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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone, this is my first post. I’m going to make my second 20g aquarium and I would like this one to have a nice looking aquascape. I’m having trouble finding easy to grow and easy to find carpeting plants. Please note that I am a beginner and do not use Co2 and run med light.
 

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Hello everyone, this is my first post. I’m going to make my second 20g aquarium and I would like this one to have a nice looking aquascape. I’m having trouble finding easy to grow and easy to find carpeting plants. Please note that I am a beginner and do not use Co2 and run med light.
Hairgrass and micro sword will both live just fine in a low tech tank (one without co2). BUT they will not carpet in a reasonable period of time (think years instead of weeks or months). There is no real carpeting plant that will carpet in a low tech tank. You can use something like pearl weed which will take over an entire tank but is not really a 'carpet' since it will grow quite tall between trimmings.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Pearl weed sounds good becuse there’s no way I’m waiting years for there to have a carpet. Since I haven’t kept this plant before do you have any tips for keeping it as a carpeting/foreground plant at low light?
 

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biOrb LIFE 45 L, planted, EI dosing, CO2 injected; ADA Cube Garden 45F, planted, EI dosing, low tech
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Pearl weed sounds good becuse there’s no way I’m waiting years for there to have a carpet. Since I haven’t kept this plant before do you have any tips for keeping it as a carpeting/foreground plant at low light?
Tropica calls pearlweed an 'advanced' plant that requires strong light and CO2 injection (Hemianthus micranthemoides Pearlweed, pear weed - Tropica Aquarium Plants). I agree you're goihg to really struggle to get a carpet with a low-tech tank. Part of the problem is that the carpet is on the bottom, farthest from the light, so to get reasonable illumination at depth you need to blast the top of the tank with light which sets you up for algae problems. You could try Marsilea hirsuta (Marsilea hirsuta | Fireplace aquarium) which in my experience sort of worked in a low tech tank. I added CO2 injection later and it did really well and is super low maintenance which is good otherwise if you have to regularly trim the carpet there's going to be a huge mess to deal with every time.
 

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Pearl weed is in no way an advanced plant... unless you are actively providing the most adverse conditions possible it will quickly spread to take over a tank.

Anyway for tips for keeping it, it will quickly try to form mounds. You can cut strands of it and replant them into the substrate and they will spread out from each of those strands. Its not really a good carpet though because its tall. You can expect it to grow 3 to 8 inches tall. You can always hack it back but there are limits. You won't ever have a carpet of it only an inch high for example. 4 to 5 inches is going to be more typical.

This video shows a peal weed carpet (mostly at the 8 minute mark) but keep in mind that 1) this is after a relatively recent trim and 2) the tank is a lot bigger then a 20 gallon so the proportion size of the plants will be different in your tank.

 

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Yeah, the tropica website has a lot of good information, but saying pearl weed requires high tech is bonkers. I throw gobs of it away it grows in such excess.

I find dwarf sag makes an ok carpet for low tech. It doesn't have a refined look, but it stays low and spreads readily once it's settled in. It's definitely easier to manage than pearl weed, so it'd consider it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Pearl weed is in no way an advanced plant... unless you are actively providing the most adverse conditions possible it will quickly spread to take over a tank.

Anyway for tips for keeping it, it will quickly try to form mounds. You can cut strands of
Yeah, the tropica website has a lot of good information, but saying pearl weed requires high tech is bonkers. I throw gobs of it away it grows in such excess.

I find dwarf sag makes an ok carpet for low tech. It doesn't have a refined look, but it stays low and spreads readily once it's settled in. It's definitely easier to manage than pearl weed, so it'd consider it.
Dwarf sag is actually what I currently have in the 20g but like you said it doesn’t really have that nice clean “carpet” look. After all the advice I think I’ll have to go without a carpet. Do y’all have any suggestions for some low-med light foreground plants instead?
 

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Dwarf sag is actually what I currently have in the 20g but like you said it doesn’t really have that nice clean “carpet” look. After all the advice I think I’ll have to go without a carpet. Do y’all have any suggestions for some low-med light foreground plants instead?
Dwarf hairgrass can be planted in clumps and will be happy in those conditions. Crypt parva is another easy one to recommend. My shallow tank has a bunch of blyxa japonica in it right now and doing well though some people have trouble with that one in harder water.
 

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Yeah, I hear you about dwarf sag not having that refined carpet look.

I have some Crypt x purpurea that I started from tissue culture about a year ago and it has stayed short for me. I couldn't find much information about it before I got it, but I've found it to be an easy keeper and it has a neat net pattern on the leaves that is pretty unique.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Okay, that’s fine because I’m going to be redoing my tank around early next year. Because I’m going to probably use crypts and dwarf hair grass, what substrate would you recommend? (I will probably also use bacopa)
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I actually currently have a dirted tank capped with sand but it’s kinda messy in my experience. Aquasoil is pretty expensive but hey it’s probably worth it. I also see that it’s not beginner friendly on various sources, but I didn’t really figure out why. Do you have any ideas?
 

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Aquasoil needs lots of water changes at the beginning and can leech ammonia for a while. The first month or two can be really unstable, but that's true with dirt too. It also buffers pH and kh for a limited amount of time, so that's another consideration.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Okay that doesent sound bad, ammonia can’t hurt plants and I can just wait two months before I add fish. What do you think it would buffer these parameters too? Ph- 6.8 KH-2
 

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I have a dirt tank capped with gravel, topped with Amazonia, topped with Amazonia powder, topped with Azomite (mineral supplement) with a little bit of black sand sprinkled on top of the mix and I am really please with the results. The dirt doesn't pop through the cap like it does with a sand only top. I really like the wide variety of colors from all the different capping substances. Even the Amazonia and Amazonia powder are different colors of brown, which I why the local fish store sold them to me for cheap. None of them are the same particle size so they all kind of intersperse between each other.

My dwarf hairgrass grew great when I was dosing with CO2 but everything else grew so fast all I was ever doing was pruning plants so I cut off the CO2. The DHG is still green but is growing VERY slowly now that I no longer dose C02 (or anything else).

In another section of my 180g tank I used Montecarlo for a ground covering and it is MUCH quicker growing in a non-CO2 tank than the DHG is. Another thing I found with DHG (which is posted all over every planted tank site) is that DHG spreads MUCH better when it is planted in clumps of 2 or 3 roots instead of big clumps of 20+ roots! It is worth the effort in my opinion even though it makes the planting process very laborious.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Okay I’ll probably just use Amazona for the sake of my budget but I will definitely use dwarf hair grass to help fill in the scape. I will be using excel as a small Co2 supplement.
 

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Okay I’ll probably just use Amazona for the sake of my budget but I will definitely use dwarf hair grass to help fill in the scape. I will be using excel as a small Co2 supplement.
There are 2 commonly available species of DHG. I went with the shorter version in my 180 because I didn't want to have to prune it back. I wish I had gone with the longer species instead. The shorter version I have is topping out at about 1/2" to 3/4" after I cut off CO2.
 
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