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For me it is Java ferns (supposed to be easy, they all get black edges/spots for me and look like crap) and Crypts. When I first started I was sure I would hate crypts and not be able to keep them - horror stories about melting and all that.

Ended up giving it a try, bought some here on the board , went in with the initial mass planting. Didn't hold much hope, even while I was planting them it felt liek the leaves barely attach to the roots and I was sure that I was damaging them. I'm sure they melted while I wasn't paying attention in those first weeks, but now I have several scattered across the tank, very lush and a wonderful soft green color - what a great family of plants! Even in less than great positions (wedged next to rocks or the tank side or whatever) they seem to be determined to send up leaves and grow.
 

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I am surprised I like Anubias nana. It looks so much like ordinary house plants but it is a great contrast to the other plants I love.

Surprised I like Java ferns. The first kind I had had wide fronds, didn't attach well and I couldn't figure out how to use it but I really like the narrow leaved kinds.
 

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I was surprised that I could get glosso to carpet with literally no effort. That plant gets an a+ in my book, and its a really nice looking plant to boot. Banana lilies are also an incredibly hardy plant, being one of the few plants of mine thy could survive 2 weeks without power.

One plant that I HATE though is hornwort. Good god, I bought a ton of it once and every stem lost all of their leafs in unison, it was a nightmare to clean up and deal with. And here I was thinking it would grow like a weed but no, it just died on me :/
 

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I would have to agree with OP- my java fern grew black and ragged, and moving to crypts i was skeptical due to crypt melt but they grew beautifully

glosso has also surprised me- after failing with HC i threw some glosso in and it took off
 

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Anacharis. I always used to associate it with a brown dingy sticks my goldfish would destroy and thusly make my tank look like crap. But grown in a dirt tank with plenty of nutrients and decent lighting the bright green color and bushyness can be quite nice.
 

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Im surprised i like my Dwarf Sag as much as i do, i thought it would be just a little aspect of my tank that i wouldn't really be to bothered to worry with, but i have actually become extremely fond of this plant and hope to grow some in the future to sell.
 

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Bacopa colorata actually grows pretty well for me in my low tech tank. For some reason I can't grow anubias or java fern at all though.
 

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How much easier it is to grow things in high tech, but also how much stem plants like Rotala and Ludwigia hate being shipped.
 

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Best surprise is a tie between my frogbit and my jungle val. My vals survived 3 weeks with no light, no filtration, no ferts and about 3" of water above the substrate. My tank popped a seam and couldn't get a new one right away and a little neglect set in. The leaves broke off to 3 or 4 inches long but when they were planted in the new tank, i had 4' leaves within 3 weeks. My frogbit covers the top of my 40B every 2-3 weeks after throwing away all but a couple nodes.

Worst surprise was pogostemon stellatus. It shed all but the top leaves and had a yellow color with deep pink/purple undersides. I thought it looked cool, but knew it wasn't doing well and eventually died off.
 

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Hygrophila "Sunset". It's doing okay in my main tank, really needs higher light and much higher ferts to get the deeper color and broad leaves that are possible in ideal conditions, but where it's delighted me is in my no-tech planted vases.

I've got it in a half dozen <1g planted vases and it's been great. No tech, low to medium light (mostly indirect sunlight), low bioload, minimal fertilization and it puts out slow small tight growth, holds it's older leaves forever, and the color is a glowing yellow green with just a hint of pink blush on the upper leaves.
 

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It's gotta be either hornwort or cabomba, I can grow plants that fall into the challenging category, but those 2 still elude me.
 

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I am going to say Dwarf Sag. I have it in a 2 gallon cookie jar and it spreads like crazy. I will have it in all mt tanks that I set up.
 

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Helanthium tenellum and Didiplis diandra are my two picks. H. tenellum because of the gorgeous red color it throws off in high light and D. diandra because it's a perfect plant to scape with for me. Grows like a weed, gets dense, easy to trim, you can shape it in any way imaginable, sends down beautiful roots from the stems to the substrate level to make it look like a network of tree roots, shrimp love it as well. I thought it was gonna be hard to grow but I've had 0 issues with it. It can sure take a mowing, too. :hihi:
 

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Helanthium tenellum and Didiplis diandra are my two picks. H. tenellum because of the gorgeous red color it throws off in high light and D. diandra because it's a perfect plant to scape with for me. Grows like a weed, gets dense, easy to trim, you can shape it in any way imaginable, sends down beautiful roots from the steps to the substrate level to make it look like a network of tree roots, shrimp love it as well. I thought it was gonna be hard to grow but I've had 0 issues with it. It can sure take a mowing, too. :hihi:
d. diandra is a great plant. one of my favorites.
its 'hard to grow' because if it gets shaded it throws a massive fit. i lost all of it during a vacation once where the background stems covered the whole surface by the time i got back. but as long as it has enough light, and decent CO2, its even a little weedy.
 

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d. diandra is a great plant. one of my favorites.
its 'hard to grow' because if it gets shaded it throws a massive fit. i lost all of it during a vacation once where the background stems covered the whole surface by the time i got back. but as long as it has enough light, and decent CO2, its even a little weedy.
I do agree with you on the shaded part. I notice bits of melt (or at least slightly more translucent leaves) if I go too long between trims.
 

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My very first live plant in a tank was a dwarf lilly, and I don't think I could have been more surprised. From this little dead-looking bulb came a gorgeous, bushy little lilly that thrived even in a plain gravel tank with crappy lighting. I've had that same plant for 3 years, and it's thrown probably half a dozen pups.

The bane of my planted existence has always been java fern. I just can't get that stuff to like me. It dies off, it gets black spots and edges, it just flat out decides not to grow...touchy plant, too bad it works so well in so many scapes...
 
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