinfect your plants before putting them in your aquarium.
I use a product by Jungle called Clear Water because it's cheap and availabe. It has potassium permangenate in it and that ingredient is some nasty stuff.
Use caution not to get it on your clothes or in your eyes!
I put some tank water in a bucket and add 2 squirts in there. I put the plants in for about 5-10 minutes then rinse them in tepid tap water.
These instructions aren't very scientific :roll: , but I did want to bring up the potential problems with snails, etc
Others may have more precise advise.

Now let's talk about some plants:
Java fern and anubia, that you mentioned, can be tied to the drift wood.
Tie these plants middle to high up on the drift wood so they are closer to the light.
I've had better luck getting the anubia to attach to things (rocks, driftwood, etc) than java fern.
Usually I have to wedge the java fern between rocks or in the crook of the drift wood to get it to say in place.
You can use fishing line or cotton thread to tie the plants to an object. The thread will disolve in time, the fishing line will not.

Use care when tying plants to drift wood because of the pleco. It may get caught between the line and wood.
If the pleco is small, there probably isn't a huge threat.
I tie the plant loosely and cut the line holding the plant once it takes root.

IMO choose "bristle nose" or "bushy nose" ancistrus...albino or regular...long fin or regular fin... for your plecostamus.
They usually grow to be about 6" max. and eat algae their entire lives.

You might give cryptocoryne wendtii a try for the forground.
Hygrophilia difformis (water wisteria) and crinum thaianum (water onion) will add height to the background area.

Go easy on the liquid ferts. Algae can be a problem if you aren't careful with ferts in the water collum.
I mainly use fertilizer tabs under the plants that are rooted in the substrate.

You can use silk or plastic plants along with live ones. Once you get the hang of live plants you'll probably discard the fake ones. :D
Until then, they will help "fill in" the need for green in your tank.

I like your huge pieces of driftwood. :thumb: They must have set you back a bundle.

Plants for me, are mostly alot of failed and successful experiments. Try some different ones for yourself and see what works in your situation.
Plants will add nice color to the tank. I hope you have fun and good luck with your tank.
my tanks are low tech planted:
75G:Pelvicachromis Pulcher,Rainbowfish,ABN
46G bowfront:Marble Angel,Sunset Platy,ABN
90G:Steatocranus Casuarius,OB Peacock,Congo Tetra,Red Swordtails,ABN
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Postby D-007 » Wed Jul 23, 2008 6:03 pm

I would echo Alicem's advice on using PP to disinfect your plants - it is so worthwhile.

I would increase the lighting a bit but not go over 2.0 wpg, say 1.8 wpg. Check out the DIY section on some cheap yet very suitable/efficient methods of increasing lighting with Compact Flourescent Lightbulb's (CFL's). I use them exclusively in my tank(s) plus Flourite Excel liguid fert and my plant growth has been great.

Plants I would recommend:

For the back and sides:
Java Fern, Water Sprite & Water Onion's

Middle areas:
Amazon Sword, Cryptocoryne's

Foreground areas:
Anubias & Dwarf Hairgrass

On your current picture above, one thing I would do is let the driftwood that is on the right side, rest on that piece of rock you have in front of it, with the longer part pointing up. But that is just my thoughts. :)

Be sure to post pics when you have the plants in :thumb:

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Postby chevyjock » Thu Jul 24, 2008 11:13 am

i like the looks of your tank, even cloudy.
i would agree on the movement of the right driftwood, although placement is different IMO.
I would go with just tilting it to our left and letting it rest on the middle driftwood to create an arch. that follows my asthetic of a-symetry in the tank. then a few onion bulbs on the right hand side to add the height you will need, with some java moss spread over your far left driftwood to equalize the green of the bulbs. then some alemna minor in midground with watersprite behind the arch.. thats my idea. you are lucky to have such a good sized tank. i have 55g, one of them a corner, and i liked the depth that one gave me, as you will too.
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Postby mathas » Thu Jul 24, 2008 4:27 pm

Thanks for the feedback, guys! I have no idea what most of the plants you've mentioned are, but I will start doing some research and see what I like vs. what's available at my local store.

As far as the piece of driftwood on the right, it's not going to be moved any time soon. I agree with both of you that it would probably look a bit better at a different angle, but with it just being added to the tank last week, it's still very buoyant. With the way it's positioned now, the slate it's attached to is parallel to the bottom of the tank, which lets the two larger white rocks serve as anchors. Maybe in a few months I can see if it still wants to float and re-evaluate at that point, but for now, it's staying where it is.
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Postby theone0702 » Thu Jul 31, 2008 10:20 pm

if you cant find any of these at your LFS try this site. I bought plants on it and they arrived fine.

Also i have the same lighting situation and the plants in my tanks are fine.
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Postby PsYcHoTiC_MaDmAn » Fri Aug 01, 2008 9:04 am

also consider Cryptocoryne crispatula var. balansae, as it grows rather large (up to 2foot tall) and would make a good background plant

my thoughts with regard the bogwood, I would go for a root tangle to the one side, leaving the other side of the tank open, with a few cobbles to break it up a bit.
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