I will be new to aquascaping. I am afraid that I will make a mistake.

The friendliest place on the web for anyone with an interest in aquariums or fish keeping!
If you have answers, please help by responding to the unanswered posts.


Aquarium Advice Newbie
May 12, 2024
I mention that I am a beginner, I had an aquarium when I was a child, but something very simple.

Now I want to buy an aquarium, which is why I have been documenting myself intensively for 2-3 weeks and I fell in love with how high-end aquascaping with bonsai looks.

I have attached the picture as an example.

I'm going to buy the following things and please tell me if I'm doing something wrong, because I don't want to make a mistake and get algae, or do other stupid things:

aquarium of 45x45x40 cm, 81 L (21 gallons) made of 8 mm thick ultra-clear glass (the space in the kitchen does not allow for a bigger one);

bonsai made of natural wood;

Christmass moss above the bonsai;

some gray stones;

granulation substrate 1-2 mm black and white arranged like a road (here I need to document myself for something of premium quality);

grass about half of the surface (I think Dennerle Micranthemum Monte Carlo);

some plants (green and red);

Eheim eXperience filter - 150 - 2406;

Chihiros WRGB II LED light 45-60cm 49W; (I won't keep it at 100%, probably at 70%)

complete CO2 system with solenoid valve, reducer plus other parts from the set;

aquarium heater;


and some tools for setting up and maintaining the aquarium (brush, scissors, hose to vacuum the soil, sponges and others)

I will cycle the aquarium for 2 weeks and then introduce the live animals (8 neons + other 4-5 compatible fish, 2 sanitarians, 4 shrimps, 2 snails).

I still don't know if I will have to spray some fertilizer solution for the plants

Is there anything else that needs to be done? Did I miss something?

Please help me.

I look forward to your advice.

Thank you.


  • 147697502977c077ac8ca6f3bcd23e9c_19703.jpg__thumb.jpg
    50.8 KB · Views: 1
Personally i think you are over complicating things going for a high tech planted aquarium as a beginner. If thats really what you want to do then go for it, but expect it be a learning exercise where mistakes are made, rather than getting things right first time.

Personally id go for a simpler low tech planted aquarium, with low nutrient demand plants, no injected CO2 etc. Remember that these show tanks are done by professional aquascapers, and they may only look like that for a few weeks before they dismantle everything and move onto a new aquascaping project. For one thing in a matter of months the different substrates will just mix together.

Do you know how to cycle an aquarium? You say you will cycle for 2 weeks, but cycling a tank isnt something you can put a timetable on. It takes as long as it takes.

Running lights at 70% probably isnt going to work. You are planning on a high tech set up, with high demand plants and injected CO2, but then starving them of light. Same with the substrate, you might need a soil based substrate to provide the nutrients these plants need. This is what i mean by its not going to work right first time. You will need to tinker with light levels, nutrient levels, CO2 etc. Some plants will work, some won't. Work with the ones that are successful, try different ones to see what works. Its a process and having experience of a simpler set up first will give you some grounding before building a more complex set up. But if you really want to jump straight in at the deep end, thats great, but measure your expectations.
Last edited:
A bit of a related story, but one of my wifes friends cultivates rare house plants for a hobby. Makes a bit of money on the side selling them too. She also keeps an aquarium. Thing is she understands plants, but her attempts at planted aquariums never really worked. She looked at my aquariums and how the plants thrive, and didnt understand why her plants didn't do so well, and why her aquariums grew algae better than anything.

It really was down to over complicating things. She was looking at all the tech that goes into her houseplant hobby and just thought thats how a planted aquarium needs to be. She kind of went at high tech, but didnt really do it properly because she didnt understand what is going on. Her plants didnt grow too well, so she must need a more nutrient rich substrate. That didnt really help so she must need injected CO2. She didn't really understand that its important to look at nutrients, CO2 and lighting package as a whole and get things into balance. Too much of one, or not enough of another and all you do is fuel algae growth. Feed a load of CO2 with high lighting, but insufficient nutrients the plants cant take advantage of the light + CO2, the plants will suffer from nutrient deficiency and algae will take advantage of the excess CO2 and light. It takes experience and a bit of trial and error to find that sweetspot.

When I gave her a bit of input into her aquarium, simplified things down things improved. We kept the soil substrate, but removed the CO2, kept the standard light fitting, introduced an all-in-one fertiliser and switched to low demand plants and things improved. We could have gone the other way and made the high tech route work, but learn to walk before you can run.

Im a low tech guy, it works for me. No problems with people trying more complex routes, but it should be with some realistic expectations and a willingness to try things and fail.
Top Bottom