How to set up a planted aquarium step by step [Beginners]

Hello reader!

If you’ve come this far, it’s because you’ve decided to start a very exciting hobby: a planted aquarium.

Perhaps you have even tried to build one without much success. In this hobby, it is important to know yourself well before doing anything, do not be discouraged. Try and fail. The result will be that you will evolve as an aquarium and create a better and improved aquarium.

Using Allen Carr’s famous sentence, let’s say that “a planted aquarium is easy to set up if you know-how”.

And that’s exactly the purpose of this article: to teach you from the beginning how to set up a planted aquarium step by step, respecting a series of basic guidelines that will ensure a healthy and fully functional fish tank.

We will talk about the necessary ingredients as a place to start, the right way to place the decoration of the aquarium, how to assemble the filters of the fish tank, the chemical processes of the aquarium, how to introduce the plants, etc.

I am with you throughout the maturation process of the aquarium’s planted point so you don’t get lost. I give you the key to get the results of your project without trying.

Go for it!

What is a planted aquarium?

If you have visited the Aquarema website, you already have an approximate idea of ??what a planted aquarium is. The most intuitive definition is that which reduces a planted aquarium to an ordinary fish tank with aquatic plants. However, it is a defining definition that makes it less readable.

The planted aquarium is not just a jar of natural plants, it forms a small-sized natural ecosystem, where the same biological and chemical processes take place that occurs in lakes, rivers, wetlands, ponds, etc. after the same cycle and oscillation.

So, it is essential to know how to set up a planted aquarium step by step so as not to waste our time and money (because yes, aquariums are a hobby where you have to invest money or use the DIY method).

In a planted aquarium, any chemical imbalance (for example due to over-nutrition or incorrect lighting) can destabilize the underwater ecosystem we create and therefore the presence of all kinds of unwanted organisms in the fish tank.

We’re going to try to make sure it doesn’t happen by doing things from scratch, learn exactly how to set up a planted aquarium step by step.

In addition, you may be interested in learning how to set up an aquarium planted according to the rules of aquascaping or aquatic landscaping, trying to recreate the landscape under real water. In this article, we cover in more detail how to design an aquarium planted according to aquacaping.

Planted Aquarium Basics

Aquarium filtration

The filtration of the aquarium is one of the most important parts of an assembly. It removes the solid particles and transforms the ammonia (quite toxic to animals) into nitrates.

Although in a planted aquarium the plants themselves take their role in the filtration, it will also be necessary to get a filter.

Why, if the plants’ filter?

Because generally they will not be able to assimilate all the waste of the fish (unless we have a huge Dutch type plant and very few fish), and these will accumulate until making the water unhealthy.

Lighting for natural plants

The lighting is undoubtedly one of the keys to the planted aquarium. It will be a determining factor when it comes to getting aquarium plants to pull or not.

Aquatic plants will use the lighting we give them to photosynthesize, just as they would in their natural habitat. Insufficient or excessive lighting can cause imbalances that result in the appearance of algae, death, or stagnation of plants … 

Generally, we will provide more or less amount of light depending on the requirements of the plants, the height and the liters of the aquarium, availability or not of CO2 and fertilizer, etc.

In our lighting section, you have everything you need to know so as not to make a mistake when choosing your aquarium screen.

Natural aquarium plants

The undisputed queens and ladies of a plant, logically, are natural aquarium plants.

They are living beings, and as such, they have specific requirements for light, nutrients, water quality, etc.

If you want to maintain a successful planted aquarium, you need to know the basics (and then advance to a higher level) of the subscriber, the CO2 in the aquarium, the substrates, the species available for each type of aquarium …

Take a look at our aquarium plants section, I promise you will learn very useful things!

Materials needed to get started

Materials to set up a planted aquarium


Aquariums of at least 100 liters are usually recommended for beginners. The larger an aquarium is, the more stable it is chemically speaking, and the easier it is to operate it without disregarding the parameters. If you do not have a cabinet capable of supporting the weight of the urn with the aquarium elements inside, you should also purchase an aquarium cabinet.

