Originally Posted by Gold Finger
So here's where I'm at. I am beginning to get a handle on planted tanks and looking to improve on a couple of things this time around. First, I'm trying a substrate which can take a beating, be cleaned to the bottom if need be (to deal with the poo surplus) and last forever. I know that the plants won't grow in as fast as with dirt, but a few members have assured me that the plain PFS will work well and won't stop the plants from growing well, maybe just slow them down, mostly in the first month or two. I may not even need to use root tabs.
The other thing I am planning is to try to plant with a kind of scaped look.
"Kind of" meaning a mix between a jungly scape and a naturalistic look. I don't like an overly designed, calculated, perfect look. People don't seem to think that goldfish suit scapes very well, but I bet they can be put together fairly well. Eating plants hasn't been an issue so far since they only seem to eat certain stem plants and I prefer rosettes and epiphites anyway.
I plan to leave the front and side edges bare sand and densely plant tons of large Anubias and java ferns throughout the middle speckled with a healthy amount of nice lookin crypts such as "Lucens", building this middle part up a bit higher. Finally, I may border it with some kind of vals. Probably Italian. I wish I could use some "Vesuvius", which I think are super cool looking but don't think they would compliment the other plants. It will be based on anubias, which are my favorite plants.
When you say "plant anubias and java ferns," are you going to plant them in the sand, or tie them off to something - a rock or piece of driftwood? The rhizome on those plants doesn't take kindly to being planted, and unless there are really long roots already, it's easy for the fish to uproot them.
My goldfish tank has mostly anubias and java ferns. I bought a java fern mat, where the roots were already grown into the mat, and weighted that down on top of the substrate (I'm using gravel), so the roots could continue growing down, but I don't have to worry about burying the tiny little rhizome.
The anubias are tied off to driftwood.
Anything I plant directly in the substrate, I have to protect with some sort of barrier that makes it hard for the fish to get at it. I planted the only crypt to date (a retrospiralis) in a small clay pot, and after it got finished with the melting, it came back nicely. They don't seem to bother the crypt, but again, it's real hard for them to get at it.
I'll be very interested in seeing your aquascape on this tank.