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Old 05-14-2006, 08:17 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Why a Planted Aquarium

Heidisue writes that it would be a good thing to have a thread dedicated as to why we as individuals keep planted tanks. Not the common “how” we keep them but an exploration as to why, or maybe the origins of your desire to keep a planted tank. Thinking this is a good idea I’ll take the lead and at least expound on why I have a desire to keep a planted tank.

At about age 12 the kid my age across the street from me started an aquarium. Thinking this was about the coolest thing I had seen in my short life I began to lobby my parents for one myself. At first it was much like they quest for a motorcycle, fallen on deaf ears. Months and months of near constant annoyance and one evening as my 13th birthday approached I was told that after dinner we would go to the Fish Store and take a look around. My first task was to find the address and hours of the shop. Now this particular shop at the time had 2 locations both on the same road separated by about 10 miles. One in the city, the smaller, older place, and out in suburbia was the newer, larger location. I knew we wanted to go to the newer place but I wrote down the address for the older one. After what seemed to be an interminable dinner we ventured into cold rainy dark December night with my friend from across the street. We had an idea where the new shop was as my friend had been there before yet I had the address for the older location. We drove up and down that road 2 or 3 times, my father considerable ire rising with each U turn. Finally we enter the old location, my spirits dampened as I know this is not the Valhalla that had been reported to me. When queried, a friendly clerk told us of the mistake we made and explained exactly where the new shop was. Off again back into the cold rainy night we again made the trip back out to suburbia this time to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

My obsession with planted aquaria started when I walked in the front door. There, placed at the perfect viewing height for this 12 year old was a magnificent tank, fully planted with live plants. Against a verdant backdrop full grown Angels gracefully glided along, while a shoal of Cardinals darted hither and yon. Marbled Hatchetfish hovered at the surface, Cory’s playfully flirted along the substrate, I was in awe. We left the shop that evening with a new 20 long and all the hardware needed to get it running. My enthusiasm could hardly be contained and the next day I was starting to set up the tank even though a few days later we were to be off on a family vacation and was told it all must sit until we returned. It was many years, tanks and diversions in the hobby before I set up my own planted tank, but I don’t think I’ll ever be without live plants again.
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Old 05-14-2006, 10:02 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Mine is a neighbor story too, but more recent. About 8 months ago, my neighbors moved and gave us 2 gold fish in a little 3 gallon tank (they aren't in that anymore, its in the process of becoming a nano planted tank). It didn't take long before I was at the store getting a 29 gallon tank for tropical fish. I started with fake plants, and the fish really didn't seem to care too much about them. Not having room for more tanks, I wanted to do more with what I had. I decided on getting live plants. The fish enjoy them, as they actually swim through the plants instead of around them like they did with the fake ones. It looks so much better with the real plants, and I enjoy the extra dimension in brings to maintaining the tank.
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Old 05-14-2006, 11:38 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I had wanted an aquarium for years, but always thought it was too difficult. A few years back, I really needed to get my own hobby, so I took the plunge. I started by reading about half a dozen books. Though most of them didn't get too deeply into it, every single one seemed to imply that a planted tank was a much healthier environment for the fish. Always having a thing for plants anyway, I figured it made a lot of sense to me, so I started researching planted tank options.

Now, I love the look of the planted tank, and though I don't completey ignore my live stock, the plants do get much closer and more frequent inspection ! The constant changing of the foliage is so rewarding, IMO.
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Old 05-14-2006, 12:03 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Wow, well, mine is a third Neighbor story!

A neighbor lady up the street was friends with my parents, and we had occasion to visit her house. I'd always liked to "muck around" in ponds, puddles and with land snails and such. I'd brought back buckets of tadpoles to observe for a few days before returning them to their pond.

However, when I saw Mrs. JB's aquariums, I just KNEW what I was really after. This was in the early to mid 70's, when some colored gravels were just becoming widely available. SHE, however, had this fabulously classy mix of black and white sand. I was mesmerized with her 2 aquariums, and lapped up every detail of what was in them. The white sand was white quartz, and the black was volcanic basalt sand she had brought back from a Hawiian beach she and her husband had visited years before. Her tanks glowed green from live plants. It was such a far cry from the bare bottomed or pink-gravelled tanks I saw in the only LFS I had access to....... and her guppies and dwarf african frogs looked so happy and healthy among their plants. I was smitten. I thank the Couponing Club for helping my interest too. This was during the rivalry of supermarkets "doubling" manufacturer's coupons. A group of ladies from the neighborhood would carpool over to a local church, where a few dozen of them got together monthly to trade coupons. I would tag along for the evening, and endure the tediously long swap event just for those few minutes of staring into JB's aquariums when we stopped to pick her up. I remember staring at the glowing green tanks, trying to imprint everything to memory in those few precious minutes. And it was WORTH it!