Aquarium filter

Your planted aquarium filter should be capable of filtering at least 3-5 times the volume of the aquarium per hour. There are internal and external filters. The larger the aquarium, the more power you will need. For small aquariums, a simple internal backpack filter will suffice. Also, you will need to acquire the filter materials that go inside the filter and their spare parts.

Aquarium Lamp

With the lamps you control the amount of light that reaches the aquarium plants, which is essential to avoid the appearance of algae, ensuring correct photosynthesis. You will choose one type of lighting or another depending on the type of plants you decide to introduce and their lighting requirements, the depth of the aquarium, if you are going to add CO2 to the water or not, etc.

Aquarium heater

Both in hot and cold water tanks, it is important to keep the temperature of the aquarium stable, so as not to generate physiological stress on plants and fish. In order not to depend on the ambient temperature or leave anything to chance, aquarium heaters are used. There are external and internal. The bigger your aquarium, the more power you will need.

Elements to build a submerged landscape

Aquarium gravel or sand

The gravel can act as a natural filter and enhance the effect of the aquarium filter that we buy. It should be thick enough to allow water to flow between the grains, and fine enough for colonies of nitrifying bacteria to settle (very beneficial in the aquarium). Calcium or clay-based gravels should be avoided. If we put inert gravel, it must be supplemented with a nutrient substrate. Gravel or sand is optional.

Nutritive substrate for planted aquarium

The nutritive substrate contains nutrients that allow aquarium plants to grow more vigorously and quickly, preventing the appearance of algae. Depending on the type of substrate, it can be laid with or without inert gravel on top. Substrates based on calcium or clay should be avoided.

Rocks and natural logs

If we are going to introduce these elements (highly recommended if we are going to build a natural planted aquarium), care must be taken with the mineral composition in the case of rock and organic in the case of natural logs. Do not introduce rocks or logs that can change the chemical composition of the aquarium water.

Natural aquarium plants

The plants’ natural aquarium is the core and essence of your planted aquarium. Choose them well to get a healthy aquarium and a good design according to the rules of aquascaping .

Aquarium fish

The aquarium fish are the perfect accessory for our planted aquarium (not forgetting that are living beings and should be treated as such). Choose them appropriately so that they combine well with each other, with the parameters of the aquarium and with the plants.

Planting pliers

Planting is a task that must be done carefully. In order not to spoil the aquarium plants that you just bought, it is recommended that you use a pair of pliers to plant in the gravel.

Fish net

Although it may seem very obvious, it is a necessary accessory to remove the fish you buy from its bag and introduce them into your planted aquarium. Otherwise, you would have to dump water of quality and characteristics different from yours into the aquarium that you have so carefully assembled, and you could modify parameters or introduce something that you do not want.

The essentials for aquarium maintenance

Aquarium siphon

The siphon is a very useful tool in aquarium maintenance. It allows us to suck water in a controlled way when we need to change part of the water in our planted aquarium.

Aquarium Chemical Test Kit

To know if our planted aquarium is on the right track, it is necessary to measure and control the chemical parameters of the water. The most important indicators of the health of an aquarium are pH, GH, nitrites, nitrates, phosphates, and ammonia.

Spare parts for the filter

The filter contains in its interior several layers of different materials, each one in charge of a different type of filtration (mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration). For good aquarium maintenance, it is advisable to always have spare filter layers available.

Food for fishes

If you want your fish to survive, among other things, you will have to feed them right? There are many types of fish food. You can buy them or you can grow them yourself.

Where to place the planted aquarium

Before learning how to set up a planted aquarium, we have to know where to place it.

Mounting the aquarium in the wrong place can cause problems with algae, with the behavior of the fish, with the structure of the aquarium (which can break), with the furniture that supports it, etc. And it is not advisable or easy to change an aquarium once it is assembled.

