Planted tanks


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Since this place has such good info on ponds, and many of us seem to have tanks to get us through the winter pond withdrawals, which I’m suffering from now, I thought I’d ask on here. So as many of you know, I’ve got hard water, and a ph of 8. I’m thinking of setting up a tank of tropical fish, either live bearers, a betta sorority, or something along those lines, but planted. I’m trying to do research on what kind of soil, and plants would do best. I don’t want a soil which will change the water much, so no peat moss. I’m debating on garden soil mixed with vermiculite and some clay, topped with sand. I’ve seen posts on how to “ clean” the dirt, and I’ve got spare tanks I could do that in. Then once it drys, baking it in the oven to kill any seeds and micro organisms.
Most of my local soil is river silt from flooding, and I could add some pond water to jump start the natural bacteria, let that get started, then add hard scapes, and plants. I’m a bit concerned that the large pleco will munch a lot of plants though. So any advice from others with planted tanks, and plecos with plants would be good.
 
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What type of pleco do you have? Some become enormous. Anubias is a tough plant that will hold up to most pleco's. Sometimes Vallesneria will hold up with them and it does well in pH of 8 too if the pleco doesn't uproot it. You will need drift wood in the tank for it and a place for it to hide. I would not use any substrate other than fine aquarium gravel with a pleco. Generally speaking, the pleco limits your choices for a nicely planted tank. Here is a link to an article I wrote a few years ago that might be helpful:
https://www.petcha.com/picking-a-plecostomus-for-your-aquarium/

Good luck!
Stephen
 
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Floating plants and plants that will do well near the surface. Affix anubias to the top of driftwood as Plecos generally stay near the bottom. Java moss, java fern and bolbittis are other options. The best forum for Plecos is planetcatfish.com
 
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It’s a rehomed pleco! Black with white spots, about 6-8 inches long. He came with 3 tetras, the kind that are glow fish, I think. Or maybe just lightly pink colored! My sister in law had him with her ciclid for years, so I’m guessing he’s mostly grown. I have yet to complete my research on him, find out what kind he is, preferred diets other than the pleco tablets, and veggies. I put a chunk of soaked hickory in there, he’s not shown any interest yet, but he sure does like to try and climb the glass!
 
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Looks like it’s a common pleco. Which means he’s probably had nutritional deficiencies, will have health issues from being in too small of a tank for a long time. But we will see once I get the 30 gal set up, if he improves. I say he as a generalization, I’m no good at venting. I’m adding plants for him to eat, I put a chunk of cucumber in , and left the lights off to see if he will eat. If he does, I’ll start adding more veggies daily, goldfish pellets, and betta foods that are meaty for him. Since that species are known for messing up plants, I’ll have to look for sturdy plants. Wondering if a pond lilly would be ok? And what about apple wood? What kinds of woods will be good? He’s apparently not keen on hickory!
 

addy1

water gardener / gold fish and shubunkins
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You are so good with your critters! That pleco is one happy fish now!
 
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I try! No nibbles on the cucumber last night, I may need to weigh it down for ease of access. We’ve had a cold front move in, so I’ll try to get to the bigger tank today, but I’m also fighting a migraine starting, so it might not happen. I need to get it in, cleaned, and I think I’ll set it up empty for now, just plants and water. Then once I get my start on aquascaping it, I’ll be able to move them over. I need to find a nice chunk of wood for him, something pretty, maybe with small branches I can afix plants to come spring when I can order them with out risk of them dying. So for now, it will have to be pothos, some mint, and lillies. And I’ll try to feed plenty of cucumbers and lettuce to the pleco so he doesn’t eat all my plants!
 
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Jamie much like the pond world keeping a planted tank is generally done with no soils. if you head down the road with soils your looking at a tank that will be tricky. every time you disturb the substrate your tank will cloud up and depending on the size of the tank that could cloud up very very fast. If you are successful at a soil based substrate it will more then likely grow so fast you will be trimming plants every other day depending on the plant species. Others may grow slower but with those extra nutrients from the soil you will need fast growers. The other direction is to go with a sand or gravel base and supply a controlled dose of fertilizers, and CO2. Co2 is key in my book to a successful planted tank. Spend the money on the front end Ehiem filters in my eyes are second to none. A substrate cable heater is great for providing both heat to the roots but also helps pull nutrients down to the roots including new water. Like a bog keeping water flowing past the roots is vital. Avoid the ferns they are basically moss and if they like your water parameters they can take over a tank quickly. Oh thats excluding java fern is can grow fast but is easy to maintain. First is where you have mentioned what type do you want to keep. and unfortunately plecos are not plant friendly as they get larger and that happens fast. they can uproot plants easily. if you are leaning toward Tetras etc. they are almost all plant friendly. but the other choice is high or low light plants. Oddly enough the low light plants are generally easier to grow. Fox Glove, frog bit, java fern, most nanas , swords and crypts. One lessen i learned long ago is you don't need to send a fortune on lights but you do get what you pay for. Today leds are king and the color can be spot on but so can the price. T5 fluorescents can do the job for modest costs. While i have used in the past a quartz halogen " very warm yellow light" desk light along with a single fluorescent bulb for color. and the tank did great . as a matter of fact the imogee i have here started off with the quartz halogen. that did remain all the tanks life but they were more for giving light to the plants above the water line and the water fall. The birds loved them for there heat. Here is a like to a great site for planted tanks but there is a lot of weeds to sift through. https://www.aquariacentral.com/forums/
The second like was to my crazy planted tank https://www.aquariacentral.com/forums/threads/paldarium-vivarium-im-unsure-but-i-think-youll-like.110988/
 
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I just took a look at your old planted tank @GBBUDD, and wow that was a fantastic project you had going. I just absolutely love how you had the birds incorporated into that feature. Pity it's all done though.
 
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Plecos like to hide so if you can provide some type of cave he/she would probably appreciate it.

A big piece of driftwood is a good idea as well. They will rasp on the wood. I have mopani wood in my tanks. It will discolor the water when it's new so I soak it in a bucket for a few weeks before adding it to a tank (doing daily water changes)

I feed my plecos Omega One algae tablets. They also get shrimp pellets, green leaf lettuce, cucumber slices, and sometimes zucchini slices.

Mine don't seem to bother the plants.
 
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Since I had my lillies in buckets, one got too cold and had a tuber rotting . I had to break it up in the tub, cut back to good, clean out all the gunk, and pot the resulting pieces into small containers which I put into the 30 gal tropical tank. Most are growing well, 10 bits in 4 containers, with about 7 having leaves up now.
 

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