All About Planted Aquariums

by May 7, 2020

To Your Little Piece of Nature at Home

Hello, and welcome to All About Planted Aquariums! Here you will find every triumphs and failure that I have endured as a planted aquarium enthusiast. Please feel free to look around, and I hope, in a little way or two, I can help you with your newly found passion – and that is caring for your little piece of nature at home.

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Heavily Planted Replanting

Planted Aquarium Essentials

Here in this section, we will be discussing the essentials to keep a planted aquarium at your own home successfully. From determining the location of your tank, tank dimensions, tank cycling, water parameters, safe water sources, filtration, lighting, CO2 injection, fertilizers, fish and plant selection, to maintenance and finding the balance in your planted aquarium, etc., we got you covered.

My Riparium 2021

My Riparium

Aquascaping Designs

Dutch Style showing Dutch Streets 8 ft x 18 in x 13 in High-Tech Aquascaped by Jay-r Huelar Philippines

Dutch Style

This style is characterized by many different assortments of plants and leaf types. Carefully planning and designing a multitude of textures, shapes, and plants’ colors is the main focus. It is much like the terrestrial plants that are displayed in flower gardens. It commonly employs raised layers, or terraces, known as “Dutch streets” that taper towards the rear to convey the perspective of depth.

Aquascaped by Jay-R Huelar Philippines

Nature Style 12x12x10 in Low Tech Aquascaped by Fritz Rabaya Philippines

Nature Style

This style re-creates various terrestrial landscapes like hills, valleys, mountains, rain forests, even a half-submerged ecosystem. This design has limitless potential for beauty and creativity. The Nature aquascape or Ryoboku Style encompasses the same core principles of Japanese gardening techniques.

Aquascaped by Fritz Rabaya Philippines

Iwagumi Style Aquascaped by Monnette Arañas Philippines

Iwagumi Style

It is a style that is characterized by its daring stone formations, elegance, simplicity of open space with carpeting plants only, and dedication to conveying a natural and tranquil setting. The style features a series of stones arranged according to the Golden Ratio, or Rule of Thirds. There should always be an odd number of stones to prevent the layout from balancing.

Aquascaped by Monnette Arañas Philippines

Jungle Style Aquascaped by Franco Chester Pongco Philippines

Jungle Style

The Jungle Style encompasses the wild, untamed look. It is the complete opposite of the Dutch style, more organized and looks like a conventional tulips garden. The Jungle style overlaps with the core elements of the Nature Style except that the Jungle Style has little to no visible hardscape and limited open space due to the overgrown plants. The plants are even allowed to reach the surface and beyond.

Aquascaped by Franco Chester Pongco Philippines

Hardscape Diorama Style Aquascaped by Michael Yap Philippines

Hardscape Diorama Style

The Hardscape Diorama Style is still a subset of the Nature Style. The only differences are emphasizing using a lot of hardscapes and building complex nature-like structures such as forest, caves, bonsai trees, canyons, or even fantasy worlds. Dynamic skills should be mainly displayed here to create an illusion of depth, scale, and proportions.

Aquascaped by Michael Yap Philippines

Paludarium Tank Single Awning Door by Yuno Cyan Philippines


A Paludarium is a type of vivarium that contains water and land in the same environment or encasement. The design can simulate natural habitats such as rainforests, jungles, streams, riverbanks, and bogs. In a Paludarium, part of the aquarium is underwater, and part is above water.

Aquascaped by Yuno Cyan Philippines

My Riparium in its Full Glory Before Trimming


A Riparium is a type of Vivarium that typically depicts an environment where water meets land (riverbanks, streambanks, the shoreline of marshes and swamps or lakes), but it does have minimal to no land parts, unlike a Paludarium (which provides significant land parts). In other words, you are replicating the shallow parts of these natural bodies of water.

Taiwanese Style with Lego Crab Aquascaped by Ian Garrido Philippines

Taiwanese Style

The Taiwanese Style of Aquascaping combines the elements of Nature, Iwagumi, or Dutch styles, but the most bizarre feature is using figurines, toys, etc. in the tank to create a sense of life. The style isn’t prevalent anymore, but there are still many hobbyists quite fascinated by this style.

Aquascaped by Ian Garrido Philippines

Biotope B3 Class of the Rio Negro Region Aquascaped by Lao Ricci Philippines


The biotope style seeks to perfectly imitate a particular aquatic habitat at a specific geographic location. From the fish to plants, the rocks, substrate, driftwood, water current, and even the water parameters and current of a certain aquatic habitat must be the basis of trying to recreate the natural environment, and not necessarily convey like a garden-like display.

