New Planted Aquarium Questions

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New Member
May 21, 2024
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Hello all!
I just set up a 10 gallon freshwater aquarium maybe a week ago, and have a bunch of questions and need advice.
I added java ferns, anubias, and dwarf hair grass in my gravel aquarium. I haven't added fish yet, because I want to make sure the water is set and proper before I add them. I plan to add community fish like guppies and tetras.
My questions are really based on the levels that are best for my tank and fish choice. I've done a lot of research on the levels and what they mean, But I'm not sure if I'm doing the right thing to get the levels right. I know plants need elements and nutrients to thrive, so I bought seachem flourish and seachem Phosphorus, Nitrogen, and potassium to makeup for the lack of those 3 elements in the flourish bottle. I just need to know a little bit about the cycle that aquariums go through, and what levels are good for those elements for the plants.
Also, I've added seachem prime dechlorinator, API Quick Start, and API pH down to the tank after testing the water. My results yesterday before adding the treatments were the pH was alkaline, high in chlorine content, and very hard water. I just tested the water again 10 minutes ago, and my nitrite and nitrate levels are safe, chlorine levels are going down towards safe, My general hardness is hard now, so it's going down, and my pH is also going down (I added pH down last night, so I'm going to retest the pH level tonight at the 24 hr mark).
If anyone has any advice on what next to do or if I'm doing the right thing please let me know.
Chasing pH doesn't usually work out very well. It's better to just get fish suitable for the pH you have.
Welcome @Kimnobles! Scroll down in the forums section for cycling your tank information. That is a great place to start. Personally, I would never use pH up or down. Best to just cycle your tank with whatever water you have and go from there. Not sure where you are in Florida, but where I live, the water company provided me with very valuable information. You might call them and see if they can help you. Knowing what is flowing out of your tap is a good place to start. Again, welcome!
Hi and :hi:

What is your PH without adding chemicals? It is not very often that guppies, which you indicate that you want, ever need PH lowered as their range in in the area of a PH of 7-8.
Welcome to the forum. As others have said there should be no reason to lower PH for guppies, and trying to maintain stability with chemicals will be tedious and expensive. If your water is truly hard the buffering capacity of calcium is strong and will keep trying to correcting itself back. I have raised livebearers and even tetras successfully with a PH approaching 8.6 and TDS around 330ppm. If you do wish to lower PH gradually, I would get an RO unit and you can mix water for other species. A RO filter will give you actual lasting control of parameters. You will be surprised what you can raise in pretty hard water though if from the right source though.
What are the tank dimensions (length x width x height)?

What is the GH (general hardness), KH (carbonate hardness) and pH of your water supply?
This information can usually be obtained from your water supply company's website (Water Analysis Report) or by telephoning them. If they can't help you, take a glass full of tap water to the local pet shop and get them to test it for you. Write the results down (in numbers) when they do the tests. And ask them what the results are in (eg: ppm, dGH, or something else).

Depending on what the GH of your water is, will determine what fish you should keep.

Angelfish, discus, most tetras, most barbs, Bettas, gouramis, rasbora, Corydoras and small species of suckermouth catfish all occur in soft water (GH below 150ppm) and a pH below 7.0.

Livebearers (guppies, platies, swordtails, mollies), rainbowfish and goldfish occur in medium hard water with a GH around 200-250ppm and a pH above 7.0.

If you have very hard water (GH above 300ppm) then look at African Rift Lake cichlids, or use distilled or reverse osmosis water to reduce the GH and keep fishes from softer water.


Guppies like an aquarium that is at least 2 foot long and most tetras like a tank that is 30 inches or more long. A 2 foot long aquarium will suffice for small tetras but they need softer water than guppies.


If you have chlorine in the water, you need to aerate it for at least 24 hours to get it out of the water, or use a dechlorinater to neutralise the chlorine.

If you have chloramine in the tap water, you need to use a dechlorinater to break the chlorine ammonia bond and then neutralise the chlorine part. You can contact the water company to find out if you have chlorine or chloramine in the water supply.

You cannot have chlorine or chloramine in water that contains fish, shrimp or snails because the chlorine/ chloramine will kill them.


Java ferns, anubias, and dwarf hair grass are slow growing plants when kept underwater and Anubias and Hair grass aren't even aquatic plants. Slow growing plants like Anubias and Java Fern don't need many nutrients or bright light. You're probably wasting your money adding fertiliser to the tank for those plants.

The reason most aquarium plant fertilisers don't have Nitrogen, Phosphorus & Potassium (NPK) in is because they aren't needed in an aquarium that contains fish.
Fish food and waste provide Nitrogen in the form of ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. Nitrogen encourages leaf growth.

Phosphorus is used by plants to develop strong root systems and encourages algae, which is not normally wanted in an aquarium. Most true aquatic plants take the majority of the nutrients from the water via their leaves. Their roots do little besides holding the plant in place. Some plants like Aponogetons, Cryptocorynes and Echinodorus do take up nutrients from their roots and also through their leaves.

Potassium is used by plants to create flowers and fruits. Very few aquatic plants produce flowers underwater so potassium is not normally needed.

The other fertiliser is fine but you won't need to add much because of the plants you have.

The following link has some basic information on aquarium plants.

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