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The aquarium hobby has various subsets beyond simple freshwater and saltwater tanks. Aquascaping refers to tanks that focus on creating lushly planted ecosystems. They may also feature a nice assortment of fish and some invertebrates, but the focus is on keeping gorgeous aquatic gardens. Within the realm of aquascaping, there’s a technique that involves injecting carbon dioxide into the planted aquarium for better results. CO2 is an important nutrient for aquatic plants. In natural habitats, plants are able to feed on CO2 from a variety of sources, mostly from the waste fish produce through their breathing processes. Abundant CO2 results in lush plants, which is why many aquascapers prefer artificial injections of this gas, but there are natural ways to achieve this. In a planted aquarium without CO2, there just isn’t enough of the beneficial natural CO2 to get the result of having a lush, healthy looking aquarium.
Low-Tech Planted Tanks
Although aquascaping in tanks started in the Netherlands prior to World War II, it’s based on the garden pond keeping traditions of Japan. CO2 injections didn’t enter the world of aquascaping until several decades later. At that time, artificial sources of CO2 were considered to be a high-tech aquascaping technique, which is why we refer to planted tanks without CO2 injections as being “low-tech.” It’s more accurate to call such tanks “natural,” and there are many aquarists who prefer to increase CO2 in other ways, such as adding “carbon source” liquid treatments that don’t involve injections, like SeaChem’s Excel. This addition of the “C” without the “O2” is beneficial, but it’s a small percentage of the results compared to a CO2 gas injection.
Healthy Aquascaping without Injected CO2
All aquatic plants need CO2 to survive, but some require less than others. It’s for this reason that species such as Java moss and ferns are commonly found at shops that specialize in fish tank supplies. These resilient plants can thrive without too much fertilizer, and the small amount of CO2 they get from fish and other species will be sufficient. There are about a dozen low-tech plant species that can be easily cared for without having to inject CO2, so you can easily set up a diverse 50-gallon tank with them, and additional CO2 can be obtained from the natural sources below.
Fish and Invertebrates
Aquascaping is a flexible hobby that doesn’t have to exclusively feature plants. In fact, adding a few fish, shrimp, or snails is highly recommended because it will create a more natural ecosystem with higher CO2 generation. As previously mentioned, fish will exhale CO2, and the plants will turn these molecules into dissolved oxygen, thus creating a win-win situation for the tank. Neon tetras are the most popular choice in the aquascaping community. Ghost shrimp and snails are also nice in freshwater planted aquariums.
CO2 from the Soil
The best substrate for aquascaping is rich in nutrients and organic compounds that promote decomposition in a way that generates CO2 over time. Many aquarium shops, like Aquatic Warehouse, offer many types of these substrates, which are made into hard pellets, as the best soil for rooting aquatic plants, but it’s ideal for floating, submerged, and emerged plants as well.
Whether you need additional tips on adding CO2 to your aquarium or need any of the essential supplies to properly maintain your tank, Aquatic Warehouse has got you covered. Stop by our store located in Kearny Mesa, order what you need form our website and have it shipped to you, or give us a call with any questions you might have at 858-467-9297.