Years later, after much futile begging for an aquarium, I finally forced the issue by bringing home two carnival-prize goldfish. My parents were NOT pleased, but didn't have the heart to let the creatures suffer. Plus, I repeatedly pointed out that I hadn't done what my friend had done - SHE won and consequently brought home a RABBIT! How mature of me to have not even played THAT carnival game, knowing a rabbit was out of the question! So, I got a 2 gallon fishbowl. It was a start. After showing how serious I was by checking out LOTs of aquarium and fish books out of the library, I argued the case that the bowl was too small. Enter the 10 gallon aquarium.

I just shake my head when I think back on those days. Also, with Mrs. JB's guidance, I actually had some encouraging early success with plants. She gave me plantlets from her large-lobed Water Sprite. Thinking back to that early setup, those plants must have been indestructible, LOL! But, to this day, that plant has a special place in my heart for being my first foray into aquatic plants. I lapped up every morsel of information she gave me, and I only realize now how gently she steered me away from potential disasters of my own making!

I feel very lucky to have had a mentor of sorts! Thanks Mrs. Joyce B!
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Old 05-14-2006, 04:36 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Like Jane, I always loved getting dirty in ponds and catching animals and all that stuff. There were farm ponds everywhere so I got my fill. I loved traipsing creeks and catching minnows, waterdogs, bugs, etc. Also like Jane I had tadpoles periodically, and did my best to raise them to adults. So when I got a ten gallon setup for my 10th birthday, I was hooked. It was the classic doomed to fail setup, but I kept trying. A few years later, I tried again with goldfish, then failed. I had a betta for several years, and that maintained the interest. Then I learned about proper fishkeeping. I bought a 15 gallon eclipse setup, made it a single specimen cichlid tank, then converted it to a low light planted with java moss, driftwood, and cryptocoryne. Then I bought a 37 setup. After failing several times with high light, I finally got it right. Many hours and a lot of money later, here I am.
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Old 05-14-2006, 05:26 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Another sort of, neighbour story. My Aunt, as long as 25 years ago had a 30 gallon aquarium in her family room. In there where zebra danios , neons, a red tail shark,(Holy Carp! A Shark in there!) African dwarf frog, cory cats, sword tails, a tun of plastic plants. I was 5yrs old and could sit in front of that tank for hours. The dog would even get jealous and flop in front of us kids and whine for attention.

Long story short, (HE HE) I thnk the reason for me to keep planted tanks is this. Over the years, I have picked up a plant or 2 here and there from the LFS . They usually died after a while in my tanks. Incandescent lights etc..
I feel driven to succeed these days after dissapointing losses in my early inexperience with keeping aquatic plants. It is challenging, more beautifull and more entertaining to keep planted tanks for me than tanks without plants. I enjoy the challenge for me to battle algae. I enjoy showing these tanks to my friends. And I enjoy tanks that produce. Be it fish, plants, whatever!
p.s. I must mention that I cannot beleive the success of my current setups because I have gotten into reading this forum and asking questions when I need some help!
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Old 05-16-2006, 01:12 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Well, my story is similar I guess...anyway, here goes. When I was in my 3rd year of college, my roommate, his girlfriend and her roommate thought it would be neat to get a 10 gallon fish tank to take care of. I had never actually owned my own tank, but had watched them around my house growing up --- my dad had a 100g, 15 hex and custom-made 20g, all of which were basic community setups, or African cichlids. No live plants whatsoever. A few months later, my parents bought a used 40g setup for me as a xmas gift and I was very happy. Some of the fish fish I remember putting in it were 4 silver dollars, 1 or 2 angelfish, a couple gouramis, redtail shark, pleco and a few other tetra-type fish. I remember seeing plants at Petco and wondered, "How hard can they really be? The plants outside grow just fine and we had a couple house plants...Anyway, I tossed some cabomba, a sword plant, java fern and java moss in there with no Co2, no ferts and a single 18W light on the 40g tank. Needless to say, nothing really did well. The cabomba fell apart. The sword plants were munched down to the crown by the SDs. The java fern turned black and was also eaten off of a little, plus the moss was impossible to keep clean, so I threw it out. I finally decided to upgrade lighting, so I bought 3- 30W T-12s (actinic -- bad mistake) and started running them on the tank with a "lightly" planted scape. This was my first experience with green water. Well, I conquered that and learned a thing or two. Now, today, I just run my 20g planted with pressurized Co2, cannister filter w/ homemade PVC reactor hooked to the outflow, plus 110W of PCs. It's like night and day compared to back then. I'm looking to convert my 90g central/south American cichlid tank into a planted tank. I've had thoughts of heavily planting it and trying some Discus, or maybe just 2-3 shoals of 20-30 small tetras (rummynose, cardinal, etc) and have the main focus be on the plants. I'll leave it at that. Great stories everyone!

