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Here’s something that often happens to fish keepers whose foray into the aquarium hobby involves a starter tank purchased from a local shop. These packaged deals often include a couple of aquatic plants that may or may not be of the rooting kind. If the kit comes with bottled bacteria for the purpose of establishing the tank, you’ll be able to begin stocking it with a few fish within 24 hours of filling the aquarium, but this quick start may not provide sufficient time for plants to take hold and get used to the habitat. When this is the case, many plants start to wilt in less than two months, and this often results in aquarists growing frustrated and switching to fake plastic plants instead.
The right way to keep freshwater planted aquariums is to take time to establish the ecosystem while nourishing the plants. Doing this may take 3 weeks to a month before you can stock the tank with fish, but it’s worth the effort because you end up with a healthier ecosystem that’s easier to maintain. Here are the steps you can take to establish a nice freshwater planted tank.
Start with the Right Substrate
This is a crucial step that shouldn’t be skipped if you want to keep rooting plants. Here you can choose between aquatic soil or substrate that has been prepared for planting. This will be the bottom layer. You can add a mix of sand, gravel, and tiny pebbles on top of the nutrient and mineral-rich soil if you prefer, but it’s best to use 100% aquatic plant soil for the best results.
Set Up Filtration, Lights, and Decorations
Once the substrate is in place, you can position pieces of equipment such as the pump, hoses, filters, heaters, and lights. If you want to decorate with rocks, ornaments, or driftwood, this will be the time to arrange them. Make sure to rinse or soak everything in dechlorinated water before the items go into the tank.
Filling Up the Tank
The water conditioner formulas you use should do more than just eliminate chlorine and chloramine. Look for formulas that can provide some nutrients and regulate the pH of the water. The pH range you’re looking for should be between 6.5 and 7.5. Test the water daily until the pH is balanced.
Smaller rooting plants should be inserted into the substrate section closer to the foreground. Larger plants always go in the background. Give rooting plants a couple of weeks to take hold before adding floating plants, and keep a close eye on the H2O ammonia levels. Remember to add bottled bacteria like Night Out ongoing for 2 weeks to establish a healthy colony that will keep the aquarium crystal clear:
Stocking the Aquarium
You can dose the water with fertilizer a few times over a period of six to eight weeks, but this may not be necessary with the right substrate. Get the plants used to a day/night cycle with the aquarium lamps. This should allow them to grow and bloom nicely. If you don’t see algae, and if your ammonia levels have been zero after 3 weeks, you can introduce a couple of hardy fish and allow bacterial bloom to take place slowly before completing your stock.
If you need help setting up your new freshwater planted tank, reach out to Aquatic Warehouse, a leading provider of freshwater aquarium supplies. We also carry all the supplies you need for a saltwater aquarium or garden pond. Stop by our store located in Kearny Mesa, order the supplies you need from our website, or call us with any questions you might have at 858-467-9297.