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First Tank And In Need Of Advice

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Hi I'm extremely new, and I am getting a small tank soon that I would like to put some live plants in. I've looked around this forum, and I've seen many amazing tanks that are full of live plants. I don't plan for mine to look close to the ones I've seen on here, but I need some advice on ways to maintain a small aquarium with live plants in it. I want to make sure that my tank is healthy. When I found this forum, it seemed like a good place to get advice from people who have a lot of experience with aquariums. So here are some questions that I have.

1. What are some good beginner plants that you would recommend I get for my tank?
2. Do you have just some general advice on maintaining live plants?
3. Is it a bad idea to put some artificial plants in with the live plants?

Thank you for helping me plan my tank and learn how to keep it healthy.
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Hi I'm extremely new, and I am getting a small tank soon that I would like to put some live plants in. I've looked around this forum, and I've seen many amazing tanks that are full of live plants. I don't plan for mine to look close to the ones I've seen on here, but I need some advice on ways to maintain a small aquarium with live plants in it. I want to make sure that my tank is healthy. When I found this forum, it seemed like a good place to get advice from people who have a lot of experience with aquariums. So here are some questions that I have.

1. What are some good beginner plants that you would recommend I get for my tank?
2. Do you have just some general advice on maintaining live plants?
3. Is it a bad idea to put some artificial plants in with the live plants?

Thank you for helping me plan my tank and learn how to keep it healthy.
1) Assuming you have adequate light and nutrients, easy beginner plants are java moss, sword plants, ludwigia, pennywort, java fern, floating plants, and vallisneria. There are many more but these are some of the more common ones.

2) My advice is to research a bunch. How you go about this depends on your preferred method. Personally I like watching videos and reading forums. Youtube channels to watch include George Farmer, Green Aqua, and Aquapros. There are others but those are my favorites, especially as a newbie looking for beginner advice. Those channels have a range of content from beginner to advanced. For forums check on the journal section here and read through some journals. Find one where you like the design and concept and emulate it.

3) There is nothing wrong with plastic plants mixed with real. Most folks here don't use them because once you start growing real plants its hard to get too excited about plastic.
 

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If you haven't yet purchased a tank here's something to consider. The smaller the tank, the harder it will be to keep your water quality consistent. You will find smaller tanks to need a lot more regular maintenance than a larger tank (water changes sometimes as often as twice a week). If you're okay with this than a small tank can be rewarding. You'll spend less on ferts and chemicals as well as inhabitants. Your choice in plants, fish and invertebrates will depend on your setup. You can do a low tech (minimal light, no added nutrients, no injected CO2) or high tech setup (more intense lighting, injected CO2, added ferts/nutrients). I have a Fluval Spec III which has a 3-gallon water table. I later upgraded the light to a Fluval Plant Nano from the stock light because of poor plant growth and algae blooms, made a HUGE difference. I'm also using a tiny injected CO2 rig and have a daily nutrient schedule.

As far as plants, the above suggestions are great. Anubias varieties are another good bulletproof option. Those plants are really hard to kill and will do fine in low light/no CO2 setups.

If I had the room in my house I'd be looking for a 40 gallon breeder. Those dimensions are awesome for a small but not too small planted tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you so much for the advice. I have my tank now and I got some java fern for it. I also want to get some java moss so I have some kind of ground cover, and I might get some other plants but I'm not sure what yet. I think that I will keep it a low tech tank since I'm just starting out. Also all I have is the light that came with the tank, will that be enough light for the low light plants?
 

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Any picture(s) of the tank? Or at least volume and/or dimensions? It'd be good to see what you're working with.

I'd agree with the above suggestions. A lot of epiphyte plants (those that grow attached to wood or rocks) are good options that typically do fine in lower light cause they're slower growing. You already have one classic in the java fern and the other was already suggested, anubias species. There's tons of those that are big or small (I'm a fan of the nana petite). Mosses are really good so if you do get some java moss or christmas moss is another variety that's becoming easier to find. Those would be great to attach to rocks or wood using either thread or gel super glue (I use Gorilla brand). They could be used as some ground cover maybe if you attach them to either stainless steel or plastic mesh, but they won't really grow through sand or substrate.

Some general advice would be as mentioned, do lots of research. I used forums and the youtubes as well, great places for info. Other advice would be to get plenty of plants as they help with some of the struggles of nutrient buildup from fish waste or decaying organics. And as others have cautioned if you have a smaller tank, it'll be more important to be doing things like water changes in a timely manner as small mistakes can add up quickly with a small volume.

And even if you keep it low tech, check out a basic fertilization method. So something like the Seachem Fluorish line or the NilocG Thrive C are potential options that are simple to use. And without knowing the size of the tank and the type of light, it's tough to know if an upgrade is worth it. Given the right size tank, a desk lamp can be perfectly suitable to grow plants.

Anyway, welcome to the community and I hope your first tank is enjoyable for you and you get some good advice on how to be successful!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Any picture(s) of the tank? Or at least volume and/or dimensions? It'd be good to see what you're working with.

I'd agree with the above suggestions. A lot of epiphyte plants (those that grow attached to wood or rocks) are good options that typically do fine in lower light cause they're slower growing. You already have one classic in the java fern and the other was already suggested, anubias species. There's tons of those that are big or small (I'm a fan of the nana petite). Mosses are really good so if you do get some java moss or christmas moss is another variety that's becoming easier to find. Those would be great to attach to rocks or wood using either thread or gel super glue (I use Gorilla brand). They could be used as some ground cover maybe if you attach them to either stainless steel or plastic mesh, but they won't really grow through sand or substrate.

Some general advice would be as mentioned, do lots of research. I used forums and the youtubes as well, great places for info. Other advice would be to get plenty of plants as they help with some of the struggles of nutrient buildup from fish waste or decaying organics. And as others have cautioned if you have a smaller tank, it'll be more important to be doing things like water changes in a timely manner as small mistakes can add up quickly with a small volume.

And even if you keep it low tech, check out a basic fertilization method. So something like the Seachem Fluorish line or the NilocG Thrive C are potential options that are simple to use. And without knowing the size of the tank and the type of light, it's tough to know if an upgrade is worth it. Given the right size tank, a desk lamp can be perfectly suitable to grow plants.

Anyway, welcome to the community and I hope your first tank is enjoyable for you and you get some good advice on how to be successful!
Here is a picture of my tank

Light Purple Drinkware Pet supply Glass


It is a 3.5 gallon tank and the light is just the light that came with the tank.
 

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Ummm, you may consider changing the light. With something that small you don't need to go with anything expensive I would say. There are a lot of little clip on lights that would probably work fine depending on how the lid attaches or comes off. Otherwise a desk lamp with some sort of "daylight" bulb that has a light temperature around 6500K would be good (I think other color temps would work too, but this is the typical one). I've even seen little LED desk lamps from IKEA used to grow plants, so there's some cheap options.

Keep in mind with something like java fern or anubias, you need to keep the rhizome (the horizontal piece that looks like a thick root or stick) above the soil or gravel level. These types of plants grow attached to rocks or wood. It looks like from the photo you may have pushed that into the gravel. The thin roots can be in substrate, but not the rhizome or it will rot and the plant will die.
 

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To educate yourself, some sites have great search tools for selecting plants by size and ease of care; try LiveAquaria, buceplant. They can be expensive, but you can often find the same plants in your local fish store. Pick up a small piece of stone or wood (from LFS, not outdoors) and tie the java fern onto it with fishing line to keep rhizome above substrate. Also looks cool! Have fun!!
 
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