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Make your aquarium a success

Let the dream of a well-functioning aquarium become true with just 3 basic steps!
The right aquarium

Your aquarium or the aquarium, which you intend to buy, is crucial for the type of
plants and fish you can choose from.
Light - The better the light, the more
plants you can choose between. You need to
find out how many Watts your lamp has,
compared against Litres of water.

Fertiliser and CO2 - All plants need


nourishment! You can offer nourishment from
the bottom to the roots (substrate), through
the water with fluent fertiliser; however, the
most important fertiliser for aquarium plants is
added CO2. The fertiliser is added to ensure
optimal plant growth, and minimal algae.
Water
movement - All
aquariums
benefit from water movement and filtering,
since it eliminates bacteria and particles,
which may be harmful to plants and fish.
The right plants
With Tropicas patented symbols - Easy, Medium and Advanced, you are sure to choose the
right plants for your specific aquarium! Find the symbols on the labels inside the pot.
We have developed this concept, since far too many people select plants that dont thrive in
the aquarium after planting. Mostly because people buy plants of the categories Medium or
Advanced without knowing that the light, fertiliser or CO2 conditions of the aquarium make the plants
unable to grow!
The plant will practically start decomposing! A decomposing plant adds large amounts of
nourishment to the water. Nourishment, which is normally not absorbed by other living plants,
creates a massive algae growth, resulting in severe aquarium problems. In many cases, you will just
give up and lose interest in the hobby!
Tropica supports you in succeeding with your aquarium.Please follow the guidelines for
selecting plants here.

The right fish

Select fish based upon the following 3


crucial factors:
Maximum 1cm fish per litre water.
A full-grown neon tetra is for instance
approx. 4cm long, so a 100 L
aquarium should not exceed 25 fish.
Use algae-eating fish, shrimps
and snails.
Selecting fish is a matter of taste,
and options are numerous. Please
ask your dealer about the
behaviour and needs of the fish,
and when they should be put in the
aquarium after planting.
Livebearing fish such as the guppy and
platy are mostly peaceful and brightly
coloured. The female give birth to their
young, which use dense plants especially
close to the surface as a hiding place
because the young get eaten. Some males
fight over the females and the ones that
lose also hide in the vegetation. Most
livebearing fish eat algae and can
potentially damage soft plants and moss.
Shoaling fish such as tetras, rasboras
and barbs, seek refuge in large groups
known as shoals. Dense plants will give
safety to the relatively few individuals
(however, no less than 8-10 fish) you have
room for. Plants with delicate leaves are
often used for laying eggs and therefore offer exciting breeding potential.

Community fish are fish that can share the aquarium with many other kinds of
fish. Community fish comprise primarily of livebearers and shoaling fish, but if you
rearrange the aquarium afterwards, it will be able to accommodate even more kinds of
fish. Cichlids thrive if there are holes and hiding places, and gouramis and angelfish
seek security amongst plants.

Territorial fish want to have their own


space either all the time or only when they
are young. Cichlids and belong to this group.
You can observe very exciting behaviour
patterns when several pairs are put together
in a planted aquarium so that the fish can
establish their territory.

One out of many examples of fish that


need higher temperatures are Discus.
People often refrain from plants in Discus
aquariums in order to facilitate the cleaning
of the aquarium and the changing of water.
If you want plants for our Discus, however,
choose plants that grow naturally in places
with high temperature. Cryptocoryne,
Microsorum
and
Echinodorus
are
recommended.
Digging and herbivorous fish including
goldfish and some cichlids, and most algaeeating fish, eat moss as well. With plant-eating
fish you can choose thick, tough leaves (such
as Anubias) or plants with strong flavour such
as Bacopa. Digging fish tend to get frightened
by strong roots which must be mature before
the fish are introduced! You can also cover the
roots with stones or wood, which should keep
the fish away.
Algae-eaters, shrimps and snails are
very popular, especially in the smaller nano
aquariums. Shrimps in particular love moss.
Many shrimp types are delicate, which is why Tropica has developed a plant series
called 1-2-Grow! The plants are cultivated in a lab and are free from algae and
pesticides. Shrimps are very good at keeping delicate-leaved plants such as
Hemianthus, Marselia and Glossostigma free from algae
whereas snails are perfect for large leaves, windows,
stones and roots.

Light

Choose the correct light source for your


needs

The lumen, level of brightness, is


always
written
on
the
packaging. Here, we show you how you can put the information from the
packaging on the fluorescent tube or bulb to practical use in the aquarium.
Previously, a light bulb or fluorescent tube lamp was classified by how much
electricity it used (Wattage). However, this makes it very difficult to compare different
kinds of light sources, because light bulbs, fluorescent tube lamps and LED lighting are
not directly comparable on this point. It is advisable instead to find the number on the
packaging which tells you how many lumens the light source produces. Lumens refer
precisely tohow much light a particular light source gives off, rather than how much
energy it produces. The value is written on packaging for all light bulbs, fluorescent tube
lamps, LEDs, etc.
To make it simple, we explain here
how many lumens we recommend per litre
of water in an aquarium for a selection of
plants from the Easy, Medium or Advanced
category.
How much light is enough light?
That all depends upon which plants
you have chosen for your aquarium. If you
have chosen nothing but "Easy" plants,
0.25 to 0.5 Watts per litre is adequate. For "Medium" plants, we recommend 0.5 to 1
Watts per litre, while "Advanced" plants require more than 1 Watt per litre.
The picture series shows the same aquarium (54 litre starter set) with A)
standard T8 tube of 15 Watts, B) T5 tube of 24 Watts, and C) 2 x T5 tubes with 24 Watts
per tube, in order to visualize how much more light is given off by using a T5 tube rather
than a T8 tube, the same amount as you get from switching from one tube to two tubes.

A simple and cheap way to use the light optimally is by always using a good
reflector (read more about reflectors here) as well as by ensuring that the temperature especially during summer - does not get too
high inside the lamp (read more about the
amount of light given off and temperature
here).
Our recommendations, in Watts per
litre, are given based upon many years'
experience using T5 fluorescent tube
lighting.

The table shows the amount of light (lumens) from one 15 Watt T8 tube in a
starter set compared with sunlight, typically that found in the living room - there is more
light in the aquarium than in the living room, but considerably less than plants would
experience under natural growth conditions.
Remember to use reflectors in your lamp so as to get up to 4 x better use out
of the light!
Many cheap starter sets are delivered with a standard lamp without reflectors.
Luckily, it is possible to buy reflectors separately and mount them afterwards in the vast
majority of lamps.
Our calculations show that a good reflector can give up to 4 times better
utilization of the light. Note that there is a large difference in the quality of reflectors - we
have tried to illustrate this with a photo series!
It is easy to ascertain in the shop which reflector is best. Mount the reflector on a
fluorescent tube lamp and look at the reflection of the tube in the reflector. If there is no
black band visible in the reflection, the reflector is "perfect". If black stripes appear in the
reflection (see the example on the right in the top picture), it means there are areas of
the tube from where the reflector cannot catch the light - which reduces the utilization of
light. As a rule of thumb however, even a poor reflector (e.g. Type 1) is far better than no
reflector at all (None)!

