art, science and business of aquascaping

Meet Gregg Zydeck – Dutch Inspired good guy

Every hobby, organization or business has someone who people refer to as a really “good guy“. You know the type- humble, always willing to help, great attitude. Gregg Zydeck is that guy for the US planted aquarium hobby. Through Planted Tank (TPT – an online, planted aquarium forum) and Facebook Groups, Gregg has helped hundreds of people grow and remain in the planted aquarium hobby. And guess what, Gregg Zydeck can grow some of the most beautiful plants you’ve ever seen.

My last story focused on the legendary, competitive aquascaper, Takayuki Fukada, who is pushing the boundaries of formal aquascaping at a global scale. I love the contrast with today’s story that is about a humble guy who somewhat anonymously spends much of his time quietly helping hobbyists and maintaining a beautiful, Dutch-inspired planted aquarium. To me, this shows the breadth of our beautiful hobby and how two individuals, working on seemingly different aspects of the hobby, can help so many and create such beautiful works.

I am honored to be able to share with you my interview with Gregg Zydeck. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did and that you take away some valuable nuggets of information that may help you with your aquascaping journey.

Gregg Zydeck
Copyright Gregg Zydeck

Who is Greg today? Please share a little bit about where you live, family, what you do for a living.

First of all, I would like to thank you for inviting me to share my thoughts on the hobby. I’m flattered that you know who I am, let alone that you are interested in learning more about me and my planted Rainbow fish tank.

I live in Novi Michigan, just a few miles from where I grew up. I’ve been happily married for 28 years to my wonderful wife Dawn. We have two daughters that I could not be prouder of – Megan (24) and Kristen (22). I have been self employed as a Manufacturer’s Rep for almost 30 years. My company provides equipment for job training in manufacturing and high-end 3D printers to Community Colleges and Universities.

What is your typical day like? Any habits/practices you like to do?

Well besides my planted tank, I also enjoy cooking and golf. I basically have all the equipment needed to do anything golf related, like re-shafting and swing weighting clubs. Been a hobby of mine as well for many, many years.

Where did your interest in the aquarium start?

I have been keeping Rainbow fish on and off for 4 decades. Started out as a young man with plastic décor, then moved on to low-light plants like Crypts/Swords/Ferns/Anubias for many years. Dabbled in stems and quickly realized if I wanted to do it right, I was going to have to change everything and go full high tech with CO2.

A kind word and a little encouragement can go a long way to motivate someone in the hobby.

Gregg Zydeck

I first became aware of you via where you seem to help beginners constantly. Tell me about your involvement with Planted tank. what role do you think forums are today in the online planted aquarium world?

Funny you mention helping beginners. There is a reason I do so. When I transitioned to CO2 and high light, I started a journal on One of the first folks to chime in and offer words of encouragement was Joe Harvey (username Burr740). I had just spent months reading and then re-reading Joe’s journal about his 75G planted tank, and his success was an inspiration to me. I thought how kind it was of him to show some interest in a newbie like me. Ever since I have always looked at it as paying it forward. A kind word and a little encouragement can go a long way to motivate someone in the hobby.

As to forums, I still think they are the best resource if you really want to learn and improve. While I enjoy and participate in many FB groups, sometimes the discussions required are too complex and nuanced for the nature of FB. And journals on a forum like TPT are easily the best way to fully understand someone’s methods, and for others to understand yours. Another big difference is that the posts on social media sites are fleeting. They come and go and get lost quickly. On a forum like TPT, it is a permanent record, and the ability to go back and revisit topics is a huge plus.

You seem to be very into rainbow fish. Tell me about that.

Like I said, I have been keeping Rainbow fish for decades. In my opinion, they are the perfect complement to a planted tank. They are peaceful, long lived, do not get too big, and are very colorful for a freshwater species. I am also active in the Rainbow fish community and have worked with or know most of the well-known breeders in the US. Much like my plants, I like to keep a wide variety of Rainbows that display a wide range of colors. Keeping Rainbow fish is a hobby unto itself, and for me they came first. I have no doubt my planted tank life would be easier without them, but I doubt that will ever change.

