Plants For Goldfish Tanks

Guide to a Planted Goldfish Tank

Give Your Goldfish a Lush Green Planted Tank!

Giving your goldfish a lush green habitat is something that most every fish owner would love to provide their little fish friends.

However, there is a misconception by many that a planted tank is difficult to attain and maintain.

It isn’t that difficult and will be a successful lush underwater garden if it’s done correctly.

We are going to take you from start to finish in creating a planted tank. Your goldfish will love the new “digs!”


What We Will Cover

We are going to take you through the basics that you need to know before diving into planting.

By following each step carefully, you will have a successful planted tank.

Here is a look at the goldfish plants we will cover.

Disclosure: The links above will take you to Amazon where you can read more information, check out current prices and read customer reviews.

Live Plants vs. Artificial Plants For Goldfish

Live plants are of great benefit to your goldfish!

Not only do they produce oxygen for your fish, but they also act as supplemental filtration for the water.

Artificial plants do not create a realistic habitat fish love and thrive in. 

There is serious debate on the ability to having a successful planted tank with goldfish due to their tendency to dig, chew, and forage.

Goldfish lovers can provide their fish a lush planted tank with a little bit of trial and error along the way.

Just as any other fish, goldfish deserve to enjoy the sensory pleasure of playing around plants.

Plants simulate a natural habitat for your fish which in turn will keep your little “goldies” happy and content.

How much maintenance does a planted goldfish tank require?

A planted tank does require some extra work; however, the beauty and benefits of live plants turn your work into a labor of love.

If you have ever had an interest in gardening and a love for fish, you will enjoy combining the two!

Having live plants to tend to is basically underwater gardening and is rewarding for someone that either has a green thumb or wants to try developing a green thumb.

A planted tank will require weekly maintenance that can easily be worked into your routine fish tank maintenance.

Plants will need regular trimming, removal of decaying plant matter, and fertilization. That’s really all there is to having a planted tank!

Pros and Cons of Live vs. Artificial

Live Plants
  • Provides shelter for the fish
  • Fish loves to swim around and through plants
  • Provides a food source for goldfish; they love to nibble on plants
  • Live plants release oxygen into the water for your fish
  • Provides a realistic touch to your tank
  • Helps to break down fish waste, decaying uneaten food, and toxins
  • Removes dangerous ammonia that is highly toxic to fish
  • Inhibits algae growth
  • Absorbs carbon dioxide (CO2)
Live Plants
  • Goldfish can damage live plants from nibbling on them and foraging at roots for food
  • Requires weekly trimming
  • Requires fertilization
  • Needs substrate to anchor roots
  • List Can carry disease and must be quarantined for 2 weeks before introducing into main tank

Artificial Plants
  • Requires no maintenance other than a weekly cleaning
  • Does not require lighting
  • Is free of disease
  • Provides limited shelter to fish
  • Cannot be damaged by fish
Artificial Plants
  • Goldfish can damage live plants from nibbling on them and foraging at roots for food
  • Requires weekly trimming
  • Requires fertilization
  • Needs substrate to anchor roots
  • List Can carry disease and must be quarantined for 2 weeks before introducing into main tank

Rooted Plants and Floating Plants

Aquatic plants are categorized as either rooted or floating.

When planting a tank, both are used for dramatic effects, positioning for fish shelter, and providing a distractive source of food for fish.

Rooted Plants

Crinum Calamistratum Onion Plant - Easy Tropical Live Aquarium Plant
Onion Plant

This unique plant resembles an onion at the base with a bulb. These plants have ribbon-like leaves that can grow tall. Dwarf varieties have a more smooth leaf and lack the ribbon appearance.

Temperature: 72-86 degrees (F)

Lighting: Moderate - High

pH: 5.5 - 7.0

  • Requires deep substrate for large root structure
  • Plant bulb ½ way into substrate

Placement: Backgrounds

Trimming Required: Yes (grows tall)

Fertilizer: Liquid or root tablets (follow dosing directions on container)

Goldfish and This Plant:

  • Difficult to destroy ribbon leaves.
  • Goldfish can swim through leaves.
Banana Plant - Beginner Tropical Live Aquarium Plant
Banana Plant
The Banana plant is unique because its tubular roots look like tiny bananas. Beginners love this plant because it is easy to maintain and adds character to a planted tank.