The amount of light decreases considerably with the distance from the light
source to the base of the tank, and from the centre out to the corners of the aquarium.
In daylight, this distance doesn't mean anything, as the distance to the sun is enormous.
But from the artificial light source, the distance is much less and therefore critical for
how much light the plants receive.
We have constructed a simple light calculation using a plate to represent the
base of an aquarium, with the light source 30 cm over the plate. We have measured
from the centre of the aquarium out into the corners, and the same at 10 cm in height
(likewise, from centre out into the corners). As is evident from the table, there is
considerably more light just under the light source in the centre of the aquarium while
the light decreases drastically in the corners. By lifting the plant a mere 10 cm up
towards the lamp, it will get 40% more light. This effect is not found in the corners, due
to the poor spread of the light from the source (the fluorescent tube). The plants can
easily be lifted up towards the light by placing them on a rod or a stone.
The most light-demanding plants can always be placed advantageously in the
centre of the aquarium, preferably lifted up towards the light - while plants from the Easy
category such as Microsorum and Cryptocorynes grow just fine along the edges.
There are many different types of
light source available,from the oldfashioned light bulb and metal halide lamps
to the modern types of LED lights.
The figure below shows how much
light is given by the different types of
lighting (|---| give off the entire interval, the
box gives out 50% of the observations and
the small horizontal line is the median
value). The figure clearly shows that the
light bulb (incandescent) is the light source,
which gives off least light per Watt it uses
(lumens per Watt).
It also shows that the old-fashioned
T8 tube gives out almost as much light per
Watt as the more modernT5 tube. Why do
so many plant aquarists then switch to T5
tubes, when the T5 came out about 20
years ago? It is because a T5 tube gives
out far more light per cm of tube than the T8
tube. One 15 Watt T8 tube is suitable for a 54 litre starter set and gives out just 900

lumens, while a T5 tube of corresponding length uses 24 Watts, but gives out 1600
lumens.
Finally, the figure shows that metal halide lamps are the light source that give out
most light per Watt, but they are closely followed by the modern, high output LED lights.
The biggest advantage with the two light sources is however that they take up very little
space, so it is possible to use a lot of units in an individual lamp, and in this way create
an armature that can provide a large amount of light. If you consider however how many
lumens you get per Watt, the difference is not actually great enough on its own to justify
changing your armature to an LED, for example - but if you are already planning to buy
a new lamp, it is perhaps worth considering an LED solution. Read more about LED
lighting here!
The different types of energy-saving light bulbs (LED and fluorescent) actually
give out considerably less light per Watt, but they can still have their advantages, for
those wanting to play around with light in the aquarium. These lamps are bought as
spotlights and can provide some nice effects if you add more lights locally to a lightdemanding plant group.
Lumen, lux and photon flux are the most usual units for measuring the
amount of light - here, we explain what the different units quantify.
Lumen specifies how much a light source gives off - while luxspecifies the
amount of light per area (the same as lumen per cubic metre). Lux is therefore used to
describe how great an amount of light is available for a plant in a given location in the
aquarium. Standard light measurements specify the amount of light in lux.
Photon flux is the scientific term for the amount of light per area, and it specifies
the number of photons per cubic metre per second (mol per m2 per s). The photon flux
is often given in wavelength areas of 400 to 700 nm only, which is precisely those
wavelengths plants are able to use (see more under What light do plants use?). Photon
flux can be converted to lux by multiplying the photon flux by 74 for a coolwhite
fluorescent tube light. The factor varies, however, from 33 to 106 according to what kind
of light source you have.
It is ideal to talk about the plant's light
needs in lux or photon flux, as this is most
relevant for plants in terms of how much light
reaches their leaves (lux) - and not so much
in terms of how strong the light source is
(lumens). Exactly how much light plants have
available is however primarily controlled by
the distance from the light source; the

greater the distance, the less light reaches them (See more under Distance from light
source).
The picture here shows the spectral division of daylight. Daylight is generally
made up of equal parts blue green and red light.
Plants only use blue and red light, however (see the figure showing the
absorption of chlorophyll at the different wavelengths). There are therefore more and
more pot plants being grown in modern nurseries with the use of blue and red diodes,
as this is precisely the light spectrum plants use for their photosynthesis . The plants do
NOT however use the green light which is simply reflected - which is why we see plants
as green.
As aquarists, we also need green light in the aquarium, however, in order to
recreate the correct colours - without the green light, the aquarium would appear violet.
We therefore recommend light sources which remind us most of daylight, with a colour
temperature of 5500 to 6500K: Read more under Colour temperature and CRI.

Colour temperature is indicated in degrees Kelvin (K) and specifies the


colour of the light. Daylight has a colour temperature of approx. 6500K, which is why
we recommend light sources with a colour temperature in the area 5500 to 6500K. A
high colour temperature (> 8000K) gives off a bluish tint, and should only be used for
saltwater aquariums, while a colour temperature under 4000K gives a yellowy or
reddish tint, corresponding to an old-fashioned light bulb.
The colour temperature also decides to a certain degree how well the plant's
natural colours are recognised. Many light sources have a CRI value printed on them
(colour rendering index), which has a
maximum value of 100. The index indicates
how well the lamp can render a
standardised row of colours. Choose a
lamp with a CRI value of at least 90 in order
to get the most natural colours of animals
and plants in the aquarium.

Image A shows a plant aquarium,


where the light source has a high CRI value
(daylight), and here, the plant's colour
recognition is excellent. Image B has a light
source with a lower CRI, and the plants
appear grayer in this picture.

Fertiliser and
CO2
Like fish, plants need care and maintenance, which is why we have developed various
fertiliser products that add the required nutrition. You can add CO2, nitrogen, phosphor, iron and
micronutrients in different ways, and only fertilising will result in optimal growth and beautiful plant
colours inside your aquarium.
Aquarium plants require nutrients to grow. The main nutrient is CO2, which is also the main
inhibitor of growth in the plant aquarium. If you dont add extra CO2, plants have to do with what is
naturally released by fish and bacteria inside the aquarium, which is inadequate for plants of the
categories MEDIUM and ADVANCED.
Other than CO2, plants also need nitrogen (N), phosphor (P), iron (Fe) and manganese
(Mn). These substances are referred to as macronutrients, since the plants require relatively large
amounts. Aquarium plants can absorb all macronutrients both via roots and leaves, which is why the
fertiliser can be added as fluent fertiliser to the water or as capsules to the substrate. If you add
fertiliser to the water, it requires frequent dosage (daily or weekly) and overfertilisation may result in
algae problems, if the plants are unable to absorb the fertiliser as it is added. However, it is the only
way to add fertiliser to e. g. moss, floating plants and plants on rocks and tree roots, since their roots
arent located in the bottom layer. Nutrient capsules are ideal for large and sturdy plants or wellestablished carpets of front plants. Tropicas Nutrition Capsules release their nutrients over a period
of 6-9 months.
The third nutrient category is micronutrients such as copper, molybdenum, zinc and borate.
These substances are part of vital enzymes, and when micronutrients are deficient, plants grow
slower and start to show deficiency symptoms. You can add micronutrients both in form of
Premium and Specialised Fertiliser and as Nutrition Capsules.
What is CO2?
CO2 is the most important nutrient for the plants; without CO2 the plants are unable to
perform a photosynthesis, which is the first step in a long range of processes that lead to growth..
How do I supply the CO2?
You can supply the CO2 in several ways. Tropica recommends that you use compressed
CO2 (see our systems here). Then you add the CO2 until you have reached the required pH in the
table, and the required pH depends on the carbonate hardness of your water and on how much CO2

you wish to have in your aquarium. A bit of CO2 (e.g. 3-5 mg per L) is better than nothing. Plants that
are marked "Medium" require about 10-15 mg CO2 per L, but "Advanced" plants require 15-30 mg
CO2 per L.
What is CO2, dKh and pH?
Do I need CO2? If you wish to have plants that are marked "Medium" or "Advanced" in your
plant aquarium, you need to add CO2. If you only have plants marked "Easy", you need not add
extra CO2, but the plants will do better, if you choose to add just a bit.

What is pH?
pH is a figure that expresses the acidity of the
water. A low pH is acid, and a high pH is basic,
while a neutral pH is defined as the area from 6 to
9 (the whole scale goes from 0-14).
What is dKh?
dKh is the carbonate hardness of the
water and is expressed in German degrees of
hardness (dKh). The carbonate hardness is the
total amount of bicarbonate and carbonate.
How to use the table
Determine the carbonate hardness of the
water before you start (typically by means of a
drip set).
Determine the required CO2 level (orange
is e.g. Tropicas recommended CO2 concentration
for Medium plant categori; 6-15 mg CO2 per L).
If your water has a carbonate hardness of
e.g. 12 dKh, the CO2 supply must be adjusted until the pH value is at 7,5 to 7,8.

What is the relationship between CO2, pH and dKh?


The relationship is partly illustrated in the figure to the right. By a low pH, the bicarbonate
(HCO3) and carbonate (CO3) are converted into CO2. By a neutral pH, most of it is converted into
HCO3, while CO3 dominates by a high pH. So by adjusting the pH value, you can control the
amount of CO2 in your aquarium.

