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I’m starting a new planted aquarium. How long do I have to wait before adding plants? What do I need to check as far as water conditions before I add beginner plants?
 

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You can add plants immediately.

With regards to basic water parameters to check: temperature, pH, general hardness, carbonate hardness, nitrates, phosphates, and iron would be the main ones.
 

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Plants do not need to change water as frequently as fish, but regular water changes can keep the aquarium healthy. First, scrape off all the algae on the side of the water tank. Use a siphon to remove 10% to 15% of the water, and pay special attention to gravel and the area around the aquarium device. Replace the removed water with fresh dechlorinated water

When using a siphon, do not use it in the plant bed, otherwise the plants may be accidentally killed. Instead, keep it above the substrate.

Both shrimp and catfish feed on algae, so they can add a lot of color to your tank, depending on the other fish you choose.
 

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As found on university, government and independent sites... Plants remove ammonia, nitrite and nitrate from the water. Since ammonia and nitrite are required during cycling to feed the beneficial bacterial growth, adding plants to the aquarium during cycling will/may prevent the tank from cycling. You can add them, but will most likely slow the cycling process.
 
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