Gregg Zydeck's Dutch inspired aquarium
Copyright Gregg Zydeck

Your aquascape is what I call Dutch impressionist and absolutely beautiful both in overall impression and the health of your plants. Please tell me about it. Your initial goals, setup, gear, routine,stats?

LOL that is a question with a LONG answer. I would call my tank “Dutch Inspired”. There are very few true Dutch tanks out there, and few understand what a true Dutch tank is. To be honest, mine is whatever looks good to my eye at the time. In my opinion, with a high-light, high tech tank full of fast-growing flowery stems, the devil is in the details. It is a complicated endeavor and requires a good deal of dedication and effort. I have always said, when you see a truly spectacular tank, it did not get there by accident. There is a lot more going on than meets the eye, and they are usually working harder at it than most.

My set up is a 120G 60”x 18”x 26” tank. Lighting is 6 x T5HO with various colored bulbs creating 127 PAR at the substrate (soon to be more!). Source water is RO stored in two 55G drums in my basement. I have piping run up through the wall to just above the tank, and there is a pump that always stays in the tank full time. Everything is set up so that I can flip one switch to pump tank water down to a basement drain, then flip another switch to pump RO water up to the tank. Water change is about 70% per week. If TDS is creeping up, then twice per week.

CO2 goes through a DIY 20” Cerges reactor. I use an American Pinpoint Marine CO2 controller and would not be without it. Allows me to fine tune CO2, and acts as a fail safe for my Rainbows. I also use a flow meter rather than a bubble counter. For a tank of any decent size, the CO2 flow is not bubbles but a constant stream. In my opinion, a flow meter is a better solution.

Filtration is 2 x Rena XP-L and 1 x Rena XP-XL. Spray bars are aimed up to the surface creating constant surface agitation (oxygen).

All macros are front end loaded and pre dosed to my RO holding tanks. I dose the tanks to reach my target NO3:PO4:K levels of 16:6:30 and Ca:Mg to 15:7.5. The reason I front end load macros is to keep nutrient levels stable. My tank also generates nutrients from the fish load, and almost always measures NO3 at 25-30. The Landen Aquasoil soaks up some PO4, so the water column is usually at about 2-3 ppm. My thought process is that if there is an optimum level for plant uptake, why not try to keep it there. For micros I make my own custom blend which is dosed daily (total 0.40 Fe weekly). But always keep in mind that is what is working in my tank. Your mileage may vary.

You seem to focus a lot on TPT with fertilizer routine. You put together the spreadsheet that many of us use to keep track of what we’re doing. Tell me about your thinking on fertilizer for the planted aquarium.

That is interesting you say that. While dosing is important, I think there are more important things to focus on. If you really get to know how people manage successful tanks, they have a lot in common. And it is not fertilizer dosing.

If you really get to know how people manage successful tanks, they have a lot in common. And it is not fertilizer dosing.

Gregg Zydeck

First is providing the right amount of light in relation to the goals of the tank and the selection of plants. But keep in mind the higher the light, the more everything else must be dialed in. It’s easier to keep a tank at 50 PAR, but you won’t get the same colors as with 100+ PAR. And I am not just referring to reds. At higher PAR you get a better separation of colors, even among green plants. I am going to be testing the limits of that in my tank very soon.

Next is getting CO2 right. Most people think they have CO2 optimized, but they do not. Tom Barr has been saying this for years, and he is right. You can bang your head against the wall playing whack-a-mole with nutrient dosing to solve a problem, but dialing in CO2 has much more impact. You often hear folks should target a 1.0 pH drop from CO2 injection. When you get to know successful people in the hobby, it is usually quite a bit more. More like 1.2 to 1.4 pH drop. And often people do not understand how to dial it in and keep it there properly. In my opinion, it is well worth figuring it out and getting it right.

