How to Build a Low-Tech Planted Aquarium for Tropical Fish:

Live plants are very important for aquariums containing tropical fish because they provide a natural look to the aquarium, fish need them for shelter & use them from hiding against bully fish. Plants encourage fish to spawn & fish hide their eggs in the plants. Plants are used for cleaning water, & fries eat them.

Many aquarists like to have a jungle inside their fish tank which is the best place for tropical fish because they breed & multiply their numbers. It is possible to trim the plants if you don’t like their bushy appearance & also overgrowing plants can stop tank lights from reaching the lower leaves or short plants below them. In this tutorial we have explained how to build a low-tech planted aquarium for tropical fish & how to take care of the plants.

I have built a low price heavily planted fish tank which is the best environment for fish. I have planted beautiful plants with low requirements then I have pruned the plants & used the cuttings to setup another planted aquarium. Have a look at my other planted aquarium which is designed to meet the needs of Angel fish below:

Build a low-tech planted aquarium for Angelfish

 

What are the requirements for a low-tech planted aquarium for tropical fish:

AquaEarth aquarium soil is used for building the aquarium bed along with gravel. Gravels are used for hiding the roots of the plants. Some of the fish have the problem of digging & uprooting plants so gravels can fix the plants & stop fish from uprooting them. Plants use ammonia byproducts released from fish waste as fertilizers which help them in growth & clean water. I have used plants suitable for the background, midground & foreground of the fish tank.

If you are looking to build a cheap tropical planted tank then I would suggest you to add low maintenance plants. Stem plants are very good for cheap planted aquariums & they can be reproduced & you can use the cuttings to setup more planted tanks or sell them. Even though your plants can clean water but still your aquarium needs a quality filter that should clean fish waste, leftover food, dead leaves & other debris efficiently from the aquarium water. I have setup an internal filter in my aquarium & the filter intake is covered with a sponge filter so that it does not suck fish fries. Plants provide shelter for the fries & a forest like aquarium allows fries to live in the same aquarium with adults.

 

How to make a cheap planted fish tank for tropical fish:

It is easy to build a tropical aquarium because it is cheap, needs low maintenance & low-price tropical fish. Your fish will reproduce overtime, & your plants will produce shoots & will grow abruptly which will require trimming. You can earn from your tropical planted aquarium or setup many tropical planted tanks using the fries & cuttings from the main tropical aquarium. I have added small fish & baby plants to my low price tropical planted aquarium & overtime my tank had many fish, & plants were growing abruptly.

In video below I have shown you how to prepare a cheap heavily planted aquarium which is a heaven for tropical fish:


How to build a cheap tropical planted aquarium

 

Planted fish tank gravels & rocks:


Aquarium substrate & rocks
Aquarium substrate & rocks


AquaEarth is used at the bottom. A layer of aquarium gravel is used at the top of AquaEarth because I have used them for planting plants. Gravels will fix the roots of plants & stop them from floating in the aquarium. I have added 3 Seiryu Rocks in the middle of my fish tank to offer a natural appearance to my tropical aquarium.

 

Aquascaping:

Add water to the fish tank before planting live plants because it will hydrate plants. Only add water till it dips the substrate. Expansive & high-tech plants have high requirements but in today’s tutorial I have setup a cheap tropical tank with low maintenance & low requirement plants that just need tank lights, & nutrition released from fish poop & other debris is enough for them. Plants don’t need extra CO2 because fish respire CO2 that is absorbed by plants. Fish & plants meet each other requirements to build an ecosystem. Fish absorb oxygen released by live plants. Adult fish & fries eat plants.

 

Live plants used in a low-tech tropical planted aquarium:

Have a look at live plants that I have added to my tropical planted fish tank:

 

Rotala Rotundifolia:


Rotala Rotundifolia
Rotala Rotundifolia


It makes red leaves, & offers a bushy look to the fish tank & they don’t need high maintenance. They are classified as beginners’ plants due to their hardy nature. Tank lights & fish poops are enough for the growth of plants. I have setup Rotala Rotundifolia in the mid-background of the aquarium. I have added them to both the left & right side of my fish tank.

