Planted tank nubie

Apr 17, 2014
Well a lot of these questions may be dumb but never done a planted tank before. I have a 58 gallon tank 30" long 25" tall and 18" deep. I would like to add a few live plants to it nothing crazy just something that will make it look good. As far as the substrate goes I was thinking of putting gravel and sand over top (first dumb question) When cleaning the tank wont the sand just get sucked up when syphoning the bottom? also I'm thinking about running a underwater powerhead for circulation and a air stone since its a deeper tank, will the powerhead blow all the sand up and make it cloudy? As for the lighting, im not looking to go out and but a $500 light fixture eventually I am going to get a LED fixture with 6000k white LED's and RGB LED's that are fully adjustable, What plants will do well with just the regular lighting I have now if any? I have been doing some research and have seen people talking about that there are plants out there that are pretty easy to grow in these conditions. Any and all input helps. Thanks.


Superstar Fish
Jan 11, 2013
East Aurora, NY
That's a real odd sized tank and quite tall. You'd need a pretty powerful (in terms of PAR and PUR) 30" LED to reach the bottom. Floating wisteria or water sprite would probably do well and maybe some anubia and java fern for the bottom.

Also, your sand would quickly work it's way to the bottom if you try to layer it on top of gravel. I too would one day like to try sand, but you've got to wash play sand (or any sand) very good to get the light, floaty stuff out of it. To vacuum it, you just kind of wave your vacuum tube above the surface to stir up the junk. If you have rooted plants, you don't need to vacuum it at all.

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Elite Fish
Jul 19, 2004
Cape Cod
Sand will just sink to the bottom through the gravel over time. Why did you want to do both? They are both inert as far as the plants are concerned, so you can just pick whichever you want. If you get plants that are heavy root feeders, you'd want to add fertilizer tabs for them. With sand, the fish crud and other junk will rest along the top, and you can just siphon it off the top. With gravel, the junk falls down through the larger gaps, which is why you need to really get the siphon in there to vacuum the junk out (so it doesn't stay down in there and collect and rot and other lovely things). If you get sand, rinse the everloving bejesus out of it - particularly if you get something like pool filter sand. That stuff takes a long time to rinse clean.

If you get heavier sand, the powerhead won't be a problem with it. You just want to avoid fine sand with a powerhead. If the powerhead is aimed away from the sand bed (aimed at the glass works well) it won't be a problem regardless. You will be able to find the sweet spot which helps provide the right flow for your tank. A powerhead will also help keep junk suspended and moving along so that the filter should be able to pick it up better too.

There are some low low light plants. Java fern in particular will grow (slowly) in pretty well any lighting. Also tends to be a more hardy plant in general. You can actually have a nice densely planted tank with low lighting if you pick the right plants. Just takes longer to grow in.

Is this the same tank you are planning to do cichlids in? If so, chose both plants and cichlids carefully as a lot of cichlids will eat most plants. Also I believe a lot of African cichlids often prefer sand versus gravel.


Superstar Fish
Apr 30, 2006
I'd look into doing a dirted tank. even if the tank is already setup it only takes a few hours to do and get it back up and running. I drained my 55 gallon and caught all the fish, removed the gravel, added dirt, put the gravel back, and planted my tank and filled it with the proper temp and put the fish back in. think it took 2.5 hours roughly. now with dirt from my experience it can grow higher light plants in lower light. I've got baby tears growing in 2 watts per gallon and no co2. normally thats a plant that needs ALOT of light and co2. it's a suggestion and cheaper in the long run then buying ferts and things like that.