Temperature: 68-82 degrees (F)

Lighting: Moderate

pH: 6.0 - 7.2

  • Roots are shaped like bananas
  • Nicknamed the “Big Floating Heart”
  • Plant by gently pressing ¼” of roots into substrate
  • Must be placed in an area where there isn’t strong water movement because of light rooting
  • Use as a foreground plant

Placement: Foregrounds

Trimming Required: None

Fertilizer: Liquid or root tablets (follow dosing directions on container)

Goldfish and This Plant:

  • Goldfish will tend to nip or nudge at the roots causing the plant to separate from the substrate.

1 Imported Anacharis Bunch - 5+ Stems | Egeria Densa - Beginner Tropical Live Aquarium Plant
Anacharis

This plant is easy to grow and maintain. It acts like a sponge soaking up a LOT of ammonia. It can float or be planted in the substrate. Fish love this plant because of its density that provides shelter. When floated, fry loves to hide amongst the vines.

Temperature: 72-78 degrees (F)

Lighting: Moderate

pH: 6.5 - 7.5

  • This is a dual plant that can be rooted in substrate or floated
  • Plant 2” deep into substrate
  • Use as a background plant

Placement: Backgrounds

Trimming Required: Yes (grows tall and if floated, roots will grow as well. Never trim the roots, but just bury them into the substrate.)

Fertilizer: Liquid (following dosing directions)

Goldfish and This Plant:

  • Goldfish love the dense shelter of the vines.

  • May tend to nibble on the tiny leaves, but this plant is hardy and will grow new leaves.

Aquatic Arts Java Fern - 2 Bunches – Live Aquarium Plant 3 to 6 inches Tall
Java Fern

The Java Fern gives a planted tank a rather prehistoric earthy beauty. The crinkled long leaves can reach up to 8” tall and do not require much to maintain. Fish love this for shelter.

Temperature: 72-86 degrees (F)

Lighting: Medium - Moderate

pH: 6.0 - 7.5

  • Plant 2” deep into substrate
  • Use as a side or background plant

Placement: Backgrounds

Trimming Required: Very little

Fertilizer:  Liquid or root tablets (follow dosing directions on container)

Goldfish and This Plant:

  • Goldfish love this plant because of the thick leaves that provide shelter 
3 Water Sprite (Ceratopteris Thalictroides) Live Aquarium Stem Plant by G&Z
Water Sprite

This plant appears delicate, but don’t let the skeletal resemblance fool you. Water Sprite is hardy and grows quickly. This plant will require trimming often unless your goldfish keep it trimmed for you!

Temperature: 68-80 degrees (F)

Lighting: Medium

pH: 7.0 - 7.5

  • This is a dual plant that can be rooted in substrate or floated
  • Plant 2-3” deep into substrate
  • Use as a mid-ground to background plant

Placement: Mid-grounds and Backgrounds

Trimming Required: Yes (grows quickly)

Fertilizer: Liquid or root tablets (follow dosing directions on container)

Goldfish and This Plant:

  • Goldfish will nibble on this plant, however, because it grows so quickly, you may not need to worry about trimming it because your goldies will do it for you!

Mainam Amazon Sword Plant Echinodorus Bleheri Tall Bunch Live Aquarium Plants Freshwater Planted Tank Decorations
Amazon Sword

This plant is robust in size and hardiness and adds fullness to a planted tank. If not trimmed, it can overtake a small tank quickly. Works great for background filler while giving your goldfish shelter.

Temperature: 72-82 degrees (F)

Lighting: Moderate - High

pH: 6.5 - 7.5

  • Plant roots into substrate keeping crown above surface of substrate

  • Use as a background plant

  • Requires larger tanks

Placement: Backgrounds

Trimming Required: Yes (grows quick, full)

Fertilizer: Liquid or root tablets (follow dosing directions on container)

Goldfish and This Plant:

  • Goldfish love to hide in the thick leaves of this plant.

  • Not such a favorite to nibble on, Goldfish tend to leave this plant alone.

Potted Anubias Nana Aquarium Plant
Anubias

This plant is basically used as decorative foreground plants. Goldfish do not prefer this plant to nibble on and leave it alone. The Anubias is subtle with its smaller lush green leaves.

Temperature: 70-80 degrees (F)

Lighting: Moderate

pH: 6.5 - 7.5

  • Plant 1-2” deep into substrate

  • Use as a foreground plant

Placement: Foregrounds

Trimming Required: Very little

Fertilizer: Liquid or root tablets (follow dosing directions on container)

Goldfish and This Plant:

  • Goldfish do not like this plant to nibble on and will leave alone.

6 Jungle Val - Jungle Vallisneria Live Aquarium Freshwater Plants
Vallisneria

This plant is loved by goldfish!

Not only do they love to swim through the vertical slender leaves, but they also love to snack on them.