 

Bacopa Monnieri:


Bacopa Monnieri
Bacopa Monnieri


A bright green color species. They are durable, hard, & need little maintenance. They don’t need supplemented fertilizers if the aquarium contains fish. Artificial light is enough for this plant. I have planted this stunning plant in the mid-ground of the aquarium. I have used it on both the left & right side of the fish tank.

 

Alternanthera Reineckii:


Alternanthera Reineckii
Alternanthera Reineckii


A purple plant that alters the full look of the aquarium using its bright purple color. Alternanthera Reineckii is a compact species that grows slowly in aquariums. They need easy requirements because they get nutrition from the fish waste. Tank lights are enough for the plant. I have planted it in the middle of the aquarium. I have setup this plant on both the left & right side of the aquarium.

 

Staurogyne Repens:


Staurogyne Repens
Staurogyne Repens


A green color plant, which needs easy care. Staurogyne Repens is classified as beginner's plants due to its hard nature. No need to add supplements if you have fish in the aquarium. Staurogyne Repens offers a greenish appearance to the fish tank & I have setup this plant in the foreground of the tank to improve the complete look of the aquarium. I have setup this plant on both the left & right sides of the fish tank.

 

Water Wisteria:


Water Wisteria
Water Wisteria


A beginner’s plant that grows with simple care. I have setup Water Wisteria in the background. It grows quickly in the fish tank & grows greenish leaves. They don’t need extra supplements if your aquarium contains fish. They clean the fish tank & only need artificial lights for growth.

 

Glossostigma Elatinoides:


Glossostigma Elatinoides
Glossostigma Elatinoides


A slowly growing & a creeping plant. They are used for cleaning water similar to other live plants. They don’t need supplemented nutrition & CO2. They have low requirements & only require tank lights. I have planted Glossostigma Elatinoides in the foreground & middle of the fish tank.

 

Planted Aquarium Filter:


Planted Aquarium Filter
Planted Aquarium Filter


I have setup an internal filter for cleaning the mess produced by live plants & fish. My internal filter is used for both mechanical & biological filtration, & live plants help the filter in cleaning water efficiently. Filters can trap solid waste particles and break down the toxins released from fish waste, & together with plants it cleans all the toxins. My aquarium has a forest of plants that aid in filtration. Filter is used for aerating & circulating water in the whole aquarium.

I have used a sponge filter on the intake to stop sucking little fish.

 

Fish:

After 3 months of setting up the planted tank, I have introduced fish to the mature planted aquarium. Before adding fish to the aquarium, I allowed plants to fully grow & cycled my tank so that my aquarium had heaps of good bacteria.

 

Livebearers:


Livebearers
Livebearers


I have introduced livebearers like molly, Dalmatian molly, platy & swordtails to my aquarium. Livebearer fish give birth to babies directly without laying eggs. Livebearers are hardy & can live in tough conditions despite their small size. They are available for a low price & need simple care. They are peaceful & can live happily in a community aquarium.

 

Clown Loach:


Clown Loach
Clown Loach


I have introduced Clown Loaches due to their social & peaceful nature. They can survive in the same aquarium with other fish. They are happy in a heavily planted aquarium & clean water. They are classified as hardy fish & are cheap species.

 

Endler Guppy:


Endler Guppy
Endler Guppy


Endler Guppy is a small & very colorful species. They are happily living with good behavior fish. They provide multiple colors & live happily in the planted tank. They have a hard nature & because their size is small, they can live in small aquariums.

 

White Cloud Mountain Minnow:


White Cloud Mountain Minnow
White Cloud Mountain Minnow


Another name of White Mountain Minnow is Poor Man Tetra. They are hardy & like living in cold water. They are small in size & don’t require a heater because they are classified as cold-water fish.

 

Tropical Fish:


Tropical Fish
Tropical Fish


I have added tropical fish like Cardinal Tetra, Guppy & Red Rasbora to my tropical aquarium. Tropical fish are able to live in tropical aquarium environments around the world. They are hard in nature & can survive in fish tanks.

 

Trimming Plants:


Trimming Plants
Trimming Plants


Pruning plants is very important if your plants are growing abruptly. These cuttings can be used for reproducing more plants. I have planted the cuttings in my Angelfish tank. They have higher chances of regrowing from the cuttings due to their hard nature.


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