By Shahu V. Sardar*

When we think of a fish aquarium, we think of an artificial setup of marine world. But trending now is ‘plantation aquarium’! Every hobbyist now owns at least one plantation aquarium: the real aquarium hobby is all about plantation aquariums. A well-cared plantation aquarium will thrive for years… So today, I will show you how you can develop your very own plantation aquarium. I have given some simple short tips that need to be followed while setting your aquarium.

The Right Tank

Buying the right tank is essential. Go for a glass tank rather than a fiber one. Whereas, its shape depends on your choice, size of the tank is an important part. The tank size depends on various aspects. First is the available space; you need to know how much space is available in your room for the tank. Then it also depends on your fish. You need to know potential growth of the fish you are adding to your tank so that when it grows up it doesn’t face space problems.

Like for example, a molly fish can grow into 1–1.5 inches, so you can place 4-5 Mollies in a 1-foot tank, whereas goldfish can grow up to 4–5 inches so only 2-3 can be kept in a 1-foot tank. Remember, tank size helps your fish to grow: if fish are kept in smaller tanks, they stop growing.

Also, some fishes like ‘Angels’ grow in height instead of length, so in this case, you will need a taller tank.


Soil is the foundation for your plantation aquarium. It decides growth of your plants. So it is important to choose right soil for the tank. Actually, soil is like an investment for your aquarium, so don’t bother about paying more for it.

Best quality soils are of the ADA’s Aquasoil Amazonia, which are available online. The better your soil is, the better will be your aquarium! Importance of soil is that it should have enough nutrients so that it supports your plant growth. More is the nutrient content – bigger will be the growth of your plants!


Coming to the most crucial part – your plants! In a plantation aquarium, plants are as important as fish and choosing right plants is important. First, you need to decide the plant species you are going to keep. Some are submerged plants, other are floating, and some are carpet plants.

Carpet plants are the best choice for your aquarium; they will hide the soil and give your tank a real natural look. These include Drawf sag, Drawf hair grass, micro sword, and more.

Coming to submerged plants, they are important and necessary; these include Moneywort, Pygmy chain sword, Anubias, and many more.

Floating plants are optional and can be used if you have baby fish in your tank, these include hornwort and more. Also be sure to rinse your new plants before adding them to the tank because plants are source of various parasites or pest snails that could get introduced in your tank.


Driftwood is another important part of a plantation aquarium. A plantation aquarium is incomplete without a piece of driftwood. Driftwood is actually a piece of wood that is kept in aquariums to give it a natural look. There are various types available like Bogwood, Sumatran, Mopani, and others. Choice is all yours! But always be sure to know if you are really buying good quality driftwood.

Aquarium Equipment

Aquarium equipments are necessary for any aquarium and here’s a short list of equipments that you should have:

– Air pump.

You will not need an aquarium pump as plants will produce it, but at night the process reverses, and plants give out CO² that can suffocate your fish. So it’s better to have one.

– CO² diffuser.

If you are planning to have lots of exotic types of plants in your tank, then for their proper growth CO² diffuser is a must. This actually adds CO² to the tank.

– Aquarium light.

It is very important to have an aquarium light. This will help plants to conduct photosynthesis. The light should not be too bright or too dim, and also should be kept on strictly for 5–6 hours a day – not more, not less.

– Filter.

A good hang-on back filter is just the right choice for your tank, and very necessary for a plantation aquarium. 


A plantation aquarium should have proper planning while adding fish. There should be basic layout of species in the tank, like there should be some algae eaters, some mid-dwellers, and some surface dwellers. Also, you can add shrimps, which go really great in these aquariums. A little of snails (not pest snails), some shrimps, and lots of fish make your aquarium a lively ecosystem.

A lot of fish species can be kept in plantation aquariums. But many common fish like the Goldfish can’t be kept. They will try to uproot the plants and later eat them. So be sure about the fish you are buying. Just 2–4 plant eating fish can destroy the entire plantation you had done. Some fish, like the Parrot, will just uproot every plant they see.

Common fish kept in plantation aquariums are all types of Tetras, Cichlids, Mollies, Guppies and many more. Generally, small-mouthed fish are kept so they can’t uproot the plant – these fish are actually all schooling fish, so you will have to add groups of 10–20 fish of single species.

So these were some easy tips to follow and develop your own plantation aquarium. Hope you find this article helpful and lots of good wishes for your first plantation aquarium. And remember to be patient while developing a plantation aquarium. It can be a bit messy at first but once the tank is set, it will act as a tiny ecosystem. 


*He is a Fish Keeping Hobbyist and Enthusiast from Pune, Maharastra. He has been in this hobby from the age of 10 and has learnt a lot about freshwater fish keeping. He likes to collect different types of fresh water species and also Aquascape fish tanks. He also runs his own fish keeping blog named AquaNation (, where you can find all fish keeping articles. Soon he is going to start a You Tube channel of his own.