How to Set up A Beginner Planted Aquarium

How to Set Up a Beginner Planted Aquarium

If you want to increase your aquarium maintenance skills, add live aquatic plants. Not only do they add a natural beauty to your tank, but they also help consume toxic waste chemicals and purify the water for your fish. As we guide you through the steps of setting up a low-tech, planted aquarium, please follow along.


Before You Start: Gather the Planted Tank Supplies

Let’s first form a shopping list of necessary materials. If you are new to planted aquariums or are working on a limited budget, there’s no need to get a rimless, low-iron glass aquarium that costs a fortune. A

regular glass tank

The rim from your local pet shop works perfectly and serves a purpose to buffer against any unevenness between aquarium and stand.

The fish tank should be placed on a hard and level surface, such as an aquarium stand, kitchen counter, or solid piece of furniture. You need to ensure that the aquarium setup (and the floor underneath it) is strong enough to support the additional weight of water, substrate, equipment and decorations.

An aquarium container can seem expensive, but it reduces heat loss as well as the electricity used by the heater. A lid also decreases evaporation, which can cool the tank and cause swinging water parameters that stress your fish. Plus, a fish tank cover is a simple way to prevent fish, shrimp, and snails from accidentally jumping or climbing out of the aquarium.

An aquarium lid stops fish from jumping out and other household pets from getting in.

A background for your aquarium is an optional option, but it’s a nice feature. It hides power cables and airline tubing. You can buy a background from the local pet store, spray the back panel of the tank with Plasti Dip rubber coating, or even tape posterboard to the aquarium. We personally like black backgrounds since the color seems to make plants stand out more and hides algae better.

A heater and thermometer are usually necessary if you plan to keep tropical fish. Read our full article on how to choose an appropriately sized heater for your setup.

There are many lighting options available. For beginners, we recommend a plant LED light. They are specifically designed to produce the best spectrums and levels (Photosynthetically Active radiation) for growing fish. Because of its great performance and value for low to moderate light plants, the Finnex Stingray is our favorite. However, you can read our article to learn more about how to choose the best planted aquarium lighting for your needs. A light timer is also extremely helpful for making sure your plants get a consistent amount of light every day and preventing algae growth.

Substrate has been a hot topic within the planted aquarium community. Because of their high levels of nutrients, dirt and enriched soils are frequently cited as the best. However, these nutrients can leach into the water and cause algae blooms or water quality problems for novice hobbyists. Therefore, we recommend that beginners start with inert substrates that contain no nutrients, such as aquarium gravel or coarse sand. Learn how to choose the right substrate for your plant tank.

Tweezers may be used for adding root tabs or planting aquarium plants.

You can design your aquarium using only live plants, but many people like to add hardscape, such as aquascaping rocks and driftwood that are safe for fish tanks. You can find inspiration online or choose what appeals to you. Other useful planted tank supplies include:

– A dechlorinator to remove chlorine from water. – Easy Green all in one fertilizer to feed plants. – A water test kit to determine how much fertilizer is needed. – Algae scrubber for aquarium walls. – Pruning scissors to remove or propagate leaves. – Aquarium siphon to change the water.

Finally, let’s talk about buying the live aquarium plants. Because you should wait until everything is in place before buying them, we have saved them for the last part of our checklist. It would be a shame if you get your plants only to realize that there isn’t enough substrate to cover the tank bottom. These are some tips to help you make the right choice when selecting your plants.

– Go with beginner plants if you’re new to planted tanks. They are generally more forgiving of our mistakes and harder to kill. – Buy a wide variety of plants to try out because some species may thrive in your water conditions and others may not. If possible, save money and purchase lots of plants in advance. A large plant density will reduce algae growth by utilizing the nutrients available in the tank.

How to Set Up a Fish Tank with Live Plants

Now that you have all the supplies ready, here is a step-by-step guide to assembling your aquarium:

1. Pick a suitable location. Ideally, the fish tank should be near an electrical outlet, as well as a source of water for easy water changes. The tank should not be placed in direct sunlight or near an AC vent to prevent algae growth and temperature swings. Avoid areas with high traffic, such as those where children or pets might bump into the tank.

Find a place for your aquarium near an outlet and water source.

1. Installing the aquarium stand or counter-space, and then cleaning the surface. 2. Rinse the aquarium and accessories. First, wash the tank, substrate, and hardscape with water (no soap) to reduce cloudy water. Next, place the aquarium background if necessary. You may also want to quarantine your live plants to get rid of pest snails and duckweed. 3. Add the substrate to the tank and place it on the stand. Also, insert root tab fertilizers into the ground if you are using inert substrate and have cryptocoryne plants, sword plants, or other species that feed heavily from their roots. This article will explain how and what plants need root tabs. 4. Add the equipment and hardscape to the aquarium. You can then use decorations and plants to cover them. Your “skeleton”, or framework for your planted tank design is made up of rocks and driftwood. Take your time and arrange the pieces as you need.

Spend some time moving around the hardscape, and planning where the plants will go.

1. Fill the tank partially with dechlorinated water. By adding approximately 6 inches (15 cm) of water, the lowered water level helps to support the plant leaves while you are planting them so that they do not bend too much and break. When filling the aquarium, pour the water through a colander or onto a plastic bag or bowl to avoid disturbing your aquascape design. 2. Plant the flowers. A blog article that explains the various techniques for each type of flower is available. Place the taller plants in the background so they won’t hide the shorter plants in the front. You should also consider the location of aquarium lighting so that the low-light plants can be placed around the tank’s edges and shadows. The higher-light plants can be placed right under the light. Don’t move your plants after you’ve planted them. Each time you move them, it takes a while for the plant to get adjusted and grow again. 3. Fill the rest of the tank, and add the lid and light. Turn on the equipment and make sure everything is working properly. You may need to wait for the heater to adjust to the water temperature before you turn it on. 4. Avoid algae growth by starting with very low fertilizer and low lighting levels. At first, plants may not be adapting to new environments and will not be as productive. The timer should be set for 5-6 hours each day in the beginning. Slowly increase the amount of lighting and Easy Green fertilizer each week as you start to see plant growth.

You don’t have to follow the designs of professional aquascapes that you see online. Your creativity is your best tool to create a planted aquarium that you love.

If some of your plants’ leaves start melting, do not throw away the plants. Most likely, they are producing new, smaller leaves which will adapt to living under water. However, if your plants are still not doing well three to four weeks after planting them, read our article on plant nutrient deficiencies to make sure they’re getting all the essential building blocks they need.