Planted aquariums have been gaining popularity for a long time. They are tastefully composed, beautiful underwater gardens created with the help of various (also colorful) plant species. This style has caused almost a revolution in aquarium keeping.
Until recently, fish were definitely in the foreground. However, planted aquariums are that special case where fish are not the most important. In planted tanks they have become just an element that complements the beautiful view.
Setting up a planted aquarium is not as easy as it seems and it is rather a task for a more experienced aquarium hobbyist. It has to be planned from the very beginning – how it should look like and what composition we want to create, matching plant species with their requirements, colors and tank zones. Then it remains to select suitable fish or shrimps. When introducing fish, species that nibble on plants or excessively bury themselves in the substrate should be avoided, therefore neon and scalar fish are often kept in such aquariums.
At first you will need to prepare a suitable substrate – preferably a multi-layer one. Put peat at the very bottom, then coarse sand or gravel. In larger aquariums, the substrate in the back part of the tank may reach 10 cm (4 in.), whereas the front part is usually covered with thinner layers. Rocks or roots – especially those that can be attached to plants – serve as decoration.
The plants must be provided with sufficient light in sufficient quantity and quality and with regular fertilization. When choosing the lighting in an aquarium it is advisable to follow the universal rule that 0.5-0.1 W per liter (1 US quart) should be used. The type of lighting is also of great importance. Apart from standard lighting emitting “white” light of 6000K-6500K color temperature, it is recommended to use additional fluorescent lamps or LED diodes emitting blue and red light. Optimally chosen light influences the correct growth of plants and allows for highlighting the full beauty of our aquarium.
The demand for light in each planted aquarium may be quite different. It all depends on whether the plants will be:
– shade-loving (anubias, microzoras or cryptocorynes);
– having moderate demand for light (stalked plants, lotuses, mosses);
– needing strong light (all “lawn” and foreground plants).
With strong light, CO2 fertilization is essential. Carbon dioxide is a product of aerobic respiration and is necessary for the photosynthesis process to take place properly, so its proper level in the aquarium water determines the condition of our planting stock. By the way, you can observe an interesting phenomenon, which is “bubbling of plants”.
Plants should also be provided with nutrients in the form of macronutrients such as potassium (accelerates rooting), nitrogen (affects the rate of growth) and phosphorus (improves the condition and proper metabolism).
To create an original arrangement, you should follow certain rules:
– in front we plant grassy plants or plants with the appearance of mosses;
– place species of different appearance next to each other;
– before a green background of tall plants, it is worth planting plants with purple or red color.
A unique composition will certainly provide undisguised satisfaction and will long please our eye.
Featured photo: Wikipedia