Aquascaped by Lao Ricci Philippines

Walstad Tank No Filter Since Day 2 Aquascaped by Mark Ivan Suarez Philippines

The Walstad Method

The Walstad Method choose to grow plants using very minimum technology as possible. This approach, which is sometimes called “The Natural Planted Tank” and is made popular by Diana Walstad, suggested using soil as a cheap replacement to the aquasoil or aquarium gravel, sometimes with no filtration, no CO2 injection, and limited lighting.

Aquascaped by Mark Ivan Suarez Philippines

Planted Aquarium Essentials

Planted Aquarium


Planted aquariums require less work to maintain but need more work to set up for the first time. Most importantly, we need to consider the tank’s ideal location at our home to avoid stressing the fish and avoiding disasters and accidents.

Here are the main topics that will be discussing more in-depth in upcoming articles:

Repurposed Furniture Stands by Ayong Go Philippines

Location of the Tank

Planted aquariums require less work to maintain but needs more work to set up for the first time. So we need to plan for it properly. Most importantly, we need to consider the ideal location of the tank at our home. So in this article, I will walk you through all the considerations on deciding where to place an aquarium at your home.

Furniture Stands Aquascaped Tanks by Ayong Go Philippines

Aquarium Custom Stand & Cabinet Aquascaped by Fritz Rabaya Philippines

All About Tanks

In this 3-parts series of articles, we will be discussing how to determine your tank dimensions, choose between rimless or braced tanks, the right materials in building your aquarium, and inspecting your aquarium tank before purchasing.

Custom Stand and Cabinet Aquascaped by Fritz Rabaya Philippines

Iwagumi Style Hybrid with Nature Style Elements Aquascaped by Les Paul Villanueva Philippines

Aquascaping Designs

In this 10-parts series of articles, we will be discussing the many different styles of Aquascaping and their core elements that set them apart from each other.

Hybrid Style Nature and Iwagumi Styles Aquascape by Les Paul Villanueva Philippines

Schooling Discus

Tank Cycling

In this 4-parts series of articles, we will be discussing the Nitrogen Cycle in our Planted Aquarium and how it will help us in knowing the importance of Tank Cycling for our Faunas and Floras.

Water Parameters

Water Parameters

In this 7-parts series of articles, we will be discussing the essential water parameters for our planted aquarium, why do you need to know them, their effects, and how to test them.

Water Sources

Water Sources

This article will discuss the different safe water sources that you can use with your planted aquarium. 

From deep-well (spring water), municipal tap water, purified, distilled, Reverse Osmosis (RO), Deionize water (DI), to combinations, we will cover these water sources in-depth. 

Using an Internal Filter Aquascaped by Melchin Origenes Tapan Philippines

All About Filtration and Filter Medias

In this article, we will be discussing the different filtration methods, the different filter media for each filtration method, ideal water turn-over rates, and we will help you decide what the best filter for your planted aquarium is.

Internal Filter Aquascaped by Melchin Origenes Tapan

Using Sponge Filter by Aldrin Solano Gacos Philippines

Types of Filters

In this article, we will be discussing the different types of filters that you can use with your planted aquarium, what to look for/consider in a filter, functions, etc.

Using Sponge Filter by Aldrin Solano Gacos Philippines

My Aquarium Lighting Chihiros A601 Plus

Planted Aquarium Lighting

In this section, we will be discussing one of the essential needs of your plants to grow, and that is the lighting.

We will outline what we need to consider in choosing your planted aquarium lighting and the importance of adjusting the intensity of your lighting.

CO2 Injection Essentials

All About CO2 Injection

In this section, we will be discussing all about CO2 Injection in our planted aquarium.

We will discuss why the need to inject CO2, and in some situations, you don’t need to inject CO2. We will also compare DIY CO2 injection versus injecting CO2 via a pressurized tank and its pros and cons. 

Potting Soil

Planted Aquarium Substrate

This section will discuss the many different substrates that we can consider in our planted aquarium.

What is the best substrate for your plants, and the differences between inert and active substrates will be discussed thoroughly.

My Aquascaping Tools

Aquascaping Tools

In this article, we will outline the functions of essential Aquascaping tools for your successful planted aquarium. 

