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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Okay, to make a long story short, I listened to my mom when she ensured me I didn't need a substrate. Now I have a tank that's all set up with gravel and plants and fish. Then I found and started reading this site, and it seems as though I definitely need it.
So...what can I do? Can I just get some and mix it around with the gravel? Or do I have to tear it all apart?
Help...:(
 

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Hm depends on what kind of plants you got there. Low-tech plants don't really need special substrates like Eco-Complete or Flourite if that's what you mean by just "substrate". What kind of plants do you have?
 

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Technically, you don't need any of those fancy plant substrates although it does help. You can grow plants just fine with an inert substrate. Depending on your setup, you can add ferts through the water column or through feeding your fish. If you just have plain aquarium gravel, you could add some root tabs under your heavy root feeders(crypts, swords, etc). I don't want to promote any specific product but I've tried rootmedic, seachem root tabs, osmocote, and wondergro. They have all done their job. Some better than others.

Describe your setup. Lights, co2, low tech, high tech, type of plants? It will help to see what the best course of action is. Btw, welcome to tpt.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Alright, well, the containers of the plants say that they're:
4 Aqua fern plants
Peacock Fern Plant
2 Amazon Sword Plants
and I also have 2 pieces of mondo grass..

It's a 10 gallon tank and there's two florescent bulbs in the hood that say they're 11w.
There's no co2 pumps or anything fancy, I guess it's low tech...it just has a small filter.
And 5 guppies. Soon to be more because the 2 females are already pregnant.
Anything I should change or something? Help is very much appreciated...
 

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Well, I'm not sure what the aqua and peacock fern is. The mondo grass isn't an aquatic plant and will die soon if kept fully submerged. The amazon sword will quickly outgrow your tank.

The bulbs will be fine to grow low light plants. In my 10gal low tech tank, I have 2x10w fluorescent bulbs. I put some osmocote on the bottom of the tank covered with some inert sand. I have a low bio load(6 otos and some rcs) so I dose dry ferts. I dose minute amounts once a week. I somewhat follow Tom Barr's low tech method. I would stick to lower light demanding plants. Crypts, anubias, floaters and mosses to name a few. With that light and the amount of guppies you are going to get, you can have a nice low tech planted tank. Remember, fish poo = plant fertilizer. If you get the right kind of low demand plants, you may not even need to add anything to the substrate. There's a low tech section in this forum that you might want to check out. There is a ton or info there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Okay, thank you so much for the help!
Petsmart is not the place to go for plants apparently...this kind of sucks.
I will definitely go read more about low tech tanks...I guess I've got a long way to go...
In my defense, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, I was just going off what I thought looked really cool. It IS my first tank...:icon_redf
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I just did a Google search of the scientific names of the ferns, and neither of them are even aquatic. One actually is commonly found in woodland forests. This is ridiculous. I am merely an ill informed consumer. Damn you for thriving off of my ignorance, TopFin. How is it possible that they can get away with selling these as plants "for aquariums"?
 

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For big box stores, it's all about the benjamin's. I don't mind buying equipment from them since they are sometimes cheaper. Most of my other purchases goes to lfs and supporting other hobbyist. Join a local club,I believe Scape is one of them. Check the sns here on the forum for some cheap healthy plants. Post a wtb(willing to buy) for some low tech plants. I'm sure there's people on here that will be willing to sell you a package. I just sold alot of my crypts and anubias or else I would offer up a package.
 

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Did you buy the plants in a little cylindrical container labeled under "Top Fin"?
Most of those plants are bog plants and are NOT truly aquatic. I too also recommend the plants that nokturnalkid mentioned :)
 

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Get Java ferns (there are several varieties having different leaf shapes) and Anubias (again several varieties having different leaf sizes) both should not be planted in substrate but can and should be attached to stones and/or wood and will do perfectly well in your condition.

Amazon sword needs either rich substrate or sand with root fertiliser tablets - and will not do well in gravel.

Your other option is to use pots with plant substrate and a gravel cover. You could grow Cryptocoryne in them. Some crypt varieties have brown to redish-brown leaves and will bring color to your tank. Crypts will do well in your light condition.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks everyone, you're all very helpful. :]
YES. The plants did come in those little cylinders, and the roots were packed in some weird gel that I had to wash off.
I'll look up all of the plants that you guys mentioned, thanks for your suggestions!
A little frustrating though, basically all of my plants aren't even usable. :(
 

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You can take the plants back and get a refund. Don't feel bad, I ran into the same problem. When I was figuring out the same issue you’re having I went as far as talking to Petsmart/Topfin headquarters. They weren't sure what I was talking about since there in the aquarium section (the ignorance of higher up people). All they would have to do is google the plants that they sell and see that they aren't aquatic plants. I was then told that a gentleman from the aquatic research division would be calling me. He did call and his response was that the plants are listed for "aquarium use", however this “doesn't mean that they will last as long as true aquarium plants and they will need replacing when they rot.” The bottom line is that big chain stores can twist words and sayings so the average person thinks they understand, but in all reality we don't and get mislead in their marketing games.
 

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i would switch out your bulbs for 2 10w cfl 6500k. I did and i grew plants really good. You could also look on SnS for mosses. Mine sime to grew really good in my 10 gallon.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
You can take the plants back and get a refund. Don't feel bad, I ran into the same problem. When I was figuring out the same issue you’re having I went as far as talking to Petsmart/Topfin headquarters. They weren't sure what I was talking about since there in the aquarium section (the ignorance of higher up people). All they would have to do is google the plants that they sell and see that they aren't aquatic plants. I was then told that a gentleman from the aquatic research division would be calling me. He did call and his response was that the plants are listed for "aquarium use", however this “doesn't mean that they will last as long as true aquarium plants and they will need replacing when they rot.” The bottom line is that big chain stores can twist words and sayings so the average person thinks they understand, but in all reality we don't and get mislead in their marketing games.
This just gave me a fantastic idea. Aquatic ladybugs. Aquatic Hamsters. Aquatic Pigeons. I'll make millions.
 

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I just did a Google search of the scientific names of the ferns, and neither of them are even aquatic. One actually is commonly found in woodland forests. This is ridiculous. I am merely an ill informed consumer. Damn you for thriving off of my ignorance, TopFin. How is it possible that they can get away with selling these as plants "for aquariums"?

I know what you mean, I thought aquarium plants meant aquarium plants. RETURN THEM. I bought some when I began my tank, and noticed things happening. I dug through the smelly kitchen trashcan for the tubs and shoved the plants back in and returned them. I did rinse the tubes though... so they weren't tooooo stinky.
 
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