To plant or not to plant? That is the question

JassyR

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I have a 55 gal and I FINALLY got the substrate in! (I had to order online) I would really love to plant live plants. The substrate is sand in the foreground and black gravel in the back.The tank will have 4 pictus, a couple snails of different variety, angels (number to be decided), and most likely another school of fish that have yet to be decided. Might throw in some african dwarf frogs somewhere down the road, but not for a while. There is going to be a marineland penguin 75 gal HOB filter (what came with the tank) on one end of the tank and a 60 gal sponge filter on the other end as I heard with the amount of fish and plants I want and the length of the tank, it would be best to have two filters. As a side note, is that true? Anyway, the pH of my tap water is 7.6. I want to go for low light plants, as I plan on using the lights that came with the tank. I dont know the type or wattage (also came with the tank) but it doesnt say. I also don't plan on doing co2 injections as I'm broke as broke can be. I have done some research on what plants I would like and what would best suit my tank, but I wanted second opinions. What plants should I plant? Also, I know this is a little off topic, but would driftwood or rock be better for the tank? TIA!
 

OliveFish05

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Hi! The benefits of two filters is that it offers a lot of extra space for beneficial bacteria to grow AND if one filter fails, you have a but of time to figure something out because you have that other filter running. So, actually African Dwarf Frogs cannot be kept in that tank size. They need access to the surface and in that depth, they will actually not do well at all.

Some good low light plants are
Water Sprite, planted or floating
Amazon Sword, but you need root tabs
Java Fern, but it needs to be tied or glued to a rock or driftwood or it will like die
Anubias, just don’t plant it too deep
Anacharis
Hornwort


Rocks or Driftwood will work, both are very nice! You could even do both if you wanted. I have a tank with rock and a tank with driftwood, personally I prefer the look of the rock, but because of the height of a 55 gallon tank I think that some big pieces of driftwood would work better!
 
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JassyR

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Also wanted to add that aquatic frogs and fish shouldn't be mixed.
So, actually African Dwarf Frogs cannot be kept in that tank size. They need access to the surface and in that depth, they will actually not do well at all.
Thanks for that! I hadn't done much research yet, but I guess maybe their own seperate tank down the road... would a 20 gal long work do you think?
 

OliveFish05

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Thanks for that! I hadn't done much research yet, but I guess maybe their own seperate tank down the road... would a 20 gal long work do you think?
I believe you want the depth of the tank to be no more than twelve inches, so yes a 20 long would work!
 

Colin_T

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Your sand and gravel will eventually mix unless you have a divider/ partition separating them.

Water depth has nothing to do with frogs unless your tank is 10 foot high. They can swim to the surface in ponds that are 3-4 feet deep so a tank is nothing. However, as mentioned by others, frogs should not be kept with fish because if the fish get sick, the medications used to treat them will kill the frogs. In addition to this, the pictus catfish will eat the food and the frogs will starve. Frogs are best kept in a tank by themselves.

Pictus catfish can grow to 8 inches long and are active swimmers. They cannot be kept with small fishes like neon tetras because they will eat the tetras. There could be problems with the Pictus disturbing the angelfish. Depending on what the GH of the water is, will determine what other fish can go in the tank.

The GH (general hardness), KH (carbonate hardness) and pH of your water supply can usually be obtained from your water supply company's website 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, most tetras, barbs, 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.
 

Colin_T

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Does the light unit have fluorescent globes or LEDs in it?
Post a picture of it if you aren't sure.

Have a look on the globes for words and numbers. See if there is a label on the light unit.

What are the tank dimensions (length x width x height)?

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LIGHTING TIMES
Most aquarium plants like a bit of light and if you only have the light on for a couple of hours a day, they struggle. If the light doesn't have a high enough wattage they also struggle. Try having the tank lights on for 10-12 hours a day.

If you get lots of green algae then reduce the light by an hour a day and monitor the algae over the next 2 weeks.
If you don't get any green algae on the glass then increase the lighting period by an hour and monitor it.
If you get a small amount of algae then the lighting time is about right.

Some plants will close their leaves up when they have had sufficient light. Ambulia, Hygrophilas and a few others close their top set of leaves first, then the next set and so on down the stem. When you see this happening, wait an hour after the leaves have closed up against the stem and then turn lights off.

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LIST OF PLANTS TO TRY
Some good plants to try include Ambulia, Hygrophila polysperma, H. ruba/ rubra, Elodia (during summer, but don't buy it in winter because it falls apart), Hydrilla, common Amazon sword plant, narrow or twisted/ spiral Vallis, Water Sprite (Ceratopteris thalictroides/ cornuta).
The Water Sprite normally floats on the surface but can also be planted in the substrate. The other plants should be planted in the gravel.

Ambulia, H. polysperma, Elodia/ Hydrilla and Vallis are tall plants that do well along the back. Rotala macranda is a medium/ tallish red plant that usually does well.

H. ruba/ rubra is a medium height plant that looks good on the sides of the tank.

Cryptocorynes are small/ medium plants that are taller than pygmy chain swords but shorter than H. rubra. They also come in a range of colours, mostly different shades of green, brown or purplish red.

Most Amazon sword plants can get pretty big and are usually kept in the middle of the tank as a show piece. There is an Ozelot sword plant that has brown spots on green leaves, and a red ruffle sword plant (name may vary depending on where you live) with deep red leaves.

There is a pygmy chain sword plant that is small and does well in the front of the tank.

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IRON BASED PLANT FERTILISER
If you add an iron based aquarium plant fertiliser, it will help most aquarium plants do well. The liquid iron based aquarium plant fertilisers tend to be better than the tablet forms, although you can push the tablets under the roots of plants and that works well.

You use an iron (Fe) test kit to monitor iron levels and keep them at 1mg/l (1ppm).

I used Sera Florena liquid plant fertiliser but there are other brands too.

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CARBON DIOXIDE (CO2)
There is no point adding carbon dioxide (CO2) until you have the lights and nutrients worked out. Even then you don't need CO2 unless the tank is full of plants and only has a few small fish in.

There is plenty of CO2 in the average aquarium and it is produced by the fish and filter bacteria all day, every day. The plants also release CO2 at night when it is dark. And more CO2 gets into the tank from the atmosphere.

Don't use liquid CO2 supplements because they are made from toxic substances that harm fish, shrimp and snails.

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TURNING LIGHTS ON AND OFF
Stress from tank lights coming on when the room is dark can be an issue. Fish don't have eyelids and don't tolerate going from complete dark to bright light (or vice versa) instantly.

In the morning open the curtains or turn the room light on at least 30 minutes (or more) before turning the tank light on. This will reduce the stress on the fish and they won't go from a dark tank to a bright tank instantly.

At night turn the room light on and then turn the tank light off. Wait at least 30 minutes (or more) before turning the room light out. This allows the fish to settle down for the night instead of going from a brightly lit tank to complete darkness instantly.

Try to have the lights on at the same time each day.
 

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