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I first set up my aquarium last July, and I filled it up with tap water (I don't live in the city, so I didn't need to worry about chlorine). I tested the PH and it was really high, so I put a lot of ph down in it, but it kept going up. I had really hard water, but I didn't think it would be an issue, so I started stocking it with several fish. They started getting stressed and they were periodically dieing, until I put some PH 7 (it keeps it from going above or below 7). I had 2 Amazon sword plants that were doing ok, but I didn't realize until after I put the chemicals in that it wasn't for planted aquariums. I think it said something about Phosphate. The plants started dieing so I took them out so that my water wouldn't be fouled. That was back in September, and my ph has been fine since then (although I also used a softener pillow and have been using spring water because my water is EXTREMELY hard).

Will it be safe to put in plants now, or will I have to wait longer? Also, what plants do you recommend for a beginner? I don't want anything too picky as I don't have the money to buy a whole bunch of fancy new systems. I have a lot of fertilizer, so that isn't an issue. Also, I have catfish and plecos, IDK if that will hurt my future plants.
 

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don't know about the pleco but I start my tank full of live plants.

I don't recommend or use any water conditioners and highly recommend you not use any chemicals to adjust ph.

All my tanks fw, marine, with and without peat moss in the substrate have a pH of 8.4-8.8 with the high range API test kit. Fish that are supposed to need much lower pH and soft water live for years. Like neons, and angels.

the reason is the live plants suck out the carbon dioxide and return oxygen. Lower carbon dioxide raises the pH. So the tank becomes a net consumer of carbon dioxide and producer of oxygen in a 24 hour period. I also do not add carbon dioxide.

FWIW this is my methode fo a 10g tank. Perhaps you can pick and choose for your tank.

1) add 1" of peat moss (no added ferts just the big bale for about $10 or so

2) fill peat with water then level the peat and clean off sides.

3) repeat for 1" of play sand

4) repeat for pc select (or gravel)

5) plant plants. 4-6 anacharis, 4-6 vals, 4 small potted, and 1 amazon sword. (the idea is a mix of fast growers and slower growers)

6) add water over a dish to the top of the tank.

7) wait one week (plants get established and condition the tank)

8) add a single neon tetra, or a male platy.

9) wait one week and do not add food for the fish.

10) add 4-5 more neons or a couple of female plattys.

11) start feeding 1 flake per day.

no filter, no water changes, minumal feeding and so on.

With a liver bearer tank you have a tankful of platies in 6 months. The neons do fine also.

just my .02
 

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Queen Platy
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Dont use anything to adjust the pH. It doesnt work unless its natural, like driftwood, CO2, etc. Meds to adjust will tamper with the water that the fish live in. All fish will adapt to the current pH, easier to let the fish adapt to the water rather than the other way around.

Some easy plants are Water sprite, hornwort, anarcharis, Java moss, java fern. You can also use plain top soil for the aquarium (NOT potting soil, top soil is the cheapest dirt, looks like sand and about 80Cents for a huge bag) Place gravel on top. Its what I did at first. It grows faster than my current pricey Eco-Complete but top soil its a pain if you uproot because it murks the water. Advantages and disadvantages to everything.
 
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