Copyright Gregg Zydeck

And the one thing that has the most impact on a planted tank is the least discussed. Maintenance. This is a hands-on hobby, and good old fashioned elbow grease goes a long way. There is no question in my mind that an uber clean tank is the best defense against all algae. This means large regular water changes, frequent gravel vacs, filter cleanings, removal of any dead/decaying plant matter, regular pruning/trimming, and control of plant mass. Not as interesting a discussion as dosing, but truly is a common key among the best tanks that I follow.

Regarding dosing, many people have what Xiaozhuang (Dennis) Wong calls “Nutrient Tunnel Vision”. They think dosing is the root cause of and the solution to all tank problems. In my experience, not true. Most tank problems are almost always related to something else.

Now as to dosing, mine has evolved many times over the years. I have tried very high, very low, and everything in between. Most often just to see what happens. In my experience, if everything else (light, CO2, maintenance) is dialed in, a tank can do well under a wide variety of dosing. If you do not have everything else dialed in, the most perfect dosing in the world will not save you.

There are a couple of competing theories I have seen thrown around out there. Tom Barr cites Liebig’s law of the minimum. Others cite Mulder’s nutrient chart, which shows the antagonism and synergism relationship between different elements and compounds. My thinking is that the truth is somewhere in between. I believe that there is a range that works well for most nutrients, and both too little and too much of any single nutrient can create issues. But the real key to dosing is learning how to listen to your plants. You need to be aware of even subtle changes. Takes time and experience. There really is no shortcut. The plants don’t lie.

It is interesting you mention the spreadsheet. I developed that years ago for my own personal use. Wanted a snapshot of everything going on in the tank at a moment in time. I’m a huge believer in keeping records of everything. I can tell you everything about my tank at any point in time going back many years. I also take lots of pictures of the tank and can match them up with what I was doing at the time. If I did not keep those records, I would never understand the effects of anything. I decided to share the spreadsheet, as in my opinion most people do not keep good enough records [Art’s comment – I am very guilty of this]. Another benefit is that filling it out helps someone better understand their own tank. It is also an especially useful tool to share your tank parameters with others.

But the real key to dosing is learning how to listen to your plants.

Gregg Zydeck

I can tell you this, if people would gather all this information before they ask a question, they would get better answers. A tank really needs to be looked at in its entirety, and a holistic approach is best. You see posts all the time with pictures of a single plant and folks asking “What is my deficiency?”. The problem could have lots of causes, but very rarely is it actually a deficiency. It is usually everything else.

Gregg Zydeck's aquarium
Copyright Gregg Zydeck

What is your current thinking on the importance of micros. I saw recently you were testing the bottom levels. How’s that going?

Micros are interesting. Most do not give them much consideration, but they can have just as much impact as macros. Both too little and too much can create issues. Most beginners use CSM+B, but do not know that it is mixed up in huge vats and meant to be mixed with large amounts of water and sprayed on crops. That 1/16th teaspoon that came from that vat is likely not uniform from dose to dose. Overdose of just a single element like Boron can wreak some havoc on a tank. In addition, the Fe is EDTA, which is not the most desirable for most tanks. DTPA is more stable and available for pH levels above 6.5.

Several years ago, Joe Harvey began creating his own mix of micros. He asked me if I wanted to experiment with them and I said sure. That led to me making my own custom blend which I have been using for years now. Over time I have been testing the upper/lower limits in my tank. The sweet spot seems to be somewhere between 0.40 to 0.60 Fe weekly. To me, the advantage to custom micros is that you can control every single element, and the mix is consistent. Plants love consistency and hate change.

Let’s switch the discussion to plants. How do you get SO many plants into one aquarium and have each one doing SO well?

LOL that is a good question. Keeping 30+ species happy at one time is tricky.

You cannot please all the species all the time, so sometimes it is best to stick to the ones that like the soup you are serving.

