▷ Planted Aquarium. Tips and Tricks for proper installation

▷ Acuario Plantado. Consejos Y Trucos Para Su Correcta Instalación

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Planted aquarium

When we talk about a planted aquarium, we can refer to an aquarium where live aquarium plants, fish and other invertebrates, or where the plants have protagonism. Even if There aquarium plants really difficult to maintain, There are other plants that adapt perfectly to any environment, water quality and lighting, are those known as Plants for beginners. This is an understatement, because these plants can be perfectly in an aquarium for beginners or for any aficionado experienced acuariofilia. Throughout this article, you'll find all you need to create a planted aquarium water, your plants will survive a long time and you do not die within days. We must be very clear that we are dealing with living things, and that all physical parameters (Aquarium, € iluminaciónâ |) and chemicals (water quality), They influence their growth and health. Let's start at the beginning, answering a question essential:

ÀWhat it is a planted aquarium?

The planted aquarium Dutch aquarium, is a freshwater aquarium where the most important are the plantasâ € |naturales of course. most of the Aquarium Kits They are selling and bring decoration, and add a few plastic plants that could be aesthetic, but that in no way resemble what can be a planted aquarium. notes some fantastic images of planted aquariums:

Have live plants in the aquarium, not only improves the image of the set, also they offer great improvements in biological planted aquariums. A fish tank should have aquarium plants alive, as help control cycle nitrogen, They provide natural shelter for fish, They can even serve as additional food for some species. In the decoration of the planted aquarium the hardest thing to get is that the set remains homogeneous and natural, from an aesthetic point of view: coloration, size, shape and plant growth. In addition to plants, added decoration: arena, important, logs and stones, complete set of decorative planted tank.

elements necessary to mount a planted aquarium

If we are at this point is that We have a planted aquarium interested, and we can not wait to start creating a large aquarium, that resembles photographs of planted aquariums I've shown you before. ÀWhat need to start? For a Dutch aquarium needs the same basic equipment than any other aquarium:

¿Urna aquarium or aquarium Kits?

It's time to start riding our aquarium and the first question to be resolved is the urn, tank or tank. ÀWhat size suits us? Is it better to use aquarium kits? This is a really interesting question and raises more questions among beginners. A easy vista It can be much easier to start with a nano aquarium, to buy an aquarium 200 liters.

Visit my section Aquarium Kits

But it turns out the water quality It is more difficult to keep stable in a small aquarium, in a medium or large aquarium. If we make mistakes are easier to correct or effects are less harmful, in an aquarium of one hundred liters, in one of 20 liters. My experience to start an aquarium should not be smaller than a 50 O 60 liters, a manageable size and allows a margin of error. Between choosing a kit aquarium aquarium or an urn from which to mount all the elements, I'll tell you what It is easier to start with an aquarium Kit. And they come with all the necessary elements to start: the box, filters, illumination, even some already come equipped with heaters.


The filtration equipment is perhaps one of the most important parts of the aquarium, as it directly affects the quality of water, eliminating solid waste and helping to transform the ammonia from fish waste, nitrates beneficial to plants. This is critical, especially if we will keep an aquarium in which fish and plants coexist. Dutch type in an aquarium in which fish presence is merely representative, filtering the aquarium is in the background, even if it is always necessary to have a good management on the different parameters affecting water quality.

advice: Choose a filter with a filtering capability to the least 3 times the amount of water in the aquarium. For example, If your aquarium is 100 liters, the chosen filter should be able to filter 300 liters per hour.

There are three types of filtering can be performed inside an aquarium:

  • Biological, with which we favor the emergence of bacteria needed to complete nitrification of water.
  • Mechanical, cleaning the solid particles are suspended in water, in many cases to avoid ending up in the bottom of the aquarium, where they would have decomposed to disappear completely.
  • Chemical, whose primary function parameters keep water within adequate scales, as they are the hardness of the water Y pH.

Types of filters for aquarium

There are many types of filters that can be installed to help complete filtering water, depending on where they are installed are divided into:

  • internal filters. They are placed inside the aquarium, thus they are occupying a space that we must have foreseen. They can perform all types of filtration, both mechanically, the organic chemical, although more cumbersome to clean and handle, because they are within the aquarium.

