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Someone pointed out to me that my idea of a heavily planted tank eg http://www.aquascapingworld.com/gallery/images/1/1_18.jpg --but less rocks and more plants where the rocks are-- is not right. It is at best moderately planted. This is moderately planted to them-- http://img205.imageshack.us/img205/5624/p1040777.jpg --and heavily planted should be "so thick with plants that you and the fish can not see from one end to the other because of plants. There would be no open areas, the fish would *always* be swimming through plants." eg http://i14.photobucket.com/albums/a323/maxwell1295/Fish/Fishies336.jpg IMO their version of heavily planted is...super dense. I consider those jungle-y Amano tanks to be heavily planted, which to their definition would not make the cut then.

So what's the grade for heavily planted and moderately planted?
 

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Probably so dense that you have no room to plant extras or replanting the trimming without replacing some other plants. Most plants should be growing more to the surface as well. The last picture isn't desirable because looks like someone didn't trim their plants...:) That will lead to massive died offs on the lower leaves...
 

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I look at it from a standpoint of how much of the available light is intercepted, and therefore goes towards driving plant growth; which in turn consumes nutrients and improves water quality.

If I look at (or imagine) a top-down view of a tank, and it's close to 100% green excluding a reasonable amount of hardscape, and with little substrate showing, then I consider it heavily planted.

That would include both the second and third picture. In the third, plants are so dense that the amount of light reaching the bottom half of the tank is quite limited. So I'd say that half of the plant mass isn't contributing much. Effectively, that tank isn't much more heavily planted than the second.

If it's closer to 50% green, I consider it moderately planted. That would be my assessment of the first picture; as I'd imagine I'd see a lot of hardscape, and be able to see a good bit of substrate as well since the carpet isn't very dense.

And 25% or less, lightly planted.

It's an interesting question. I'm sure everyone will answer it differently.
 

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It's an interesting question. I'm sure everyone will answer it differently.
I agree. It's very tough to group things into neat little buckets to say this is light, moderate or heavy. Many times there are benefits associated with the amount of planting, but this benefit would vary based on the type of plants (fast growers vs slower growers, etc.) and the whether the setup was high-tech vs low, etc.
 

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...but this benefit would vary based on the type of plants (fast growers vs slower growers, etc.)...
Yes, and I've always wondered about slow-growing plants that pearl more prodigiously than fast-growing stems. Makes me wonder if they also take in and store more of other nutrients per unit of plant mass, in which case visible plant growth rate might not always be an indicator of a particular plant's impact on the tank.
 
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