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Is it possible to over plant a tank? It so how can you tell when it’s too much

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Following,  my novice thoughts are this: as long as you can keep up with the nutritional and lighting needs of the plants, plant away. But eventually even the most expirenced Aqua horticulturist will reach a tipping point  where he/she can not keep up with a plants needs, AKA "over planted". I'm sure there will be more thoughtful answers that will follow,  these are just a novices thoughts on the subject. 

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On the question of whether it is possible to overplant a tank;


I think as the number or mass of plants increase one needs to supplement nutrients to include CO2.  At some point even easy to grow, slow growing plants would fail to thrive with excess competition for limited nutrients.

Assumng one is willing to spend the time and money to provide sufficient light, nutrients, co2, you can grow so much plant matter so as to make the tank unwieldy to look at without significantly cutting back and trimming.  Ie you cant see the fish, or in fact all of the different plants as your view is blocked.

Many fish seem quite happy swimming in and amongst dense plantings, but, you cant enjoy watching them, cause you cant see them.

The photo I included above in my first response was taken after trimming back, and rearranging plants in the tank to make room for a few more.

I generally aim to keep the density of plants and height to the back and sides, leaving swimming room in the mid section, and only low height plants in the foreground and more open spaces to the front.


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With plant lighting and nutrients set aside for a moment, it is ultimately a matter of opinion if your tank is over planted. You are the one caring for and maintaining this slice of nature, so you are the one who gets to decide that. Does it look bare to you? Add more plants. Is it too busy or full to your eye? Remove plants. 

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