Planted Aquariums for Beginners
Dutch Aquascape-Style Planted Aquarium with Discus Fish (Symphysodon discus)

Planted Aquariums for Beginners

How to Set Up a Planted Aquarium

Commonly arranged with a Nature, Dutch, or Iwagumi-styled aquascape, planted aquariums are a great conversation starter and will look stunning in your home or office!

To get started with your dream aquarium, you’ll need to decide on a location in your home that will support the weight of the aquarium. Then you’ll need to research your options and purchase a well-designed tank that will fit into that spot. This could be a small 10-gallon acrylic planted tank, or a massive 300 gallon glass aquarium. You will need to place your aquarium on a flat and sturdy surface – this could be an aquarium stand, your kitchen counter, or a hard, sturdy bookshelf. Other investments you’ll need to make include filtration, lighting, and a way to maintain your aquarium’s temperature. Here is a guide to quick tips for success for your planted setup. Browse all topics from aquarium size to maintenance below:

Glass vs Acrylic Planted Aquariums: Which Should I Choose?

You’ll also want to consider whether you should choose a glass or acrylic tank. There are pros and cons to them both. Hobbyists opt for acrylic when they need a lightweight tank. The tools, equipment, and engineering process for acrylic is easier for manufacturers to fabricate. In addition, if you like the idea of curved panels for your planted tank setup, you’ll enjoy an acrylic aquarium.

However, acrylic planted aquariums have a lot of drawbacks as well. For example, they are not scratch-resistant, do not resist absorption of chemicals, and may even yellow over time. By comparison, glass is your choice if you’re looking for a durable, scratch-resistant tank with ridged panels, free of fabrication flaws, built with UV safe material that won’t yellow. Overall, the benefits of glass far outweigh the cons, so we recommend opting for a glass tank, but the choice in the end is up to you. Browse our selection of aquariums.

Benefits of Glass

  • Scratch-Resistant
  • Ridged Panels
  • Free of Fabrication Flaws
  • Non-Porous
  • Resists Absorption of Chemicals
  • UV Safe/No Yellowing
  • No Visual Distortion

Benefits of Acrylic

  • Lightweight
  • Curved Panels
Planted Aquarium Choices

Pictured here: Glass rimless tank

Aquarium Size

Let’s talk about how to choose your aquarium size.

Aquarium spacing is vital for the health of your live plants, fish, and invertebrates. The larger your glass or acrylic aquarium, the more your weight, maintenance and space requirements increase as well. Prior to buying, weigh the benefits and drawbacks of your planted tank sizes available to you. When browsing planted aquariums, pay attention to the L x W x H dimensions. Also keep in mind the aquarium’s weight and capacity and where in your home or office you plan on placing the tank. Also, remember to provide enough space above your aquarium so that you can easily access your tank for feeding and maintenance.

View Tanks

What’s the Best Fish Tank Size for Beginners?

If you’ve never kept an aquarium before, you are likely to think that choosing a small tank to keep will be easier than a large tank. However, you may be surprised to learn that that isn’t always true. For example, a 5-gallon tank is the minimum recommended size, however a 20-gallon tank or larger is an even better choice. We recommend choosing the largest tank that you can afford.

So, why larger? A larger aquarium with a high volume of water is less susceptible to changes than a small aquarium. This will make it easier to keep the conditions in your tank more stable. Also, if you’re planning on keeping fish in your tank, the size of your tank will depend on the space required for that fish species.

Up to 10 Gallons

Aquarium experts suggest five gallons as the minimum aquarium size for just one fish. However, if you aren’t planning on keeping a fish/school of fish, a very small tank up to five gallons can be a beautiful environment to care for smaller aquatic plants and algae.

For example, a popular plant aquarium keepers enjoy caring for are marimo moss balls, (beautiful, fluffy moss balls that can live for many years and even decades.) Keep in mind that planted aquariums that hold up to 10 gallons are challenging to care for, due to their small capacity, and the good filtration and meticulous pH monitoring that is required.

11 to 20 Gallons

If you are a beginner aquarium enthusiast looking for tank sizes to hold about a half dozen fish under 3″ in length, a tank that holds 11–20 gallons might be the one for you.

Tanks up to twenty gallons are great for planted aquascapes as well as well as a small school of fish. Due to the small size, you will need to continually monitor your tank to ensure that your aquarium filtration and chemical balance are maintained properly.

