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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just wanted to see how many people out there have a planted tank set up with fish that are really big or prone to digging, destroying, or rearranging the plants.

I've heard alot of people say it shouldnt be done but I have had great success and I want to hear from others who are doing the same thing.

What has been the hardest part? What bits of knowledge have you learned from housing these types of fish in a planted tank?

Look forward to hearing from everybody! Pictures of the tank and fish would be awesome too!
 

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I would not consider my tanks to be heavily planted if one wants the floor covered. I do not want that but use plants to make my fish look good. With that , I don't find the fish to be any more trouble than all the other things. Algae is still the top pain for me.
I look at keeping fish and plants together as much the same as keeping only one or the other. A bit more complex but it still just needs study and time to figure out each problem as it presents itself. Building a tank might be the same as building a brick wall, It takes doing it a step at a time but is the top brick very much harder than the first few?
Sometimes the idea works and sometimes I have to start a different plan!



But if I keep hammering the problems, it can work.

 

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~20 years ago we had a 110 Gallon Goldfish tank with Java fern covering the rocks. The key was to attach it to rocks that were too big/heavy to be knocked over. Plants that attach to the hardscape (and non toppling hardscape) seemed to be the key.
 

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I failed to give any hints on things I find help. Each situation needs a different solution so it comes down to me trying some things and then working on the things that fail.
Digging is a problem that I have run into at times and found different things for different fish. One is choosing the fish who are less prone to digging. Open water fish in the African cichlid group are a better place for me to start. They only want to clear enough space to spawn when the time comes. There are some different ways to dealing with that. One is to maintain a male only tank so that spawning action doesn't come around nearly as often. I keep Protomelas types and find that when the various mbuna come ready, the Protomelas want to be ready as well and do clear a space.
A second move I use is to lay out the tank with their habits in mind. The picture above where they dug up the roots and the pots is an example of my poor planning. I watch where they want to have their space and plan for that, leaving them a nice space and the plants in other spots. It took some time to find how large that spot needed to be.
clearing the plants out of the danger zone has worked well for me. I put different types of plants on wood or rock so that they are not on the floor. If there is floor space for digging, my fish do not go higher to look. Then I also use different ways to protect the plant roots. Pots is one but I also find using wood or rock with holes can let the plants come up out of them where they grow just the same but the roots are covered and safe.

This holey rock has a nice hole that protects the red tiger lotus coming through it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
One thing that I have done to remedy a problem with digging/rearranging is to be in tune to what the fish want.

If a fish has an established territory and they continually move or dig up something then I simply move that plant slightly away from where they are try to clear the area. Usually this works and you only have to move the plant a little bit to satisfy them and they will stop digging it up.
 

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Good point on placing the plants in the right spots for the type fish you have. My mbuna are often different in the places they want to dig. some want to dig near the edge of rocks so putting plants there is a failure. Other are much more interested in being totally in a cave. That is easier for me to simply stack rocks to let them have a cave and then I plant on top. In the picture above the java fern is growing on top of a pile of limestone rock and the cave is below. Some use it for hiding and others use it when they feel the need to spawn. Kind of like a community center?
I find several who like to have the corners of the tank so I lay rockwork to leave space there.
 
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