In part one we touched on the balance triangle, being consistent and using store bought liquid fertilizers. In part two we are going to discuss water movement, plant selection and plant placement.
Water movement is very important when trying to achieve a well planted aquarium, we want the current to be constant but gentle. If we have our water flow too strong you will find that a majority of your plants will suffer and not grow to their full potential, that being said there is defiantly some plants that love a fast-flowing aquarium. The flip side is that is we have no flow or a lack of flow it will become a haven for unsightly algae to grow and ruin your beautiful masterpiece. What we are really looking to achieve within a planted aquarium is a gentle swaying motion from our plants.
The other reason we want to get good flow around our plants is for nutrient dispensing around the water column. The better we can move the water around the plants the more evenly distributed the nutrients will become. This in turn will also allow our filters to work better with more detritus being moved to our filter system.
Plant selection is a vitally important cog in this whole system, if we pick the wrong plant we are doomed from the second it goes under the water line in your aquarium. Some of you reading this will understand what I mean by that straight away, others may not. Here in New Zealand we are very limited to the type and amount of aquatic plants we have available on the commercial market. So often pet shops will buy plants from suppliers that are not true aquatic plants but sell them as true aquatic “Borneo Sword” is a prime example of this, they will last submerged for a while, but they are not a true aquatic ad eventually will rot and die.
Growing aquatic plants out of water is a very common and normal thing to do on a commercial and hobbyist base, plants grow faster, have no chance of getting algae and they can be flowered out of water. But it means we have to be smart on what we buy. A quick test to see if a plant has been grown emmersed or submersed is to hold it out of water if it flops over it has been grown underwater it is starts upright it has been grown out of water.
After all of this, that is not to say growing plants out of water is bad, nor is it the be all and end all of you not being able to set up a stunning planted aquarium, it is just something to look for. Plants like Anubias, Echinodorus and Cryptocorynne and many stem plants all grow out of water fine and convert back without much issue.
Much like fish all plants grow to different sizes and prefer different water conditions. If you have a plant that prefers low flow it would not be a smart idea to put it right in front of the return from your filter much like if you have a plant that likes lots of flow would be silly to place it at the farthest point from any movement.
Plant placement is more than just worrying about flow, some plants grow tall, some grow short, some spread far and wide others grow straight up. This is where placement is vital. Ideally, we want to place our larger plants towards the back of our aquarium, and our lower growing carpeting plants towards the front. Mixing up the colours, shapes and growing styles can all be effective ways of adding texture and depth to a planted aquarium.
So there we have it, a quick guide to setting up an easy care planted aquarium. I am not sure about you, but this 2 part article has really just wet my appetite to write more about plants and to set up another planted aquarium, so I best begin the planning stages of the next one……