 Vallisneria provides height to backgrounds, yet does not give the appearance of plant overcrowding.

Temperature: 63-82 degrees (F)

Lighting: Moderate

pH: 6.5 - 8.5

  • Plant roots into substrate keeping crown above surface of substrate

  • Use as a background plant

Placement: Backgrounds

Trimming Required: Yes (often unless your goldfish keep them trimmed by nibbling on)

Fertilizer: Liquid or root tablets (follow dosing directions on container)

Goldfish and This Plant:

  • Goldfish love to nibble on this plant and because of this, you may not be required to trim the leaves.

  • Goldfish enjoy darting through the slender leaves which also provides shelter and hiding places.


POND PLANT, PARROT'S FEATHER, DWARF
Parrot Feather

Delicate in appearance, this plant is a favorite of goldfish to snack on. The feathery resemblance of the leaves is what lends to this plants name. The Parrot Feather softens the overall look of a tank. It grows quickly, and as the tops are trimmed, those tops can then be replanted, and new plants started!

Temperature: 64-86 degrees (F)

Lighting: High

pH: 5.0 - 7.5

  • Plant roots into substrate keeping crown above surface of substrate

  • Use as a mid-ground or side plant

Placement: Mid-grounds and Sides

Trimming Required: Yes (grows quickly)

Fertilizer: Liquid or root tablets (follow dosing directions on container)

Goldfish Love Because:

  • Goldfish love to nibble on the delicate leaves.

  • Provides hiding places for fish.

Aquatic Arts Java Fern - 2 Bunches – Live Aquarium Plant 3 to 6 inches Tall
Water Trumpet

The Water Trumpet is a dense plant with long dark green leaves. Great as a filler plant, it also provides hiding places for fish. It is a bit slow in getting established in a new tank, so patience is needed. Stands up well to the antics of goldfish!

Temperature: 59-86 degrees (F)

Lighting: High

pH: 5.0 - 8.0

  • Plant roots into substrate

  • Use as a foreground and midground plant

Placement: Foregrounds and Mid-grounds

Trimming Required: Yes

Fertilizer: Liquid or root tablets (follow dosing directions on container)

Goldfish and This Plant:

  • Goldfish tend to leave this plant alone, but love it for shelter and hiding.

  • The nudges and foraging of goldfish do not seem to impact this plant.

G’z 6 Water Wisteria (Hygrophila Difformis), Live Aquarium/Aquatic/Stem Plant
Wisteria

This plant looks similar to the Water Sprite. Goldfish like to nibble on the delicate leaves, and because of this, they can keep the plant trimmed back for you.

Temperature: 75-82 degrees (F)

Lighting: Moderate

pH: 6.5 - 7.0

  • This is a dual plant that can be rooted in substrate or floated

  • Use as a midground and background plant

Placement: Mid-grounds and Backgrounds

Trimming Required: Yes (grows quickly)

Fertilizer: Liquid (follow dosing directions on container)

Goldfish Love Because:

  • Goldfish love to snack on the delicate leaves and tend to keep the plant trimmed down for you.

  • Fry love hiding in this when floated

 Floating Plants

200 LIVE DUCKWEED PLANTS (LEMNA MINOR)
Duckweed

Duckweed is also known as the “herpes” of aquatic plants because it can infect and overtake a water environment. However, goldfish LOVE this plant for snacking on. If kept in control and maintained well, Duckweed will be great for your goldfish while giving your tank a pond-like surface cover.

Temperature: 50-90 degrees (F)

Lighting: Moderate

pH: 6.0-7.5

  • Goldfish LOVES to eat this

  • Absorbs nitrates

  • A little goes a long way in a tank

Placement: Floating

Trimming Required: Heavy (grows fast)

Fertilizer: None required

Goldfish and This Plant:

  • This plant is a favorite of goldfish for snacking on.

  • Fry loves to hide in the floating leaves.

3 Water Sprite (Ceratopteris Thalictroides) Live Aquarium Stem Plant by G&Z
Water Sprite

This plant appears delicate, but don’t let the skeletal resemblance fool you. Water Sprite is hardy and grows quickly. This plant will require trimming often unless your goldfish keep it trimmed for you!