If you are looks for an aquarium that’s affordable and doesn’t take up too much space, a tank that holds ten to twenty gallons of water is a great choice. Just be prepared to maintain the tank frequently.

21 to 40 Gallons

Because there is more water in a twenty-one to forty gallon tank, the water quality isn’t very temperamental. This means that these tanks are more forgiving when it comes to maintaining them. Planted tanks this size a great for keeping 6-12 small fish happy and healthy.

Of course, you can expect to pay more for a 21-40 gallon tank. However, while they are larger and heavier, this size will be rewarding as you care for your tank for many years to come.

Over 40 Gallons

If you’ve always dreamed of owning a large planted tank and you have the space for it, you may consider an aquarium that holds 40 to 300+ gallons of water! These aquariums are optimal for displaying several species of fish.

Large planted aquariums are visually stunning and are a great conversation starter. In addition, the large size draws attention to your plants and colorful freshwater fish.

Keep in mind that large planted aquariums, especially those over 90 gallons, are extremely heavy and can be hard work to keep clean. If you are considering a large aquarium, please ensure that you have a strong aquarium stand and/or install structural reinforcements in your flooring to prevent damage from the weight.

For aquarium sizing, when in doubt, always check with an aquarium expert who has been in the hobby for a long time. Since they are pros who understand what it takes to keep planted aquariums, they can help guide you as you decide on a 10-gallon, 20-gallon, 40-gallon, or a 100-gallon tank. Regardless of your choice, you’ll enjoy the challenge and reward that comes with keeping live plants and schools of fish.

Water Type

A critical element of planted aquariums is water chemistry. Three terms you’ll need to be aware of when we’re talking about water are pH (power of hydrogen, which measures the hydronium concentration of your water on a negative logarithmic scale), gH (general hardness which measures the concentration of calcium and magnesium ions in the aquarium water), and kH (which measures the amount of carbonates/bicarbonates in the water).

For planted aquariums, we recommend you use moderately soft water at a level between 6.5 and 7.8. There are a number of different types of water you can choose from, and we’ll weigh the pros and cons of each below. Some waters will require you to re-add minerals back to your water prior to adding to the aquarium.

As a rule of thumb, we recommend utilizing reverse osmosis (RO) water or deionized water with trace minerals and buffers added to ensure optimal health and growth for your plants and fish. However, you can choose from the following options:

Aquarium Water Types
  • Municipal Tap Water – An easy option, you will need to ensure that it is disinfected and free from most types of bacteria. However, tap water can be problematic due to potential high levels of iron or magnesium. Some types of tap water can even contain ammonia or asbestos that can harm more sensitive fish. Chlorine is also another factor to consider – it will kill fish and good and bad bacteria alike.
  • Well Water – Well water will not contain chlorine, however, because it is unregulated water it could contain some harmful contaminants. In addition, well water can vary in hardness and pH levels, and since it contains little oxygen, well water will require aeration prior to being introduced into your aquarium.
  • Distilled Water – This water type is affordable and is available at most stores. However, since it is free from most contaminants and most minerals have been removed, you will have to re-mineralize it in order to use it for a tank. Also, it is impractical for larger tanks.
  • Reverse Osmosis (RO) Water – Reverse Osmosis water has gone through a reverse osmosis filter are highly effective for planted aquariums. Please note: you will still need to re-mineralize your water prior to adding it to your planted tank.
  • Deionized (DI) Water – Deionized water is made by using resins that trap electrically charged contaminants and switch them for harmless charged particles (like hydrogen ions.) Deionized water is free from chemical and mineral contaminants, making it a great choice for planted aquariums. You will still need to re-mineralize your deionized water.

Live Plants to Grow

Now let’s talk about purchasing live plants you can grow in your aquarium. If you are new to planted tanks, choose beginner plants for your aquarium. You’ll want to choose hardier plants. (Some species will thrive in your water conditions and some won’t, so you’ll want to choose several hardy species). A large density of plant mass will help to use up the available nutrients in the tank and decrease algae growth. Live plants add natural beauty to your aquarium and will provide the appearance of a lush garden in the middle of your office, dining area, or living room! If you choose to add fish to your planted tank, live plants will also help to purify the water for your fish as they consume toxic waste and chemicals. Below are the top 7 plant species we recommend for beginners new to planted aquariums:

Live Plants

Top 7 Aquarium Plants for Beginners

Java Moss (Taxiphyllum Barbieri)

Foreground/Carpet Plant – Java Moss, originally grown in Vietnam, has become the standard carpet plant in aquarium setups for beginner aquarium keepers. Easy to propagate, this moss has tiny green leaves which can decorate virtually any surface.

