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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys!

I’m looking for advice on plant choice for my new tank and was wondering if you could lend your sage wisdom.

I really want to get this tank planted ASAP so it has a chance of getting ever so slightly established before I have to leave for the holidays and I’m starting to stress a bit. I’ve been obsessively cramming aquatic plant knowledge into my head for the past several weeks and it’s starting to feel more like I’m preparing for a final exam than I’m enjoying my reunion with this hobby! ;-)

Anyway, I have some aspects of the tank nailed down and plants acquired or lined up: branchy Manzanita driftwood with Xmas moss and narrow leaf java fern, glosso for the foreground, some e. tenellus and crypts in the midground.

These aspects of the tank were very much inspired by this first tank of Amano’s:

It’s the background that’s giving me trouble.

I’ve always wanted to try my hand at the taller crypts and had been planning on some retrospiralis or balananse as my primary background plants, although I’m now wondering if they’d be too tall for my 21” tank. Even if these crypts would make a good fit for the tank and aquascape, I think I still need some fast growing stems in the beginning to help the tank get established.

In looking around for complementing ideas for stems, I came upon this beautiful tank by greenbrightly that shares many of the midground characteristics I had in mind:

I really like the textures of his stems, particularly the plant to the rear left. It’s narrow leaves are just lovely. Unfortunately, he gives no flora listing so I’m not sure what he’s using. Any idea what’s going on back there? If you’d like to see more detail, there are loads of pictures in the set plus you can click on the “ALL SIZES” icon for higher resolution.

This too has gotten me rethinking a background primarily of tall crypts. I’m wondering if the background would look better with similar looking stems to greenbrightly’s tank, with maybe one cluster of c. balansae or retrospiralis to satisfy my desire to take the plant for a test drive.

Anyway, I’d really appreciate your opinion on the crypts versus stems issue and recommendations for stem plants that can be promptly and easily acquired. (BTW, I do have some contraband green hygro available, the lone stem survivor of my old neglected tank.).

Obligatory tank specs:
46 gallon bow, 21 inches tall.
Pressurized CO2
96 watts PC lighting



Premium Member
5,071 Posts
You won't be able to find retrospiralis anyways. You can sometimes find spiralis, but it's often C. crispulata 'flaccidifolia.' I have both balansae and flaccidifolia in a 21" and they do drape the surface a bit, which I like, but you may not.

Consider Cyperus helferi like in that ADA tank pictured above. Also, don't forget Vals, especially Val. nana, which, unlike crypts, you can trim individual leaves to maintain the desired height. A favorite background plant of mine is Hydrophila corymbosa 'angustifolia'. It's a stem, so it can be any height and has a very elegant look to it as it moves in current. Lastly, Blyxa aubertii is pretty slick and maxes out right around 21".
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