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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-16-2012, 07:20 PM Thread Starter
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Plant only aquarium?

I have mixed feelings about keeping fish so I thought what about a plant only aquarium?

I saw this really cool aquarium at Petco yesterday:



I really like it. I think it would make great decor. See why I don't need fish? I want decor, not another pet. I don't know much about aquatic plants though.


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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-16-2012, 11:39 PM
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Not many people maintain plant-only tanks. Most often plants are added to an aquarium (with fish) since plants absorb unwanted nutrients, which helps maintain water quality for the fish. Alternatively, some people maintain plants in a sump (again for nutrient export) or keep a plant-only tank to grow plants that essentially serve as fish food.

If you do want to keep a plant-only tank, you will need to ensure that the tank has some form of surface movement (something to move the water on the surface) to prevent scum build-up and provide sufficient oxygen. You will also need appropriate lighting, since the plants need light to thrive. That said, too much lighting will lead to unwanted algae growth. There's no direct lighting on the tank in your link, so it may be inappropriate for plant growth.

Seems to me that, if you simply want decor, a really nice plant (no tank) would be a lot easier! But, if you decide you want to maintain a plant-only aquarium, you'll likely get the best information from a freshwater fish forum.

My main experience with water plants comes from a pond environment, where I had a bog, water lilies, etc., which is not entirely comparable to what you have in mind. I no longer have the pond (it was at my prior house), although I now maintain a large saltwater tank. Still, I miss my pond and my water lilies!
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-16-2012, 11:49 PM Thread Starter
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Would the pump on this not cause surface movement? This tank has LED lighting. Would LED lighting make plants grow or would they need sunlight? If it's the latter, that's actually better for me. I would like to use this as a nightlight.


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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-17-2012, 12:13 AM
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The pump shown on that tank should give you enough surface movement. As for lights, I didn't see any on the picture, so I didn't think the tank came with lights. If it has LED's, that should suffice. The plants don't need direct sunlight. Indeed, too much direct sunlight and you could encounter algae problems. I used to have a freshwater tank, one side of which was hit by direct sunlight each afternoon in the summer. I always had much higher algae growth on that side of the tank during the summertime. I ended up moving the tank to a shadier spot.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-17-2012, 12:20 AM Thread Starter
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I see. The lights are on the bottom of the filter thingy. I really like how the filter works. Thanks a bunch for your help.


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Last edited by marie73; 10-17-2012 at 04:22 AM.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-18-2012, 12:40 AM
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It's a really stylish little aquarium, but I think you might have trouble growing plants with just the LED lighting. You probably won't have enough wattage to grow anything but really low light plants. Since the lights are on the bottom of the filter, it'll cause most of the light to be in the center of the aquarium and there won't be as much light around the edges. If it gets some sunlight, that would help, but direct light would be too much. As for using it as a night light, it doesn't seem like it would be a very good idea with live plants. Generally, with a planted tank, you should only leave the lights on for about 8 hours a day. Go longer than that and you'll just get algae growth. Most people use a timer to control the lighting. There are lights that can be used at night, but they're generally just a few low wattage blue LED lights.

You certainly can keep a plant only tank though, and it can be anything from low tech/low maintenance to something that requires a lot more time and money . The key is having the right lighting, though. For a small tank, you should probably have around 1.5-2 watts of fluorescent lighting per gallon to keep simple low light plants like crypts, Anubis, mosses, water lotus, or java fern. These plants are slower growing than stem plants that would quickly overtake a tiny tank. That's also in the range of low light which means you don't need CO2.

One of the last planted tanks I kept was a low tech standard 10 gal with a canopy in which I replaced the 2 incandescent lights with screw in compact fluorescent bulbs. I added about 10 drops of Excel fertilizer per day for a carbon supplement and algae control as well as a dose of Flourish fertilizer once a week, and it did pretty well.
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