So make sure that the place where you are going to place the planted aquarium meets the following  requirements


The sunlight will be the first enemy to overcome when mounting the aquarium. The aquarium will carry its own lamp, with which we will control exactly the amount of light that reaches our underwater ecosystem.

If, in addition to the light from the lamp, the sunlight falls on our aquarium for too many hours a day, the algae can be used as an extra energy source and grow in explosion until it covers the entire planted aquarium.

I assure you that there is nothing worse than algae in a planted aquarium because completely eliminating them costs money and a lot of mental health. It also affects the temperature of the aquarium and, in addition,  the fish behave differently, leaning perpendicular to the beam of light.

Nor do you need to put the aquarium in the darkroom … it is enough that it does not give it direct sunlight, or it does not give it a very short time.

So when deciding where to place the planted aquarium, take into account things like the orientation of the house, the hours of daylight, the season of the year, and so on.

The angle of incidence of solar rays in summer and winter, and its effect in planted aquariums

A practical fact:  in winter the sun’s rays fall more horizontally than in summer, so they “filter” more through the windows of the house that are oriented towards the equator (if you live in the northern hemisphere, they are the windows facing south, if you are in the southern hemisphere imagine it upside down).

So if you are going to install an aquarium in front of a south-facing window, keep in mind that although in summer the light does not get to give it, in winter it may.


This is important to keep the aquarium temperature stable. Imagine that you place the aquarium in a corridor where sunlight does not shine on it, but in winter when you open a window to ventilate the house, noticeable drafts form in that corridor.

Drafts in a house with an aquarium.  How to assemble a planted aquarium step by step.

In this case, the temperature of the aquarium could drop rapidly, without giving the thermostats of the planted aquarium time to react.

Changes in temperature in the aquarium are NOT recommended. Let’s avoid them: place the planted aquarium in a  place without drafts.


An aquarium weighs a lot. Think of the glass that the fish tank is made of, the substrate and gravel, the stones, the water (each liter of water weighs almost 1kg), etc. An aquarium planted of, say, 60 liters, can weigh more than 80 kg.

And let’s not say larger aquariums such as those of 200 L. If the floor is not flat, the aquarium will be supporting extra weight in points where it “does not touch” and can break.

The cabinet that supports the aquarium should also not support more weight on one side than the other but should be equally distributed between the legs or the base, in such a way as to avoid damage to both the cabinet and the floor (in the case of that the furniture breaks, you may have a big problem).

If the floor is not flat, the idea is to level the furniture by shimming the legs or the corners until it is balanced. This should be done before setting up the aquarium. Trying to level a cabinet with a full aquarium is a difficult and potentially dangerous task.

A ome might have brought questions emerged:

Can I use some of the furniture that I have at home to put the aquarium?

For planted aquariums of less than 100 liters, any robust or reinforced furniture with a flat surface, made of wood or metal, will do.

Do not put the aquarium on a shelf  (even if it fits you), unless you are considering a 5L nano-aquarium or something similar since it is very risky.

For larger aquariums (120 L and above) solid wood tables or furniture specifically built to support the weight of aquariums are often recommended.

It is also highly recommended to use metal structure tables (reinforced with squares)  for very large aquariums.

You can approximately calculate the weight that your aquarium will have based on its dimensions, and make sure that the furniture in which you are going to place it is manufactured with the capacity to support that weight (it usually comes in the technical specifications of the product).

For example: you are going to set up a 100 L capacity planted aquarium.

Let’s say you put about 40 kg of gravel and substrate, put 3 or 4 stones (here you have more information about what stones to put in the aquarium and how to do it well), logs, and other elements.

Each liter of water weighs 1 kg, each stone can weigh from 1 kg to 20 (it depends on the type of rock and size, of course), the gravel and substrate 40 kg … well, it adds up.

Put about 140 kg to the entire aquarium (taking into account that you put less liters of water than the theoretical capacity of the aquarium because you have to count the substrate and other elements).

Once you have your calculation, look for a furniture or table that supports this weight.

