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Taking the Planted Tank Plunge - Advice?

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Hello! First post, been taking in as much of ACO videos and content as possible and they've inspired me to dive into trying my hand at plants! I am hoping for some general direction so I give my greens a great beginning.

First, my setup:

-3-month seasoned 90-gallon with 2, 3" goldfish

-7.5 pH, 68*F, hard well water

-large river rock substrate

-Aqueon OptiBright Max 48"

-Emperor 400 HOB with only ACO coarse foam in the bays and coarse pre-filter

-Nitrates ~40ppm after 30% monthly water change, using Prime to condition

-Glass starting to get algae due to proximity to window (will darken soon; hoping snails help)

I have coming this week:

-3, Black Racer Nerites

1 each of the following:

-Java Fern

-Java Fern Windelov

-Crinum Calamistratum

-Water Sprite

-Red Dwarf Lily

-Anubias Barteri

-Anubias Nana petite (two)

-Dwarf Red Parrot's Feather


-Susswassertang (mat)

-Taiwan Moss (mat)

-Christmas Moss (mat)

I also have rocks and mopani wood that I will attach the rhizome plants to.

Given the above, what should I be aiming for starting out in terms of lighting duration, fertilizer amount/frequency (have Easy Green and tabs on hand) and anything else to look out for with a newly planted tank?

I'm trying not to freak out, and I know it will be a learning curve. Any and all words of wisdom would be welcome 🙂

Thanks for a fantastic forum,



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I've read many times that goldfish will dig up plants.  I only have goldfish in a 100 gallon tub overwintering from my pond, and I just planted Val in pea gravel in the little pots Co-op sends plants out in, then put the little pots about 1/2 inch down in the substrate - so far no problem although I saw one runner floating - that happens in tanks with no goldfish too.   As far as the 'growing' part of plants, Cory said the ones that grow slow also deteriorate slow, so you have longer to correct situations.  That fits completely with how I like to grow my plants.  Add plants, watch and test your water.  After things settle in start adding fertilizer, watch and test.  Adjust as you notice changes.  Personally, I think everything needs time to adjust to change before it will start growing, so unless your water has no nutrients, I would not add fertilizer for at least a week after putting them in your tank.  Last thing I can suggest is test your tank before and after the first couple water changes.  It's helpful to know what is being changed.  Good luck and have fun.

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Goldfish will largely view some plants as the local salad bar, so beware of that. The java ferns, anubias, and crinum should survive okay though. The red dwarf lily will likely be okay also, but will want some root zone fertilization. It's a heavy root feeder. Don't freak out if some plants don't survive. I have four planted tanks with nearly identical conditions and some plants thrive in one, survive in another, and die in another. There's little rhyme or reason to it. I tend to buy plants in multiples and spread them out among my tanks. (Often you get multiple plants in one package if you're willing to separate them.) When I find a tank that makes a plant happy, I'll keep that plant there. If a plant isn't happy in a tank I'll move it to another one and hope for the best. I've got fifteen stems of red ludwigia coming and each tank will get some and I'll see where it wants to grow. It should do well in at least one of my four tanks. I have no idea which tank or tanks it will do well in, but it'll let me know. I find plants more challenging than fish. I can move my fish from tank to tank and they don't blink. The plants are a whole different story though.

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