Gregg Zydeck

First thing is to get light, CO2, and maintenance right. Then dial in nutrients to keep as many near peak health as possible. But there is a secret that I have mentioned many, many times. You cannot please all the species all the time, so sometimes it is best to stick to the ones that like the soup you are serving. [Art’s comment – LOVE IT!] Most do not realize that plants species have different optimum conditions that they prefer, and something that makes one happy might make another one sad.

For instance, I have plants that do not do well in my tank. I have never had much success with Ammannia, which is not surprising since it prefers lean water column and rich substrate. And for whatever reason I have never had much success with any AR variety. But matters little, as I have plenty that do well, and I am better off sticking with them. It is also interesting that I have a hard time with some “easy” species, like Staurogyne Repens, but I have an easy time with some “difficult” species like Rotala Macranda Variegated. Go figure? Folks sometimes make a mistake trying to chase parameters to please a single species, when the unintended consequence may be that others suffer.

I have always said when you see a great tank, pay attention to the plant species. A tank growing bright red Rotala Hra is likely not a good tank for keeping Ludwigia Pantanal. It is likely the tank is nitrate limited to bring out the color in the Hra, and Pantanal is a nutrient hog. Some combination of plants are very difficult to bring to peak health in the same tank.

Do you use a farm tank in addition to your main?

No but I should. I am considering setting up a 40b sometime soon just for that purpose. Would make things a lot easier, and I could rotate species in and out. I have even considered setting up another display tank but have come to the conclusion that I just don’t have enough time to do it justice. My current tank keeps me busy enough.

Where do you get your plants from?

I get most of my plants from other hobbyists, or small companies that are hobbyists at their core. A couple of reasons. First is that they grow plants submersed, which eases and speeds the transition when going into a new tank. Second is that many of the species I keep are not grown by the plant farms, so are not readily available from online vendors. And I am not knocking the online vendors, as they are very useful for folks getting into the hobby who need a lot of plants at once. But once you progress far enough in the hobby, you get very particular about which species you want to keep. And many of those are not readily available except from others in the hobby.

Your tank had a “crash” not too long ago, tell me about what happened and how you’ve come back from it.

In my journal I try to detail everything, both the good and the bad. Late last year I had a real catastrophe. I had a utility pump sitting in my RO storage that pumps water up to the aquarium for water changes. To make a long story short, the pump started leaking toxic oil. I had no idea this could happen and feel foolish for not knowing it was possible. It killed a good number of my large mature Rainbow fish, stunted/killed many plants, and destroyed my bio field. Was so bad I considered quitting the hobby. I told this to my wife, and she basically said listen you love this hobby, so do what you have to do to fix it.

Took months to get everything back on track. All the gory details are in my journal on TPT, even as it unfolded in real time. The bottom line is this. If you are using a utility pump, you are on borrowed time. Always use an oil-less pump made for ponds or aquariums. You do not want to go through what I went through.

Gregg Zydeck's Rainbow Fish
Copyright Gregg Zydeck

Do you have any hobbyists (besides Amano) that really inspired or continue to inspire you?

When I got started with CO2, I spent hours and hours researching planted tanks. I focused on people who demonstrated success in a style that I wanted to emulate. Joe Harvey has two long running journals on TPT which provide a wealth of information. I read his original “A 75 Gallon Journey” thread many times over. Same for Vin Kitty and his “Going Dutch with Aquasoil” and “Rotala Kill Tank” threads on the Barr Report. And I would include anything that Tom Barr wrote or commented on.

I remember when I first started reading them, it seemed to me like they were speaking in tongues. How tough can this be? Isn’t it as simple as turn on the CO2, toss some plants in there, and voila you have an instant beautiful underwater garden. I was naïve.

That led me to go back and read everything again. As I did, I noticed that while they may have different dosing strategies, they had a lot of things in common. The all paid close attention to light, CO2, and maintenance. Once I began to focus on those things, everything else became easier.