Temperature: 68-80 degrees (F)

Lighting: Medium

pH: 7.0 - 7.5

  • This is a dual plant that can be rooted in substrate or floated

  • Plant 2-3” deep into substrate

  • Use as a mid-ground to background plant

Placement: Mid-grounds and Backgrounds

Trimming Required: Yes (grows quickly)

Fertilizer: Liquid or root tablets (follow dosing directions on container)


Goldfish and This Plant:

  • Difficult to destroy ribbon leaves.
  • Goldfish can swim through leaves.
Pond Oxygenating Hornwort Bunch Plants
Hornwort

The Hornwort absorbs ammonia like crazy; however, this plant can easily overtake a tank because of its quick growth and tendency to be an invasive plant. Goldfish love to hide amongst the dense shelter this plant provides as well as snacking on it.

Temperature: 50-77 degrees (F)

Lighting: Medium

pH: 6.5 - 7.5

  • Fry love hiding in this plant

Placement: Floating

Trimming Required: Heavy (grows quickly)

Fertilizer: Liquid or (follow dosing directions on container)

Goldfish and This Plant:

  • Goldfish love to nibble and eat on this plant keeping it trimmed somewhat for you.

  • Great shelter for fish to hide in.

Live Aquatic Plant - Bunch Anacharis
Anacharis

This plant is easy to grow and maintain. It acts like a sponge soaking up a LOT of ammonia. It can float or be planted in the substrate. Fish love this plant because of its density that provides shelter. When floated, fry love to hide amongst the vines.

Temperature: 72-78 degrees (F)

Lighting: Moderate

pH: 6.5 - 7.5

  • This is a dual plant that can be rooted in substrate or floated

  • Plant 2” deep into substrate

  • Use as a background plant

Placement: Backgrounds

Trimming Required: Yes (grows tall and if floated, roots will grow as well. Never trim the roots, but just bury them into the substrate.)

Fertilizer: Liquid (following dosing directions)

Goldfish and This Plant:

  • Goldfish love the dense shelter of the vines.

  • May tend to nibble on the tiny leaves but this plant is hardy and will grow new leaves.

G’z 6 Water Wisteria (Hygrophila Difformis), Live Aquarium/Aquatic/Stem Plant
Wisteria

This plant looks similar to the Water Sprite. Goldfish like to nibble on the delicate leaves and because of this, they can keep the plant trimmed back for you.

Temperature: 75-82 degrees (F)

Lighting: Moderate

pH: 6.5 - 7.0

  • This is a dual plant that can be rooted in substrate or floated

  • Use as a midground and background plant

Placement: Mid-grounds and Backgrounds

Trimming Required: Yes (grows quickly)

Fertilizer: Liquid (follow dosing directions on container)

Goldfish Love Because:

  • Goldfish love to snack on the delicate leaves and tend to keep the plant trimmed down for you.

  • Fry love hiding in this when floated

Other Plants

African Water Fern - Bolbitis heudelotii - Live aquarium plant
African Water Fern

This little plant is unique because it does not grow rooted or floating, but as an attachment to wood or lava rock. It’s a very unassuming plant that compliments foregrounds and requires little maintenance.

Temperature: 74-84 degrees (F)

Lighting: Moderate - High

pH: 6.0 - 8.5

Must be attached to wood or porous rock (lava rock). Should not be planted in substrate.

Placement: Attachment

Trimming Required: Very little

Fertilizer: Liquid (follow dosing directions on container)

Goldfish and This Plant:

  • Goldfish will nibble on this plant and because the plant requires little trimming, your goldfish will keep it in check.

Aquatic Arts Easy Aquarium Plant Package (10-20 Gallon) Heavily Plant Your Aquarium - 5 Different Large Plant Portions of Java Moss, Marimo Moss Balls, Moneywort, Anubias Barteri, and Java Fern
Java Moss
Java Moss has a beautiful soft carpet-like appearance that provides a planted tank ground cover. Goldfish will nibble on it, and may even keep it trimmed down for you.


Temperature: 59-86 degrees (F)

Lighting: High

pH: 5.0 - 8.0

  • Must be attached to wood or porous rock (lava rock). Should not be planted in substrate.
  • Carpet-like ground cover

Placement: Attachment

Trimming Required: Some

Fertilizer: Liquid (follow dosing directions on container)

Goldfish and This Plant:

  • Goldfish love to nibble on the sprouts of this plant.

Plants First, Fish Last

It’s important to establish the plants in the tank before adding fish.

Having fish already in place inside of a tank makes it extremely difficult to cycle the planted tank.

Additionally, it causes your goldfish extreme stress when there is constant disturbance in their habitat. Stressed fish can easily develop disease.

If you already have fish and want to establish a planted tank, the best thing we can recommend is purchase a new tank, get it planted, and cycled and THEN add your existing fish to the planted tank.

Never add fish to a planted tank that has not cycled because the fish will suffer from ammonia or nitrite poisoning which can be deadly and painful.


