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Help a newbie to get started

Plantedtanks

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Oct 31, 2022
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Hi -

I've had an aquarium for a long time but never jumped into plants. Trying to figure out how to get started but I don't want to make costly mistakes.

Can you tell me the bare minimum things I need for a 20 gallon to start with plants?

Thanks!
 
Since this is your first attempt with a planted tank then go for low tech or low energy plants, you don't have to use high light, you can skip using the CO2 and you can use for fertilizing some root tabs or depend on liquid fertilizers, give me a moment and will list for you some low tech plants that you can start planting
 
  • Limnophila Sessiliflora
  • Hygrophila Polysperma Sunset
  • Hygrophila Polysperma
  • Hygrophila Difformis
 
Thank you. Sorry it took me a while to get back here.

I went on YouTube and looked at some videos. I appreciate your comments.

I have a few problems. My LFS doesn’t have any of the plants mentioned. Where do you guys get these plants?

I looked at CO2 equipment and it’s expensive! Can I start with another way?

I’m lost on fertilizer. My LFS has Seachem Flourish. Is this good to start?

Do I need special gravel? My LFS has something called Flourite.

Thanks everyone! I hope these aren’t stupid questions. I am trying to do more research.
 
It depends upon what country your in. Here in the USA you can get plants from ebay, forums like this one (by making friends), online plant retailers such as one of the sponsors here GlassAqua, the social media sites Facebook and Instagram have many business and individuals that sell plants. There are also facebook groups that deal only in aquatic plants. Flourish is an alright start for fertilizer but it only provides the trace elements. You also need the macro elements Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium. Flourite works but does not contain any nutrients. Maybe try looking for Fluval Stratum instead. Yes CO2 can get expensive in the hundreds of dollars. I suggest learn to grow the easier plants that dont require it and save up. Look up low tech planted tanks on YouTube and Google for ideas.
 
Thank you. Sorry it took me a while to get back here.

I went on YouTube and looked at some videos. I appreciate your comments.

I have a few problems. My LFS doesn’t have any of the plants mentioned. Where do you guys get these plants?

I looked at CO2 equipment and it’s expensive! Can I start with another way?

I’m lost on fertilizer. My LFS has Seachem Flourish. Is this good to start?

Do I need special gravel? My LFS has something called Flourite.

Thanks everyone! I hope these aren’t stupid questions. I am trying to do more research.
Based on your post I would suggest you pause, take a deep breath, and really think about what you want out the hobby.

There are many types of planted tanks. From very simple, to very complicated.

At the easy end of the spectrum is a low light, low tech tank full of slow growing easy species. Think crypts, anubias, swords, etc. These all require very little light and very little in the way of fertilizers. CO2 is helpful but not required.

At the high end is a high light tank full of fast growing flowery colorful stems. This type of tank requires a lot more effort and dedication and is more expensive in every way. If this is your goal then you would definitely want CO2.

Have you seen tanks that you would like to emulate? If so find out as much as you can about them and study their methods. Reach out and ask questions.

And in general study up on the hobby. You want to understand what macro and micro fertilizers are. You want to understand how different light levels are appropriate for different types of tanks. You want to understand the difference between inert and active substrates.

The more effort you put in before you get started the greater are your odds of success. And they type of tank you want to keep should drive every single decision you make. If you narrow that down many here will be able to help you with the details.

As a way to get started here is good site to learn some of the basics and the terminology that is used in the hobby.

 
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Some really good info here and you can't go wrong with the advice and there are many ways to run a planted tank, but I tried to look at this question as "What would I have started with if I knew then, what I know now" and the answer without a doubt is CO2.

Everything grows better with co2, regardless of light, ferts, substrate, etc. I think it's a vital piece of equipment just like a filter and light. All plants that are kept underwater 24/7, year round are somewhat co2 deprived. They really don't exist that way in nature in most cases and we need to provide for them differently. The way they survive without co2 is by slowing things down, with less light so they don't require the added co2/ferts to grow. By slowing things down, your limiting what you can keep and the chances of success are less.

Using CO2 will increase your success rate with all plants and dramatically increase the number of species you could keep. It keeps the tank cleaner by increasing uptake of organics that cause algae and gives you more wiggle room with lighting. Personally I have not spent more on my co2 setups than I have for a typical canister filter and I've been fine, never gased a fish or had a major problem.
 
Everything grows better with co2, regardless of light, ferts, substrate, etc.
Agree 100%. But folks need to decide how dedicated they are to the hobby and how deep down the rabbit hole they want to go.

Once you add CO2 you are involved and in the game. It's different than dipping a toe in the water!! But no doubt it's ultimately the best possible thing you can do.
 
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