From tweezers, curved scissors, quality, and how they can help you with successful planting and trimming maintenance will be discussed in detail.

Other Essential Tools Planted Aquarium

Other Planted Aquarium Tools and Equipment

Here in this section, we will be discussing other essential tools and equipment which are vital for the success of your planted aquarium.

Hardscape by Christian Pontiano


This article will discuss all about hardscapes that you can use in your planted aquarium, how to set up, how to build, how to plant in them, and other tips and tricks for them to last submerged for a very long time.

Hardscape by Christian Pontiano Philippines

My Fertilizers

Nutrients, Fertilizers and Dosing

In this article, we will discuss all about fertilizers for your plants, what do we need to consider in choosing forms, what are the essential nutrients for your plants, dosing regime, dosing amounts, how to balance it with your light and CO2.

aponogeton madagascariensis

Plants Selection

This article will discuss the many different kinds of plants that you can utilize in our planted aquarium. From rosettes, stem, tubers, epiphytes to floating plants are all discussed in-depth.

Cichlids Tank

Fish Selection

This article will discuss the many fish species that are suitable in our planted aquariums, fish stocking, feeding, do’s and don’ts, etc.

Choosing our fish to complement our planted aquarium will make for a vibrant display.

My Canister Filter Maintenance

Planted Aquarium Maintenance

Keeping in with your maintenance is vital to the success of keeping a planted aquarium, most especially in the first few weeks to months, where you haven’t achieved the balance yet. You will not be able to keep that balance if you are skipping your maintenance as well.

Algae Infestation

Algae Management

In this article, we will be discussing algae management and how to eradicate them.

What causes them to thrive, the many different kinds and forms of algae, how to avoid them, and balance your water parameters, lights, CO2, and fertilizers for them not to come back anymore.

My Planted Aquarium Jungle

Finding the Balance of Your Planted Aquarium

Finally, when all is said and done, we will help you find the balance in your planted aquarium so you can just enjoy it, with minimal to no visible algae, with less human intervention (just weekly water change of 25 %) and some ocassional plant trimmings.

All About Tanks

Aquarium Custom Stand & Cabinet Aquascaped by Fritz Rabaya Philippines

Aquarium Tank Dimensions

After choosing the ideal location of your aquarium at your home and the stand to be used, you have to determine your aquarium tank dimensions. You have to take measurements of the Length, Width, and Height (LxWxH) of the stand. Take into consideration where you will put your equipment, tools such as aquarium filter, aquascaping tools (straight tweezers, curved scissors), siphon, etc.

Rimless Tank Aquascaped by Geoffrey Javier Philippines

Rimless or Braced Tanks

Have you heard of Rimless or Braced aquarium tanks before? This article will help you with your decision if you want a Rimless Tank or a Braced Tank for your planted aquarium.

Low Iron Glass and Clear Glass Comparison

The Right Material for Your Aquarium

Have you ever wondered what types of glass are used in building our Aquariums, or are there any other materials that we can use? In this article, we will be discussing the right material for your aquarium.

Tank Cycling

Pearl Gourami

The Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle for Beginners

It starts with a gas and ends with a gas. Basically, the Nitrogen Cycle is processes that convert the atmospheric Nitrogen gas (inorganic) into other forms of organic Nitrogen and then back to gas again. Those processes are carried out naturally by microbes for energy-harvesting or food.

My 3rd Rescape

Tank Cycling - The Fastest Method

The Fastest Method of Cycling our Planted Aquariums involves using your old substrate, gravel, hardscape, filter, filter media, part of the old water from your old aquarium to our new planted aquarium.

My 3rd Re-scape Lemuel Sacop Philippines

Betta Fish

Tank Cycling - Traditional and Modified Traditional Method

The Traditional Method of Tank Cycling is the oldest method used by our grandparents when technology was not as advanced as we do now and involves cycling our planted tank with fish in it to jumpstart the Nitrogen Cycle.

Fissidens Moss Grown Emersed Aquascaped by Charles Edward David

Tank Cycling - Fishless Method

For those willing to wait and love to watch their plants grow and become lush before adding the fish, this method is for you.

It is called the Fishless Method of Tank Cycling, which is self-explanatory. We will cycle our planted aquariums with no fish.