If you do not have a furniture available that is robust for the aquarium that you are going to mount, do not think too much, many people buy specific furniture for the aquarium that is not very expensive, or even aquariums with their own table included.

What is the maximum weight that the floor of my floor can support?

Modern floors (those that are built from the year 1988) support a load of 200 kg / m2.

To find out how many total kg a room supports on our floor, we must multiply the m2 of the room by the maximum load of 200 kg / m2.

Thus, a 10 m2 room would support a maximum total load of 2000 kg. You have to take into account if there are shelves or other furniture in the room, and the remaining weight is what you have leftover to put your planted aquarium.

How can I calculate the actual liters in my aquarium?

When we calculate the liters of an aquarium, multiplying the length x width x height, we obtain gross liters.

However, the amount of water that will fit in your aquarium after putting rocks, logs, plants, filters, etc. will be greatly reduced.

The actual volume of water in an aquarium can be reduced by 20 to 25% compared to the theoretical one.

In addition, the ideal would be to measure the width, length, and height from the INSIDE edge of the urn, since the glass has considerable thicknesses that must also be subtracted.

Here you can see how to calculate the liters of an aquarium.

Installation and start-up of the planted aquarium in 11 steps

In this section, you will learn how to set up a planted aquarium step by step and from scratch, if you follow the installation recommendations that I leave you below.

How to assemble a planted aquarium step by step: Installation.

Step 1. Clean the aquarium substrate

Before getting to this point, you have to have decided what type of substrate to put in the aquarium.

Gravel for planted aquarium.  How to set up a planted aquarium step by step

Substrate sacks usually come with a good amount of gift powder inside. If you put it directly into the planted aquarium and start filling it,  the water would be totally cloudy for several days (even weeks). To avoid this we are going to wash the substrate previously. (Keep in mind that some substrates do NOT have to be washed, find out before reading the product recommendations).

The easiest way to do this is to dump the bag of the substrate into a bucket. Make sure the bucket is completely clean and free of chemical products.

If you have a hose on hand, spray the substrate with it, until the bucket is full and it is submerged. You can do this in the bathtub or in the sink if it’s big enough.

Step 1 to set up a planted aquarium: wash the gravel in a bucket

Stir the substrate by hand until you see cloudy water.

Remove the dirty water by keeping the substrate in the bottom of the bucket. Repeat this same process 3 or 4 times (or as many as necessary) until the water runs fairly clean.

You could also use a kitchen squeegee to clean the substrate  (making sure the substrate is thick enough not to squeeze through the holes).

Even after washing the substrate, it is normal that after filling the planted aquarium the water is a little cloudy. The fine sediments will settle on the bottom after a couple of days without much problem, do not worry about that.

ATTENTION:  Never use detergents or soaps to wash the substrate, because no matter how much you rinse it, there will always be some residue. It is totally incompatible with the life of the aquarium.

Step 2. Place the substrate in the planted aquarium

Place the chosen substrate or substrates in the bottom of the aquarium. Do it very carefully to avoid scratching or damaging the base of the urn, for this you can help yourself with a  spoon or a  small container.

Once it is lying down, spread the substrate well with your hands or with a  spatula until the bottom is evenly covered.

It is recommended to form a slight inclination of the substrate from the rear to the front of the aquarium, giving a more depth perspective to the fish tank, and the possibility of placing the plants on floors or  “terraces”  of different heights.

In this way, there should be a substrate thickness of 6-8 cm at the back and  4-5 cm at the front of the aquarium.

Although the recommendations vary according to the type of plants you want to keep: those of the Echinodorus genus, for example, have large roots that quickly spread through the aquarium, and probably need a greater thickness of substrate; in contrast, aquarium groundcover plants have small roots and can root very well in shallow layers of substrate.

Don’t worry about the thinner substrate thickness at the front of the aquarium: the aquatic plants we place in this area have shallow roots and don’t need too much substrate.