Water circulation
The pump and filter must create water circulation in the aquarium, clean the water for fine
particles and create the micro biology, that brings the aquarium in a biological balance and by that
makes it stable.

The pump consists of a small, electrically-driven propeller that pumps the water around. The
capacity is stated in litres per hour. We recommend that the water is changed 3-5 times per hour
(150L aquarium - capacity 450 to 750 litres per hour) in order to achieve a good cleaning and not
least to ensure the water circulation in the aqaurium.

The filter is often installed as an integrated part, in front of the pump. The filter consists of a
layer of very fine cotton wool (often made of a plastic material), that catches the fine particles and
therefore must be rinsed manually from time to
time. Behind or below this layer, you will find the
coarse material (made of plastic or ceramics)
which creates a large surface, where the micro
biology can assume definite form in the streaming
water. Active materials can also be added (e.g.
crushed lava and organic coal), which may have
an impact on the chemistry of the water.

The pump and filter can be purchased for


installation inside the aquarium (internal) or
installation outside the aquarium (external) e.g. in a
cupboard below. Some aquariums have a built-in
filter and pump in the back wall or corner panel.
Regardless of which filter you use, the filter
material must be cleaned regularly (once a month
or a little more rarely). This is done by washing the
filter sponge under lukewarm water; make sure it is
not too hot, as this will kill the useful bacteria. If
your filter uses cotton wool, you only need to
change the cotton wool.

Water change
The purpose of changing the water in the aquarium is to remove waste products and surplus
of nutrients accumulating in the water. These substances come from feeding, excrements, dead

material and fertilizer and


imbalance in the aquarium.

may

cause

an

During the start-up, the aquarium is


especially vulnerable towards the accumulation of
waste products and nutrients. Up to 50% change
of water twice per week in the first 3 weeks
ensures clean water. Later when a biological
balance is achieved in the aquarium, the aquarium
is less vulnerable towards accumulation.
Therefore, a weekly change of water of approx.
30% is adequate, and during holidays, the
aquarium will also be able to handle 2-3 weeks without water change.

This is how it is done:


1) Clean the glass with a soft sponge and/or a squeegee.
2) Switch off the pump and heater.
3) Have a bucket ready, into which the water can run (e.g. directly into the outlet).
4) Put the other end of the hose into the aquarium and suck! After that, the siphon principle will do
the rest. A piece of garden hose can easily be used.
5) Add fresh water from the cold tap either with a hose directly from the tap or with a large water jug.
It is important that the water is poured into a saucer or something similar in order to avoid that the
gravel whirls up.
6) Switch on the pump and heater again and check that the pump is running (it often needs help to
get started, if it has sucked in air).
Here is our video about easy water change.
Temperature

The temperature in the aquarium is decisive


for the metabolism of the animals and plants - and
by that for their well-being. Too low temperatures
reduce the life processes while too high
temperatures increase their pace. Both are
harmful and the temperature must therefore be
controlled and regulated.

There are several heat sources in the shape of e.g. cables in the ground layer or heaters
(e.g. integrated in the pump). Moreover, all traffic, e.g. light sources and pump, liberates heat to the
water, just as the room temperature has a great impact on the water temperatute in the aquarium. A
thermostat in the heat source is necessary, so that the required temperature in the aquarium can be
maintained. There are cooling devices which correspondingly can reduce the temperature.
Most of Tropica's plants thrive at 22-24 degrees (which is the most frequently recommended
temperature for aquariums). By higher temperatures, e.g. for the sake of the fish, only a limited
selection of plants can be used. By increasing temperatures, the amount of oxygen in the water is
reduced, which is harmful to the fish, and most of the plants will not thrive. The algae may however
generally benefit from this and will indeed thrive, and just a couple of days with higher tempetatures
can produce plankton and thread algae in the aquarium.

Get the right start at home:


Place your aquarium sheltered from direct sunlight.
Consider how you want it to look.
Find ideas for great aquariums on www.tropica.com under Inspiration.

1.

First, place all decoration material (such as stones or roots), if you intend to use it.
Then spread out a 1 cm thick layer of substrate where your plants should go and cover it with at
least 4 cm of gravel.
2.
Carefully pour water into the aquarium, and wet the bottom layer. Use a plate or sift to slow
down the water jet, in order to avoid making a mess of the bottom layer.
3.
Prepare the plants: Remove plastic pot and stone wool. Shorten the roots and divide into
smaller plants, suitable for groups of plants.
Use tweezers for easy planting.

4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.

Remember to spray with water every now and then, to keep the plants moist at all times.
Drying may harm the leaves.
Carefully fill the aquarium with water. Make sure that the water jet does not hit plants or the
bottom layer directly.
The water may look a bit cloudy for a few days. Dont worry it will get better.
Install a timer watch to turn off after 6 hours of light every day for the first three weeks.
Then increase gradually to max. 8 hours of light every day. Too much light may result in
problems with algae growth. Remember, maximum 8 hours of light per day.
Download Tropicas App. It will remind you to change water, add fertiliser, and ensure that
you get well through the first three months with aquarium.
After 90 days, the aquarium will have grown to:

Hardscape and substrate


Planning your aquarium is a prerequisite for achieving good results. Gain inspiration at your
local dealer or at tropica.com before making your final choice. Spend the necessary time on planning
- and by all means on drawing - the layout with the location of both decoration materials and plants.

Hardscape is an aquarium layout with gravel, rocks, tree roots and other decorations - but no
plants. Creating a hardscape is entirely up to your imagination. Some find it extremely interesting,
others do not like it so much. You can compare this activity to standing before an easel and working
with the paint brush. Most of us try to do their best, whereas diligent artists understand the colour
setting, depth and perspective. Many competitions are arranged around the world to determine the
aquascaper who can create the most impressive aquarium design. We can recommend that you
start with hardscapes, no matter whether you have the talent of an artist or not!
1.

Find the appropriate pieces of wood, rocks, stones and other decorative elements you want
to use in your hardscape. If you choose heavy stones, we can recommend adding polystyrene
at the bottom in order to protect the glass.
2.
Add about 1 cm substrate in the places where plants with strong roots will be planted. We
recommend Tropica's Plant Growth Substrate.
3.
The bottom layer, which often consists of gravel, is carefully distributed and it can slope
upwards towards the rear wall of the aquarium. This way you achieve depth and perspective in
your aquarium.
4.
Finally, place the rocks, tree roots and any other decoration you like. Move around individual
components and change their places, if necessary. It is now that you create room and
perspective so that the aquarium layout design is just right for you.

The substrate retains the plant roots, ensures a good water circulation around the roots and
binds the nutrients, which the roots can absorb.

Different kinds and colours of gravel with a grain size from 0,8-4 mm will ensure a good
water circulation, but make sure that the ground layer does not liberate harmful substances into the
water. Under the gravel, a layer of -1 cm substrate is added, which binds nutrients for the roots.
Some products combine gravel and a nutrient medium in one and the same product, other products
are concentrated substrates. Contrary to the gravel, the substrate offers nutrients in the form of
minerals, which contribute to creating an acid and highly nutritious environment to the benefit of the
root development and nutritious intake of the plants.
By the start-up of the aquarium, the substrate is spread with the main part into places, where
plants with strong roots are to be planted later. After that, the gravel is distributed over the entire
ground of the aquarium. The gravel is divided sloping upwards and backwards with at least 3-4 cm in
the front and 6-8 cm in the back. In places where big rocks are to be placed later, a thin styrene plate
can be placed before the substrate and gravel in order to protect the glass bottom.

Planting
The easiest way to plant in the aquarium is at a water level of just a few centimetres from the
bottom. Many aquarists traditionally plant their plants when the aquarium is full, but this way it can
be difficult to orient yourself in the water and to plant properly in the gravel.
Carefully pour the water down a saucer when refilling in order to avoid stirring up the bottom
until the water level is approx. 2 cm above the gravel. Have a spray-mister ready in order to keep the
plants damp while you are working. The plants can easily get by when they are kept wet!
Stem (Egeria, Hygrophila, Ludwigia)

If necessary, cut off the


overgrown roots so that the
pot and stone wool can be
removed and the roots
trimmed to approx. 4 cm. In
case of bundle stem plants
with a ceramic ring, remove the ceramic ring and the bottom leaves. Plant the stems one by one in a
group.