Over the years I have found and communicate with many others that I admire and respect in the hobby. And glad to say many I now consider friends. I still search out exceptional tanks. If I find a tank that demonstrates success, I try to find out as much as I can about their methods, as I am always curious about what others are doing and am learning something new all the time. I also keep a folder on my computer full of pictures of the best planted tanks I have found from all over the world. Every so often I go through those photos for inspiration and to remind me to keep striving to improve.

What guidance would you give someone who aspires to get into the world of planted aquariums?

That is easy. Study up and educate yourself.

Right now, my favorite place to send people is to Xiaozhuang Wong’s 2hr Aquarist website. It is filled with valuable information. A beginner should read everything there…..twice! It is a good way for people to get familiar with the language of the planted tank hobby and provides a solid foundation of current knowledge.

The next step would be to seek out tanks that demonstrate success in a style like what you have in mind. Then study their methods. Their success can provide a blueprint on how to get there. And do not be afraid to reach out and ask questions. I have found most everyone in the hobby is generous with their time and happy to help someone who is trying to improve.

On the other hand, I do not understand why people listen to someone who has not demonstrated any success. There are loads of myths and falsehoods out there, and some people love repeating them, especially beginners with no practical experience. Just saying always pay attention to the source.

One other thing I mention quite often. Be careful what you wish for. Once you figure out how to grow plants, they will start growing. A lot. That means frequent pruning and trimming. I enjoy getting my hands in the tank and find it therapeutic. If you do not enjoy the process, it could become burdensome quite quickly, and a high light tank full of stems may not be the hobby for you.

Let’s change things up a bit to get to know you a little better. Tell me about your first car.

First car was a 73 Mustang. Bought it for $1,200.00 cash in ’77. Loved that thing. And still love cars. I now have a convertible sports car that is used just for summer fun.

Describe something about yourself that most people don’t know.

Copyright Gregg Zydeck

A thing that most in the hobby do not know about me is that about two years ago I had a near death experience. To make a long story short I took too many Motrin which led to internal bleeding. When EMS arrived, my blood pressure was 60/40, my hemoglobin was at 4.5, and l had lost 60% of my blood. When anyone in the medical profession looks at my chart, they do a double take and ask me how I am still here?

And now to flip that question around. What do people in my normal everyday life not know about me. It is that I am pretty involved in the Rainbow fish and planted tank hobbies. When people see my tank for the first time, usually they are baffled and not even sure what they are seeing. The first question is almost always the same. That is salt water, right? Then when I try to explain what is going on, their eyes start rolling back in their head. Not surprising, as not many people are even aware such a thing exists.

What are some personal values that make you who you are?

Heck I don’t know. I just try to enjoy life and surround myself with folks who like to do the same. My home is happy one full of laughter and good times. I could not ask for anything more.

Describe an aquascape that you created that you’re truly proud of. Why do you think it holds a special place with you?

Copyright Gregg Zydeck

I would not really refer what I do as an aquascape. I say that in relation to hardscape centric artistic presentation styles like iwagumi and others. They are more focused on the artistic presentation than growing plants. My focus is much more plant centric, and my presentation style is really a free-for-all. I just do what I like.

In my opinion, my best presentations are when the eye is drawn across the entire tank, and there is some something of interest everywhere, both colors and shapes. What most people do not realize is how often it changes. I have posted hundreds of pictures of my tank over the years, and it is never exactly the same. Something is always being moved, added, or removed. And I do have moments where it seems the tank is peaking, and I feel I have hit my goals. But funny thing is later I look back on those pics and always see nothing but the flaws. So I keep forging ahead trying to solve the puzzle.

Chocolate or vanilla?


Favorite food? Favorite drink?

I am actually a pretty good cook. Worked in a five-star French restaurant in my college days and learned a lot. My favorite is whatever I am making now. Success in cooking is much like success with a planted tank. Pay close attention to detail, do not rush, and do not take shortcuts. Do it right.

As to my favorite drink, I have been known to enjoy a good single malt Scotch on an occasion or two. [Art’s comment – I’m a Glenlivet guy myself.]

