How To ~ Creating a Successful Planted Aquarium

With the help of DVAGA and GWAPA, I put together this tri-fold pamphlet that explains the basics on how to get started with planted aquariums. You can use this for your own club or give it to local fish stores to help educate other hobbyists about planted aquariums.

Feel free to click the link below to download the zip file that will contain the Microsoft Publisher file. Feel free to replace the pictures and Project Aquarium branding with your own club's information. If you are not a club and just wish to give this to local fish stores, I ask that you leave the Project Aquarium information on there.

Click here to download the Tri-fold Pamphlet (Requires MS Publisher)

Click here to download PDF


Below is the text from the pamphlet...


Let's Get Started

If you have been in the hobby for a number of years, you’ve probably killed your share of aquarium plants. We have all been there, so don't feel bad. Keeping aquatic plants is certainly a tricky part of our hobby. If you are new to aquariums or a seasoned vet, this pamphlet will help you get started with a successful Planted Aquarium.


Equipment Needed

-20 Gallon High Aquarium (24x12x16”)
-65watt Power Compact Light fixture
-Canister Filter
-CO2 Regulator and 5lb. CO2 Canister
-Seachem Flourite (2 bags)
-Seachem Flourish

Why a 20 High? The dimensions are nice for basic aquascaping and it’s a reasonably priced aquarium.

Why a 65watt Power Compact Lighting? This amount of light is just right for our 20 high to grow almost any plant.

Why pressurized CO2? This is the best solution to CO2 there is. It is a little pricey to begin, but the benefits and ease of use outweigh the initial cost very quickly. There are a few alternatives to pressurized, but none are as reliable.

Why a canister filter? They provide great filtration, provide a less cluttered look to your layout, and cut down on surface agitation (which leads to CO2 loss).

Why Flourish and Flourite? Plants need food!! Flourite is an iron rich substrate for roots, and Flourish is a source of nutrients dosed in the water column.


The Setup

Rinse out the Flourite in small batches. Flourite a dusty substrate, if you don't rinse now, you will be left with a mucky tank for a couple days after filling. Pre-rinsing will help minimize this.

Add the substrate creating a slope from back to front…..3-4” in the back to 2-3” in the front.

Create a hardscape using driftwood (presoaked or it may float) and rock. This is not necessary but adds to the looks of the aquascape.

Before you fill the tank is a good time to plant your plants. A spray bottle is handy to keep the plants moist, and tweezers are perfect for planting.

Rooted plants go straight into the gravel. If it’s a rosette plant (crypts), make sure the crown is above the gravel line. Plants with rhizomes (anubias or java fern) can be tied to rocks or wood. DO NOT BURY THE RHIZOME. Stem/bunched plants which come with the lead weight, cut the stem 1/2” above the weight and push them into the substrate with tweezers, 2-3 stems at a time.

Fill the tank SLOWLY to prevent excess dust from the substrate and to prevent disturbing your freshly planted tank.

Set the light on a timer for 8 hours a day.

Set up your CO2 regulator and set it to 1 bubble a second.

After 10 days, start to dose flourish as recommended on the bottle and add your clean-up crew.

It is quite normal to have some form of algae during the first month or two when the tank is balancing.

You can begin to add your fish at 3-4 weeks.

Please look at the list of plants, clean-up crew, schooling fish, and tips provided on the other side of this pamphlet.

Please visit for more information. We have all started at this exact point. I have tips to help you along the way.

Good luck!!


Plant List

Great Plants to get started with…

Eleocharis parvula
Marsilea crenata
Ranalisma rostrata
Echinodorus tenellus

Midground and Background
Hemiathus micranthemoides
Sagittaria subulata
Cryptocoryne wendtii
Anubias barteri var. nana
Anubias barteri
Anubias coffeefolia
Microsorum pteropsis
Rotala rotundafolia
Vesicularia dubyana


Plant Friendly Fish

Clean-up Crew
Otocinulus affinus
Caridina Japonica

Schooling Fish
Paracheiron axelrodi
Harlequin rasbora
Hemigrammus rhodostomus
Hemigrammus erythrozonus
Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi


Tips and FAQ

This pamphlet is just a quick overview of how to get started with aquatic plants. The reasoning and science behind each step is beyond the space available on this paper. Please join us on our forum to get all the answers you need to succeed. Below are a few more tips and FAQ’s..

Plant heavily!! When you start a planted aquarium, one of the best things you can do is plant heavily. The more plants you have in there, the faster the tank will stabilize. When you think you have enough plants, plant more!!

Join a planted aquarium forum. Most of them are free for everyone to join. You can ask questions, meet local people, and get inspiration.

Get a timer for your lights. Consistency is a planted aquariums friend. A timer helps keep your plants healthy and lets you worry about one less thing.

Where to get hardware? (tanks, co2, lighting, etc): You can find them at local fish stores or use an online vendor.

Where to get plants?: You can trade with fellow hobbyists, trade on the forms, or use one of the many online vendors.




If you find this as helpful as a book you might have had to buy or a workshop you may have had to take, feel free to Help me continue helping everyone.

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