Rosette (Echinodorus, Cryptocoryne)


If necessary, cut off the overgrown roots so
that you can remove the
pot and mineral wool. Trim
the roots at approx. 4 cm.
Divide into single rosettes
and
remove
the
oldest/outermost
leaves.
Plant alone or in a group.

Carpeting plants (Eleocharis, Glossostigma)

Remove the
wool. Cut off the
approx. 2 cm under
"anchor"
when
portions and plant

pot and the excess mineral


mineral wool chunk at
plant level to use it as an
planting. Divide into 4-10
evenly over the area you wish to cover.

Rhizomes (Anubias, Microsorum)

and mineral wool.


cover the rhizome
plant can be tied on
or roots.

If necessary, cut off the overgrown roots so


that you can remove the pot
When planting in, do not
or the plant will rotten. The
or squeezed between stones

Floating plants (Limnobium, Ceratophyllum)


You can cut the very long roots and
Ceratophyllum can be divided into small pieces. The
plants are placed on the surface. Note the shading
effect they have further down
in the aquarium.

Moss (Taxiphyllum, Monosolenium)


The portion can be divided into smaller portions.
Used "loosely floating" in the aquarium or attached
to stones/roots. Very small moss tufts can be
inserted into the bottom layer to cover the bottom.

Bulbs and tubers (Crinum, Aponogeton)


Remove the pot and the mineral wool. Cut any
strong roots at approx. 4 cm. If there are several
plants in the pot, separate them from each other.
Plant Crinum with approx. of the bulb over the
bottom layer. Tubers can be covered completely,
but the shoot must be
above the bottom layer.
Stolons (Vallisneria,
Lilaeopsis)
Remove the pot and the mineral wool. If applicable,
trim the roots at approx. 4 cm. Remove the ceramic
ring from the bundles. Plant the stems one by one
in a group. Lilaeopsis, however, in small portions.

1-2-Grow! is
stems,
mosses,
and floating plants.

a plant range including


rosette, stolons, carpeting

These plants are very small, supplied in closed cups with growing medium. See the handling
and planting of these here.

Growing-in

When introducing a new aquarium, the first 90 days are critical. To put it simply, the aquarium
and the aquatic environment must be in balance with regards to plant growth, fish population and
filtration. The plants have to adapt to the new conditions at a time where algae can thrive.
We advise you to follow the steps below:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.

Set the lighting time to 6 hours a day in the first 2-3 weeks. Then you can increase to 8-10
hours a day.
It is a good idea to provide CO2 from day 1.
Change the water 25-50% a couple of times a week in the first 3-4 weeks. After that, change
approx. 25% of the water once a week.
No fertiliser or a limited amount of fertiliser during the first 3-4 weeks. The plants contain
plenty of nutrients already from the nursery, which is sufficient to establish a root network.
Fast-growing plants such as Egeria and Limnophila, can be planted permanently or removed
at a later date once the aquarium is balanced. Fast-growing plants absorb the excess nutrients
and therefore minimise the growth of algae.
Introduce algae-eating snails and shrimps as soon as possible after start-up.
We recommend that the introduction of fish is delayed for 3-4 weeks until the plants have
established. In other respects, follow the fish stocking guidelines for new aquariums.
Check the equipment - does the plug-in-timer operate the lighting effectively, is the CO2
supply sufficient, is the filter running, is the temperature OK?

Day 1. The aquarium is planted Day 20. The plants have taken
and filled with water. Start with hold - but the aquarium is not
balanced yet. Beware of possible
6 hours of light a day.
algae growth.

Day 90. The desired result good plant growth, great


colour
and
transparent
water - is achieved.

Supporting plants
Supporting or auxiliary plants are extra plants that help you get your aquarium started quickly
and safely and they further help avoid algae.
A newly established aquarium has to develop the right microbiology (bacteria), ensuring
correct function of the aquarium. Water bacteria perform decomposition and transformation of
harmful substances; however, it takes time before the bacteria concentration is adequate.
New plants have vital influence on microbiology and water quality, but they require time to develop
roots, adjust to life under water and grow bigger.
A newly established aquarium is sensitive, and many things can go wrong often resulting in
heavy algae growth. Implantation of extra auxiliary plants increases the plant volume in the aquarium
and helps absorb nourishment from the water, in order to prevent algae from absorbing nourishment
for their growth.
All auxiliary plants are sturdy and resistant to varying water quality. However, they are
primarily fast-growing and able to consume the fertilising substances in the water.
Auxiliary plants require regular pruning, so they dont overshadow slow-growing plants and
impede with their growing conditions. Once the actual plants are growing, and reach good sizes,
remove the auxiliary plants from the aquarium, possibly stepwise.
Examples of appropriate auxiliary plants:
Bundled stems with ceramic ring: Cabomba caroliniana; Egeria densa; Hygrophila difformis
In portions: Ceratophyllum demersum
1-2-Grow! cup: Heteranthera zosterifolia
In pots: Ceratopteris thalictroides; Limnophila sessiliflora; Ludwigia repens Rubin; Myriophyllum
mattogrossense
Please remember:

Apart from auxiliary plants, changing water is important for a good start without algae. Here's a link
to a video showing an easy way to change water. Please
check our App for further information.

Cabomba caroliniana

Cabomba is a very popular aquarium plant from


South America owing to its beautiful foliage. It reaches 30-80
cm and each stem can become 5-8 cm wide.The least
demanding of the Cabomba-species, but still causes
problems in poorly lit aquariums. If there is not sufficient light,
try Limnophila sessiliflora, which requires less light. Most
decorative when planted in groups. Eaten locally as a vegetable.

Plant info
Type:

Stem

Origin:

South
America

Country or continent where a plant is the most common.


Cultivars arise or are bred in cultivation.
Growth rate:

High

Growth rate of the plant compared to other aquatic plants.


Height:

20
30+

Average height (cm) of the plant after two months in the


tank.
Light demand:

Medium

The average or medium light demand of an aquarium


plant is 0,5 W/L.
CO2 :

Low

A medium need in CO2 is 6-14 mg/L. A high demand in


CO2 is approx. 15-25 mg/L.

Egeria densa

The cosmopolitan Egeria densa is a good plant for beginners,


and its rapid growth helps create a balance in the aquarium from the
start. Stems grows fast to 40-100 cm and becomes 2-4 cm wide.
Egeria helps preventing algae because it absorbs a great number of
nutrients from the water. The plant secretes antibiotic substances
which can help prevent blue-green algae (a type of bacteria). The
growth rate depends largely on the amount of light and nutrition
available. Growth does not stop in unfavourable conditions, but the
plant turns light in colour and the tendrils grow thin.

Plant info
Type:

Stem

Origin:

Cosmopolitan

Country or continent where a plant is the most common.


Cultivars arise or are bred in cultivation.
Growth rate:

High

Growth rate of the plant compared to other aquatic plants.


Height:

20 - 30+

Average height (cm) of the plant after two months in the


tank.
Light demand:

Low

The average or medium light demand of an aquarium


plant is 0,5 W/L.
CO2 :

Low

A medium need in CO2 is 6-14 mg/L. A high demand in


CO2 is approx. 15-25 mg/L.

Hygrophila 'Araguaia'

Araguaia is a river system in Brazil and it is under this name


that the plant has become known. There are many signs,
however, that the plant is a Hygrophila lancea from Japan and
Hong Kong. The stem becomes 10-20 cm tall and 6-15 cm wide.
It has compact, tight-sitting leaves and grows branches easily.
Pinching of the stems maintains a bushy look. The plant is
reddish brown to purple in colour and is promoted by good
growth conditions. The growth rate is average for a Hygrophila.

Plant info
Type:

Stem

Origin:

Asia

Country or continent where a plant is the most common.


Cultivars arise or are bred in cultivation.
Growth rate:

Medium

Growth rate of the plant compared to other aquatic plants.