Beginner’s Tip – Once you plant the moss, you don’t need to do anything else to care for it (aside from trimming it if there is overgrowth). For best results, ensure you keep your tank’s water temperature between 71-75°F, keep the lighting low, and keep the pH between 6-8. This will help to ensure that your Java Moss grows well. To prevent overgrowth, every three to eight weeks, you may need to trim it. If you want to slow growth for ease of maintenance, you can adjust the temperature between 60-82°F and increase your aquarium’s lighting to help slow the growth a bit.

Dwarf Hairgrass (Eleocharis Parvula OR Eleocharis Acicularis)

Foreground/Carpet Plant – Dwarf hairgrass is an easy to maintain carpet plant that looks like it came straight from your lawn. Its green foliage will add natural beauty to your tank and it will even help to oxygenate your water and control the nitrate levels.

Beginner’s Tip – Ideally, for Dwarf Hairgrass, you’ll want to keep your aquarium’s water temperature warmer, between 50-85°F. Use medium to high levels of lighting to encourage your hairgrass to flourish in the tank. Similar to Java Moss, Dwarf Hairgrass can grow quickly, which will require frequent trimmings.

African Water Fern (Bolbitis Heudelotii)

Midground Plant – The African Water Fern is a dark green aquatic plant with delicate and near-transparent leaves. Beginners should note that this plant should be attached to a rock or driftwood surface, rather than be planted in substrate.

Beginner’s Tip – For African Water Ferns, maintain your water’s temperature between 68-80°F, keep the pH between 6-7.5, and use strong lighting. These ferns grow slowly, so trimming will be minimal. However, be on the watch for algae, which will grow quickly when there is a lot of light in your tank and it may overpower your ferns’ growth.

Wendt's Water Trumpet (Cryptocoryne Wendtii)

Midground Plant – This midground aquatic plant can have red, brown, or green leaves that vary in texture. Growing in a rosette formation, the Wendt’s Water Trumpet is a hardy plant and will add beauty to your planted aquarium.

Beginner’s Tip – This plant’s hardiness allows it to tolerate both high and low lighting, and even both hard and soft water. However, you should ideally keep your tank’s water temperature between 68-83°F with a pH between 6-7.5 Growing slowly, maintenance is low and you won’t need to trim it.

Anacharis (Egeria Densa)

Background Plant – Anacharis is also called Elodea or Brazilian Waterweed. It has a recognizable appearance, with a long, tubular stem with small leaves. It is native to South America, so you’ll want to accommodate this jungle plant with water temperatures between 72 and 78°F. Additionally, you’ll want to keep thepH levels between 6.5 and 7.5. For the Anacharis, ideally you’ll want to use medium lighting for optimal growth.

Beginner’s Tip – This tropical plant tends to absorbs nutrients in your tank’s water quickly. This is a great advantage because it helps reduce the growth of algae. If the temperature, lighting, and pH levels are optimal, this plant will grow quickly, so be sure to trim frequently.

Dwarf Rotala (Rotala Rotundifolia)

Background Plant –The Dwarf Rotala plant has narrow red or green leaves that grow in clumps along the stem. Ideally, you’ll want to keep your water between 68-82°F. In addition, keep your pH levels between 6-8 and light your aquarium with medium to high lighting. With more brightness comes redder leaves!

Beginner’s Tip – Rotala Rotundifolia can be immersed, grow floating, or can be completely submerged, however, it grows best in nutrient-rich substrates. Trimming your Dward Rotala plants is necessary periodically to get the height and shape you desire for your plants. In addition, you may want to stir up tightly packed stems to prevent the buildup of debris.

Water Lettuce (Pistia Stratiotes)

Floating Plant – This floating plant features light green, wavy leaves. Well-known for its waxy surface hairs, which create air bubbles to help the plant float, they typically grow up to 10 inches long in a planted aquarium. This plant’s roots hang down, so you may find your fish hiding among its roots.

Beginner’s Tip – For this plant, you’ll want to maintain your water temperature at around 70-80 °F and keep your pH between 6.5-7.5. Use low to medium lighting and gradually introduce full light. In addition, you may find it necessary to use tubing or ropes to restrict your Water Lettuce to one spot in your aquarium. This helps them stay safefrom submersion or getting caught in a filter.

