OK, so now that you have your tank, substrate and hardscape in place, you are ready to start planting!
When setting up a new planted tank, you’re often given the advice to ‘plant heavily’ from the beginning. What is ‘planting heavily’? IMO, this is a concept which new folks find really difficult to grasp. ( I know I did
) A better way to describe it is to ‘plant densely’ right from the start. Here are some pics showing different levels of planting from light to heavy. Lightly:
(Photo courtesy of Ian via http://dpnow.com/bb/others.pl?frames=n;read=841
(Photo courtesy of MatPat) Moderately:
(Photos courtesy of John N) Heavily:
This is my 50 I refer to below -
(Photo courtesy of Guaiac boy)
With regards to lighting, it is best to start out with moderate levels. By this, I mean a photoperiod of 9-10 hours with light levels in the 2-3wpg range. In actuality, 2.5 wpg in tanks over 20 gals, will grow a huge number of plants. I have a 50gal breeder tank which is lit by a 96W ahs light kit and a separate 30W strip, for 2.5wpg. I maintain E. triandra, and H. micranthemoides as sods for my right and left side foregrounds with no problems. (See my pic above) You don’t need a ‘laser beam’, so to speak, to have a decent foreground.
IMO, keeping light levels reasonable at the start is a major factor in an algae free tank. There seems to be a mentality among many aquarists that the higher the light, the better it is. Certainly there are folks out there with 4-5wpg with beautiful tanks. The thing is that with these kinds of lighting levels, you have very little room to make mistakes. If you forget to dose ferts, or your CO2 drops some, you will be rearing an algae farm before you realize it. One of the easiest factors in algae control is maintaining moderate light levels.
Next make sure your carbon source is good, either via CO2 or Excel. Fertilize right from the beginning so your plants have all they need to get off to a good start. Personally, I would start with half the fert levels on day 1, bringing my levels up to full level before the end of the week and my first water change. Subsequently, I would dose normally.
Perform weekly maintenance and you should be off to a good start! In about 3-4 weeks you will probably want to start replacing some of the fast growers with more desirable plants. Of course, if fast growing stems are what you like, then keep them!
The point is to enjoy your tank with a minimum of hassles.
Of course, the above is all geared towards a typical EI maintained tank. If you choose to go the ‘El Natural’ style, check out that forum for another way to do things.
Here are some links to sites with some more basic info: http://www.barrreport.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2062 http://www.barrreport.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1 http://www.rexgrigg.com/ http://www.aquatic-plants.org/articl...ges/index.html http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/f...ew-tables.html http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/f...ing-guide.html
…And of course, if you do a search here on apc, you will find a wealth of knowledge.