Beautiful Plants for a Non-CO2 Injected Aquascape

When people new to aquascaping come into the shop, the first comment I always hear is, “I’ve never heard of aquascaping and didn’t even know that creating a freshwater planted aquarium was even possible. They’ll often look at the few designed aquariums and plants on sales and ask, “How can I start a planted aquarium without requiring too much maintenance?” I know I’ve mentioned this in a previous blog post but investing in a good quality light like the Twinstar S-Series is a good start (even as a beginner).

Yet, even if you decide not to use a Twinstar light, ensuring that you have a full-spectrum LED light is paramount. Now once you have your light source, the next key requirement will be laying down the right substrate. I’ve also mentioned the substrate requirements in a previous post, but to review, you’ll want a two-layer setup with a porous rock as the bottom layer (example: crushed lava rock) and aqua soil like Landen or UNS. Finally, assuming you also have the other basic aquarium equipment like a filter, heater, and the tank itself, you should be ready to create your own aquascape. Technically, you don’t need a heater, but we’ll discuss that detail on another day.

The next step that comes to mind is creating your hardscape. You can allow your imagination run wild and use any combination of rock and wood but be mindful about where and which plants you are planning on using. For example, if you plan to add anubias or bucephalandra to your aquascape, ensure that there are plenty of crevices between the wood or rocks. With sufficient crevices, you’ll be able to securely insert the plant without it dislodging. Finally, once you have your hardscape in place, it’s time to start adding plants.

For non-CO2 injected tanks with a good quality light and aquasoil, you will be able to keep most commercially available plants such:

  1. Anubias: Popular types include barteri, gracilis, and nana

  2. Cryptocoryne: Popular types include wendtii, undulata, and becketti ‘petchii’

  3. Bacopa: Popular types in caroliniana, compact, and australis

  4. Bucephlandra: Popular types include brownie jae, balloon, giant catherin, and green godzilla

  5. Hygrophila: Popular types include difformis/water wisteria, corymbose ‘stricta’, and pinnatifida

  6. Ludwigia: Popular types include repens and palustris

  7. Valisnareria: Popular types include jungle,

  8. Vesicularia: Popular types include java, christmas, or weeping

Figure above from left to right:

Row 1: Anubias gracillis, Ludwigia repens, Hygrophila difformis

Row 2: Crytocoryne wendtii 'Tropica', bucephalandra pygmaea 'bukit kelam', Bacopa caroliniana

Row 3: Vallisnaria americana, Taiphyllum 'Flame', Hygrophila pinnatifida

Even those looking for a carpet for their aquascape, there are still many options which include:

1. Sagitaria sabulata

2. Lilaeopsis brasiliensis (Micro sword plant)

3. Crytpocoryne parva

With a combination of these types of plants, your aquascape can be of showroom quality.

Here is a great example of a non-CO2 injected aquascape that was created by David Pierce and is currently found on the Tropica website

In summary, I don’t consider an aquarium with a good quality light such as a Twinstar S or E Series light low-tech, given you will have to monitor the light level and use a dimmer to adjust for algae growth. However, once your light intensity is dialed-in, I do consider the aquascape as low maintenance. You won’t obtain the explosive growth you typically see with CO2 injection, but you also won’t need to trim as often. Further, depending on the type of plants you won’t necessarily need to add fertilizers either. There may be instances where fertilizer supplements may be needed given the conditions of the plants but I doubt you’ll need to worry about that at the onset. I hope this blog has given you hope in creating the aquascape you want without the fear of too much maintenance. As with any aquascape, creating your world is more art than science and you will have to be willing to adjust or level up the aquascape to a full-blown high tech tank. However, we’ll leave that discussion for a future blog…

If you are in the market for new non-CO2 required plants, check out our store.

We have a wide selection of tissue culture and potted plants to jumpstart or enhance an existing aquarium. As always we hope you enjoyed this blog and happy aquascaping!