P.S. as a side note, I was quite a collector of sorts as well. I used to walk around the backyard as a kid, collecting snails, bugs and spiders. I even made my mom pick them up for me and once got her bit by a centipede! lol

P.S.S. I still find it funny when "newbies" come into the LFS I work weekends at and gawk at the redtail/rainbow sharks and bala sharks saying things like, "Cool! I want a shark in my tank!" I usually don't want to rain on their parade and say, "Well, its actually not a shark, like Jaws, but a catfish." I would probably get some confused looks. Or the sort of people who ask me if they can put an electric blue johanni with their neon tetras. I just politely say no, as we've all been there (newbie-ville).

Last edited by ringram; 05-16-2006 at 01:48 PM..
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Old 05-21-2006, 08:03 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Thanks for following up my request, Gnatster!

Here's what's got me hooked:

I find gardening in water relaxing, and the way the leaves sway when I tend them is beautiful. I usually do it at night when I'm alone, making it even more precious. When I'm not sticking my hands in there I just watch everyone doing their algae-eating, scum-cleaning, fishy swimmy thing - more entertaining than tv! It's a space for me to putter and think and space out a little, but still be engaged and interested in what's happening.

I'm learning a lot. I've had recurring nightmares for a lot of years in which I haven't finished my science homework and it stressed me out to no end. Now I AM doing my science homework!

Also, I missed having pets (allergic family members) and these pets don't make anyone sneeze.

And let's not pretend we don't enjoy the semblance of some control over something, when so many other things can feel beyond out power. Yeah, I get a little God complex on in my tank from time to time, it's true. But then I've never had an algae bloom......
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Old 05-21-2006, 01:39 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I was a serial murderer when i was a kid! Clueless and armed with a cement tank with one side of glass, i always had problems keeping anything alive more than 3 weeks plants or fish. Even indestructible swords or guppies were no match for my ignorance and nutty behaviour. [peeing in tank at 5yrs says my mom- i claim memory loss]

By puberty i quit! This was the 80's and studies and hormone control were more important.

Enter the new millenium, I had a housemate Carl who had a fascinating tank with cichlids and plants. Made me think back to the shy creatures i loved back when i couldn't afford them-Discus! Not wanting to repeat the same mistakes, I bought books and read everything i could about discus. The one picture in Bernd Degen's book that caught my eye was this picture of a group 6 discus that were under the shade of this beautiful sword plant. I thought, hey! I want that!
The Discus hunt was on, and passing by a very nice LFS, i peered in and there it was, the most beautiful tank i ever laid eyes on. A five feet tank and Bolbitis growing like a thick rainforest umbrella, lush java moss carpet and Discus! I must have asked 300 questions, looked in the cabinet sump and hung around till they shoo'ed me half hour past closing time!

Thinking back, i always despised the idea of goldfish bowls, betta in jars, and bare tanks with ugly silicone showing. So naturally, the idea of making a planted tank was on. After many failures and hardware upgrades, I finally can concentrate on aquascaping.

Nowadays, I convert landscapes in my mind into aquascaping language everywhere i go. Overseas LFS are a must to visit!

Lastly, i must say the people in the forums especially APC and AQ have been a great source of information and inspiration.

Warm regards

Stan Chung
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Old 05-25-2006, 08:49 AM   #10 (permalink)
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My story goes something like this....

I have had more or less tanks all my life except for a period of 5 years, lets go to the beginning.

I found an old iron frame tank at a flee market, which we bought as soon as I could get my mom over where it was for sale.
It was roughly 60 liters and when I filled it, it leaked a lot from all the putty sealing.
My uncle knew a glazier and got it fixed, all new glass fixed with silicone instead.
I had this tank for a lot of years and I always had one problem, the plants.
My friend from school whom also had a tank had plants growing like crazy, he gave me plants and I placed them in my tank, so what happened, of course they died.
We had from time to time 3-4 tanks in our home, but all had more or less problems with the plant growth, the only thing i really remember surviving at all was some kind of anubias.

A lot later and a couple of tanks later (shortly after I met my spouse)....

10 years ago I bought a new tank which I really liked (it's still my favorite tank 325L). I filled this tank with fish and plants, but as usuall the plants died, so i had it more or less without plants for some years.

We moved from the apartment we lived in and moved to a house with a very suspect floor which I never trusted which made me buy a
112L instead and placed the 325L tank for storage.
The "small" tank was living its life and time went on until some of us was going to have a birthday party and my spouse asked me to clean the tank up get some new plants and fishes.

And once again the plants died, at this time i thought that I was going to find the course for this, so I took Internet for help and found out that plants need feeding as well.

When searching the Internet I found pictures, posts and information which Defdac was the author of and that gave me a real wow feeling, this got me searching deeper into the problem and on that way it is.

Now I have some understanding of the need of plants, is this making it more easy? the answer is funny enough no (different but no).
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