Aquatic Plant Basics for Planted Aquariums

As a beginner new to planted aquariums, here is a rundown of everything you’ll need to know to ensure that your plants can thrive in their new environment. Aquarium plants need clean, relatively soft water to thrive in, full spectrum lighting, nutrients for optimal growth, and quality substrate (for rooted plants). You’ll want to change 10% of your water every week or 25% bi-weekly to keep your water fresh. Below are some helpful tips to help you maintain your aquarium’s water:

  • pH – You’ll want to use pH levels of around 6.5 and 7.8.
  • Water Hardness – You’ll want to maintain that around 50ppm to 100ppm.
  • Alkalinity – You’ll want to keep that between 3° and 8° dKH (54ppm – 140 ppm).
  • Nitrates – Make sure you maintain these below 10 ppm.
  • Phosphates – Keep these below 0.5 ppm to prevent nuisance algae from growing on leaves.
  • Temperature – Overall, should be kept between 74° and 80° F.

Substrates – You’ll most likely have rooted plants in your tank, so choosing the proper substrate to provide the right root development is essential. Fine to medium grade gravel or coarse sand will work best for your plants. If desired, you can use a mix of different grades for texture and aesthetics. Don’t use very fine sand (allows for little to no breathability) or coarse gravel (doesn’t provide good root anchoring).Also, avoid using dolomite, crushed coral, crushed oyster shells or other calcium carbonate-based substrates for your substrate (these cause a spike in alkalinity and pH levels). Before placing your substrate in your aquarium, be sure to rinse it to maintain cleanliness.

Nutrients & CO2 – You’ll also want to nourish your aquatic plants with liquid nutrition, laterite (iron-rich clay), or aquatic-plant-friendly fertilizer to help your plants to grow and thrive. Make sure they have the proper sources of nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, iron, magnesium, manganese, and other minerals to grow. Some plant enthusiasts supplement their plants with CO2, however additional CO2 usually isn’t required for plants to grow. (The benefit of supplemental CO2 is that it does boost their size, color, and vibrancy, which is why some planted aquarium hobbyists use it for a more enhanced planted aquarium display.)

Aquascaping for Planted Aquariums & Other Tips

In the end, choosing the proper aquatic plants for your planted tank will depend on the type of aquascape you’re hoping to design, the lighting, your aquarium’s height and size, and even the type of fish you add to the tank. For assistance, talk to an aquarium expert to help you make the best decisions for your aquatic plants. As a general rule of thumb, you’ll want to place tall or rapid-growing plants towards the bank of your setup, broadleaf and eye-catching plants in the middle, and low-profile plants in the front. Note that many species of foreground plants grow laterally. This means that you should try to spread them out as much as possible. Also, don’t overcrowd small, shorter plants next to tall broadleaf plants as that will block their light.

Finally, we recommend saving up and buying as many plants as possible upfront, because having many plants helps to use up available nutrients in the aquarium. In addition, having a large density of plants helps to decrease overall algae growth in the tank. Also, please note that some species will thrive in your water conditions, while some won’t. Buying a wide variety of plants to try out will give you a feel for what species work the best in your planted aquarium.

Fish or No?

Should I get fish in my planted tank? As you get started in the hobby and do your research, you’ll find there are many benefits to including a fish or several schools of fish (depending on your tank size) in your planted aquarium. So, why are fish helpful to a planted tank environment?

Specifically, fish provide carbon dioxide and nutrients that help your plants grow. In turn, aquatic plants can provide biological filtration and oxygen to create a clean, optimal environment for your fish. Additionally, freshwater fish provide color to your otherwise green tank. Some species are quite easy to care for and they can even provide hours of enjoyment as you watch them swim and thrive in their planted tank environment. Learn more about tropical fish and saltwater fish, and also some simple steps to success for planted setups with fish.

What Fish Should I Add to My Planted Tank?

There are many good species to introduce into your tank that won’t dine on your plants. If you want to add lots of color and visual interest to your aquarium, below are five freshwater species we recommend:

Neon Tetra (Paracheirodon Innesi)
Betta Fish
Betta Fish, (Betta Splendens)

Tetras, Bettas, & More

Tetras are exceptionally popular fish that freshwater tank owners choose, due to their brilliant blue and red colors and peaceful temperament. You should place your tetras in a minimum 20-gallon tank or larger. Whether you choose Neon (1.5 inches long) or Cardinal (2 inches long), you will enjoy observing these schools of small, brightly-colored fish swimming together. Both species are exceptionally easy to care for.