T5 or LED?

T5 vs LED has been debated to death, but I’ll give you my take. You can have an exceptional planted tank with either. But in my opinion, it is very difficult if not impossible for LED’s to replicate what good old T5HO provides. From even spread of PAR, to richness of color, and most importantly just flat-out growing plants they are hard to beat. At least at a price that does not break the bank. Whenever I run across a truly spectacular tank, I am amazed at how often they are using T5. I look at as I am ahead of the curve. Sometime in future T5 will be like tube amps and vinyl, and all the cool kids will want them.

Readers of my blog are avid hobbyists from around the world. Any words of wisdom you would like to share with them to close out the interview?

Well, if you have the space, this is an actual post from TPT from a couple of years ago. There was a topic about “Pro Tips”. I took the opportunity to go on a stream of consciousness spewing out a bunch of random planted tank thoughts. I went back over it recently and feel it has held up pretty well.

And if not, I just wanted to say thanks for inviting me, and I am flattered by your interest. I am just a hobbyist like everyone else trying to figure out how to grow plants and nicely present them, so it’s nice to be noticed.

[Art’s comment – The benefit of having your own blog is that you ALWAYS have the space! Here is Gregg’s informative post in its entirety. Enjoy!]
Copyright Gregg Zydeck

For some reason this topic reminded me of the song “Everybody’s free to wear sunscreen”. For those too young to remember it, it contains the answers to most of life’s questions. Don’t know why but while I was compiling this list that tune kept weaving through my thoughts.

So I’m no expert, and still have much to learn, but here are some thoughts from my personal experiences so far. As always, your mileage may vary.

