I need ... I need moral support and help with EVERYTHING. - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-05-2008, 10:06 PM Thread Starter
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I need ... I need moral support and help with EVERYTHING.

Hey guys,
I'm new (very new) to planted tanks. As a matter of fact, I only started to seriously consider the concept this week, and I've been researching like crazy... but I've also been reading so many sites and articles that I just confused myself more.

I have two empty ten gallons right now. I also have bettas, and nothing but bettas, so I'd need put a divider up in each one.

Here are my questions, and I'm sorry if they are ridiculous.

Is planting a divided tank essentially the same as a non-divided one? I ask because-- okay, here's the stupid question...
I live in Brooklyn, so I'm really not an expert on plants , but... plants, uh, grow. As I recall. (And thus concludes my knowledge of plants.)

So... do they also grow while planted in an aquarium? What if they get far too big for your tank? Do you... "prune" them? Now I'm imagining some sort of waterproof weed-whacker...

And so... when you get the plants, can you just put them in your tank immediately or do you have to, you know, put them in pots first and do... gardening-type things?

I have been browsing some aquatic plant websites and they describe "low light" plants, which I think is what I want. BUT. Are they referring to how bright the lights themselves are (I assume so) and/or how long one keeps the lights turned on?

And they also say that plants are sold in "bunches", but I am not sure how large a bunch would be. They seem rather inexpensive (less than $2, some of them), so... do you have to purchase... a BUNCH of bunches?

And finally, is a planted tank significantly more expensive than a non-planted tank?

Please don't laugh (too hard) at me.
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-05-2008, 10:23 PM
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1) Yes, planting divided vs. non-divided tanks is the same.
2) Yes, plants grow. When they get too long/big, you trim them. With scissors usually.
3) You wash them, make sure there's no unwanted parasites and into your substrate (soil, sand, or a variety of specialized aquarium substrates are available) they go. Some plants need specific planting requirements (ie: some plants like java ferns cannot have their rhizome [root] buried underneath the substrate, etc..)
4) Low-light plants refer more to the light levels/amounts/intensity they require to grow. Lighting duration too, but to a lesser extent.
5) Depends on where you're getting them from, "bunches" can mean many things. Probably more accurate to ask for a stem or leaf count of their "bunches" before buying.
6) Depending on your goals, a planted tank could be enormously more expensive than a non-planted tank, or it could be marginally more expensive. And with words like "enormously" or "marginally", it also depends on your disposable income level right now too.
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-05-2008, 10:25 PM
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this will help

when plants get too big, you trim. I use scissors and pinching with my fingers.
You can replant the trimmings for stem plants.

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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-05-2008, 11:39 PM
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Planted tanks can be very very simple or very very complicated and hard. Just mentally compare a person who grows a single cactus on the windowsill vs a greenhouse full of expensive and rare orchids.

Most beginner aquatic plants are relatively foolproof. Anubias and Java fern are simple to grow - just don't bury the bottom (rhizome, if you want to look it up) of them, both like to be grown on driftwood and other decor. Or you can just drop them in (rightside up) and let them sit on top of the gravel - they will grow roots as an anchor over time, but the rhizome will still be safe.

Make sure you don't get houseplants, as they just die underwater. You can use lucky bamboo, if it is tall enough that the leaves are above the water and if you don't use a cover.

These suggestions should do fine with a minimum of care. Even regular aquarium lights (which are always considered low light) should be ok for these. They will also grow very slowly.

Light timers are awesome, and are around $10 at a hardware store - then you can set your lights to turn on in the morning, off in the afternoon, and you will never have to worry about remembering. Just set it to between 8-10 hours a day.

You can always start with a few simple plants and see how they do, then buy more if you're happy with them. This might be a bad idea if you buy online because shipping is killer.

There's a TON more to learn - specialized substrates, specialized lights, CO2, but you don't need to know any of it if you don't want to, or if you aren't ready just yet .
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-05-2008, 11:41 PM
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Everyone starts things from the beginning unless someone else sets it up for them. You didn't start.. Well I was going to say English, but you are from Brooklyn so... (lame attempt at midwest joke).

Planted tanks are or can be much easier to deal with then a tank with just gravel, a filter, and light. Plants soak up nutrients and help clean the water. You still need to do water changes but not as much or as often as you would with a sterile tank. (in my opinion) The plants sold for aquarium use are generally sold in bunches or pots. LFS (local fish shop or store) bunches usually contain a number of "stems" of a plant that grows fairly well in most environments. How many? It depends on the plant and the store, but three to five seems to be what I see. On this forum, the number will usually be listed. Those you take the rubber band or metal band off and push into the gravel or substrate. If you purchase from people here, the plants will be wrapped in paper toweling.

People here tend to be into substrates rather then gravel as the different materials supply or hold plant nutrients. Gravel is just crushed rock or epoxy coated something. Your substrate will depend on what you want and what color you want. I happen to have a bunch of tanks currently and I'm experimenting to see what I want to do. I may never settle on just one type of substrate.

Some plants come in plastic pots. Those are generally more expensive single plants. You can leave them in the pot for a long time, or cut the pot away and plant the plant in your substrate. The pot won't contain soil or dirt. It is usually a wool like material that has a slit that the grower inserted a seed, clipping, daughter plant, or rhizome into. They grow it until it is large enough to ship.

Low light plants can grow in most any tank with most any aquarium light. Medium light plants need more light than a standard aquarium strip light or hood can provide. High light plants need lots of light and usually extra nutrients or fertilizers and CO2. That is what Power Compact, T5, or metal halide lamps are for.

The one piece of advice is keep reading these forums. I've done a lot of looking elsewhere and found the most friendly and accurate advice here. Some of that advice is too technical to you this month. In a few weeks less of it will be too technical. Also, try to find a local fish club or planted tank club and meet others interested in this hobby. I learned a lot from one young man who kindly gave me a batch of his clippings. I posted a request on a local forum asking him to keep my address for his next batch of trimmings. He responed and let me pick them up at his home. Seeing his tank and CO2 setup gave me a much clearer idea of what was what.

Mostly, enjoy. You'll probably be writing this letter to someone in a few months.

post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-06-2008, 01:06 AM
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Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
Planted tanks are or can be much easier to deal with then a tank with just gravel, a filter, and light.
I spend way more time pruning, planting, fertilizing, researching, and obsessing, than I ever spent on my old tanks with neon purple gravel and plastic plants.

But it's worth it.
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