Height:

10
20+

Average height (cm) of the plant after two months in the


tank.
Light demand:

Medium

The average or medium light demand of an aquarium


plant is 0,5 W/L.
CO2 :

Medium

A medium need in CO2 is 6-14 mg/L. A high demand in


CO2 is approx. 15-25 mg/L.

Hygrophila difformis

Hygrophila difformis from Asia is beautiful and undemanding.


Stems becomes 20-30 cm tall and 6-12 cm wide. A plant for beginners which can help create
a balance in the aquarium from the start. Its rapid growth helps prevent algae because the plant
absorbs a great number of nutrients from the water. The shortage of micronutrients leads to pale
leaves, which may be an indication that the aquarium needs fertiliser.
In large aquariums its lobed leaves can create a distinctive group.

Plant info
Type:

Stem

Origin:

Asia

Country or continent where a plant is the most common.


Cultivars arise or are bred in cultivation.
Growth rate:

High

Growth rate of the plant compared to other aquatic plants.


Height:

20 30+

Average height (cm) of the plant after two months in the


tank.

Light demand:

Low

The average or medium light demand of an aquarium


plant is 0,5 W/L.
CO2 :

Low

A medium need in CO2 is 6-14 mg/L. A high demand in


CO2 is approx. 15-25 mg/L.

Hygrophila pinnatifida

Hygrophila pinnatifida originates from India. It obtains


brown, patched leaves on the surface with a distinctive
burgundy colour underneath. It creates horizontal side shoots
and the top shoots should be pinched out in order to maintain
compact and attractive growth. The horizontal side shoots easily attach to both wood and rocks.
Growth is moderate, stems 15-40 cm tall and 10-20 cm wide, and the colour is attractive when
planted in small groups with a plain background. Intense lighting ensures compact growth due to the
plant's slow to medium growth rate.

Plant info
Type:

Stem

Origin:

Asia

Country or continent where a plant is the most common.


Cultivars arise or are bred in cultivation.
Growth rate:

Medium

Growth rate of the plant compared to other aquatic plants.


Height:

15
30+

Average height (cm) of the plant after two months in the


tank.
Light demand:

Medium

The average or medium light demand of an aquarium


plant is 0,5 W/L.

CO2 :

Medium

A medium need in CO2 is 6-14 mg/L. A high demand in


CO2 is approx. 15-25 mg/L.

Hygrophila pinnatifida and moss

Hygrophila pinnatifida and moss on mangrove wood.


Hygrophila pinnatifida originates from India. It
obtains brown, patched leaves on the surface with a
distinctive burgundy colour underneath. It creates horizontal
side shoots and the top shoots should be pinched out in
order to maintain compact and attractive growth. The
horizontal side shoots easily attach to both wood and rocks.
Growth is moderate, stems 15-40 cm tall and 10-20 cm
wide, and the colour is attractive when planted in small
groups with a plain background. Intense lighting ensures
compact growth due to the plant's slow to medium growth
rate.

Plant info
Type:

Stem

Origin:

Asia

Country or continent where a plant is the most common.


Cultivars arise or are bred in cultivation.
Growth rate:

Medium

Growth rate of the plant compared to other aquatic plants.


Height:

15
30+

Average height (cm) of the plant after two months in the


tank.
Light demand:

Medium

The average or medium light demand of an aquarium


plant is 0,5 W/L.
CO2 :

Medium

A medium need in CO2 is 6-14 mg/L. A high demand in

CO2 is approx. 15-25 mg/L.

Ceratophyllum demersum 'Foxtail'

Layouts containing this plant


Ceratophyllum demersum 'Foxtail' was found in a
smaller tributary in Bolivia during an expedition to Rio
Guapore, a boundary river between Brazil and Bolivia.
Ceratophyllum has no roots as such, but it can still be planted
in the bottom of an aquarium and stems can become up to 80
cm tall and 5 cm wide. 'Foxtail' differs because its leaves are
closer together and it has lateral shoots, which gives it an
attractive, compact appearance. The plant also distinguishes
itself because it is hardier and its stalks do not break as
easily as those of other Ceratophyllum-varieties.

Plant info
Type:

Stem

Origin:

Cosmopolitan

Country or continent where a plant is the most common.


Cultivars arise or are bred in cultivation.
Growth rate:

High

Growth rate of the plant compared to other aquatic plants.


Height:

5 - 30+

Average height (cm) of the plant after two months in the


tank.
Light demand:

Low

The average or medium light demand of an aquarium


plant is 0,5 W/L.
CO2 :

Low

A medium need in CO2 is 6-14 mg/L. A high demand in


CO2 is approx. 15-25 mg/L.

Heteranthera zosterifolia

Heteranthera zosterifolia from South America is an


extremely beautiful plant which forms a lot of side shoots and
thus quickly forms a bushy plant group. Stems can become
30-50 cm tall and 6-12 cm wide. In strong light growth is
intensive, and the plant must be pruned before it becomes so
compact that no light reaches the lower leaves. Water roots
often form on the stem. In open aquariums it forms small blue
flowers if some shoots are allowed to spread on the surface.

Plant info
Type:

Stem

Origin:

South
America

Country or continent where a plant is the most common.


Cultivars arise or are bred in cultivation.
Growth rate:

High

Growth rate of the plant compared to other aquatic plants.


Height:

20
30+

Average height (cm) of the plant after two months in the


tank.
Light demand:

Low

The average or medium light demand of an aquarium


plant is 0,5 W/L.
CO2 :

Medium

A medium need in CO2 is 6-14 mg/L. A high demand in


CO2 is approx. 15-25 mg/L.

Ceratopteris thalictroides

This plant normally grows fast, but the addition of CO2 may be necessary to promote growth.
In small open aquariums it can grow out of the aquarium and form beautiful surface leaves. The

finely branched leaves are very decorative and provide good


contrast to other leaf shapes. In good light Ceratopteris
thalictroides grows fast and helps prevent algae by consuming
large amounts of nutrients. This makes it a good starter plant in
small aquariums.

Plant info
Type:

Stem

Origin:

Asia

Country or continent where a plant is the most common.


Cultivars arise or are bred in cultivation.
Growth rate:

High

Growth rate of the plant compared to other aquatic plants.


Height:

15
30+

Average height (cm) of the plant after two months in the


tank.
Light demand:

Medium

The average or medium light demand of an aquarium


plant is 0,5 W/L.
CO2 :

Low

A medium need in CO2 is 6-14 mg/L. A high demand in


CO2 is approx. 15-25 mg/L.

Limnophila
aromatica

There are several varieties of this plant. The variety proposed by Tropica is said to come
from Malaysia. It is characterised by its narrow green leaves, which are purple underneath. Like
most other red plants, the colour depends on a supply of intensive light. CO2 addition promotes
growth significantly, and it also thrives in hard water. Limnophilla aromatica is easy to propagate by
cuttings.

Plant info
Type:

Stem

Origin:

Asia

Country or continent where a plant is the most common.


Cultivars arise or are bred in cultivation.
Growth rate:

Medium

Growth rate of the plant compared to other aquatic plants.


Height:

20
30+

Average height (cm) of the plant after two months in the


tank.
Light demand:

Low

The average or medium light demand of an aquarium


plant is 0,5 W/L.
CO2 :

Low

A medium need in CO2 is 6-14 mg/L. A high demand in


CO2 is approx. 15-25 mg/L.

Limnophila hippuridoides

Limnophila hippuridoides is originally from Asia and


the stalks grow to be 20-50cm high and 6-10cm wide often
with beautiful outwards crooked shoot tips. A simple plant,
able to adjust to various conditions.
The leaves are green with a red-violet underside, and the whole leaf turns red-violet under
ideal growth conditions. It is a vibrant growing plant, which willingly creates new, solid shoots from
the base. Thinning of the oldest and longest shoots is recommended, in order to make room for such
new shoots.

Plant info
Type:

Stem

Origin:

Asia

Country or continent where a plant is the most common.


Cultivars arise or are bred in cultivation.
Growth rate:

Medium

Growth rate of the plant compared to other aquatic plants.


Height:

20
30+

Average height (cm) of the plant after two months in the


tank.
Light demand:

Medium

The average or medium light demand of an aquarium


plant is 0,5 W/L.

