Your first aquarium is something special for any passionate aquascaper. You struggled so much to put everything together and you want to make sure that your aquarium is the best it can be. One of the best things about this hobby is that you have the chance to explore your creativity—colors, textures, fish, and plants—to create an extraordinary view together.
To obtain the spectacular look desired, you need to know what kind of plants to add. Let’s be realistic – no aquarium, no matter how shiny or big it is, will look good without plants in the background. Therefore, you need to know how to create the perfect environment for them. There is no key to success when it comes to this; only some rules that you need to follow carefully. If you want to know how to get a thriving planted aquarium, keep reading!
Invest in proper lighting
First of all, you have to be sure that your aquarium has the proper lighting. Even if you take care of all the other elements, no plant will survive without enough light. There is a simple way to find out how much light you need for your tank: apply the watts per gallon principle. If you have 1-2 watts per gallon, you will get low light, which is appropriate for plants that prefer a colder, dark environment. For medium light, you will need 2-3 watts per gallon; this is the light that is preferred and used in most of the tanks. If you opt for exotic plants and fish, you might require 3 or more watts per gallon.
You can find out exactly what is suitable to your plants needs, research the requirements of the individual plants you want. Do not assume that “it will be fine” if you use a lower light than necessary; your plants might not die, but it will be very difficult to make them look good. You want to get a luxuriant piece, so do not neglect the basics.
Another element that you have to consider when it comes to light is the duration. While in general the lights should be on around 10 hours daily, there are exceptions. Again, this depends on what you have in your aquarium; remember that there are species of fish that prefer a dark ambiance and too much light during the day will not allow them to develop properly. It is all about being informed!
If you are a beginner, I would recommend you read my previous post – Best Aquarium Lights for Beginners.
Do not worry, a degree in chemistry is not required to get this right. As you may, plants need a good amount of carbon dioxide to live. Of course, there is a small quantity of carbon dioxide in the water, but is it enough and how do you know what is enough? That is why you need to invest in a diffuser such as the Rhinox CO2 Diffuser. This device will create small bubbles of CO2, which will offer your plants everything they need. Most of them have the option of measuring how many bubbles per second they insert so that you know that you do not cross the limit. As vital as CO2 is for plants, it can just as toxic for your fish in large quantities.
If your tank is not that large and you are not ready to make a significant investment yet, you can opt for the homemade version of this device. All you have to do is to add sugar and yeast in a bottle. Insert a tube at the top of the bottle (where the composition does not reach) and place the other end of the tube in the aquarium. The fermentation process will naturally produce CO2 that will be released into the aquarium. However, the unique device is safer and much more comfortable to use.
The nutrients that are present in your aquarium are not something you should neglect. A small change in the levels can make the difference between a luxurious aquarium and an empty one. The good news is that there are so many kits and devices that can help you, you will not need to use any complicated procedures to find out what the values are of the nutrients. However, you must understand each and every one to know their importance and what recommended values they have.
Nitrates are the “food” of the plants; they allow the plants to grow properly. It is imperative to make sure that the values are not lower or higher than recommended. Usually, you need to keep the nitrate level at 5 to 10 parts per million, but this can slightly differ depending on the plants and fish that you have.
If you notice that your plants start to lose their color or the leaves are too thin on the edges, it means you do not have enough phosphates in the water. Phosphates are the nutrients that keep diseases at bay and can be useful when you have a chemical imbalance in your tank. The recommended value is 1/10 of the value of nitrates.
Potassium is very useful when you do not control the CO2 levels very well. The right levels of potassium can correct a small imbalance of CO2. It will also help your plants grow faster than usual, thus keeping the value at 20 parts per million is best.
Other nutrients, like calcium, magnesium, and iron are necessary for the plants, but not vital. However, since your aim is a luxurious aquarium, you want to make sure that you have everything you need. Opting for a substrate that is rich in nutrients will make caring for your plants easier.
Importance of Fertilizers
The most recommended way of adding these nutrients is with liquid fertilizers. It is a solution that contains the right amount of each nutrient and allows you to calculate the exact amount of fertilizer that you should add to the water and adjust the dose according to how many plants you have.
You might also want to look into other forms of fertilization as different methods has its advantages. To find out more about fertilization method, you might want to read this post – Different Fertilizing Methods Used In Aquascaping.
To sum it all up..
Having a planted aquarium is not difficult at all. It is only a matter of being well-informed, making sure all these elements are in perfect balance, and you can be sure that your aquarium will be in the center of attention!