    Find the aquarium filter you need
  • bag filters. Bag filters are now easier to manipulate, because they are not within the aquarium, They are hung from the side or rear of the tank portion. In the market there are a variety of filters waterfall, that keep us perfect the quality of water.
  • external filters. Although they can be placed in all kinds of aquariums, They are indispensable for an aquarium large. They are placed outside the aquarium in an auxiliary location, as it could be a cupboard under the aquarium.

Substrate for planted aquarium

Aquariums where plants are introduced, need of a suitable substrate which favors growth and perfect development.

¿Sabes of the importance of the substrate in the planted aquarium?

If we keep an aquarium in which live plants and fish, much of the fish waste is converted into nitrates, which will serve to grow healthy plants. Nevertheless, when the aquarium is basically plants and not many fish, (almost all) plants must absorb nutrients from the substrate. In most cases the substrate fulfills two basic functions, serve as a means for plants to take root and remain at the bottom of the aquarium, and as a vehicle through which plants get their nutrients. You may not know, but There aquarium plants that do not require the substrate to grow, are floating plants that absorb nutrients they need to grow, through leaves, and the substrate also serves to entrench.

Learn more about the substrates for aquariums

Aquarium substrate types

Certainly there is a market huge amount of substrates for aquariums, some are suitable for plants and others play a role rather estéticaâ € |aunque never be downplayed his contribution in the process of filtering water. These are the different substrates can choose for aquarium:

inert substrates

The substrates within a planted aquarium contribute to filtering the water, because usually nest on its surface nitrifying bacteria. evidently, also fulfill an aesthetic function. Mostly do not affect the chemical composition of the water, but I must be careful in this regard, because some sand may affect the pH of the water, If you have a coral origin. ¿Podrías have plants living in inert substrates? You are right, which they are fed through their leaves, absorbing nutrients through the water column: anubias, ferns and mosses are good examples. ÀWhat inert substrates can find?, the following:

  • important Many novice mistake gravel area, and is the barrier between the gravel and enviornment in an aquarium is very small, such as the millimeter diameter of the thousands of small stones that make up. Gravel is one of the most commonly used inert substrates, because it is easy to handle, cakes not as much as the enviornment and why not say, its price, which it is very affordable.
  • Arena The area is the same substrate as above, but much thinner. Some aquariums not only look great with sand, It is that the need for biotope recreated or fish fed require a thin substrate where digging. In any case it is convenient to put the closing, as last decorative material. If you have trouble controlling the pH, do not use coral area, used area silica which does not alter the chemical composition of the water.
Discover the different types of area that can be used in an aquarium

substrates nutritious

Nutritious substrates They are similar to those you use in your garden or pots, so that your plants are perfect. The big difference is that, nutritional substrates for aquaria do not contain chemical materials, which may affect the health of fish. In any case, we must take into account the nutritional substrates will alter the chemical composition of the water, and we must be prepared for that eventuality. As in the market there is a good variety of nutritious substrates, Ideally investigate the composition of each, to see which is best suited to your aquarium and your plants.

  • substrates complete Complete substrates They are formulated to provide plants, all the nutrients they need. They are if no room for doubt, the best substrate for planted aquarium. Despite being fantastic, They have their drawbacks. Substrates are causing a sharp rise in ammonia, so they are very good when we started cycling of the aquarium. The recommendation is to place all plants from the outset, to avoid uncontrolled proliferation of algae. If we use this type of substrate, during the first two months of cycling the aquarium, we must make changes to water 50% at the least once a week.
  • Multi-substrate The multi-substrate option is most often used in planted aquariums. Consists in add different substrates on different layers. Usually it start with a thin layer of area, covered by an intermediate layer of nutrient substrate and a final top layer it may be composed of gravel, enviornment or a mixture of both. ¿La advantage? Better management of the chemical composition of the water, as well as a much more natural look.
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Fertilizers for aquarium

The need for Add or fertilizers in the aquarium, I depend on the biotope we have created. In a slightly planted aquarium with a lot of fish, waste from the fish themselves converted into nitrates, will make an extra supply of plant nutrients is unnecessary and inadvisable. But we can put ourselves on the opposite side, densely planted aquarium, with fast growing plants, floating and also has few fish, which it is a typical Dutch aquarium. In this case, Use a fertilizer that improves the nutrients in the water, It is essential.