Another ever-popular (but often misunderstood) freshwater fish is the betta. Otherwise known as the Siamese Fighting Fish, the betta should not be kept in a fish bowl, but rather in a glass or acrylic tank with plenty of swimming space. In fact, at a minimum, you should keep your betta in a 5-gallon acrylic or glass tank. This species is a tropical fish, so it requires its water temperature to be within a 76°F to 81°F range. Don’t place another betta in the same tank because they are highly territorial and will fight with other bettas. However, your betta will not mind other tankmates like snails, ghost shrimp, or certain other types of fish.

What Fish Should I Avoid for a Planted Tank?

There are a few species that we either do not recommend keeping in a planted tank, or that are difficult to keep among a beautiful planted aquascape you’ve worked so hard on. Here are some fish to avoid, due to their tendency to eat live plants: Silver dollar fish, Buenos Aires Tetras, Monos, Scats, and Goldfish. While these fish are beautiful and still make great pets, DON’T ADD THEM TO A LIVE PLANTED TANK! They are a better choice for freshwater aquariums with rocks, decorations, and lots of swimming space with few plants (or artificial plants).

Planted Aquariums - Invertebrates

Crystal Red shrimp (Caridina cf. cantonensis sp. “Red”)

Invertebrates

As you plan all the necessities for your planted aquarium, you may want to consider investing in several species of invertebrates. These little cleaners can include shrimp, snails, crabs, or crayfish. Many species of inverts add a great benefit to your planted aquarium because they can help to maintain its overall cleanliness.

For example, snails work to eat algae off the tank’s rocks and glass. They are a great addition in a peaceful community tank. Similarly, there are various species of shrimp that graze on algae, which helps to mitigate the common problem of algae rapidly growing out of control. Not only do these small creatures help clean your tank, they also have interesting behaviors to observe and will provide hours of entertainment as you watch them clean and thrive in their freshwater environment. Finally, many tank owners choose colorful shrimp, snails, crabs, and other invertebrates because they add color and lots of life to your overall green-colored planted tank.

Top 7 Freshwater Invertebrates for Beginners

Filtration

One of the most critical aspects of keeping planted aquariums is filtration. Aquarium filters promote airflow and sufficient oxygen to penetrate your tank. This helps to encourage good bacteria growth, remove debris, and effectively filter your water for optimal cleanliness. Having poor filtration means poor health of your plants, fish, and crustaceans. First, we’ll introduce the types of filters you’ll need to know about for your aquarium.

Hanging/power filters – are an affordable and simple way to provide filtration to planted aquariums. Typically, they are a noisy and somewhat distracting filter option, so most aquarists opt for a different filter that is quieter and more effective. One benefit to these filters is that they are relatively easy to set up and are actually quite durable. In addition, they are also a versatile option, since they are suitable for many types of fish. If you are looking for an easier setup and low maintenance filter, the hanging filter may be the best choice for you.

Canister filters – Aquarists choose the canister filter because it is hidden, not distracting from the overall appearance of your aquarium. In addition, the customization for filter media is a huge benefit, and many of the world’s most experienced aquarists opt for this filter type. Additionally, canister filters boast significantly larger volume than their other filter counterparts, making them a more effective choice in terms of filtration and good bacteria growth.

Internal/corner/box filters – These filters are typically air-driven with a pump, and are for use with small aquariums only (usually under 20 gallons.) These filter types are usually on the bottom of the tank, which helps to prevent debris from building up.They are a good, reliable filter type, however, with the popularity of aquascaping, many aquarists won’t use an internal, corner, or box filter for aesthetic reasons.

Wet/dry/trickle filters – When it comes to good bacteria growth, these filters are the best! They are called wet/dry or trickle filters due to their exposure to both air and water, which aids in the growth of good bacteria and purification of water. They are effective for both freshwater and saltwater tanks. However, these filter types aren’t used as much because they are high maintenance and clog easily.

Undergravel filters – Finally, we’ll cover the pros and cons of the undergravel filter. Due to the rising popularity of aquascaping, many aquarists don’t use this type anymore (since they are placed under the gravel bed, which would require re-scaping every couple months). THESE ARE NOT A GOOD OPTION FOR PLANTED TANKS. This is because plants are likely to wrap their roots around the filter. However, the undergravel filter has its benefits in a non-planted tank because it is invisible and it can keep your aquarium bed exceptionally clean.