Your Tank And Supplies

Before you consider what plants you want or anything else, you must first have a dedicated empty tank purchased and in place along with all of the necessary supplies to prepare for planting.

Supplies you will need for a planted tank:

THE TANK

We have gathered 5 of the top-rated fish tanks that come complete with most everything you need (not including plants, fish or substrate.) Note: some tanks do not include thermometer or heater.

Stay away from small tanks, they do not do well due to a faster buildup of waste.

Choose a 10-50 gallon tank that is shallow (2’ tall or less.) Shallow tanks are easier to maintain and allows plants to grow quickly.

 

Top 5 Best Rated Plant only Aquarium Kits

Marina Aquarium Kit - 20 gallon Fish Tank - LED

Capacity: 10 Gallons

Filtration System: Clip-on

Includes:

  • Slim Clip-on filtration system with quick change cartridges

  • LED lighting (canopy style)

  • Nutrafin Max fish food

  • Nutrafin Aqua Plus Water Conditioner to treat tap water

  • Nutrafin Cycle Biological media

  • Fish net

Dimensions: 20” L x 10” W x 12.5” H

SeaClear 20 gal Acrylic Aquarium Combo Set, 24 by 13 by 16", Black

Capacity: 20 Gallons

Filtration System: Not Included

Includes:

  • 15”  lighting (reflector style)

Dimensions: 27.5” L x 20.8” W x 17” H

Aqueon Fish Tank Aquarium Led Kit, 10 Gallon

Aqueon 10G or 20G Aquarium Starter Kit with LED Lighting

Capacity: 10 or 20 Gallons

Filtration System: 5-stage filtration

Includes:

  • LED  lighting (hood style)

  • Quiet 5-stage filtration system with cartridge

  • 50-watt heater (preset)

  • Fish food

  • Water conditioner (for tap water)

  • Fish Net

  • Thermometer

Dimensions: 20” L x 10.5” W x 13” H

Fluval Flex 57 - 15 Gallon Nano Glass Aquarium Kit

Capacity: 15 Gallons

Filtration System: 3-stage with

Includes:

  • 7500K LED light for plant growth

  • Remote control for LED Lights which changes colors

  • Dual (multi-direction) outputs

  • Activated carbon

  • BioMax insert

Dimensions: 16” L x 16” W x 15” H

biorb classic plant article

BiOrb Classic 60 with MCR

Capacity: 16 Gallons

Filtration System: 5-stage filtration

Includes:

  • Filtration system with media

  • LED lighting with 16 preset colors, remote control

  • Easy access for feeding

  • 12V transformer

  • Air pump

  • Airstone

  • Filter cartridge

  • Water conditioner (for tap water)

  • Beneficial bacteria

Dimensions: 19.75” diameter x 20.5” H


Lighting

Lighting should be chosen based on the output and spectrum. Having a range of all colors is the best as it promotes photosynthesis process required for plants.

WHY IS LIGHTING REQUIRED FOR A PLANTED TANK?

There is one basic thing that all plants have in common. Light is required whether it comes from the sun or artificial means.

Lighting provides plants the ability to produce food which the plant needs. The process of producing their own food is called photosynthesis.

Without photosynthesis, a plant will not grow or thrive and will die.

Photosynthesis occurs when a plant leaf absorbs light and traps it within the photosynthetic cells.

Leaves have chloroplasts which are special structures that have the sole duty of converting light into food (photosynthesis.)

The food that is produced through photosynthesis is sugar in which fuels plant growth, development, ability to reproduce and repair itself.

The unique thing about photosynthesis is it removes carbon dioxide from the tank and replaces it with oxygen.

This is the key benefit of having a planted tank!

LIGHT

  • Photosynthesis will only occur in plants when lighting is present.
  • Plants stop photosynthesizing during the night and start again in daylight.
  • Most plants require up to 15 hours of light.
  • Leaving lights on in a tank will cause plants to over-photosynthesize killing them.

THE BASICS OF LIGHTING

Lighting is measured in 4 ways

Wattage

  • The amount of energy used to power the light
  • Planted tanks require 2-4 watts per 1 gallon of water

Kelvin

  • The coloring of light ( low: warm colors, high: cool colors)
  • Planted tanks need 6500k to 7500k

Lumens

  • The brightness of light
  • Tanks require 40 lumens per 1 gallon of water

PAR (Photosynthetically Active Radiation)

  • The amount of light that tank plants and beneficial algae needs to grow

Different Types Of Lighting

Incandescent

  • ​Obsolete and requires replacement
  • Unable to reach water depths over 12"
  • Fails to properly light the tank
  • Overheats causing water temperatures to be too warm
  • Not energy efficient
  • Breaks if water touches bulb

Fluorescent

  • Bulbs must be rated for aquatic plants
  • Does not have full spectrum of colors required for plants

LED

  • Adequately penetrates water depths up to 24"
  • Full color spectrum that promotes plant growth
  • Energy efficient
  • Compact
  • Safer around water
  • Has ability to change color
  • Can be set on a timer so plants get the right amount of light.