You can also form a  mound of a substrate, to give an asymmetrical appearance to the bottom of the aquarium. The plants will be at different heights forming “mountains”.

Step 3. place the aquarium decoration

This is the point where aquascaping comes into play.  Place the branches, trunks, and rocks following the design rules that allow you to recreate submerged landscapes incredible.

It is not bad that before starting this task you have spent a couple of hours planning the type and arrangement of rocks, logs, and plants aquarium that you are going to put in the fish tank.

Think carefully about what the expectations are after a few months of plant growth, to anticipate and visualize the final design you are looking for. This will save you a lot of trouble later, and it will save you from having to replant after a while.

See 100 IDEAS to decorate the planted aquarium <coming soon>

The first thing is to introduce rocks and logs, which will constitute the decorative skeleton of the aquarium, leaving the relevant holes in which we will place the aquatic plants. Previously you have to  wash the rocks  and  cure the wood  that you are going to put in the fish tank:

-How to wash aquarium stones.  To clean and disinfect stones for an aquarium, you can put them in boiling water and let them “cook” for 15 or 20 minutes.

When they are removed, the remains of dirt, organisms, or organic matter may have been eliminated or softened.

Take the opportunity to rub the rock with a brush or something similar. It is advisable to repeat this process 2 or 3 times with all the stones that you are going to introduce.

– How to cure wood for aquarium. Wood is itself organic matter, and it comes from a living organism.

This means that it is susceptible to rot and decompose, so we must choose an appropriate wood and put it through a curing process before introducing it into the planted aquarium. In this post, we explain more extensively how to cure aquarium wood in simple steps.

Aquarium logs: how to set up a planted aquarium step by step.

Keep in mind that any type of stone or any type of wood is not valid, since some can change the chemical composition of the water and destabilize our ecosystem, making it potentially harmful to fish and plants, or causing the appearance of algae. Find out here what kind of stones and woods can be put into a planted aquarium.

Step 4. attach the aquarium heater and filter

Attach the aquarium heater to the back of the urn, in an area where it will be hidden with the plants that you are going to introduce.

As a recommendation: do not put it vertically, because if you do not monitor the evaporation of the water in the fish tank well, the head of the heater with the thermostat could be raised. In this case, the thermostat would be measuring the ambient temperature and not that of the aquarium.

Place the heater inclined 30 or 45 degrees on the wall of the aquarium.

Also place the aquarium filter, to which you must have previously introduced (if it does not come from the factory) the filtering materials. Here you can see the types of aquarium filters on the market, and which one is the best for your particular aquarium.

I want to know what type of filter to choose

The water inlet of the filter (where the filter absorbs the water from the aquarium) must be placed as close to the bottom as possible, and the water outlet (where the filter returns the purified water to the aquarium) must be located at the opposite end of the aquarium, near the surface of the water.

How to place an external aquarium filter correctly.

With this arrangement, we ensure complete water circulation throughout the aquarium and more efficient filtration.

By placing the water outlet just above the surface, we also allow the aquarium to be oxygenated without the use of additional aerators, which represents an economic saving.

Since you have not filled the aquarium yet, you may need to wet the suction cups on the heater and the outlet and inlet of the aquarium filter to secure them to the walls of the urn.


Step 5. Fill the aquarium

Once you’ve placed the substrate,  aquarium decor,  filter,  and heater, it’s time to fill the tank. You can use tap water, previously investigating the chemical characteristics of the water in your area  (the water management companies in your city usually provide this information through the Internet). Know the data such as pH, hardness, alkalinity, the concentration of heavy metals, etc. it is important when choosing the plants and fish to keep in the aquarium.

The characteristics of the water, if they are not entirely satisfactory for the species you want to have, can always be modified by mixing with other types of water or by means of substrates, rocks, or chemical filtration material. Do not worry about that. In this post, we detail how to make quality aquarium water.

To fill the aquarium without lifting the entire substrate, place a  plastic plate or bag on the gravel, and direct the stream of water against it ( never aim at the substrate directly ).