As a rule it is best to look at the plants. If they show signs of weakness, slow growth, Yellow sheets, ahilamiento (thinness stems and leaves), We are offering nitrogen deficiency notices, iron or potassium, indispensable elements for growth.

There are many types of fertilizers for planted aquariums, I prefer liquid fertilizers. To avoid making dosage errors, it is best to follow the recommendations of the manufacturer.

Advice on the use of fertilizers for aquarium

Fertilizer for planted aquariums, are similar to those used in plants for garden, They must have a chemical composition based on nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus (NPK). A high concentration of nitrogen will influence more lush plant growth, while phosphorus for aquarium plants is not necessary, because it tends to influence the floracionesâ € |y most aquarium plants do not bloom. Besides these chemicals called main, good fertilizers contain another set of trace elements, that help improve the appearance of plants: iron, zinc, manganese, and so forth.

Find the best fertilizer for planted aquarium

Aquarium lighting

Lighting planted aquarium is very important. We must not forget that plants need light to perform the process photosynthesis, through which synthesize food and make them assimilable nutrients. For the aquarium lamps should ensure that plants receive the necessary illumination, it does not have to be excessive. There are plants that prefer to develop in environments with weak or dim lighting, in these cases they are usually put in places of the aquarium where they will receive less light, leaving foreground plants that need to receive greater light intensity.


The most important thing to know about the lighting of the aquarium, are lumens or for you to understand better, the total amount of light emitted by fluorescent lamps or to place in the aquarium. The lumens are only a measurement unit, to learn whether a lamp produces more or less light than another. Lighting that is causing furor, Are the LED displays for aquarium. Manufacturers always indicate how many lumens LED lamps emit these, so we have an efficient way to measure the amount of light received by the plants. In the fluorescent tubes it is more difficult to know how many lumens output, but we can conclude that, a few more watts consumption, They have larger lumens.

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CO2 in an aquarium with plants

You may remember those science classes, in which we explained that oxygen producing plants performing the fotosíntesisâ € |â from absorbing carbon dioxide or CO2. The plants absorb carbon within the aquarium, because there carbonates in water (carbonates + Bicharbontos = Kः), and also the This CO2 gas exchange of the water in the aquarium surface. For some plants is enough, They do not need much more, although its growth will be limited. But a lot of plants will need supply extra CO2 (carbon), in order to grow properly. As a rule we must know that the greater presence of CO2, we will have a more exuberant aquarium.

Professional equipment for injecting CO2 into the aquarium

* 500g CO2 bottle * It includes all necessary accessories to start * For an aquarium up 250 liters

¿Cómo increase the level of CO2?

there are several ways of increasing CO2, There are even homemade formulas to increase CO2, which need not include chemical elements, or buy any type of device.

  • Add CO2 liquid or pill This formula is very simple to increase the carbon dioxide. Ya there are manufacturers that sell CO2 liquid and pills, that work extremely well, although there are always plants that can be affected, so it is convenient to use it only in a timely manner.
  • Increase gas exchange, by turbulence You may have seen some aquariums with aerators, those that produce bubbles from the bottom. The concept is simple. These air bubbles increase the presence of oxygen and carbon dioxide in water, It is beneficial for both fish, to plants.
  • Injecting CO2 in the aquarium, by a professional team This option is particularly suitable for those densely planted aquariums, and who want to get spectacular results. The main advantage is that It is controlled perfectly the CO2 is added, depending on the pH of the aquarium. The setting is perfect. The drawback is the expense to be performed in computer, and the periodic change of CO2 cartridge.

Best Plants for aquarium

Actually, there are no aquarium plants that are better or worse, all are ideally optimal. Our mission should be to seek to the final set remains harmonious, and that the choice of plants generate no maintenance problems. Each plant has a certain growth, and it is suitable to be placed in a particular place in the aquarium: foreground, intermediate plane or bottom of the aquarium. There are some plants that survive well in all conditions, others are more demanding, As for the quality of water or CO2 present. So it's a good concept start with plants for beginners, which they are very easy to maintain and do not create big problems.

