How To Set Up The Perfect Planted Tank



So many times, I have spoken to hobbyist, both in store and online, who would like to keep aquarium plants but are too scared to try. I can remember my first planted aquarium. It was an absolute mess. I got it completely wrong. This is exactly why I wanted to share this blog. Don’t make the same mistakes I did. Keeping live aquarium plants, isn’t as hard or as scary as you may believe.

I am going to help you start you’re planted aquarium and actually enjoy it.

Tip #1 – Choose the Correct Easy-Care Plants For Your Tank

Choosing the correct plants for your current set up is crucial. It will save you time and money! Not all plants are easy to keep. Some require plant substrates, some require high light, however there are still some beautiful plants that can survive in the most basics of set up.


  1. Sand on bottom, with standard LED light – For this set up we would recommend the following plants. Java Fern, Anubias, Hygrophila Polysperma, Elodea Densa, Moss balls and Vallisneria.

  2. Fine Gravel, With Standard LED light – All of the above

  3. Large Gravel, with Led light – Plants will struggle to root in large gravel (3mm or bigger). However, you could still have Anubias, Java Fern and moss balls plus, moss.

  4. Plant Substrate (Colombo Flora Base Pro), LED Light (Fluval AquaSky) – This is when you open up your tank to most aquarium plants. I have this exact set up at home, however i have put sand on top of my Colombo Substrate. This is only because I am too tight to pay lol. Here is a list of some plants. Ludwigia mini super red, Alternanthera Reineckii (can be all types of colours), Hygrophila Species, Limnophilia, Vallisneria, Ambulia, Limnobium, Monte carlo, eleocaris. This is endless.

This now brings me to my next tip.

Tip #2 – Regardless of Set-Up, FEED YOUR PLANTS

So now you have a rough idea on what plants will suit your aquarium. It is time to discuss feeding your plants. I recommend all of the above suggestions to include using a liquid fertiliser as a minimum. This is the part that everyone fails on! Just like humans, aquarium plants need feeding. If you don’t feed them, they will die! Don’t panic though, it’s simple and easy. The first bit is free food (fish poop). Fish Poop is great for plants to feed. However, this alone isn’t usually enough. Below is a list of foods i would recommend:

  1. Colombo Floro GrowThis is a liquid fertiliser. I only dose this once per week. The bottle suggests more but I don’t have any issues. You just pour it into the tank using the measuring guide at the back of the bottle.

  2. Colombo Flora Base ProThis can be used on its own or put under the gravel/sand. It will provide the plants food to feed from. The plants will feed from this using their roots. However, it is costly. It will allow for a wider variety of plants to choose.

  3. Root Tabs – These are tablets that you place under the plant in the floor. Personally, I only use them for Amazon swords. This is because the Amazon swords are extremely hungry. Not a must but thought i would add it in.

Specialist planted aquarium substrates and additives will help any aquatic plant with roots to grow more vigorously.” – George Farmer.

Tip #3 – Don’t Keep your light on for too long

Your tank is complete, its looking mint. Buzzing is the word to use. Now all you want to do is admire it.

This tip is probably one of the most important tips I can give. However, so many customers i speak with get this wrong! Do not leave your light on for longer than 6 – 8 Hours. From my experience I have never had to leave my light on for more than 8 hours! Leaving your light on for too long will deplete the aquarium of nutrients, cause the plants to die and cause HUGE Algae issues.

  1. Dark room, No Windows – Start with 8 hours (monitor tank for algae/ yellowing of plants. If this begins, reducing the light is more than likely required.

  2. Living Room – Try 6 hours. Monitor from there. However, this is a good starting point.

Getting your light correct is always a trial-and-error process. However, the above recommendations have been a great place to start. Its always been my starting point.

Tip #4 – Use Your Eyes

Finally, our most simple tip. Use your eyes. Aquarium plants will show you when something isn’t right. Taking photos each weak is a great way to monitor growth and health. If you do this simple task, you will keep your plants in the best condition.

If you are unsure, email photos to us or

We are here to assist you. Don’t be afraid to ask.


LASTLY, DO NOT MOVE THE PLANTS ONCE PLANTED. This is crucial. If you do, you will more than likely kill l the plant. Plants do not like to be moved, it unsettles them and causing them to die. My advice is the place the pot in a position before planting and check that you like it! Plants need to settle in and root themselves. Don’t be that person who moves them and wonders why they begin to die.


I hope this blog has given you some help. Remember we are always here to help.



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