Copyright Gregg Zydeck
  • Decide what you want from the tank before you get started. High/Med/Low tech. It should drive every other decision.
  • Know how much PAR your lights produce, or buy/position lights to produce a particular PAR. PAR level drives every other decision. And both too much and too little light is the root of many problems.
  • Low tech tanks with low tech plants need VERY, VERY little light. If your light is medium or high, you will benefit from CO2. In general, High/Med light + no CO2 = algae farm.
  • Plants need ferts to grow to their fullest. Most problems I see are the result of too little, not too many ferts.
  • In my experience, high level of ferts does not cause algae.
  • One point pH drop from CO2 injection is commonly suggested……..but more is better. Very high tech 1.2 to 1.4 is common.
  • Bubbles per second is meaningless.
  • Excel/Glut is NOT a substitute for CO2. And it provides no benefit at all in a balanced tank.
  • Don’t use test kits for pH, they are terribly inaccurate. Get a pH meter and learn how to calibrate it. Accurately measure the degassed pH of your water. It is essential to dosing CO2. Take it seriously. Even small swings can make large differences in a high tech tank full of fast growing stems.
  • EI dosing is a wide guideline and starting point. Your tank may be need more/less of any/every macro or micro nutrient. No shortcut, trial and error is the only way to learn.
  • None of the successful planted tankers that I follow use EI levels of ferts. It could be more, it could be less, but rarely levels referred to by charts. In fact, sometimes pretty wildly different. You need to find out what works in YOUR tank.
  • Make an effort to learn how to read your plants. If you pay very close attention, they will let you know if they like what you are providing…….and if they don’t. This takes time, experience, and effort. Even subtle changes can affect plant happiness.
  • Dosing macros and micros on opposite days makes little or no difference. I know many (myself included) who dose micros daily, and personally I front load all macros. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
  • Learn how to use and buy dry ferts. Liquid ferts are expensive, and rarely have the actual combination of nutrients that are best for your tank.
  • If you get really serious, roll your own micros. It’s easier than you think. CSM+B can be the root cause of many problems.
  • Take the time to learn either the Zorfox or Rotala Butterfly calculators. Don’t think in tsp/tbs, start thinking in PPM.
  • Keep logs and records of everything you can think of, and make notes on how plants respond. Without a timeline of changes, you will never understand what causes changes in your tank.
  • Use the journal section here to find tanks that demonstrate success and have goals similar to yours. Read them carefully. And don’t be afraid to reach out to those folks. Most here are very generous with their time and knowledge, and are happy to share their experience with you.
  • Light/CO2/Ferts are often debated. Maintenance is equally or more important. Regular water changes, filter cleanings, gravel vacs, removing dead or decaying plant matter, pruning and controlling plant mass…… general, uber clean conditions is your best defense against algae.
  • Make water changes as easy as possible. I went to an extreme and just flip a switch. Not for everyone, but the easier you make it, the more likely you are to do it, and the more successful your tank will be.
  • When starting out, more plants is better than less. Many say their tank is heavily planted, but very few are. Very lightly planted tanks are very difficult to get into balance. Load up on plants right from the start.
  • Once you are successful at growing plants, managing plant mass becomes important. A tank can almost choke itself from letting growth get out of control. Plants enjoy a little elbow room between species.
  • Get everything else right first (light/CO2/Maintenance) before tweaking ferts. If you don’t, it will have minimal effect. Chasing problems with fert dosing is rarely successful, and only works when everything else is optimized.
  • Make changes slowly, and only change one parameter at a time. Easy to say, difficult to do. If you keep jumping around with everything, you will never understand the effect of anything.
  • If you are not serious about regular maintenance, and don’t enjoy getting your elbows wet, don’t go high tech. When you learn how to grow plants, maintenance only becomes more important and you need more of it. Plants growing an inch a day are not a myth. You will be trimming more than you ever imagined.
  • Think growing plants, not defeating algae. Healthy growing plants are the absolute best defense against algae. In my experience, most algae is the result of poor maintenance, too much (or not enough) light, and too few ferts.
  • You can’t please all the plants all the time. Some will thrive, some will fail. Usually makes no sense. Best to let it go and stick with ones that like the soup that are serving. Trust me, I’ve banged my head against the wall too many times. Life is easier if you accept that fact.
  • Don’t shy away from plants that are labeled “difficult”. Some of my “difficult” plants are the easiest, and some of the “easiest” plants are the most difficult for me.
  • Surface agitation and aeration is your friend. More is better. Your fish and plants will thank you.
  • Good flow does not mean plants waving around frantically. Think wide gentle flow. And more flow rarely if ever cures anything.
  • And if you only remember one thing, it’s that “Everybody’s free to perform maintenance”! Trust me on that one.
  • P.S. Forgot to add that Rainbow Fish are a perfect companion to a planted tank!!
Copyright Gregg Zydeck


I want to thank Gregg Zydeck for taking the time to answer my probing questions and sharing with us his thoughts and wisdom. It’s fascinating to me to see the intensity and intentionality that Gregg brings to his hobby. It really is the same type of thought and discipline that Takayuki Fukada brings to his aquascaping, just from a different perspective. The result is the same, a beautiful work of art.

Every time I read what Gregg shares, I learn. This interview has been no exception. Even in summarizing the interview here for you, I’ve gone even deeper with my understanding and have a few things I want to try out.

Gregg, thanks for caring and being one of the good ones.

Questions for you:

  1. Which ones of Gregg’s tips really resonated with you?
  2. What are your thoughts on Gregg’s dosing?
  3. Is a Cerges reactor in your future?

Thank you for reading a long-form story like this one. In my opinion, there are too many “short reads” on the Internet that don’t go deep enough. I know my style is different but I hope you find it entertaining and valuable.

Keep scaping, my friends!


About the author

Art Pennom

Art Pennom is the founder of where he writes about the world of planted aquariums and aquascaping. In the past, Art founded, and the ScapeFu Podcast.

Art lives in Miami, Florida

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By Art Pennom
art, science and business of aquascaping

Art Pennom

Art Pennom is the founder of where he writes about the world of planted aquariums and aquascaping. In the past, Art founded, and the ScapeFu Podcast.

Art lives in Miami, Florida

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