Method to fill the aquarium with a plate without lifting the substrate

You do not have to fill the aquarium to overflowing, you can leave two or three fingers of the urn unfilled.

After a day or two of rest (on the 2nd or 3rd day of filling the aquarium), the suspended particles in the water will have partially settled on the bottom (although the water is probably still somewhat cloudy). This is the time to connect the filter and heater, leaving the aquarium lighting off for now.

In the next two or three days,  leave the filter working and adjust the heater until you achieve the desired temperature in the aquarium (about 26 or 27ºC in case of mounting a tropical freshwater aquarium, or 18-20ºC if you were thinking of an aquarium cold water). These days the sediment settles completely  (leaving the water clear),  the chlorine in the water evaporates and the water is oxygenated with the movement of the surface, thanks to the filter.

Step 6. Start the cycling process

From the 4th day, we start the cycling process. Click here to know in more detail what is the cycling of an aquarium. WE ARE NOT STILL TAKING FISH IN, first, you have to condition the water by cycling.

To do this, add a few flakes of food to the aquarium every day (it is worth two or three flakes a day for an aquarium of 70 to 100 liters).

With this routine, we are providing decomposing organic matter that allows the growth of nitrifying bacteria. These bacteria are necessary, without them, life in the aquarium would not be possible.

In the cycling process,  the bacteria will develop and settle in the aquarium filter.

Learn EVERYTHING about planted aquarium cycling

The cycling ends in about 30 or 45 days, and it will be then when we will introduce the fish into the aquarium.  You have to be patient. Introducing the fish ahead of time, if not done very gradually and carefully, can delay the cycle and/or kill the fish.

How to know if the aquarium cycling has finished?  Because you must have previously purchased a Nitrite test. We will measure the amount of nitrites in the water every 2 or 3 days from the first week after the aquarium starts up.

When the test gives us a reading of 0 nitrites, we will know that the cycling has finished, and we can introduce fish.

Incised:  there are those who prefer to gradually introduce the fish during cycling. For example, after the first week put in a couple of small fish (like guppies). After another week, another three or four fish, and continue progressively until you reach the limit of the maximum population of your aquarium, depending on its volume.

However, it is totally preferable to wait until the end of the cycle to put in some fish.

Step 7. Introduce the first aquarium plants

There is no problem in planting the first aquatic plants while the cycling process takes place and the first bacteria in the tank settle. When you detect a rise in nitrites,  you can introduce the most resistant plant species (such as plants of the genus Cryptocoryne, Vallisneria, or Anubias ), leaving the most delicate for later. There are also those who plant the complete aquarium on the first day of the assembly,  or there are those who wait for the cycling to finish to plant the entire aquarium. If you plant the aquarium from the first day you can delay the cycling or completely block it, and if you wait until the last day you do not take advantage of the plants’ ability to clean the aquarium of ammonia/ammonia after the first phase of cycling.

Man planting an aquarium: how to set up a planted aquarium step by step

In any case, you must clean the plants before putting them in the tank, using warm water, removing dead leaves and roots (which would add ammonia to the water and delay the cycling process). The plants usually bring snails and some small worm (or their eggs). Clean thoroughly to avoid pests in the aquarium.

You can plant with the help of tweezers to do the task more precisely, without removing the substrate too much.

Anubias for planted aquarium

At the time we plant, we must start the subscriber routines and connect the lighting for 8-10 hours a day. It is advisable to have aquarium lighting made up of more than one lamp or a lamp that allows you to control the intensity of the lighting. In this way we can start the photoperiod little by little (less intense light in the first half-hour, and then you raise the intensity to the maximum, but not suddenly), this reduces the shock of plants and animals to sudden intense lighting.

On the other hand, the growth of certain algae can be controlled by a  “nap period” in the lighting. We will find out more about the best photoperiod for a freshwater aquarium soon.

How to assemble a planted aquarium step by step: Maturation and maintenance of the aquarium.