Aquarium Lighting

Lighting

Lighting is vital to the health of your planted aquarium. If you are opting for an aquarium hood, it will most likely include a fluorescent fixture. However, plants need specific wavelengths of light for optimal growth. So, even if you have lots of light, it’s usually not the right kind of light.

The larger and deeper your planted aquarium is, the more lights your setup will need. We recommend following the following formula to help you choose your aquarium lighting:

  • 0.25 Watts per Liter: Low Light Level
  • 0.50 Watts per Liter: Moderate Light Level
  • 0.80 to 1.0+ Watts per Liter: High Light Levels

As you browse for aquarium lighting, please note: lighting is essentially for the health of your plants, which means it’s something you don’t want to skimp on.

Don’t buy knock-off light fixtures! Research and purchase a brand with great reviews. We recommend the brand Lifegard Aquatics for your LED lighting purposes.

Fortunately, good, quality lighting can actually be quite affordable. LEDs, fluorescent strips, and compact fluorescent fixtures are the most common lighting choices for your planted aquarium setup. No matter your choice, all of these work well for you planted tank setup. However, while they are the most expensive, LED lights are most efficient and will last you the longest. Meanwhile, compact fluorescent lights are moderately priced with good product life, so they are a happy medium between price and quality. Finally, fluorescent lighting is the cheapest option, and although they don’t last as long, they are still a great purchase if you are on a tighter budget.

You may also want to look into an aquarium timer so that your tank’s lighting has a simulated natural day and night cycle. We recommend the easy-to-use AquaSun Dual aquarium timer.

Aerator

Next, let’s talk about aeration in your freshwater aquarium. In most cases, your planted tank will not require aeration, however, in most cases, it’s not a bad choice either. We’ll help you determine whether your your tank will require an air pump or not. To start, we’ll talk about what aeration is and why you should (or should not) include it in your new planted aquarium.

An aerator forms small air bubbles which float up to the surface of the aquarium water and burst once reaching the top. This creates a physical force with the surrounding water and oxygen molecules. The water stirs, creating what we called aeration. Aerators are tools that help to mix water, which helps dissolved oxygen to move throughout the tank. As a general rule of thumb, if your planted aquarium already has plenty of circulation, you may not need it for your aquarium. In order to know whether you need aeration, you can purchase aquarium testing kits to test the level of dissolved oxygen. Another way to tell is by observing your fish to see if they constantly swim to the top and gulp for air at the surface. If you have tested and find that you need an aerator, you will need to purchase a quality air pump, air tubes, a porous airstone, a regulator valve, a check valve, and a plug-in timer.

Generally speaking, however, a live planted tank with powered filters will be fine without an air pump, so no aeration may actually be required for your aquarium. Nevertheless, many aquarists find that air pumps add additional beauty to their tank, because of the bubbles that rise to the top. This adds a decorative feel to your tank, and sometimes, your fish will even swim in and out of the bubbles!

Temperature of Water

We touched on temperature of water earlier for your plants. In general, your water’s temperature has everything to do with the types of aquatic plants you plan to add to your aquarium setup. Fish and invertebrate species will also be a factor when it comes to determining how warm or cold your tank water needs to be.

Many plant species you will likely add to your aquarium will be tropical. Therefore, you’ll probably keep your planted tank around 78F (~25.5C) and use a thermometer to maintain the temperature. You’ll find that most aquarium plants will grow well at this temperature, assuming they also have sufficient CO2, plenty of light, and enough nutrients to help them grow and thrive. However, many species will also grow well in conditions of 70F-72F. In fact, many plants do well in cooler water, having a more steady metabolism. They also grow more slowly than plants in warmer water do. If you are uncertain about water temperature, ask an aquarium expert, or look at the plant’s information prior to buying to double-check temperature.

Maintaining the proper temperature is essential for the growth of your plants. It will impact whether or not your plants will thrive. Warmer temperatures will encourage many aquatic plants to grow faster. This also includes algae. Even if your tank water is cooler and you’re still experiencing algae growth, you may want to consider lowering the amount of CO2 in the tank. Another way to help reduce algae growth is by introducing freshwater shrimp (particularly the Amano shrimp), which forage through the plants and eat organic materials and algae.

