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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all! Need some help here, I'm brand new to planted tanks. I have been doing a lot of research over the last few months and have decided to go for it! I have setup my 55g with a dirted base with red clay and capped it with Black Diamond grit (20-40).
The log pictured is one I actually pulled from a river I fish often. I dried it out, cleaned it up, cut it down to size and am currently waiting for it to become fully waterlogged while cycling the tank (second picture).
I built my own light fixture. It is a 3 bulb, T-8 with two 32W bulbs and one 40W.

Anyway, enough with specifics, any ideas as to plants or possibly additional hardscape or direction for this tank?!

I'm thinking I want to grow a big amazon sword in the back-right corner behind the wood and then maybe some moss draping off of the thinner branches. Beyond that, I have no set ideas...I'm curious to see what ideas others have.
Thanks everyone!
 

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I would bank up substrate on the corner where your driftwood is placed. Also having more substrate at the back to give more depth overall would be good.
In terms of planting, any carpet plant as foreground would be good. In the left (of the photo) mid height plants like AR Mini would be nice. To be honest I'm not a huge fan of swords and I would think something like Cyperus helferi would be better (this is total personal opinion though). Also adding some Anubias species or Bucephalandra species would look really amazing alongside some moss, that driftwood piece is spectacular.
Anyway subscribed as well! Excited to see how this turns out.


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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I would bank up substrate on the corner where your driftwood is placed. Also having more substrate at the back to give more depth overall would be good.
In terms of planting, any carpet plant as foreground would be good. In the left (of the photo) mid height plants like AR Mini would be nice. To be honest I'm not a huge fan of swords and I would think something like Cyperus helferi would be better (this is total personal opinion though). Also adding some Anubias species or Bucephalandra species would look really amazing alongside some moss, that driftwood piece is spectacular.
Anyway subscribed as well! Excited to see how this turns out.


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I wanted to really bank up the substrate but I read that with a dirted tank you want to keep the dirt and the sand cap both under 1 inch in order to allow oxygen to pass through and avoid anaerobic pockets.
As for the Cyperus helferi, It is a beautiful plant and I prefer it to the swords as well but I think I need to start off with some easier to grow plants first with this low tec tank.

Bump:
Why not see if there is any under water plants growing in the river that you fish in. I'm trying to keep a natural tank of the indigenous species myself
Very cool!
I though of doing this and there are some very cool plants there, however, the river is a tail-water river so it's temperature is always very low (from 37-61 degrees). I figured in a warm tank with tropical fish these plants would likely die.
 

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I would place some medium-large rocks on the left side, beneath the driftwood since your terrain is too flat for my liking. Leave a small gap behind the rocks and plant tall grass. Eleocharis Acucularis comes to mind.
In front of the rocks, some midground plant suchs as Java fern - or better yet, Bucephalandra.
I would also carpet it with mini hair grrass - such as Eleocharis sp mini. But being low tech, I'm unsure if it can grow without CO2. The HC is also nice but definitely needs CO2.
On the driftwood itself - its very interesting. Its a very nice piece of wood. On all the thin branches, I would plant mini fissidens. In the center, at the thick portion, I would plant the smaller types of Bucephalandra (for eg Brownie Iris or Catherinae) to occupy the center block. As it rises to the top, plant larger types of Buce (such as Kota Baru). Yes, I'm a fan of Bucephalandra - because it is very beautiful, rare and expensive.
The Amazon swords are agreeable in the right hand corner.

Edit:- I would not use Moss. Because they grow too well and will proliferate everywhere and invade every nook and cranny. It needs to be regularly maintained, so personally I don't like moss. But that's just me.. :p
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the ideas davido! If I'm being honest I'm not sure my budget has room for all of those beautiful Bucephalandra plants haha Maybe some smaller Anubis species would be a good replacement... I agree with the rocks for the left side, I have been looking around for the right ones for a while now, I would like to find something with sharp edges and sort of a slate grey color.
As for the moss, i suppose i should have been more specific, I don't want something that will go out of control like Java Moss but rather something like you suggested (mini fissidens).
Do you know of any species that i could plant on the thinner branches that would sort of grow and drape down towards the bottom?
 

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Aquatic plants do not generally drape down. They almost always grow upward, toward the light. Start with the moss or other as low as you want it and it will grow upward.

If you want a sword, do not jam it into a corner. They are large plants for an open area. Or else go with some of the smaller relatives, perhaps placed mid-tank.

I think I would keep any rocks at the base of the wood. Not detract from the wood by making 2 focal points.

Overall planting: denser, larger leafed plants near the mass of the wood. Lighter, airier plants, moving with the water toward the left, the 'airy' side of the wood.
This will create several areas of interest, but keep the main focal point centered around the wood.

You can bank up soil and cap:
If the deepest area has 2" of soil and 2" of cap, this is fine, and you can grow the larger plants in this. Many people go with even more soil and cap. Aquatic plants add oxygen to the substrate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I'll have to play around with the rocks location... maybe i will try to bank up the substrate a bit more, I didn't realize that the plant roots would aerate the soil.
I'm thinking maybe place the Sword behind the wood just to the left of the bulkiest part, basically the center of the tank and possibly corkscrew Val or something similar to the back right corner.
 
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