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Plants for an El Natural Tank

2133 Views 7 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Forgotten Path
My Tank is 48'' x 12'' by 18'' high.

The sub strata is in and the gravel is on top.
I have some stone and wood in place
and I now need a Plant Plan.

I want to cover the gravel with ground cover plants,
have some mid ground and some background plants and hopefully some colour in the plants.

Can someone help with:

Some plant names?

A link to some aquarium planting plans
or anything that you feel may help.

Get back soon


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I am working on this same question. Do make sure that your driftwood/rocks do not cover any soil. If roots can not penetrate your soil you will create H2S pockets. Also anything you can do to have emergent plants is worth the effort. This will bring more carbon onto the tank. I have been considering a dwarf lilly as my lights are close to the water level.

I only have 2 watts per gallon so I have been looking at low light plants.
Try the APC plant finder:

Select "medium" light.

Then acquire a number of different plants from different families. Some will work for you; some won't. It will be a good learning experience.

When your tank is newly set up, be sure to have a good number of rapidly growing plants to forestall any algae attacks.

Good luck!


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IainR if you are a noobie you should cater your plant selection to the water condition and light condition of your tank. Is your water hard or soft? What is the PH? Usually hard water will have higher PH but not always. What is your lighting condition low/medium/high? It's too much trouble and often difficult to change the water chemistry. This will help you to narrow down the plants you can get. Makes things easier. Once you have that, you can decide how you want the tank to look like and narrow the plant selections down even more.
For an NPT, the best ground cover is Marsilea. I have both Marsilea and Glosso in my NPT. When the taller plants cover, the Glosso doesn't get enough light and grows taller. But the Marsilea is a wonderful groundcover for low light tanks.
I was looking for a good list of plants that are proven to do well in NPT's when I found this thread. This may be a good place to compile a list (if it doesn't already exist somewhere). I suppose most everyone would agree that Marsilea, various crypts and swords do very well. What are some other plants that El Natural folks have had great success with?

Two that I have recently found to do very well (to my surprise) are:
-Hygrophila corymbosa 'angustifolia' (Willow leaf Hygro)
-Polygonum praetermissum 'Ruby'

The sub strata is in and the gravel is on top.
I have some stone and wood in place
and I now need a Plant Plan.

You don't say how much light you have for this 55 gal, nor what your water hardness is.

It is hard for me (and others) to predict which plants will do well in your unique setup. Therefore, I suggest that you either provide the necessary information, or that you plant this tank with as many different plant species as possible. Planting many different plant species is a sure way to quickly learn what works and what doesn't with your water and lighting conditions. It's worked for me! ;)
davemonkey said:
This may be a good place to compile a list (if it doesn't already exist somewhere).
I was thinking this myself. Maybe a sticky that would contain low to medium light plants that owners of NPT tanks have found to do well, with an added emphasis that each tank is unique and the list isn't a guarantee on which plants will work in your particular tank. It would give any one setting up a an NPT (both "newbies" and veterans alike) a place to start...

Perhaps each entry could have a link to the Plant Finder, list the growing habits (ground cover, foreground, etc.), the preferred light level, and its role in the NPT (something the plant finder won't have), such as aerial advantage, fast grower, etc.

I myself was wondering about Java Fern... For instance, does it provide a nutrient sink for nutrients in the water column? Does it lose all usefulness after the water column is nutrient free? Would it even preform well in that role because it is a slow grower? Having a list would allow me to read through and find out if anyone else has had luck with Java Fern...

IainR, I have had great luck with Hornwort as a floating plant... I have also grown Needle Leaf and Red Ludwigia, Hygro "Kompact", and the Crypt "Lutea" with much success. I have 2 wpg of compact fluorescent light, about 6d GH, 5d KH, and a pH of 7.6 (or higher, long story). Keep in mind that if your conditions aren't real close to mine the plants may preform radically different, maybe excepting the Hornwort, as it seems tough as nails...

Whoops, here you go:
Hygrophila corymbosa 'Kompact' - "Hygrophila Kompact"
Cryptocoryne lutea - "Lutea"
Ludwigia mullertii - "Red Ludwigia"
and what I'm pretty sure is Ludwigia arcuata - "Needle Leaf Ludwigia"
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