Planted tanks are like a slight modification to tropical community tanks except there’s more into it. In planted tanks, you focus on plants more. Tropical community fish are usually put into these tanks. You could put cichlids in their but some species like to tear plants and uproot them. Examples of cichlids you can keep in planted tanks are rams, kribensis, angelfish, discus(very expensive and hard to keep), keyhole, rainbow, firemouth, geo, apisto, and cockatoo.
For the plants, you need nutrients, lighting, and co2. Lighting obviously comes from your lights. The stronger the light, the more co2 and nutrients you need which lead to higher maintenance, higher cost, and more plant growth. Low light doesn’t need co2 and not as much nutrients as stronger lights. But plants grow slower. This makes the two types of planted aquariums, low tech and high tech. Remember this: nutrients, co2, and lighting have to be balanced or you will run into algae problems.
Nutrients are an important factor too. There are two types of nutrients, micros and macros. Micros are minerals that plants need in small amounts such as iron or calcium. Macros are nutrients that plants need in large amounts such as potassium or nitrate. Nutrients can either come from tap water, commercial fertilizer products, or dosing fertilizer yourself (dosing the powdered version of the nutrients). Nutrients can also come from substrates specifically designed for plant growth in roots. If you have plain gravel or sand, which has no nutrients, use root tabs. These are tabs that you put in substrate for nutrients for roots.
Co2 is important too. When you do water changes and add new water, you add lots of co2. This is enough for a low light aquarium to grow plants. But with high light tanks, you need pressurized co2 since plants are growing faster and demand for co2, nutrients, and light increases. If your tank is 40 gallons or below, DIY (do it your self) co2 can make enough for plants. See my other articles to see how to build DIY co2.
Aquascaping, which means the design of your aquarium, matters too. Trimming your plants can help design your aquarium look. There’s four types of aquascapes:
These types of tanks are literally like a jungle. Keeping the fish and plants crowded is the key. Larger plants are used in this style and the plants should be green. Some of these aquariums can resemble the habitat in the amazon river. Driftwood is a common decoration in jungle aquariums.
These aquariums have more shorter and carpeting plants. Large or small rocks with texture are the main focal point of the aquarium. These are more professional types of aquariums which are need more maintenance and trimming. White or black backgrounds can really help the look of the iwagumi style.
These types of aquariums are pretty hard to make and have many aspects to it. Adding different colored plants to it including red, green, and orange, makes it a Dutch style tank. They should have all foreground, mid ground, and background plants. Higher maintenance is required because trimming the plants is needed. High light and co2 is also needed because red and orange plants need that to grow their color. Colorful fish including neon tetra, discus, and Congo tetra can help too. Driftwood is not used for Dutch style aquariums.
These types of aquariums were developed by Takashi Amano as he was trying to resemble his aquariums to the beautiful nature he observed during his childhood. These tanks can resemble forests, mountains, anything related to the nature we see. Knowing a wide range of plant species can help you aquascape the nature style aquarium. Driftwood and rocks can really help with this style of aquariums.