How to Set up A Beginner Planted Aquarium

How to Set Up a Beginner Planted Aquarium

If you want to increase your aquarium maintenance skills, add live aquatic plants. Not only do they add a natural beauty to your tank, but they also help consume toxic waste chemicals and purify the water for your fish. We will walk you through setting up your low-tech planted aquarium.


Before you start: Gather your plant tank supplies

Let’s start by making a list of the necessary materials. If you are new to planted aquariums or are working on a limited budget, there’s no need to get a rimless, low-iron glass aquarium that costs a fortune. You can find out more about A.

regular glass tank

The rim from your local pet shop works perfectly and serves a purpose to buffer against any unevenness between aquarium and stand.

The fish tank should be placed on a hard and level surface, such as an aquarium stand, kitchen counter, or solid piece of furniture. Make sure that the surface (and the floor beneath it) can support the weight of the entire aquarium setup, which may weigh nearly 10 pounds per gallon once you add the water, substrate, equipment, and decorations.

An aquarium container can seem expensive, but it reduces heat loss as well as the electricity used by the heater. A lid also decreases evaporation, which can cool the tank and cause swinging water parameters that stress your fish. Plus, a fish tank cover is a simple way to prevent fish, shrimp, and snails from accidentally jumping or climbing out of the aquarium.

An aquarium lid stops fish from jumping out and other household pets from getting in.

A background for your aquarium is an optional option, but it’s a nice feature. It hides power cables and airline tubing. You can buy a background from the local pet store, spray the back panel of the tank with Plasti Dip rubber coating, or even tape posterboard to the aquarium. We personally like black backgrounds since the color seems to make plants stand out more and hides algae better.

A heater and thermometer are usually necessary if you plan to keep tropical fish. Find out how to select the right size heater for your setup.

There are many lighting options available. For beginners, we recommend a plant LED light. They are specifically designed to produce the best spectrums and levels (Photosynthetically Active radiation) for growing fish. The Finnex Stingray light is our personal favorite because of its solid performance and great value for low to medium light plants, but for more choices, read our article on how to pick the best planted aquarium light for your specific needs. The light timer will ensure that your plants have consistent lighting throughout the day, and prevent any algae growth.

Substrate is another hotly contested topic in the planted aquarium world. Dirt and enriched soils are often touted as the best options because of their high amounts of nutrients, but these excess nutrients can leak into the water and cause water quality issues or algae blooms for inexperienced hobbyists. Therefore, we recommend that beginners start with inert substrates that contain no nutrients, such as aquarium gravel or coarse sand. Find out more about choosing the right substrate for your tank.

Tweezers may be used for adding root tabs or planting aquarium plants.

You can design your aquarium using only live plants, but many people like to add hardscape, such as aquascaping rocks and driftwood that are safe for fish tanks. You can look online for inspiration or pick whatever looks good to you. Other useful planted tank supplies include:

– Dechlorinator for removing chlorine and other toxic substances from the water. – Easy Green all-in one fertilizer to nourish your plants. – Water test kit to determine the amount of fertilizer you need. – Algae scrubber to clean aquarium walls.

Let’s finally talk about purchasing the live aquaculture plants. We saved them at the end of this checklist because you need to wait until almost everything is set up before you shop for them. You don’t want to be disappointed if your new plants aren’t covered by enough substrate. Here are some useful tips for choosing the right plant:

If you’re just starting out with planted tanks, start with beginner plants. They are more resilient and will forgive us for our mistakes. It is a good idea to buy many different plants to test out, as some species may do well in your particular water conditions. If possible, save money and purchase lots of plants in advance. A high density plant mass will help reduce algae growth and conserve nutrients.

How to Set Up a Fish Tank with Live Plants

Here’s a step-by guide for assembling your aquarium once you have all the necessary supplies.

1. Pick a suitable location. Ideally, the fish tank should be near an electrical outlet, as well as a source of water for easy water changes. To minimize algae growth and temperature swings, don’t place the tank in direct sunlight or near an air conditioning vent. Avoid areas with high traffic, such as those where children or pets might bump into the tank.

Choose a location for your aquarium in a low traffic area out of direct sunlight that has nearby access to an electrical outlet and running water.

1. Installing the aquarium stand or counter-space, and then cleaning the surface. 2. Rinse your aquarium and all accessories. To reduce cloudy water, first wash the tank, substrate and hardscape with water. Next, place the aquarium background if necessary. Some people choose to quarantine their live plants at this point to remove duckweed, pest snails, and other hitchhikers. 3. Place the tank on the stand and add the substrate. Planted tanks usually require at least 2-3 inches (5-7.5 cm) of substrate. If you’re using inert substrate, and cryptocoryne, sword, or other plants that rely on their roots for food, then insert root tab fertilizers into ground. (Read this article on how to use root tabs and which plants require them.) 4. Put the equipment and hardscape into the aquarium. Use the decorations and plants to hide the heater and filter. You will need to arrange the rocks and driftwood in order to create the “skeleton” of your plant tank design.

Spend some time moving around the hardscape, and planning where the plants will go.

1. Add about 6 inches (15 cm) to the tank with dechlorinated waters. This lower water level will help support the plant leaves during planting so they don’t bend or break. When filling the aquarium, pour the water through a colander or onto a plastic bag or bowl to avoid disturbing your aquascape design. 2. Place the plants. There is a blog article that details the different methods for each type. The taller plants should be placed in the background to not obscure the smaller plants at the front. Consider where the aquarium lighting will be located so that the lower light plants are placed in the shadows, edges or under the lights. Don’t move your plants after you’ve planted them. Each time you move them, it takes a while for the plant to get adjusted and grow again. 3. Fill the remaining tank with water, then add the lid and light. Check that everything is operating properly. You may need to wait for the heater to adjust to the water temperature before you turn it on. 4. Avoid algae growth by starting with very low fertilizer and low lighting levels. At first, plants may not be adapting to new environments and will not be as productive. Therefore, program the timer for only 5-6 hours per day at first. As you begin to notice plant growth, gradually increase the lighting and Easy Green fertilizer.

Don’t feel pressured to replicate the aquascapes professionals have created online. You can use your imagination to design your own planted aquarium.

Don’t throw out your plants if some of their leaves are starting to melt. They are likely growing smaller, more adaptable leaves, which will make them more comfortable living in tap water. If your plants still haven’t been doing well after three to four weeks, you can read our article about plant nutrient deficiencies.