New Planted 42 Gallon Tank..PLEASE HELP...


Black Skirt Tetra
MFK Member
Oct 5, 2016
Hello Guys,

First of all I am a completely new to the planted setup. I am setting up a new 42 Gallon Planted tank. The dimension are L 30" X D 18" X H 18". I want to start pretty low tech setup with diy Co2 with yeast, sugar, baking soda formula. I have already purchased few items like substrate, fertilisers and light. I will be using a Canister filter with activated carbon and ceramic rings for filteration which will filter the tank 15 times an hour. I am going to breakdown each below please help me if this will work..

1. Substrate: The substrate I have bought is "All Purpose Premium Potting Mix- With Cocopeat & Organic Fertilizer". Its a 10 kg pack. I choose this substrate as other people have given 5 stars on Amazon for aquarium use. I will wash it throughly and add a layer of sand on top so the it doesn't cloud the tank too much.

2. Light: I am using a 45 Watt LED Rocket bulb with 5400 Lumens and 6500 Kelvins. If I break down 5400 lumens then it will come around 28 Lumens per litre as my tank is 160 litre. I hope this is sufficient light, If not then please suggest.

3. Plants: Now thats where I am stuck. I have selected few plants based on my research of what is considered easy. Please suggest me if they are low tech and will work based on my substrate choice and lighting. Also please let me know how many plants are enough for my tank size. I have finalised the quantity I think is enough below:

Carpet / Foreground

Marisilea Minuta x 1 Pot
Dwarf hairgrass x 2 Pots
Staurogyne Repens x 2 Pot


Java moss x 2 Pots
Anubias nana x 3 Plants
Abnubias Barteri x 1 Plant

Mid Section / Background:

Java fern giant x 3 Plants
Ludwigia repens “Rupin” x 25 Stems
Crypt wendtii Tropica x 25 Stems
Hygro compacta x 10 Stems
Bacopa Caroliniana x 25 Stems

Please Help me guys!! I am a NOOB when it comes to planted tank :(

Additya Gupta


Bronze Tier VIP
MFK Member
Apr 5, 2017
Flint town!
That sounds like a ton of light for that size tank. I'm no expert though. I have never set up a purpose built planted tank. I almost always have some sort of plant just depends usually easy ones like anubias or java fern. Some of those that you listed I'd consider as medium to hard. I think with the fertilizer in the soil and that much light you may need to up your Co2 production to a pressurized system. Once again I'm no expert. Hopefully someone else chimes in......

Fat Homer

Mmmmm... Doughnuts
Staff member
MFK Member
Mar 16, 2009
I dont have much advise for your setup since i’m not familiar with that lighting or soil...

However, might i recommend sticking to one carpet plant unless you plan on breaking them up for use in different sections... coz once they start sending runners out to other carpeted plant areas, it will either choke out the other plant species, or may just become difficult to remove when it becomes tangled with other carpet plants...

That happened ro me with dwarf hairgrass and dwarf HC... the hairgrass grew over into the HC carpet and over time i ripped both out coz didnt like the look...


MFK Member
Mar 19, 2008
Here’s my experience with organic potting mix in planted tanks. I’ve sifted the soil multiple times to remove large particles and having only the finest, softest soil in the end...then soaked for days with many water changes till the water cleared up. Put in tank and capped with sand. I realized, all that work wasn’t necessary. With a second tank, I removed as of the large particles as I can by hand, put in tank, wet and capped with sand. Both cases, leaching of the soil occurred but minimal and cleared up with time.

As OP mentioned, there’s really no need to wash the soil. The sand and slowly adding the water into the tank will prevent clouding up the water. An inch and a half of sand is sufficient.
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MFK Member
Oct 1, 2012
You have medium light, about 50par, based on Rota light calculator, “Cree”led assumption.

You have sufficient light to grow most low to medium light plants that you listed, but may not work with carpet plants unless you have co2 injection. MEK isn’t the best resource for plants. Read this guide which has the best and accurate information on growing plants.
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