THINGS TO CONSIDER FOR PLANTED TANK LIGHTING

Installation: Easy or Hard?

It’s ideal to purchase lighting for your planted tank that is easy to install and has the ability to adjust to the tank.

Features: Color Modes

Lighting that has the feature of simulating daylight (sunrise and sunset) and night is a great feature to have.

Some lights are complex with programmable light settings, but there are some that come with remote controls and the ability to run various modes easily.

LED: Durable and Great Performance

When considering LED lights, read the reviews on the light itself before purchasing.

Some LED lights lack the durability to perform and may work initially only to fail soon thereafter.

Protection Against Water

Lighting should have proper ventilation to prevent it from overheating itself.

Having a splash guard or some form of protection against the water is another feature that can’t go unmet.

LED lights should never come in contact with water.

TOP-THREE BEST RATED PLANTED TANK LIGHTS

Finnex Planted+ 24/7 Fully Automated Aquarium LED, Controller, 48 Inch

Type:

  • LED Lights

Kelvin Rating:

  • 7000K

Light Spectrum:

  • Daylight, Red, Green, Blue

Features:

  • Timer simulates sunrise and sunset with a cool dawn start, intense daylight, scaling down to sunset and starry night.

  • Added elements of thunderstorms, cloudy day, moonlight and more.

  • Remote controlled that can customize settings.

  • Clear mounting legs to give appearance of it floating.

  • Can be mounted on rimless tanks.

  • Protected with splash guard.

Dimensions:

Available in 20", 24", 30", 36", & 48" wide


Beamswork EA Timer FSPEC LED Aquarium Light Freshwwater Plant Extendable (120cm - 48")

Type:

  • LED Lights

Kelvin Rating:

  • 100,000K

Light Spectrum:

  • Daylight, Red, Green, Blue

Features:

  • Timer with Day or Night settings

  • Splashguard

Dimensions:

Available in 18", 24", 30", 36", & 48" wide


Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED Light for Aquarium, 24 to 36-Inch

Type:

  • LED Lights

Kelvin Rating:

  • 6500K

Light Spectrum:

  • White, Blue

Features:

  • Multi-mode settings to simulate cloudy day, thunderstorms, evenings, sunrise, sunset, and moon.

Dimensions:

Available in 18", 24", 36", 48", & 60" wide


CO2 (CARBON DIOXIDE) INJECTION SYSTEM

A supply of CO2 is required for your plants to be able to photosynthesize.

Carbon dioxide is not present in water and plants require CO2 to live. A CO2 injection system delivers the gas into the tank.

You will need to monitor the CO2 levels because if too low, algae will grow, and if too high, the pH level will be off.

Image: drsfosterandsmith.com


PLANTING A TANK

We are going to walk you through the basics of achieving a planted tank.

Envision your tank as a barren landscape of which you will build up, plant, and maintain. The only missing component is the lawn mower!

Aquascaping is primarily landscaping and adding plants within a water environment.

This is done by adding rocks, wood, substrate soil, and plants into a fish tank. One might say this is “gardening under water.”

Planted aquariums are generally located in the central part of a home where family members can enjoy it.

In other formal settings such as an office or reception area, the planted aquarium serves to add a soothing and peaceful element to the environment such as medical offices, waiting rooms, etc.

WHAT WILL I NEED FOR PLANTING?

  • TANK
  • LIGHTING
  • PLANTS AND PLANT MATTER

Some beginners are intimidated by having to care for the plants within a planted aquarium as well as choosing the right ones.

We have listed easy plants for beginners below.

Plants and greenery should be chosen based on:

  • Balancing overall design, you are wanting to achieve.

  • The desire to have a dark or bright tank.

  • How much you want to spend time maintaining.

  • SUBSTRATE

The substrate is what’s placed on the very bottom of the tank to serve as a ground to support your plant roots as well as holding the nutrients for the plant matter.

For beginners, we suggest you use Aqua Soil or Aqua Sand because it contains nutrients that will promote plant growth.

Beginners seem to do better with Aqua Sand, but again, it’s a personal choice.