CO2 :

Low

A medium need in CO2 is 6-14 mg/L. A high demand in


CO2 is approx. 15-25 mg/L.

Limnophila hippuridoides

Limnophila hippuridoides is originally from Asia and


the stalks grow to be 20-50cm high and 6-10cm wide often
with beautiful outwards crooked shoot tips. A simple plant,
able to adjust to various conditions.
The leaves are green with a red-violet underside, and the whole leaf turns red-violet under
ideal growth conditions. It is a vibrant growing plant, which willingly creates new, solid shoots from
the base. Thinning of the oldest and longest shoots is recommended, in order to make room for such
new shoots.

Plant info
Type:

Stem

Origin:

Asia

Country or continent where a plant is the most common.


Cultivars arise or are bred in cultivation.
Growth rate:

Medium

Growth rate of the plant compared to other aquatic plants.


Height:

20
30+

Average height (cm) of the plant after two months in the


tank.
Light demand:

Low

The average or medium light demand of an aquarium


plant is 0,5 W/L.

CO2 :

Low

A medium need in CO2 is 6-14 mg/L. A high demand in


CO2 is approx. 15-25 mg/L.

Limnophila sessiliflora

Limnophila sessiliflora is a good and undemanding


plant from South-East Asia which is a good alternative to
Cabomba, which demands a lot of light. Stems grows fast up
to 40 cm long and becomes 3-4 cm wide. The plant often
grows leggy in poor light, but this can be counteracted to
some extent by stimulating growth by CO2 addition. Most
beautiful when planted in groups. In good growing conditions
it sends out runners and spreads across the bottom.
Limnophila sessiliflora used to be called "Ambulia''.

Plant info
Type:

Stem

Origin:

Asia

Country or continent where a plant is the most common.


Cultivars arise or are bred in cultivation.
Growth rate:

High

Growth rate of the plant compared to other aquatic plants.


Height:

15 30+

Average height (cm) of the plant after two months in the


tank.
Light demand:

Low

The average or medium light demand of an aquarium


plant is 0,5 W/L.
CO2 :

Low

A medium need in CO2 is 6-14 mg/L. A high demand in


CO2 is approx. 15-25 mg/L.

Limnophila sessiliflora

Limnophila sessiliflora is a good and undemanding plant


from South-East Asia which is a good alternative to Cabomba,
which demands a lot of light. Stems grows fast up to 40 cm long
and becomes 3-4 cm wide. The plant often grows leggy in poor
light, but this can be counteracted to some extent by stimulating
growth by CO2 addition. Most beautiful when planted in groups.
In good growing conditions it sends out runners and spreads
across the bottom. Limnophila sessiliflora used to be called
"Ambulia''.

Plant info
Type:

Stem

Origin:

Asia

Country or continent where a plant is the most common.


Cultivars arise or are bred in cultivation.
Growth rate:

High

Growth rate of the plant compared to other aquatic plants.


Height:

15 30+

Average height (cm) of the plant after two months in the


tank.
Light demand:

Low

The average or medium light demand of an aquarium


plant is 0,5 W/L.
CO2 :

Low

A medium need in CO2 is 6-14 mg/L. A high demand in


CO2 is approx. 15-25 mg/L.

Limnophila sessiliflora

Limnophila sessiliflora is a good and undemanding plant from South-East Asia which is a
good alternative to Cabomba, which demands a lot of light. Stems grows fast up to 40 cm long and
becomes 3-4 cm wide. The plant often grows leggy in poor light, but this can be counteracted to
some extent by stimulating growth by CO2 addition.
Most beautiful when planted in groups. In good growing conditions it sends out runners and
spreads across the bottom. Limnophila sessiliflora used to be called "Ambulia''.

Plant info
Type:

Stem

Origin:

Asia

Country or continent where a plant is the most common.


Cultivars arise or are bred in cultivation.
Growth rate:

High

Growth rate of the plant compared to other aquatic plants.


Height:

15 30+

Average height (cm) of the plant after two months in the


tank.
Light demand:

Low

The average or medium light demand of an aquarium


plant is 0,5 W/L.
CO2 :

Low

A medium need in CO2 is 6-14 mg/L. A high demand in


CO2 is approx. 15-25 mg/L.

Ludwigia repens 'Rubin'

Variety of Ludwigia repens from North America with


striking dark red leaves and stalk. Stems from 20-50 cm and
4-6 cm wide. It makes a fine colour contrast to the green
shades in the aquarium. Plant in large groups to enhance
the decorative effect, and prune regularly to encourage
bushy growth. The plant makes few demands, but if light is
insufficient the lower leaves tend to fall off. In strong light the
colour becomes more intense.

Plant info
Type:

Stem

Origin:

North
America

Country or continent where a plant is the most common.


Cultivars arise or are bred in cultivation.
Growth rate:

Medium

Growth rate of the plant compared to other aquatic plants.


Height:

20
30+

Average height (cm) of the plant after two months in the


tank.
Light demand:

Medium

The average or medium light demand of an aquarium


plant is 0,5 W/L.
CO2 :

Low

A medium need in CO2 is 6-14 mg/L. A high demand in


CO2 is approx. 15-25 mg/L.

Ludwigia repens 'Rubin'

Variety of Ludwigia repens from North America with


striking dark red leaves and stalk. Stems from 20-50 cm and 4-6
cm wide. It makes a fine colour contrast to the green shades in
the aquarium. Plant in large groups to enhance the decorative
effect, and prune regularly to encourage bushy growth. The plant
makes few demands, but if light is insufficient the lower leaves
tend to fall off. In strong light the colour becomes more intense.

Plant info
Type:

Stem

Origin:

North
America

Country or continent where a plant is the most common.


Cultivars arise or are bred in cultivation.
Growth rate:

Medium

Growth rate of the plant compared to other aquatic plants.


Height:

20
30+

Average height (cm) of the plant after two months in the


tank.
Light demand:

Medium

The average or medium light demand of an aquarium


plant is 0,5 W/L.
CO2 :

Low

A medium need in CO2 is 6-14 mg/L. A high demand in


CO2 is approx. 15-25 mg/L.

Myriophyllum mattogrossense

Myriophyllum matogrossense originates from Mato Grosso in the Rio Amazonas, Brazil. It
has decorative and feather-like, reddish stems (30-60 cm long) and finely divided bright green leaves
(5 cm wide).

In good light conditions the leaves spread out in a


fan shape. Myriophyllum is relatively easy and is suitable for
the background. It needs to be pruned frequently to maintain
its
bushy
form.
It is fast growing and requires a good deal of nutrition.
A good starter plant.

Plant info
Type:

Stem

Origin:

South
America

Country or continent where a plant is the most common.


Cultivars arise or are bred in cultivation.
Growth rate:

High

Growth rate of the plant compared to other aquatic plants.


Height:

20
30+

Average height (cm) of the plant after two months in the


tank.
Light demand:

Medium

The average or medium light demand of an aquarium


plant is 0,5 W/L.
CO2 :

Medium

A medium need in CO2 is 6-14 mg/L. A high demand in


CO2 is approx. 15-25 mg/L.

Myriophyllum tuberculatum

The orange-red variety of Myriophyllum from South America demands high light and nutrient
levels to develop optimally.
It becomes 20-60 cm tall and each stem 3-4 cm wide. Myriophyllum should be planted in the
center or background of the aquarium, and as a contrast to green plants.
The variety is fast growing and must be trimmed often to keep a dense, compact growth.
Cutted stems can be planted next to the group to obtain an ever denser group.

Plant info
Type:

Stem

Origin:

South
America

Country or continent where a plant is the most common.


Cultivars arise or are bred in cultivation.
Growth rate:

Medium

Growth rate of the plant compared to other aquatic plants.


Height:

20
30+

Average height (cm) of the plant after two months in the


tank.
Light demand:

Medium

The average or medium light demand of an aquarium


plant is 0,5 W/L.
CO2 :

High

A medium need in CO2 is 6-14 mg/L. A high demand in


CO2 is approx. 15-25 mg/L.