Assembling a planted aquarium step

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Once we clear all the elements we need to mount a planted aquarium, it's time to get going. € Peroá |¿Por where I start? ÀWhat I do first? ¿Y below? Do not worry, This is the logical sequence to mount a planted aquarium step:


With a new aquarium for the first time, the first thing we do is instinctively clean the glass, to eliminate all kinds of fingerprints. This is good, it's great, desirable and necessary, but avoid using all kinds of chemicals. In principle it is best to use only and exclusively tap water. With little chlorine containing water, It will be sufficient to clean the crystals. Another element that must be cleaned are gravel and enviornment that we will use. Many of these products, especially if silica sand, They bring a lot of dust. To avoid that dust stays suspended in the aquarium during days, the best is clean gravel and / or the enviornment in a bucket. We will put the area into a bucket and fill it with water, removes the area until the water remains cloudy. Remove the water and the process repeated several times, until the water comes out clean. In any case we can use chemicals. The Aquarium stones you can buy artificial, so they do not have any substance which can affect the composition of water. Peroá € |también they serve other stones. In any case, a good thought is to boil the stones for 15 O 20 minutes, to remove all kinds of impurities and bacteria. Once boiled, brush and remove any loose particle appears.

Add the substrate to the aquarium

Once the aquarium clean and dry, we can proceed to adding the substrate. My advice is making a multilayer assembly, where we add a nutrient substrate, mixed with inert substrates. If it's your choice, we put a thin layer of the first area, then add to a layer about 4 centimeters nutrient substrate, to finish with gravel or more enviornment. One trick that helps provide ease to the whole is tilt the plane, so that put a greater volume of substrate on the back of the aquarium, to be declining in the front. The whole process must be done carefully, to avoid scratching the glass. The amount and height of the substrate will depend largely on the type of plants, some generate a greater amount of root and it is necessary that the nutrient substrate layer is much greater.

Place the aquarium decoration

This is an exercise in subtlety and mastery of the landscape. Not all will be good decorators and experts in aquascaping, but it's easy to get carried away by the thousands of images of planted aquariums we can be found in the purple. So if that is vital is make planning, not only for the plants you have to buy, but also by decorative elements, Available space, and so forth. Make an imaginative effort and jump to the future, He thinks might look the aquarium when they spent a few months, not going to be that put many plants and end up not being anything. Place rocks and logs in a place seen from the front, but not so that they are piled up. The thought always has to be that look natural.

Discover different types of stones for aquarium

Install water heater

The water heater must be installed in the rear of the tank, so that it is hidden with subsequent plants or aquarium decoration. Should be careful that the head of the heater, where is the thermostat that regulates the temperature, not outside water. It may happen that it is landmass if placed close to the edge and part of the water evaporates. To avoid this problem it is a good idea to tilt slightly warmer, so that it is very difficult that it is out of the water by effect of evaporation.

Monta aquarium filter

The next step is place the aquarium filter, with the appropriate filter materials. Some filters are ready to get going, but others do not bring filter materials and many need to be fattened, to put them to use.

Will filter water aquarium, and then he will leave within the aquarium. The water intake has to do it as close as possible to the bottom, and out of the water as far as possible from taking place near the surface, in this way we ensure cleaning and filtration of water more completely and efficiently. If we let the water fall near the surface, We obtain greater oxygenation of the water, to the higher gas exchange occur. It will be noisier, evidently, but we will save on not having to place any aerator.

Add water to the aquarium

Everything is ready for one of the most important steps when starting an aquarium, filled with water. The first filling of the tank It can be done with water directly from the tap. Moment is not too important water quality, that may change slowly. If it is interesting to know especially hardness and pH. If you're going to introduce fish, do not do it at the moment, we have to perform a cyclized in the aquarium. To avoid lifting the substrate both side mounting work us, One trick is placing a plate or a container at the bottom, so that water does not fall directly on this. even so, suspended particles appear. After one or two days, when water is seated, it's time to connect the heater and filter the aquarium, without starting lighting, to prevent algae begin to appear. The very best temperature for cold water aquarium is between 18ºC and 20ºC, for an aquarium of tropical fish is about 26ºC.

