This thread has got me thinking. Once was a time I invested in tons of life
like plastic plants. All was as good as could be expected. However, plastic
plants actually decay under light. What a mess, and then more money to buy
new ones. I thought, if I could just get plants to grow, all would be right.
I started off buying cheap bags of plants at auctions and experimenting. I
have a small selection now of plants that do well in aquariums with little
trouble. Although I do not use pure sand , it just hasn't seemed right yet,
current talk here has sent me to set up four tanks with sand substrates. My
current collection of tanks all have natural and boughten brown gravels of
various sizes. It ranges from pea sized ( with mixed in chunks much bigger)
down to sand. When you collect wild gravel, sorting size is not as easy as
it is in the bulk bins at the LFS.
Step one was buying some timers. Step two was selecting lights that made
plants grow, and didn't make my bank account wither. I concur with Todd that
those GE daylight, or whatever name they keep changeing them, give you the
most bang for your buck. I like to mix these in dual and quad fixtures with
the "bathroom " flouresents. These are also called warm whites, and look tan
when lit up. Step three, picking plants that are hard to kill.
Here is a list of plants I use in tanks year round that do well. Java moss,
java fern, crypts, annubias, water sprite, frog bit, salvnini, pothos (
roots only in water please), cork screw and jungle val. Several others work
All tanks contain atleast some driftwood, java fern and moss love to grow on
driftwood. Again, wild caught driftwood adds more benefits than drawbacks.
Ramshorn snails, the bane of many aquarist, work wonders in my tanks. The
ones not eaten by fish gobble up "bad algae" Speaking of algae , leave the
film on the back and sides of the tank, a natural free background!
I have had all these plants grow really well in these set ups, with low to
high fish loads. Lights are on 14 hours a day, and temps are from low to
high 70's for the most part.
Now here is the kicker. Ever since I got a green thumb, my fish have
rewarded me by spawning alot. And fry don't die as easily, finding food to
live off of for up to weeks in the thick greenery. Not to mention, fry can
hide from parents that decide its no longer their baby and it is an
appetizer. For instance, I have a 50 gallon with a large pair of dollar
sunfish. Until a recent lapse in feeding, I had three sizes of young dollars
in with them. I never saw the fish really gaurding a nest , let along where
half these fish came from. To top all that, if you know dollars, you have to
be thinking, the female should be long dead. Not the case. The thick forest
also protects her. The male knows it is just too much work to chase her
through the jungle. Not impressed, a smaller 38 gallon has two pairs of
another strain of dollar, and a female bantam sunfish. The males are
actually somewhat chummy, and the rest are not battered at all.
Go with live plants, get your aquatic jungles going, and reap the rewards. A
beautiful set up, and spawning/ fry growing out with little effort. It is
nothing to be frightened of .
A reformed plastic plant user.
" If you use plastic plants, why not keep plastic fish?"
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