  • FERTILIZER

Your plant matter will require fertilizer to thrive. It’s best to choose something that is free from nitrates and phosphates because anything other than that will promote algae growth.

There are two forms of fertilizer to choose from: liquid and root tablets.

  • TOOL KIT

You will need a toolkit that gets into hard-to-reach places for pruning the plant matter.

We suggest a basic toolkit that has:

  • Straight Tweezers
  • Curved Tweezers
  • Straight Scissors
  • Curved Scissors
  • Spatula

LET’S DO SOME PLANTING!

PLACEMENT

 1. Place your fish tank in the location it will stay in.

GOOD

  • Place tank near an electrical outlet.
  • If you have small children, be sure to anchor the tank and any supporting cabinet or shelf it is on.
  • Tank should be placed in a strong and sturdy area. Ensure the floor can support the weight of your tank.
  • Make sure you have enough room to move around the tank when doing maintenance.
  • Place the tank in a place where you can sit and enjoy your fish.
  • Do not place in a loud or high-traffic area. Fish prefer a peaceful, quiet area. Otherwise, noise and traffic will stress your fish which could lead to disease. It’s best to place them where you can keep an eye on them for any signs of stress or disease.
  • If you have small children, be sure to anchor the tank and any supporting cabinet or shelf it is on.

BAD

  • Don’t attempt to move or relocate a tank that is full of water.
  • Don’t place tank near TV or near any speakers. The sound and vibration is intensified in water and will cause your fish stress which will lead to disease.
  • Don’t place tank in direct sunlight. This will promote growth of algae and will eventually affect the quality of your water. Bad water quality leads to stressed and diseased fish.
  • Do not place your tank near a central air (heater / air conditioning) vent. This can raise or lower the temperature of the tank.
  • Keep any lamps or other electrical items away from the tank.
2. WASH MATERIALS

Thoroughly wash, rinse, and dry any rocks, wood or other materials that you are going to place inside the fish tank.

3. SUBSTRATE

Poor the substrate (Aqua Soil or Aqua Sand) into the tank. Create a forward slope of the substrate (higher in the back, lower in the front.)

4. ADD STONES OR ROCKS

Before planting, you will place your large rocks, wood or stones into the location you desire.

5. Planting

You will begin planting from the back forward.

  1. Back: tall plants
  2. Middle: Rock(s), Wood, Low-Growing plants
  3. Front: Low-Growing (carpet-like) plants

Don’t clump the same color of plants together, spread them out.

Use tweezers to grab the bottom (root end) of the plant and insert into substrate. Repeat until all of your plants are planted.

6. Fill With Water

Slowly fill the tank with water using either a small plate or your hand to break the hard flow. Filling too quickly with something to buffer the flow will result in your substrate separating and plants coming out. If this does happen, allow the water to settle. Then rearrange things and make sure plants are placed back into the substrate.

7. Cycle The Tank

This is the most crucial step in having a successful planted aquarium! Although the cycling process is automated, it does require patience along with consistent water testing. Cycling for a newly planted tank takes up to two weeks.

Most aquarist’s will cycle their planted aquariums with a few hardy fish. However, this is a cruel and inhumane method to cycle a tank. It causes the fish stress and can kill them. There is a method to cycle without fish.

By adding 2-4 ppm of ammonia initially, you can begin cycling. You may need to add additional small amounts for a few days. This is a tricky and precise formula and somewhat difficult to do, however, it is less cruel to a fish. Allow the tank to cycle for 8 weeks before doing a final water test.

Levels to be able to add goldfish should be:

  • Temperature: 72-78 degrees (F)
  • pH: 5.5 and 7
  • Nitrite 0ppm: always at 0
  • Ammonia: 0ppm
  • Nitrate >40 ppm: always 0
8. Adding the Fish

Before adding fish to your newly planted tank, the fish must be quarantined in a hospital tank (see further down) for two weeks before being introduced to the planted tank. This prevents disease from the pet store or fish breeder from contaminating your tank.

It is recommended that you only add 2-4 goldfish initially before adding any other fish. Do not be discouraged if you lose a few fish along the way. Until you have an established cycling regime, this is normal.

You can feed the fish on the day after you add them to the tank.

9. Plant Maintenance & Fertilization

When you do your weekly tank maintenance, include the plant maintenance as part of the routine. Remove any dead or decaying plant matter and trim plants as needed to prevent overgrowth.

Fertilizing should be part of plant maintenance. There are several types of fertilizers that you can choose from. However, a complete fertilizer is highly recommended because of its ability to address all of the nutrients plants need.

