Planted Tanks

Planted Tanks

This is my ideal planted tank build:


Finnex Ray 2
$100 on Amazon

Planted Tank Rock:

Common hardscape in planted tanks are seiryu stones and manzanita driftwood.  You can find these in bonsai shops, and LFS in Southern California. has good stuff on their swap-n-shop forum, which you won’t be able to see until you have 1o posts on your account.

Planted Tank Substrate:

The unsung hero of all tanks.  You should concentrate some effort on what substrate you want.  It’s something that will not die, break, and will be in your tank 24/7 so investing some research and money on this is not a bad idea.

A note about pool filter sand:  This is a terrible substrate for planted tanks.  Roots need flow and nutrients, and this provides neither, but it comes in handy as an inert decorative substrate.

ADA Aquasoil is the most bang for your buck out of all the aquarium purchases you’ll ever make.  It’s expensive, but it’s almost guaranteed plant growth, and it looks fantastic.  A lot of people who are growing difficult plants seem to do very well on this.

Planted Tank Filtration:

Most planted tank owners use canister filters.  You may not even need an inline heater, depending on your fauna.

Planted Tank Fertilizers:

Tom Barr invented a method of delivering fertilizers called Estimative Index dosing (EI dosing), which is basically adding various fertilizers everyday on a weekly schedule- not too much work since you should be feeding fish everyday.  Then, at the end of the week you do a large water change, which removes excess fertilizers.  There are tons of articles and calculators for this method on the web.

Planted Tank Breakdown of  a Complete System

Ok, so here I list of the equipment that I would buy personally.  Of course you can save tons of money by getting cheaper alternatives like HOB Filters (Hang on the Back), but I’m trying to reduce unsightly equipment and noise as much as possible.  My goal here is to achieve elegance and at the same to time save money whenever I can.

ADA 60-P Tank
$200 + shipping at

9 Liter Bags of Amazonia Aqua Soil for Top Layer of Substrate
Try to buy of someone from a local planted tank club.

Aquarium Gravel for Bottom Layer of Substrate
$3 at Walmart

Aquarium Thermometer
$1 at Walmart


Eheim 2217 Canister Filter
$130 on Amazon

I would go with a more expensive, permanent solution for CO2 ($300-400).  Probably something from, or I’d make one myself.  I think the needle valve (the valve that you will touch to adjust the amount of CO2 that goes in your tank) is important, so I would go with the Ideal Needle Valve and I’d spend extra to get a reliable solenoid (electric gas valve that allows you to shut off CO2 at night).
DIY CO2 Regulator

Inline CO2 Reactor- I don’t like CO2 diffusers because they break easily, and putting it inline removes one extra thing from you tank, and is one less thing algae can grow on.
Up Aqua CO2 Atomizer System Diffuser 12/16mm
$25 from eBay

[5] Feet of CO2 Tubing
$7 at

Check Valve
$12 at

Fertilizer Combo Pack for Dry EI Dosing
$12  at

Knock off ADA Lily Pipes 13mm from China

Cal Aqua Labs Drop Checker- Total waste of money, but just plain beautiful.  you could always get a $10 one off ebay.

$5 at LFS

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