Step 8. Control of the cycling process and water quality

From the 7th day, we will carry out the first nitrite reading, and thereafter it will be repeated every 2 or 3 days. The objective is to see how nitrate levels evolve throughout the process.

In this first measurement, the reading may give you 0 nitrites. But be careful, that does not mean that the cycling process has finished (remember that you are in the first week still, and this lasts 30 to 45 days). That can only mean that there are no bacteria yet to transform the ammonia in the aquarium into nitrites.

Chemical test for aquarium.  How to set up a planted aquarium step by step with Acuarema.

When the first nitrifying bacteria settle, after a few days, you will see that nitrite levels rise to a maximum, and then begin to progressively decrease until they reach 0. It is at this point that the bacterial community in the filter is stable and working at full capacity. Cycling has finished.

During these days it is also good that you inform yourself about the chemical parameters of your tap water. If, for example, it has a pH or hardness that is too high for the fish you want to keep,  you can mix it with bottled water of lower pH and hardness, or even with osmosis water.

Keep an eye on the plants in the aquarium from time to time, and remove dead leaves immediately, as they can delay cycling by adding ammonia to the water.

Step 9.  Post-cycling maintenance begins

When the nitrite reading of 0,  make the first water change  ( removing 25% of the water from the aquarium and replacing it with new water without chlorine, that is, water that has been standing for at least a day so that the chlorine evaporates). For this, you can help yourself with a  siphon. The water that you introduce should have the same treatment as that inside the fish tank (if you have mixed the aquarium water with osmosis or bottled water, for example, you must do the same for the new water).

Siphon to suck water from a planted aquarium

It is also the time to do the first filter cleaning.  Remove the mechanical filter material from the inside of the filter (the foamex sponge or the perlon wool) and rinse it with that 25% aquarium water that you have removed from the tank. Do not clean both layers on the same day. First, clean the foamex sponge, and at the next water change clean the perlon wool.

It is NEVER cleaned with water that does not come from the aquarium, and all the filter layers are NEVER cleaned on the same day  (because you can carry the bacterial colony that has taken you so long to get).

At this point, it is no longer necessary to measure nitrites, but it is recommended in the two weeks following the introduction of the fish, to see if the filter supports all this biological load).

Step 10. Feeding the fish

This step really starts when you introduce the first fish. At that time you should feed them in  SMALL quantities  (so as not to trigger ammonia levels due to excess organic matter in the water), more or less what you see that the fish eat in two or three minutes.

Feed them several times a day (4-5).

You can use fish flake food, but ideally, you should supplement this diet with a more nutritious type of food. In this post, we talk about all the food available for fish.

Step 11. Long-term planted aquarium maintenance

Establish a routine of water changes. Ideally, you should change 15-20% of the aquarium water weekly, disconnecting the heater and filter during the process.

Take the opportunity to remove dead leaves and to clean a layer of the filter (in case one is dirty) with the same water removed from the aquarium.

How to change the aquarium water easy

Perform nitrite, pH, kH, nitrate, and phosphate tests from time to time (weekly or every 15 days). These tests will give us an idea of ?? the quality of the aquarium water. They will tell us if we have to change the water more frequently if there are very high levels of nitrates and phosphates (nitrates> 20 and phosphates> 2), since this can cause the appearance of algae. On the contrary, if the levels are very low, we must provide fertilizer to the aquarium plants.

You may be interested to know that there are ways to speed up the cycling process. For example, you can get someone with an already filtered aquarium to leave you filter material loaded with nitrifying bacteria. In a week you can have the aquarium fully cycled.

There are also products on the market that help the process and reduce it to a few days, such as commercial aquarium bacteria.

Still, many aquarists prefer to save money and cycle naturally.

With these basic notions, you already know how to set up a planted aquarium step by step. Of course, this is only the beginning. Visit other sections of Acuarema and advance your knowledge about the planted aquarium.

Have you set up or are you setting up your first planted aquarium? Let us know in the comments!

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