Proserpinaca
palustris 'Cuba'

Proserpinaca is a stem plant, 10-40 cm tall and 5-10


cm wide.
Cultivated in closed cups and delivered with sawtoothed leaves, which after a transitional period in the
aquarium develop into long, finely denticulated, needle-like leaves.
In good light conditions it turns a beautiful copper colour and its characteristic appearance is
a pleasing contrast to the other plants.
Proserpinaca palustris varies in form according to its origin. The Tropica cultivar is found on
the Isla de la Juventud off Cuba. In the USA the plant is commonly known as "mermaid weed''.

Plant info
Type:

Stem

Origin:

South
America

Country or continent where a plant is the most common.


Cultivars arise or are bred in cultivation.
Growth rate:

Medium

Growth rate of the plant compared to other aquatic plants.

Height:

10
30+

Average height (cm) of the plant after two months in the


tank.
Light demand:

High

The average or medium light demand of an aquarium


plant is 0,5 W/L.
CO2 :

High

A medium need in CO2 is 6-14 mg/L. A high demand in


CO2 is approx. 15-25 mg/L.

Tropica app

You can download the app to your smartphone or tablet if you scan the below QR code.
Below you can see the content of the app.

Welcome to Tropica's 90 days Startup-service. Following the instructions in this guide gives
you guidance to ensuring success with your aquarium. Press "Start" to begin the 90 days service,
where you will receive messages when it is time to take care of your aquarium. "List" gives you the
full guide at once and allows you to scroll backwards and forwards through the messages, as it suits.
Finally, you can press "Reset" if you wish to start from the beginning. We hope you enjoy this service
and your aquarium!
Day 1:
You have followed our instructions on start-up and planting (click on each to see more), and
the aquarium is filled with water and the technique is connected.
Check the technique (is the pump running, does the switch on/off clock work?). We
recommend that you start with only 6 hours light per day. If your lamp provides a lot of light, you
should settle for 0,5 Watt per litre.
We recommend that you add CO2 to the aquarium, as this is the most important
nourishment for the plants, and without the supply of CO2, many aquarium plants do not grow
sufficiently. Depending on which plants you have chosen, we recommend different solutions (see
CO2 solutions here).
Fast-growing plants ensure a good start-up and prevent algae problems (see list of
supporting plants here). If you have not already bought some of these plants, we recommend that
you do so within the first couple of days.
Postpone the supply of fertilizer, as the plants have brought their own "lunch pack" for the
first 2-4 weeks.
Day 3:
Change up to 50 % of the water (see guidance in water change).
Put shrimps and snails into the aquarium to prevent algae problems. We recommend 1
Amano shrimp per 5 litres of water in the start-up period. You might also add e.g. posthorn snails
and other shrimps that also eat algae (see list of algae eaters here). Be aware that the legislation in
your country perhaps prescribes that you cannot put animals in the aquarium until later after the
start-up.
Day 7:
Change up to 50 % of the water.
Check the technique (is the pump running, does the switch on/off clock work, is the CO2
running).
Remove any old or damaged leaves. Dead plant material may increase algae growth.
Day 10:

Change up to 30 % of the water.


It is now time to put algae-eating fish into the aquarium. The fish will eat other algae than the
shrimps and snails, and in this way you will ensure an efficient prevention of algae problems (see list
of algae-eaters here).
If the water is green and cloudy (see example of green water here), check that the filter is
running and perhaps rinse the filter sponge (see more about filters here). You also ought to change
up to 75 % of the water every second day until you have clear water again. If you still have green
water, an efficient solution is to turn off the light for 2 days and change 75% of the water before and
after. Reoccurring problems with floating algae are usually due to overfeeding.
Day 14:
Change up to 30 % of the water.
Check the technique (is the pump running, does the switch on/off clock work, is the CO2
running).
You might cut your supporting plants to prevent them from shading the other plants (see
more about trimming here).
Day 17:
Change up to 30 % of the water.
If you are able to see thread algae (long, thin threads), this is best removed with a rough
woodstick (flowerstick), which is lead through the thread algae while rotating the stick (see examples
of filamentous algae here). Add e.g. more algae eaters; Amano shrimps, the siamese algae eater
(Crossocheilus siamensis) and odessabarber (Puntius padamya) are particularly good at removing
thread algae (see list of algae eaters here). More supporting plants will prevent the thread algae
from appearing again.
Day 21:
Change up to 30 % of the water. After 3 weeks, it is enough to change the water once per
week, provided you see no signs of algae problems.
Check the technique (is the pump running, does the switch on/off clock work, is the CO2
running).
It is now time to increase the light period to 8 hours per day.
It is also time for fertilization. We recommend that you start with a fertilizer that does not
contain nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P), e.g. Plant Growth Premium Fertiliser (read more about the
Plant Care series here). Start with only a dose, which means 5 mL per 100 L water per week. It is
best to spread the fertilizer over the entire week instead of dosing all of it at once.
Day 28:

Change up to 30 % of the water.


Check the technique (is the pump running, does the switch on/off clock work, is the CO2
running) and rinse the filter sponge (see how).
Add the fertilizer; We still recommend a dose.
Cut the supporting plants so that they do not shade the other plants (see more about
trimming here).
If you are now able to see signs of coating algae (see here), this is removed mechanically
with a brush or sponge (many people use a toothbrush). A heavy growth of coating algae can be due
to excessive fertilization, or nourishment from dead plants or fish.
Day 35:
Change up to 30 % of the water.
Check the technique (is the pump running, does the switch on/off clock work, is the CO2
running?).
Add the fertilizer; we still recommend only a dose.
If you see no signs of algae problems, you can start removing the supporting plants to
provide space and light to the other plants in the aquarium.
Day 42:
Change up to 30 % of the water.
Check the technique (is the pump running, does the switch on/off clock work, is the CO2
running).
Add fertilizer; we still recommend only a dose.
It is now time to increase the light period from 8 to 10 hours per day. If you are able to
adjust/turn up the light, you can now also give more than 0,5 Watt per litre. More than 10 hours light
per day often results in increased algae growth. We recommend a total/coherent light period, i.e.
avoid e.g. turning on the light for 2 hours in the morning and then 10 hours later in the day (see more
about light over the aquarium here).

Day 49:
Change up to 30 % of the water.
Check the technique (is the pump running, does the switch on/off clock work, is the CO2
running).

Add fertilizer; We stil recommend only a dose.


Depending on which kinds of plants you have in your aquarium, it is time for the first actual
cutting (see more about trimming here). Generally, we recommend that you postpone the first
cutting until the plant is big and has developed a good root net. Use frequent and less extensive
cuttings to maintain the balance in the aquarium. The re-planting of stem plants is important in order
to achieve the best result. Remember to remove cut off material with a net, which typically floats in
the surface and shades as well as releases nourishment.
Day 56:
Change up to 30 % of the water.
Check the technique (is the pump running, does the switch on/off clock work, is the CO2
running) and rinse the filter sponge.
It is now time to increase the fertilization to a full dose, provided you see no signs of algae
problems. It is also time to consider using a fertilizer that contains nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P),
especially if you have many plants in the aquarium. If you add N and P, we recommend that you
again start with a dose and follow the effect carefully.
Day 63:
Change up to 30 % of the water.
Check the technique (is the pump running, does the switch on/off clock work, is the CO2
running).
Add fertilizer.
Cut the plants as required (see more about trimming here).
Day 70:
Change up to 30 % of the water.
Check the technigue (is the pump running, does the switch on/off clock work, is the CO2
running).
Add fertilizer.
Cut the plants as required (see more about trimming here). Estimate the various elements in
the aquarium; do they live up to the expectations? Many plants have now spread all over the
aquarium and a more extensive cutting may be required, so that the individual groups still appear as
one unit. You may also replace plants that do not thrive or fit your ideas in terms of the layout.
Day 77:
Change up to 30 % of the water.