When fertilizing, you can dose by adding liquid fertilizer into the tanks water column or go with a substrate fertilizer. Either way, you choose to dose, the plants will absorb the nutrients either through their leaves or by their roots.


QUARANTINING NEW PLANTS

New plants that will be introduced to your new planted tank must be quarantined in a dedicated hospital tank before it can be transferred to the regular tank.

This is to reduce any risk of disease piggybacking on your new fish or plant(s) into the planted tank.

Below you will find steps on quarantining and setting up a dedicated hospital tank.

SETTING UP A HOSPITAL TANK TO QUARANTINE NEW PLANTS

1. The hospital tank needs to be separate from your regular fish tank and is to be used only for quarantining new plants and new / sick fish.

2. Set up a separate tank with a filter system.

3. DO NOT place any substrate in the hospital tank on the floor of the tank.

4. Transfer some of the established bio media from the filter in the main tank into the hospital tank. By doing this, you introduce the media to the hospital tank that will help to maintain the nitrogen cycle.

5. Set the filter on the lowest setting. This will ensure that the movement in the water is at a minimum.

6. Using a mesh bag, place some of the main tank’s substrate into a bag and put directly in the hospital tank.

7. Turn on the heater to reach ideal water temperature for your plant(s.)

8. Quarantine new plants for 1 week before transferring to main tank. During this time, test the water to monitor parameters.


In Conclusion

Setting up a new planted tank may seem extensive and tedious.

The hard work and attention to details and following each step will truly benefit your goldfish!

Once your tank is full of lush vibrant greenery with goldfish swimming about happily, you can fully appreciate and enjoy your planted tank.


Frequently Asked Questions

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“What is a planted tank?”

 

Answer

  • A planted tank is a fish tank that contains live aquatic (water) plants.

 

“How many goldfish can be placed in a planted tank?”

 

Answer

One-to-One ratio; 1” of fish per 1 gallon of water.

 

“Is lighting required for a planted tank?”

 

Answer

Yes. Lighting provides plants the ability to produce food which the plant needs. The process of producing their own food is called photosynthesis. Without photosynthesis, a plant will not grow or thrive and will die.

 

“Why do fish have to be added after the plants?”

 

Answer

  1. Fish are extremely stressed by disturbance in their habitat. Planting a tank with fish already present sets the fish up for disease from the stress as well as not being able to quarantine the plants initially or cycle the planted tank before adding fish.
  2. The tank must be cycled with the new plants in it before adding fish.

 

“What is the best lighting for a planted tank?”

 

Answer

LED lights are best for planted tanks because they have features that make lighting more efficient and beneficial to the plants and the fish. The color spectrum of LED lights simulates sunrise, daylight, sunset, and night. Most LED lights are automated or have a timer that will turn the lights on and off.

 

“Do I need to have a filtration system if I have plants in the tank?”

 

Answer

Yes. Although plants do filter the water somewhat, they cannot fully perform the function of a filter system.

 

“What size tank(s) does best with plants?”

 

Answer

Tanks that are 20-50 gallons do best with live plants.

 

“Is there a specific water test kit that I need to use for a planted tank?”

 

Answer

Yes. You need to have a master water test kit because a master kit tests for water parameters that are important to both fish and plants.

 

“Are there certain aquatic plants that are easy for beginners to start with?”

 

Answer

Beginners do best with the following plants:

  • Java Moss
  • Dwarf Baby Tears
  • Dwarf Hairgrass
  • Amazon Sword
  • Java Fern
  • Anubias Nana
  • Pogostemon Helferi

 

“Do aquatic plants require fertilizer?”

 

Answer

Yes. Adding fertilizer routinely as part of your maintenance regimen will ensure healthy plants. A complete fertilizer is recommended because it covers all of the nutrients plants require.

 

“Do plants have to be quarantined before putting into a tank?”

 

Answer

If you are setting up a new planted tank (minus the fish), you can safely plant everything. The tank will, of course, need to cycle for 2 weeks before adding fish.

 

If you have an established planted tank and want to add a new plant (and you have fish present), you will need to quarantine the new plant(s) in a quarantine (hospital) tank for 1 week to prevent disease piggybacking on the new plant into the established tank.

 

“Do planted tanks produce algae?”

 

Answer

There are a few factors that will promote algae growth in a planted tank.

  • Tank is in direct sunlight
  • Lighting is left on the tank more than 12-15 hours
  • If tank maintenance is not done weekly

 

“What temperature should a planted tank be maintained at?”

 

Answer

A planted tank with goldfish should be kept between 72-78 degrees (F.)

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