Fissidens Moss Grown Emersed Fishless Aquascaped by Charles Edward David

Water Parameters

Bucephalandra sp






Amano Shrimp


Carbonates and Bicarbonates (KH)

Calcium and Magnesium (GH)

My Aquarium Fan for Evaporative Cooling

Environmental Indicators



Dissolved Carbon Dioxide


TDS (Total Dissolved Solids)

Environmental Indicators

Water Parameter pH


pH is the measure of the acidity and basicity of your water. The range goes from 0 to 14, with 7 as neutral. pH lower than 7 indicate acidity, and pH greater than 7 indicate basic or alkaline water. Like the Richter scale used to measure earthquakes, the pH scale is logarithmic, so a pH of 5.5 is ten times more acidic than a pH of 6.5.



We will not over-complicate this. Temperature is just the measure of how much heat is in the water, hot or cold. But too big fluctuating temperatures will have bad effects on your faunas and plants in our planted aquarium.

Gas Bubbles Carbon Dioxide Laacher Lake Germany

Dissolved Carbon Dioxide

Carbon dioxide is naturally produced in our planted aquariums, even if you are not injecting CO2. When beneficial bacteria break down the wastes in our tank, and when faunas respire, CO2 is produced. While carbon dioxide accumulates during lights off, it will quickly be depleted by your plants at the start of lights on.

Sparrow Drinking in Faucet

Chlorine or Chloramine

If you are sourcing your aquarium water from a commercial water system (tap water), water should be treated to ensure it is safe for human consumption. The water is cleaned and filtered, then add chemicals to prevent anything harmful from developing in the water while traversing the pipes leading to our homes.

Accumulated Wastes and Organic Debris

TDS (Total Dissolved Solids)

TDS is the measure of all dissolved organic and inorganic solid substances in your water. However, the test of this water parameter doesn’t say what comprises your TDS. It measures the total of all molecular, ionized, and any microscopic substances in our water that cannot be caught by your filtration.

Water Drop on Grass After a Rain

Safe Water Sources for Planted Aquariums

After we discussed what water parameters make for a ‘good’ water for our planted aquarium, it makes sense to discuss where we can get that ‘good water.’ So in this article, we will discuss the safe water sources that we can use for our planted aquariums.

Using RO Water Aquascaped by Francis Neil Carriaga Philippines

Using RO Water Aquascaped by Francis Neil Carriaga Philippines

All About Filtration

Soil and Rocks Roles of Purifying Water in Nature

Filtration for Planted Aquariums

Nature has its own natural water-filtration processes long before we humans tampered over it. From wetlands, which serve as natural kidneys that remove 20 to 60 % of metals in the water, trap 80 to 90 % of sediments from run-off, and eliminate 70 to 90 % of the water’s nitrogenous waste. It is essential to understand the functions of a good filtration for planted aquariums and our faunas, what it removes and what it retains, and the benefits/pros and cons of each type.

My Canister Filter

Types of Planted Aquarium Filters

In this 6 Parts Series of articles, we will discuss the types of filters that we can use in a planted aquarium, how they work, their features, pros and cons, and other tips on how to maintain them. How to take care of your beneficial bacteria and not accidentally kill them is discussed too.

85 Gallons Main Planted Tank Using a 25 Gallons Sump Total 110 Gallons Running - Philippines

What to Consider in a Planted Aquarium Filter

In this article, we will discuss the factors and considerations in order to be able to choose the best filter/s for our planted aquarium/s. A filter should not be overly complicated and should be a master of its sole purpose, and that is to provide good to excellent mechanical and biological filtration.

Types of Planted Aquarium Filters

HOB Filter Close Up Aquascaped by Omar Krishnan Afuang Philippines

Hang on Back/HOB/Power Filters

They are also called hang-on-back filters (HOB), and are designed to hang on the back of your aquarium, eing! Power filters are the most commonly used planted aquarium filter because they provide good to excellent mechanical and biological filtration simultaneously. They can also provide the needed water surface agitation for aerating your water.

Using a Sponge Filter Aquascaped by Andrian Jutba Philippines

Internal Filters

An internal filter is placed inside the tank and is totally submerged in water from the name itself. They were the first aquarium filters available for home aquariums. But with the dawn of aquascaping, these filters have lost their acclaim, but they still have their uses in planted aquariums.

Canister Filters by Billie Jay Basilio Philippines

Canister Filters

Canister filters are more powerful and larger than most other filters, and they are suitable for medium to large planted aquariums. This means you can stuff more media due to its larger capacity/volume, which in turn allows for better filtration and more beneficial bacteria colonization. The simple fact is the more volume your filter has, and the more media you can stuff into it, the more effective and efficient your filtration is and the clearer/cleaner your water is.

