Lol Funny you are talking about this now, because I’m currently in a bit of “crisis” over my desire to transition to natural planted tanks from very cheerfully, brightly, highly-decorated tanks. I will add some photos of my tanks here so you can see what I’m talking about, but this is what you should be picturing: 7 tanks containing, collectively, hundreds of dollars worth of large aquarium decor (huge and medium-sized fake wood centerpieces, resin caves of all sizes- including the exact same one you have in your photo, numerous extra-large, large and medium fake plants made of plastic, silk, and silicone, ceramic hideaways, and more). I’ve got $200 in my 40 gallon breeder tank for the female betta sorority, easily, because I’m trying to give them way too much else to look at and do besides be preoccupied with each other. I’ve got no less than $100 in decor every single tank including my $10 gallon baby tank. I am new to the hobby and definitely dove in head-first. Without knowing what to do, which sources are credible, and with information overload and conflicting information and advice, I have spent so much money on things I don’t need. I’ve got a whole fish pharmacy here, but no idea how to properly diagnose or medicate fish. I should send a photo of all the meds I have; you just wouldn’t believe it. And this doesn’t include those I’ve already used up. I’ve got about 20 containers of different kinds of fish food and also have 4 different kinds of frozen food in my freezer. My bettas eat a mixture of at least 7 different kinds of foods, none of which is inexpensive. Same with my corys and the tetras I inherited. I’m also trying to breed live daphnia in a 3 gallon glass water dispenser to make getting the daphnia out and doing water changes much easier. I’ve got at least 3 filters on each tank, not even kidding here. Almost every tank has a fluval 207 or 407 canister filter, every single tank has an aquaclear HOB or a seachem Tidal HOB, a sponge filter, and a skimmer. Every tank has a timer and great lighting. Every tank has an alarm system connected to heaters in order tp keep the temperature consistent. I’ve got more aquarium chemicals than I have space for, so I’ve even got one of those wheeled tubs to put them in. Yup. My mom came over, took a look around, and announced I’d officially gone crazy. It’s hard to argue with her when my tanks look like mini amusement parks, and she has no idea how much this all cost me, thank god.
I decided I want to have shrimp, and will be purchasing some from a member here. While doing my research, I learned that they need live plants. So, I got that 7.5 gallon starter tank (Aqueon) and have put my first live plants in there. It’s going relatively well. I’ve only lost one plant so far (a fern), but this is so recent that I may lose more eventually. I’ve even added some live plants into one of the 20 gallons housing a male betta and 5 dwarf catfish, and the 40 gallon community tank with another male betta, 3 cory catfish, and 4 tetras. So far, I have’t lost any plants from these tanks. I’ve pulled out so many expensive fake plants, and fake decor that I spent no less than $50 for apiece. It makes me sick thinking about how much money I’ve wasted, and I wish I had realized from the beginning that planted tanks are not the exclusive domain of experienced aquarists.
I send photos and videos of my fish to friends, who love the way my tanks look, and some of my friends in DC and Texas even decided they too want tanks. They’re certainly fun-looking tanks, but I believe I can see a difference when I add live plants. Part of the reason I’m doing this is because I know plants help with keeping a healthy tank. Some of my fish even started laying eggs (which I never allow to hatch because I have no plan for fry here). But I am determined to learn how to have planted tanks. I can’t figure out how people are cleaning these though. I’m doing a fishless cycle in a 20 gallon tank that has eco-complete and tiny black gravel mixed into that, and when I try to clean the gravel with my siphon, it sucks up way too much of this substrate. I don’t have success using the technique that works so far with my sand tanks- I circle the syphon above the tank to stir up any debris so I can catch it with the vacuum. Doing that in this tank stirs up the substrate more than happens with the sand substrate, and stuff still gets into my bucket. Also, I’m not a fan of the dark substrate because I can’t see what I’m cleaning.
I want to buy a lot of new plants, but what do I do with all this decor I already have? And does this mean I have to replace all my substrate too? Because of course my tanks have either colored gravel or sand, with the exception of the shrimp tank (which has the substrate that came with it, specifically for plants and shrimp) and the fishless cycling tank. I’ve purchased little glass aquatic plant globes with suction cups as a possible solution. I might be able to add appropriate substrate for growing bulbs before needing to transfer those plants. But yeah, I don’t want to go down this path making expensive mistakes again.