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So I am looking at building a 40b with a 20l sump for a fancy goldfish tank. I was initially planning on stem plants in the sump for nutrient export, but I am wondering how riparium plants compare. Given that the setup will be enclosed, I can pretty much do anything.
 

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My vote is the riparium. Not sure if it can keep up with gold fish though. Also no reason you can't do both, a riparium on the display tank and lots of stems/floating plants in the sump (or you could combine them in the sump as well, lots of water column there to use). Personally I like the idea of the riparium because it adds to the look of the tank. I've noticed in mine that wandering jew, pythos, brazillian pennywort and peace lily all have very quick growth rates, though if you are looking for nitrate reduction, you may need to dose potassium and to a lesser extent phosphate to keep up with demand; my riparium seems to be perpetually short on potassium, though it does do a decent job of keeping up with the nitrates from ~25 cardinal tetra, 2 dwarf gourami and ~100 cherry shrimp sized fish in a 25g tank, all fed like it's going out of style.
 

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Dont pick one or the other... Combine them. Grow stem plants riparium style. Brazilian pennywort doesn't mind dry environment when it's feet are wet, and it will use up all the nitrates you can throw at it. This was growing in an aquaclear50 HOB on a 20g.
 

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