Check the technique (is the pump running, does the switch on/off clock work, is the CO2
running).
Add fertilizer.
Cut the plants as required (see more about trimming here). The time has now come for you
to estimate every week if there are plants that need cutting; remember that it is best to cut frequently
in order to maintain the balance in the aquarium.
Day 84:
Change up to 30 % of the water.
Check the technique (is the pump running, does the switch on/off clock work, is the CO2
running) and rinse the filter sponge.
Add fertilizer.
Cut the plants as required (see more about trimming here).
Day 90:
The aquarium is now in full balance. If you have a foreground cover, this will be completely
dense by now. The stem plants have been through several cuttings and re-plantings and are
showing to the best advantage in terms of colour and shape. The water is completely clear. You
have probably acquired the taste for it, so get some inspiration for how to proceed. Maybe you are
very fond of the present layout and wish to keep it as long as possible, or maybe you just want to
replace a couple of plants. Maybe you feel like trying something different and start up a completely
new layout. You can get inspiration for new layouts (see here). Remember to enjoy and appreciate
all the details in the aquarium, see how inspiring this may be

Care

Once you get going and the aquarium is developing properly, you have to start with more
general maintenance:
1) Changing approx. 25% of the water every week prevents the accumulation of hazardous
substances in the aquarium and limits the algae growth.
2) Waste products in the form of dead plant matter etc. should be removed as soon as
possible. Their breakdown uses oxygen and produces nutrients that destroys the balance and
promotes algae growth.
3) Check the aquarium equipment regularly in order to make sure that any faults and defects
will be rectified and that a stable environment will be maintained.
4) The plant growth is now in full swing and a liquid fertiliser has to be added. Start carefully
and with a dose smaller than the recommended. Increase the dose gradually according to the plants'
reaction to the fertiliser. A good rule of thumb is that leaves or plants become lighter/transparent
when they lack fertiliser.
5) Check for algae on a regular basis. The first sign is unclear water, accumulations on the
glass, leaves or decorative materials, or possibly fine threads. If the algae become visible, it will be
much more difficult to suppress them! Algae are reduced by changing the water, reducing the
amount of fertiliser, introducing more fast-growing plants and algae-eaters. You can find more
information at tropica.com.
TIP! Overfeeding your fish is the most common cause of algae problems. Follow your
dealer's instructions.

Trimming

The growth rate of the plants is very different and so is their trimming. Extensive trimming
can disturb the balance in the aquarium, which is why little and often trimming is preferable. This
way the aquarium will look presentable all the time.

Trim stem plants (1) by regularly cutting the longest shoots right above one of the bottom
leaves and then re-plant the off-cut in the group. New shoots will emerge from the trimmed stem.
The bottom layer and moss (2) are trimmed like a lawn, in backward direction, in order to
achieve fast new growth.
Echinodorus, bulbs and tubers (3) are trimmed by removing the outer leaves of the rosette
and/or leaves that cast shadows over the surface.
For Cryptocoryne (4), remove the yellow or damaged leaves. When the group becomes too
dense, remove whole plants.
Stolons (5) are trimmed if they invade the surrounding plants. The oldest plants can be
replaced with stolons from time to time.
Rhizome plants (6) are slow-growing plants. The rhizome stem itself is trimmed between a
bunch of leaves when the plant becomes too big. New shoots will form from the leaf base.

Algal control

Tropica's recommendations for algae control are based on the above-mentioned advices on
prevention. If you get problems anyway, then try:
1.

More algae eaters (REMEMBER, the more, the better and the more different kinds, the
better).
2.
More frequent change of water (30% every 2. day for a period - especially by green algae).
3.
Light control - does the sun shine directly on the aquarium, or is the turn on/off clock defect?
4.
Potential black-out (cover the aquarium in black plastic and keep it dark for 2-3 days) especially by green water.

The picture above shows how efficient the Amano shrimp is when it comes to keeping a plant
aquarium free from algae. The aquarium to the left had 3 shrimps, the one in the middle had none,
while the one to the right had one shrimp during the start-up. They were all planted in the same way:
3 Anubias barteri var. nana and 3 Eleocharis parvula. The picture has been taken 3 months after the
start-up. It is experiments like these that make Tropica recommend 1 Amano shrimp per 5 L water
during the start-up of a new plant aquarium. Once a biological balance has been achieved in the
aquarium, you can easily settle for fewer shrimps - e.g. 1 per 15 L water. However, if you have many
fish that you feed, then we recommend that you maintain the population of 1 Amano shrimp per 5 L
water.

Types of algae
Plankton algae (green water, or phytoplankton) is a mass occurrence of small one-celled
algae and is normally caused by too high nutrient concentrations in the water.
Treatment: Frequent change of water.
Plankton algae often appears in new
aquariums or in aquariums in which a new layout
has been made recently. It can be hard to get rid
of, but a well-functioning filter with plenty of fine

filter material can clear up the water again. Often a UV-treatment may be required, but Tropica does
not recommend UV-treatment as a standard aid, as the UV-light also kills the useful bacteria.
Biological control is difficult, as only a large population of filtering shells can remedy the problem.
Often the plankton algae disappears of itself after repeated water changes.
Filamentous algae are colonies of one-celled algae, that stick together in long green threads.
Treatment: Frequent change of water and a large population of algae eaters, primarily
Amano shrimps.
Filamentous algae can be very hard to get
rid of, as there are types of it that neither shrimps
nor algae-eating fish like to eat. In difficult
incidents - and especially if it is a matter of the
troublesome red algae/dulce - it may be
necessary with a chemical treatment. BE
CAREFUL, as some preparations are also
harmful to your aquarium plants. Tropica generally
recommends not to remove thread algae with
chemical preparations. Try instead to change the
water more often than usual and put in a large population of Amano shrimps; Up to 2 shrimps per 5 L
water may be required for a transitional period.
Algal layers are thin coatings of one-celled diatoms, red algae and green algae.
Treatment: A large and varied population of algae-eating fish and shrimps and cleaning the
glass with a soft sponge.
Coating algae is rarely a big problem, if
you have a good population of algae-eating
shrimps and fish in your aquarium. There are
however kinds, which may be troublesome, and
these are the blue-black coatings that are formed
by bluegreen algae, but they usually only appear
by excessive feeding in fish aquariums. Less
intense feeding usually makes the bluegreen algae
disappear again.

Preventing algae
Algal eaters - make sure that you always have a varied population of algae eaters in your
aquarium. The different kinds of shrimps, snails and algae-eating fish prefer different kinds of algae,
and the more different kinds you have, the less the risk of a specific kind of algae taking over your
aquarium.

Water change - one of the most efficient mediums against algae. The water change ensures
that a surplus of nutrients does not accumulate in the aquarium.
Light control - Tropica recommends that you do not have more than 10 hours light over
your aquarium per day. Use a turn on/off clock, so that you need not remember each day to turn the
aquarium on and off - and remember to check regularly that it actually works.
Moderate feeding - cause no. 1 for algae problems is overfeeding or a too big population of
fish. Tropica recommends that you have no more than 1 cm fish per L water in the aquarium and
preferably less.
Avoid a too high temperature - temperatures above approx. 26 C almost always give
cause for algae problems. Especially thread algae likes the heat, so if you have problems with algae,
try to lower the temperature to 22 C or less.

Test of algal eaters


This is how efficient the various algae eaters are
according to our test
The upper part of the illustration (A) shows the
relative efficiency of the 5 tested species:
The Amano shrimp, Cherry shrimp, zebra snail (Neritina),
Odessa barb and the Siamese algae eater. The illustration shows
that the Amano shrimp is approx. twice as efficient as the zebra
snail and 6 times as efficient as the cherry shrimp.
Part of the difference is however due to the fact that an
Amano shrimp is much bigger than a cherry shrimp, which is why

we have also illustrated how efficient they are as per gram of the animal (the lowest part of the
illustration, B). And here it is really clear to see how efficient the Amano shrimp is! It is still almost
twice as efficient as the cherry shrimp and more than 5 times as efficient as the Siamese algae
eater.
This is how it was tested
A biofilm consisting of green algae and diatoms were initially cultivated on small ceramic
tiles. A tile with algae was subsequently put into an aquarium with a certain number of Amano
shrimps, which were then allowed to eat for a certain number of hours. Whatever the shrimps did not
manage to eat within the measured time was subsequently measured/weighed, based on how much
algae there was on the tile to begin with, and how much was left after the shrimps had been allowed
to eat. We were then able to determine how much they had managed to eat.