Start of the cycling process

During a process that can last up to two months, we will conduct a full cycling of the aquarium. We need to get that water no longer water from the tap, to be a liveable place. Proper cycling, mission to make the necessary bacteria appear for nitrification of water, as well as modify and maintain the pH and GH of the aquarium within appropriate levels. There are some tricks you can use for bacteria to appear, one is add some fish food every day, another is to add ammonia, although we are introducing chemicals that personally I do not like much, another process that is not to my liking is introduce some hardy fish, but the danger is that any die and security will suffer. In any case you have here a complete tutorial on the aquarium cycling:

Tutorial for complete cycling of the aquarium

To verify that the cyclization is complete, You must perform periodic measurements, since the process may last a month, forty-five days, two monthsa € |no no fixed rule, only water quality. We will have an optimal quality when the test offers us a zero reading in nitrites.

Enter plants in the aquarium

Plants have no adjustment problems such as fish, the can introduce from the outset, without completing the cycling process. If we introduce the plants from the outset, we can delay the process of cycling, and if we post when it is fully done, squander the ability of plants to remove ammonia. The best thing is to make the process of placing the plants in stages. The perfect time to start is when it occurs the first ascent of nitrites, placing aquarium plants more resistant, leaving for the last time most delicate species of plants and they may suffer some alteration in the quality of water. Before introducing plants inside the aquarium, we clean them well, removing all damaged leaves and dead roots. Check well rooted and undersides of leaves, what not inadvertently enter any pest in the aquarium. A placing plants in the substrate, do it carefully to avoid stirring up a lot of the background. With plants in the aquarium, we start the lighting during a daily spaces 8 hours.

Controlling the quality of water

From the first week commencing cycling the aquarium, We begin to make regular checks on the quality of water, to know when we are. Remember that this process may take a minimum of 30 days, but we can also go to two months. In the first phase we must raise the ammonia, necessary for nitrifying aerobic bacteria appear. Maybe if the first readings give us that we have zero nitrites, that means you have not yet appeared the first bacteria. Once these bacteria appear, nitrite levels will rise to the maximum, to progressively down to zero, that will be the time when we have a stable community of bacteria inside the aquarium, and we have completed the process of cycling.

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Introducing fish in the aquarium

At the end of the cycling process and once stabilized water aquarium, we can start introducing fish. To prevent ammonia levels and nitrites are triggered, due to excessive increase of organic matter in the water, we must feed the fish In small quantities, so that they are no remains in the water. Ideally we feed them three or four times a day, but only with food that can be consumed in a couple of minutes.

Maintenance of the aquarium

Once we have managed to stabilize the water from the aquarium and have become tap water, in an environment in which fish can live, we can not let our guard down, begins the ordinary maintenance of the aquarium.

  • Periodically (once every week or ten days) we must change the water in the aquarium. During the process of changing water we disconnect the heater and filter.
  • Normally the amount of water to change is one 20% yet 25% of the total. But change may be indicated a higher proportion for various reasons, as is the aquarium fish breeding and need larger or more frequent water changes.
  • The water will be introduced into the aquarium, You must have the same characteristics as that of the inside. If filling the aquarium use osmosis water or a mixture made with bottled water, we need to reproduce the process.
  • Water from the tap should be left to stand at the least one day, so that the chlorine present in the water evaporates.
  • To draw water from the aquarium we help a siphon.
  • We take the opportunity to clean the filter, removing sponge thicker remains and rinsing with water from the aquarium itself.
  • We should not clean up all the layers on the same day, nor is cleaned with water other than for the aquarium, to avoid removing the nitrifying bacteria living in the filter.
  • Changing the aquarium water, and reviewing the levels of nitrites, nitrates, pH, GH, and so forth, It should be performed routinely. It is best to do it the least once a week.

final recommendations

I hope this mini-guide to launch a planted aquarium you have been helpful. Remember that we are dealing with living things, whether plants or animals. They suffer if the conditions are not adequate, it is important to maintain a state of permanent alert. This does not mean that we mount an aquarium will cause stress, simply that we are responsible for this mini universe we've created, and that beings who live there depend on our ability to discover if something is not working properly. Observe the aquarium should be for pleasure, for that will assemble, but there is always to have a certain critical attitude ¿Está all right? Do they have the green plants due to them? ¿Siguen fish the correct guidelines? any details, however small is a clue that something is not working. If we act quickly, any small problems will be only one more incident, and will not become more than an anecdote. Especially I ask you to enjoy your planted aquarium, at the least as much as I enjoyed writing this guide for you.

Cleaner background for the aquarium
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