Low-Tech Planted Tank Guide

If you are passionate about aquascaping, but you do not have much time to take care of your tank, you might have a problem. As you know, a tank with many fish needs constant care as well as weekly water changes and adjustments for the equipment. If this seems arduous yet you really want an aquarium, you may want to get ready to install your first low-tech planted tank.

Low-Tech Planted Tank Guide

What is a low-tech planted tank?

A low-tech planted tank is an aquarium that requires little to no maintenance. You don’t have to change the water very often or worry about equipment and the combination of plants, lights, and substrate make the tank simpler, but also easier to maintain.

No CO2 required

With this tank, you will not have to use any equipment for CO2, which means less money spent on a device and less time adjusting the CO2 every few days. Of course, this also means that the tank will be more aesthetic looking since the wires will not be showing.

Since there isn’t as much CO2 as in other tanks, the plants will not grow as fast, but this is not a disadvantage. You don’t have to cut or move the plants every few weeks; just make sure that they don’t overgrow and cut them every few months.

Minimal fertilizers required

Since your plants will not grow overnight, you don’t have to worry about different kinds of substrate and fertilizers. Any simple, classic substrate from the pet supply store will work and you will only add fertilizers in the water every few months. This low-maintenance tank is perfect if you want to enjoy your hobby without dedicating too much time.

What are the disadvantages?

The biggest disadvantage for many people is the lack of fish. Actually, since there is no CO2 in the tank, only a few species will be healthy in this type of environment. In general, low-maintenance fish will be just fine, but not if they are too many. The more fish you have, the higher the levels of ammonia meaning your fish will not become unhealthy and algae will appear.

As for the plants, not all types will survive in this environment. If you choose the right plants from the very beginning, you will save yourself the trouble of starting over if your plants die.

How to install it

Starting with the substrate is the best way to begin this type of tank.You don’t have to worry too much about what kind of substrate to use as long as you make sure that it is porous. Soil substrates are tempting, but you never know for sure how healthy they will be for your fish. It can release parasites into the water, as well as chemicals that will hurt your fish. Since you want to avoid complications, stay on the safe side and check with a professional first.

Lights are a must

Lighting is very important in this kind of tank. If you use powerful lights you will notice that algae will appear in only a few days. In general, it’s better to keep the light under 2 watts per gallon of water and only use fluorescent bulbs. Depending on the type of fish you have, you might need to turn off the light for a few hours per day.

Choose your plants

Plants are the central element of this tank; therefore, you have to pay special attention to what types of plants you choose and how you plant them. The best ones are the low-maintenance ones, which are easy to care for.It is important that 90% of the substrate is filled with plants to give you the right amount of CO2 for your fish to survive in this small ecosystem.

Basic small filter

Adding a small filter, such as one that uses foam instead of charcoal, that creates good circulation in the tank will only enhance your experience and help to keep the tank clean.

After set-up

Once everything is set up, you will have to keep your tank free of fish for a few weeks. When you notice that water parameters are normal, you can start adding the fish and see how well it goes.

3 thoughts on “Low-Tech Planted Tank Guide”

  1. I’ve been using this website as a reference ever since I came across it. Keep up the excellent work. I need some advice starting a low-tech setup.

    What LED lighting would be sufficient for a 70 litre Tank measuring 60Lx30Wx40H in cm? The plants on my list are: Monte Carlo; Java Fern; Dwarf Hairgrass; Amazon Sword; Anubias Nana.

    I’m not planning on keeping fish for now but maybe freshwater in the future. Is Co2 necessary in either scenario?

    Is it fine to keep a small airstone for aesthetic purpose?

  2. I hope some 1 will respond back, I’ve got a 75 gal aquarium 1/2 full of water
    I have water wisteria, jungle Val, amazon swords, java fern no – fish setup.
    I have each type of plant’s in a 2 liter bottle (cone top cut off) & a 3 ft plastic
    garden box for the jungle Val plant’s, why do I have this setup for my plants ?

    I have the tank 1/2 full cause as the plants grow I can add extra water is why
    Why are my plants in 2 liter bottles? so they don’t grow into each other if I have
    to pull any of them up & not disturb the other plants or the grave to other plants.
    my substrate in each bottle is lava at the bottom river rock in the middle
    & pea gravel at the top. Bottles are just 1/2 full of substrate.

    Each bottle has holes all around the bottom (3 rows) & a root capsule under
    the lava rock base of each bottle, the light I have is 4 ft led shop light 2 FT
    above the aquarium that I turn on in the mornings for 4 hrs each day, & at
    night I have a high quality, energy efficient combination of blue, red &
    green light to stimulate plant growth, I don’t have a filter in the tank just
    a submerged pump at 1 end to move the water & a air pump & Air Curtain
    Bubble Wall Diffuser is in the middle of the aquarium, with this type of setup
    what would say this is ? strange, doable, cool, what would you suggest?


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