Using a Trickle Filter Aquascaped by Jei Joaquin Philippines

Trickle Filters

The trickle filter concept is to expose the water to as much air as possible, providing more dissolved oxygen. This will make your biological filtration very efficient and far better than other filters. If you can remember, your biological filtration’s efficiency in converting harmful substances (Ammonia and Nitrites) in your water into a less harmful form (Nitrate) depends on the amount of their food and oxygen in the water.

Using Sump Filters Designed by Chrisrock Orongan Philippines

Sump Filters

Think about a trickle filter as vertical filtration stages and a sump filter as a horizontal one by utilizing chambers separated by baffles to route the water horizontally. The main takeaway here is that the filter media are always wet/submerged in water as opposed to a trickle filter. A sump filter can be positioned below your main tank, overhead, or integrated.

A Sump with a Fluidized Bed Filter Designed by Nigel Sia Philippines

Fluidized Bed Filters

In its most common implementation, a Fluidized Bed filter is actually a 3 chambered sump separated by baffles. The big difference is that the biological media is held in suspension by a pumped water flow or bubbles from an air pump so that every particle of the media will have a large part of its surface area exposed to water flow and well aerated at any given time to home the beneficial bacteria that will filter the water off of Ammonia and Nitrites, as opposed to static media sump filters.

Supplemental Learnings

Drip Acclimation Method

It is the process of slowly acclimating your newly bought fish/es, snails, shrimps, etc. from the pet store to your tank water parameters. You may have very different water parameters than the water from the pet store.

The Drip Acclimation method raises the chances of your newly bought faunas surviving the transfer and being as stress-free as possible.

Filter Maintenance Along With Water Change

Contrary to popular practice, some hobbyists will say that you cannot perform filter maintenance along with your water change schedule. This happened to me on some occasions due to scheduling conflicts or unforeseen circumstances. That you may kill or wash away a significant amount of your beneficial bacteria when doing so.

Osmosis in Planted Aquariums

Osmosis is the process in which any solvent moves through a membrane in a direction from lower concentration to higher concentration that tends to equalize the solutes’ concentration on both sides. The membrane should be semi-permeable and good examples are the cells of the aquatic faunas and plants.

Dutch with some Elements of Nature Style Aquascaped by Lester Plata Philippines using Chihiros Vivid v2 Lights

Lighting a Planted Aquarium

So how do we go about lighting a planted aquarium? What are the specifications that we need to know? What are the marketing gimmicks that we need to avoid?

The thing is, as I always mentioned before, every planted aquarium is unique. There is no secret LED or T5 lighting specs. Nothing is set in stone. Even DIYs can work. There are many variables to consider when determining the proper lighting for your planted tank.

Nature Style Aquascaped by Red Zamora Philippines using Margoo D90 LED Light

Nature Style Aquascaped by Red Zamora Philippines using Margoo D90 LED Light

Why Listen To Me and Why This Site?


I Love this Hobby

Keeping a planted aquarium brings me closer to one of my passions: Mother Nature. I may not have the longest experience in years, I may not have owned multiple tanks to work on but I love this hobby and love to help others and will forever nurture this piece of Nature at our home. I want my children to learn and care for a plant or animal and treat it kindly and patiently, for they may get invaluable training in learning to treat and respect people/all living things the same way.

Heavily Planted Nice Plant Growth

I Want to Share and Help

The internet has many misinformation, “one size fits all” advice, and I don’t want fellow and new upcoming hobbyists to go through that. Every planted tank set-up is unique. We all have different situations. What worked for me may not work for you at that moment. As your plants grow and become larger in mass, variables change. 

And I want to give it back. I want to help you save time and money and not go through the same mistakes and wrong decisions that I made throughout my journey with this hobby.

My Planted Aquarium May 2022

I Am Still Learning

Learning and experiencing the intricacies of maintaining a planted aquarium is a gratifying and humbling experience. You will learn how even the smallest organisms balance the system and how Nature does it as well.

I am still learning, and I am looking forward to learning from my co-hobbyist as well. I don’t claim to know everything. Every day, I still learn new things, and I am also open to learning with other hobbyists and eager to hear from your experiences too. Together we can help each other as we journey to this lifetime hobby.

Nature’s secret is being patient, there are no shortcuts.

Now Let's Begin Shall We?

Planning for your “A Little Slice of Nature” at your very own home.

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