Its a cold snowy day here in Calgary. No work to do on any of our tanks, baby is down for a nap. So why not make a coffee, sit down and blog about something. We get questions about growing plants in our aquariums. More specifically "how do I create a lush aquascape like the one I found on the internet". Well, its not easy but here is a few tips.
Make a goal. Decide if you're a plants first person or if you're more into creatures. Off course you can usually add plants to most aquariums, but some fish might not be compatible with your aquascape or chosen plants. Diggers and snackers! Plants are generally very adaptable but most prefer softer water.
1. Plant heavy at the start. More plants to suck up the excess nutrients released by aquasoils at start up. This will also help reduce algae in your tank and your scape will grow in faster.
2. Light. This can be tricky to balance. Too much and algae issues can happen, not enough and light won't be able to penetrate your water column to the substrate. This is a blog post in itself... Learn about PAR in aquariums, just google it. Our tip, balance the amount of light with nutrients/CO2 and plant requirements. Often if an aquarium is maintained with regular water changes and excess nutrients/CO2, less light will be required for plant growth. Something always limits plant growth, light is your limiting factor with this method.
3. Aquasoil. It comes loaded with nutrients for plants! One of the benefits of aquasoil is its ability to encourage colonization of bacteria with grain size and porosity, reducing anaerobic areas. Another benefit of aquasoil is its ability to hold nutrients (CEC).
4. Fertilizers. In a heavily planted tank, nutrients need to be added. Consider this when balancing your tank. All in one fertilizers are great, there's no need to have several different bottles of nitrogen, potassium or whatever. Deficiencies can be difficult to pin point anyway.
5. CO2! Its part of photosynthesis, should be enough said. Tissue culture plants will adapt to your tank 100x better with injected CO2.
6. Water change. Many algae issues are caused by excess nutrients, specifically ammonia. Depending on your fertilization method up to 50% every week. Balance your aquarium and find out what works best for your tank.
7. Over filter your tank and keep it clean. Lots of water flow to get nutrients, CO2 and O2 to to all areas for the aquarium. Keeps the plants happy and limits algae's ability to get a foot hold. A bigger filter will have lots of beneficial bacteria to keep your tank cycled and stable. 5x -10x turnover of tank volume is enough.
8. Trim stem plants. Once your stem plants are established and growing well, trim close to the substrate and replant the tops. Each trimmed stem will grow an additional stem. Do this several times and your original stem will start to resemble a candelabrum. We suggest trimming low in the aquarium or behind wood or stone out of view, for the best looking bush.
9. Hoard Hardscape. Just can't have enough sticks and stones when the urge to scape hits. Options are nice!
10. Rule of thirds. Same as in many other art forms, we want our aquascape to be visually appealing. This is creating imaginary lines on the front of your aquarium. Or actually draw lines with white board markers. You would get three vertical lines and three horizontal lines, evenly spaced. The lines intersect where you want to create focal points with driftwood, stones, plants etc. This also applies to the bottom of your aquarium as you aquascape front to back.
11. Aquascaping tools. Tweezers are essential when planting small stem plants and carpeting plants, especially if you have smaller tank. Curved scissors are nice for trimming. But unless you have to get into hard to reach areas a small set of utility scissors will do the job. Stainless steel is the preferred metal, it is wet after all! A couple old towels to mop up spills and to protect wood floors is a good idea too.
Sounds like I have to go...
Hope everyone has a great Sunday!