Looking for "low tech" plant suggestions - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-22-2020, 12:20 PM Thread Starter
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Looking for "low tech" plant suggestions

Hi all,

This is my first post in a few years. I've recently got back into the hobby after being burnt out of it, I just want to start out slow and "low tech" as what initially burnt me out were overly complex systems of C02, too many large tanks, and the maintenance and cost of it were just too high.

I dug out an old 54 litre tank of mine, it's been set up and cycled, organic soil underneath black substrate and a simple LED unit for the light source. There's an intresting piece of driftwood in the centre, it has been covered in anubias nana, java fern and java moss, all are doing well. I added floating duck weed as the light was encouraging excess algae growth.

I'm looking for plants that would be suitable to grow in the substrate, the only root feeding plants I know of that will thrive in a low tech setup are vals, but they're simply too large for this small tank.

Any suggestions would be appreciated, thankyou.
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-22-2020, 01:06 PM
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Take a look at the many cryptocoryne species such as crypt wendtii (red, bronze, green), crypt parva, crypt undulata, and many others. Also look at dwarf sagittaria subulata.

I also have low tech tanks and these have done well for me even without ferts, along with my anubias and java ferns. I'm sure some of the more experienced folks will have other suggestions. I've tried only a few others like some of the hygrophilia species, which I had to trim regularly, but seem to keep going back to mostly crypts and anubias.
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-22-2020, 01:08 PM
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You have a lot of options available to you. Essentially any type of crypt will work well. Dwarf sagittaria is pretty commonly used if you like the grass type look.

Blyxa japonica has been working great for me as a low tech plant lately.

If you like vals then vallisneria nana is also an option for small setups.

My advice is to go to your local fish store and see what they actually have in stock and go from there.
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-22-2020, 03:20 PM Thread Starter
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thanks for the advice, I have tried various cryptocoryne species in the past, they've grow very well for me but tend to melt with even a slight change in water parameters, so I'm going to avoid them for now.

Dwarf sagittaria looks intresting as it has a similar apperance to vals at a smaller size. I love the way vals look but for me they only really work on a taller aquarium, as you'll get that slumped over look otherwise. I know for sure my lfs has dwarf sagittaria, so i'll give it a try. I don't ever recall seeing Blyxa japonica in any lfs, but i'll do some research on it and have a look for it online.

So the foreground is sorted, I just need something alittle taller for the mid-background. Something hardy that can survive without co2 injection... I've tried various stemplants in lowtech setups but none that I remember have done well. From memory hygro and rotala species are two that didn't do well at all, they lived but lost their bottom leaves. They do grow like crazy when co2 is added though, almost to the point of being nuisance weeds.

So if anyone could recommend some mid-background plants that don't grow too tall and can live in a low co2 environment, I would appreciate it!
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-24-2020, 02:48 AM
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I don't remember exact names (sorry) but corkscrew val is nice. There are many different types and I'm sure some probably fit your some aquarium. Corkscrew val is basically twisted val. Plus I always thought the slumped look looks super cool. Your choice though.
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-24-2020, 05:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Wansui View Post
thanks for the advice, I have tried various cryptocoryne species in the past, they've grow very well for me but tend to melt with even a slight change in water parameters, so I'm going to avoid them for now.
In a low tech tank just so long as you properly prep and test your change water there will be no crypt melt. Crypts melt when you throw rapid water parameter swings at them, so make sure your change water matches your tank water for PH/KH/GH. Any adjustments you make to tank water parameters should not be done on water changes anyway. And on low tech your usually only doing 20-25% water changes as norm so you would really have to try hard to make crypts melt.
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-24-2020, 06:16 AM
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+1 for Crypt (I only have experience with Cryptocoryne Wendtii) and Dwarf Sag.

My crypts and dwarf sag are doing quite well in my super low tech tank. Dwarf sag spread runners like a weed! I started with 2 dwarf sag plants, and now have around 8 or so.

For crypts, they do melt one leaf (exactly 1!) occasionally. I find it quite interesting since it is always one leaf per crypt that melts, I have never encountered two leaves melting at the same time so far.

A sample video:


(please ignore the red plant, it is non-aquatic and I have removed it).


What has failed in my low tech tank are:
- microsword --> melted and no growth and I removed it
- foxtail stem plant (Mayaca fluviatilis?) --> it did grow taller but shed needles like crazy and eventually turned brownish, so I removed it eventually
- dwarf hairgrass --> melted and rotted with no growth
The above 3 plants were before I dosed ferts. Currently I dose Tropica liquid ferts once a week,


I am now trying Alternanthera Reineckii Mini (just trying for fun, I half expect it not to succeed).
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-24-2020, 06:22 AM
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Did somebody say low tech? My favorite subject, If my tanks were any lower tech they would be no tech.

Crypts and Annubias the carpet is Monte Carlo



No Fertilizer added just fish poop and mullum I never vacuum the substrate only do a 50% water change once a week

6 foot 100 gallon tank full of Blue Stricta
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-24-2020, 11:53 AM
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So if anyone could recommend some mid-background plants that don't grow too tall and can live in a low co2 environment, I would appreciate it!
I haven't used it personally but MD Fishtanks uses limnophila sessiliflora all the time for this purpose. Its his best growing plant and its listed widely as a noxious weed if it gets into the wild so you shouldn't have too much trouble growing it. Its readily available online.


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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-24-2020, 01:37 PM
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+1 on crypts & blyxa.

I have a similar problem with stem plants losing their lower leaves because they're not getting enough light. Recently added Lobelia cardinalis and it's doing well for me.

Tiger lily does well for me and adds some color. I trim off the floating leaves so it says a midsized bush, and I've seen dwarf lilies offered

There are lots of mid-sized swords in various leaf shapes & colors, and they love a soil substrate.

Both water wisteria & water sprite (which grows floating also) are good background stem plants if you keep them trimmed

Most rooted & stem plants are gonna need some light, and are likely to sulk if they're shaded by the duckweed. You might try corraling it into rings above your anubias & java ferns so they don't get algae, and allow the other plants to get the light they need
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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-24-2020, 01:39 PM
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Java ferns, anubias, water sprite are as easy as it gets!


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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-25-2020, 04:39 AM
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I think most low tech friendly plants have been mentioned here, so I thought I would link a couple george farmer videos of low tech setups as it might give some inspiration.


This might be common knowledge, but if it's not. From research the success of a low tech setup is dependent on properly picking the plants that do well in the environment. Sure a lot of plants will probably grow in a no Co2 setup, however they might not do that well which would cause algae to thrive in the environment due to stressed plants. So it's very important to pick plants which do just fine in a low Co2 environment like crypt's.
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-26-2020, 09:46 PM Thread Starter
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Come to think of it, I did normally do a +50% weekly waterchange when I did have the crypts, and the tapwater was different in chemistry to the aquarium water. I think the mixture of peat based soil and compost under the substrate was what made the water slightly more acidic than the tapwater.

I'll give the crypts another go, but this time do no more than a 25% water change per week. And again, thankyou all for the information! I'll thoroughly research other plants mentioned here also.

I've added the dwarf sagittaria, they've only been in for a few days and they're already growing new leaves, very much like valisineria. I can't wait to see the first runner! I have Hemianthus Micranthemoides (pearlgrass/weed) on order as it was recommended to me, curious to see how it'll work out.

I'll update here If anyone is intrested.
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