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Old 11-14-2012, 07:44 PM   #1 
Juicebox's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Mass,USA
help transform my tank into a planted masterpiece

hey guys.

ive currently got a 14 gallon aquaclear tank, in the tank i have black gravel i purchased from petco. i also have a small ornamental chinese padoga hut ,3 pieces of driftwood, 3 fake plants..

i have a small amount of frogsbit floating at the top,i also have some type of anuabis plant attached to one of the driftwood,and i also have a small amount of java moss tied down to the same piece of driftwood..the anuabis type plant is not lookin so good,i had to cut off most the leaves,it was in bad condition when i bought it,i wont make that mistake again,ill prob do away with this plant..

my current lighting is 2 cfl bulbs. 1 of them is 5000k and the other is 2700k..

in the next 2 weeks i will have some money to play around with and i would like to completely transform my tank.. my end goal is to make it into a beautifull fully planted tank with nothing fake in it at all.

i just dont know where do i start right now, i need help!!

i cant afford co2 systems or upgraded filters or equipment right now.. i can afford to upgrade my 2 lightbulbs to 6500, i can afford new substrate if needed,and i can afford some live plants..

im going to throw out my fake plants and my fake little chinese badoga hut,well i might keep them for other tanks but this tank i want to make into a masterpiece..

where do i start? substrate?? any info would be appreciated :)
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Old 11-14-2012, 09:08 PM   #2 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Las Vegas
Hi , could tell me how tall that tank is?
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Old 11-15-2012, 12:32 AM   #3 
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Join Date: May 2011
Location: California
Do you have anything in the tank right now, or are you wanting to completely start this tank over from scratch? There are a wide variety of plants that will grow in gravel just fine, but if you really are looking for that extra oomph, gravel just doesn't give that look that sand or dirt does. It isn't small enough. Though again, many plants do fine in gravel, it is just a personal choice.

If you want to do a natural planted tank, read this and read it well:

Of course read that even if you keep the gravel, it still has a lot of good stuff that will apply to you.

Fertilizers will also be something you should consider picking up regardless of substrate and in addition to the better lights. Either something you add to the water, or actual root tabs that you put next to various rooted plants. Both would be ideal.

I have learned not to toss plants. Keep cutting away the dead/rotting until there isn't anything left or you get new growth. Anubius is one of the hardier plants and it can come back when you least expect it.
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Old 11-15-2012, 12:38 AM   #4 
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Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Fremont, CA
First thing, get better lights please. People complain on here about plants being hard, but never change their lights. Get two 6500k bulbs at a Petstore, the ones at Home Depot wouldn't be able to fit.

Gravel is fine for a planted tank, but remember, you will be limited. The best thing is always a fertile substrate, so if you stick with gravel get Seachem Root Tabs, it will provide nutrients at the roots.
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Old 11-15-2012, 06:23 PM   #5 
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Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Mass,USA
My tank is 16 inches tall. i do have gravel in there,from petco,the petco brand, i have mentioned the fake plants and some drifwood i have allready in the tank,its allready set up with a betta living in it but im not happy with how it looks and wanted to set it up to look better.

i have no problems starting over from scratch,i can take out all of the gravel and add a sand or soil based substrate,can anyone advise which one to get,should i get play sand from home depot,or should i get a bag of dirt,i really have no idea..

is it a good idea to take out my gravel now and completely replace it? my tanks only 4 weeks oldand wen i last had my water tested over a week ago it wasnt cycled so i probly wont be losing any good bacteria if i take stuff out now.

i guess i need to know what soil should i get, what plant food / fertilisers / plant care stuff do i need to buy to keep my plants alive and what plants should i get, i would love some grass on the bottom of the tank and some nice moss and plants growing off dritwood in various levels in the tank and some nice floating stuff..

id love any advice on this set up please,i allready read old fish ladys post and i found it very informative

she mentioned using organic type potting soil, im not sure where to get this,or what brand to get.

she also listed a bunch of plants that are needed, there is like 15 or 20 in the list,i am a complete beginner with plants and no idea what ones from the list i would need to get,, no ideamalso if plant food is needed or if i need to buy anything to give to the plants to help them grow
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Old 11-20-2012, 09:38 PM   #6 
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I'm using Eco-complete as the substrate, and it's super easy to use. There are a lot of substrates specific for planted tanks, so check your local store to see what they carry. Petsmart has some substrate from Flourish, if you don't have a LFS in the area. Looks like even the big box stores are starting to carry planted tank stuff.

Also, crypts are wicked hard to kill even in low light, so look for them. Java moss tied to rocks is also almost impossible to kill and does a great job on the water. Anubias tied to rocks, of course. I would tie an anubias (or two, depending on the size) to your driftwood, tie java moss to some rocks, on the driftwood, and a bit on that pagoda hut, and then replace the fake plants with things like crypts, java fern, and possibly float some water wisteria on the top. Best part is that, aside from the crypts, nothing is hard to move so you can rearrange till you're blue in the face and get it just the way you like it.
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Old 11-21-2012, 07:25 AM   #7 
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There are many ways to go about this. Some require more skill / experience than others and some require more intervention on your part than others. Your current gravel could be fine if it is not too large. A finer grain works better because it is a better bed for roots. The 6500K lighting is good for a wide variety of plants requiring low to moderate light. Many popular plants do well with a weekly or twice weekly dose of a comprehensive fertilizer. Seachem's Flourish Comprehensive Supplement is a popular brand. There are many good suggestions posted. I would decide what best fits the level of complexity that is right for my circumstances and then research for plants that would do well within that area. There are many examples of absolutely beautiful planted tanks belonging to our fellow members that are maintained by the simplest of methods. Good luck.
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Old 11-21-2012, 06:26 PM   #8 
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Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Mass,USA
thanks for the feedback,i got some miracle grow organic potting soil, some play sand for a cap and im lookin around for some beginners plant packs online,hopefully ill start gettin everything set up in the next 2 - 3 weeks,ill report back how it goes,definately gonna try some java ferns and java moss as they seem like everyone gets them at the start..

old fish lady recomends not using any plant foods or fertilisers in soil based tanks though,ill have to look more into this and see if ill need to get some,ill go ask her as she seems to know everything about planted tanks
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