In a nutshell, pay attention to the temperature needs of each species of aquatic plant or livestock you plan to introduce into your planted aquarium. Be careful that you don’t set the temperature of your tank water too high, or you will kill certain plant species such as tiger lotuses and Bucephalandra which require cooler water.

pH Test Kit

As we discussed earlier in this guide, the pH value of planted aquariums is a vital factor in water quality. pH, or power of hydrogen, measures thehydronium concentration of your water on a negative logarithmic scale. As an aquarium owner, you should maintain your pH so that it is neither too high nor too low since it has a decisive impact on the fish in your aquarium. Different livestock will require different pH values. Having a poor, inconsistent pH value overall will result in fish illness or death for several of your fish species. To prevent this from happening, you’ll want to ensure you’re properly maintaining pH levels in your freshwater tank. This is where a pH test kit comes in.

Shop online with SevenPorts.com to purchase a high quality pH testing kit (and other testing kits) that will give you an accurate result and maintain the proper level of pH in your planted aquarium. We recommend the AZOO and Sera brands for best optimal results. For more information, we compare pH test kits in this article. We also have kH testing kits available to you. Keep your planted aquarium chemically balanced with a quality pH test kit.

Wave Maker

Wave Maker

To keep the water in your planted aquarium flowing properly, you will want to look into purchasing a wave maker. Without water movement, your plants will become stunted in their growth. In addition, algae growth in your tank may take over.

Wave makers also help your fish (if you have them in your planted aquarium). In fact, your water movement plays a key role in your fish’s health, helping to maintain circulation and prevent illness. Wave makers also help to prevent the accumulation of debris in the corners of your tank. This helps to lessen dirtiness in your tank and maintain the health of your plants and livestock.

We recommend improving your aquarium’s circulation via the Platinum Blue Series or the Platinum Slim Wave Maker. These highly-rated products will benefit your aquatic plants by providing a gentle water flow that helps them to absorb carbon dioxide and nutrients through their leaves and stems. Powered by since wave technology, these pumps are extra quiet. Other benefits include being low voltage and ultra-energy efficient.

Maintenance of Planted Aquariums

Congratulations! You are already starting to become an expert at keeping your own planted aquarium. Now, you may be asking,how do I properly maintain my aquarium? Here on our website, we have maintenance and cleaning products available to you to make maintaining your aquarium an easier process.

We’ve already covered some of the things you’ll need to do to ensure your plants stay healthy. This includes water changes, trimming your plants to prevent overgrowth, providing them with the proper nutrients, investing in several species of fish or invertebrates to help provide nutrients and to clean up algae, maintaining pH levels and temperature, and much more. Here, we’ll provide a step-by-step guide you can refer to to help you care for your tank every day, week, and month.

Daily Maintenance

Add fertilizers or liquid carbon to help promote plant growth. You may also need to daily check for dead or decaying leaves on your plants. You’ll want to remove these to prevent algae from growing and becoming a problem in your tank. Be sure to check and monitor your tank’s growth. If your temperature drops, it can harm your plants and fish. If necessary, clean your aquarium’s glass and top up water levels.

Weekly Maintenance

Each week, you will want to do a water change of 10% to help prevent the buildup of organic waste and mitigate the growth of algae. During the first few weeks of owning your planted aquarium, you’ll want to change your water even more frequently. As your tank matures, you’ll reduce the frequency of change down to one. Every week you’ll also want to check to ensure all your equipment is working properly. This includes the heater, filtration, lighting/timer, CO2 equipment, etc.). If something isn’t working, it may cause an imbalance in your aquarium’s overall health. Also, be sure to clean the glass and check for algae growth to see if you need to change anything with your lighting setup, CO2 levels, or amount of water changes.

Monthly Maintenance

In addition to your weekly water changes and glass cleaning routines, each month, make sure to also clean out your filters and filter media. This is to remove waste that has built up over the past few weeks. Also, be sure to clean your pipes or equipment.

The rewards of getting started in the aquarium hobby are well worth the hard work you have put into it so far. As the weeks, months, and even years pass, you’ll get to enjoy watching your plants grow and thrive in their freshwater aquatic environment. As you become more comfortable with caring for your aquarium, you’ll have more experience to explore which plant and fish species will work out best. If you try something and it doesn’t work out – that’s okay! Part of the hobby is researching and trying to see what works and what doesn’t. As always, reach out to aquarium experts who have an in-depth understanding of aquatic plant and fish care and they can provide guidance of what will work best for your aquarium.