People are too busy to pay attention to long explanations these days, so I have created some bullet points that will help customers achieve success in growing freshwater plants. This list assumes the eventual plan is to include fish. The intention is to anticipate the most often asked questions, and make the learning process easier.
We already have a recommended equipment selection. Hobbyists are most likely to succeed when they use the right equipment, especially lighting. Filtration should be chosen appropriate to the size of the tank. Carbon dioxide injection is extremely helpful, but can be omitted if the right plants are chosen. (I have another tip sheet on CO2) Use a digital timer to control lighting.
With the above points in mind:
- Have the tank filled, hardscape in place, and all equipment in operation at least 24 hours before plants are added.
- Make sure rocks are aquarium-safe. Rinse well and scrub with a toothbrush before using.
- Recommend soaking all natural wood in several changes of water, and a final bleach treatment before using. Finish by soaking in fresh water with AquaLife COMPLETE dechlorinator until the wood no longer floats.
- Transplant all of the plants at once, if possible. Otherwise, complete planting within a week or two.
- Removing some water makes planting easier.
- During this initial period, add LUSH according to directions, to give plants a healthy start.
- Wait until plants show signs of new growth before adding any fish. (About a month.)
- Do regular partial water changes, ideally a smaller amount weekly rather than a huge amount less frequently. Always add AquaLife COMPLETE and do not add LUSH on water-change day.
- Don’t resist this advice because of the effort required. Keep mentioning it anyway.
- Expect some algae growth in the early stages, and be prepared to deal with it.
- “Hair” algae is the most common weed that appears in newly planted aquariums. Turn lights off for a couple of days and do not add any plant food. Siphon off dead algae.
- Brownish-green diatoms on glass or rocks are transient. Remove from glass, siphon or brush from rocks. They disappear after plants get growing.
- Add fish a few at a time and watch for any sign of problems before adding more.
- Switch to AquaLife Phyto-Tone instead of LUSH.
- Feed fish sparingly. Keep up with those water changes!