Planted Angelfish Tank Care Guide: How To Keep Healthy Live Plants & Good Aquarium Maintenance

Live plants have many advantages for a freshwater angelfish aquarium. One of the benefits of using live plants for your angelfish aquarium is to provide a close-to-natural habitat and add more oxygen.

In a planted tank, your angelfish will feel secure and happy as they have covered places to hide and rest, and the tank environment is a lot similar to their natural habitat. You can read more about suitable plants for your angelfish in 15 Best Live Plants For An Angelfish Planted Tank

However, successfully keeping live aquatic plants requires more effort than plastic ones. Moreover, proper tank maintenance is also critical to keep your planted angelfish tank of good quality. If you do not provide sufficient lights and appropriate maintenance to your planted tank, your live plants will die and your angelfish will be weakened.

This article will demonstrate essential requirements to encourage live aquatic plants’ growth and an aquarium maintenance guide for keeping a top-notch planted angelfish tank.

Keeping Live Plants In A Planted Angelfish Tank

Why are your live plants in poor health?

There are several reasons why the live plants you keep in your planted angelfish tank are in poor health. Let’s take a look at the potential causes below.

  • The roots of your aquatic plants get too hot, compared to the pre-set water temperature in the tank. 

This can occur if the tank is placed over a floor heating register. When the roots get too hot, the plant can become yellow and not survive. Thus, it is advisable to avoid placing your planted angelfish close to or over the heating sources in the room.

  • Insufficient lighting intensity.

The light intensity should be adjusted to encourage their growth depending on the specific types of live plants in your aquarium. Generally, fast-growing plants need high lighting, while slow-growing plants prefer low-to-moderate lighting intensity. If your lighting systems do not provide enough light, the development of your plant will be degraded.

  • The pH of your aquarium water is too acidic.

When the pH is out of the right range, it affects the health of not only your plants but also your angelfish. Thus, make sure to keep the pH stable and in the correct range.

  • The planted aquarium has too few fish to get enough carbon dioxide and “fertilizer.”
  • The aquarium is crowded with plants.

Overstocking live plants in your angelfish is really a bad choice. Too dense plant growth will occupy significant room in the tank, limiting the swimming activity of your angelfish.

Moreover, dense vegetation with broad coverage can block the light from reaching the bottom foliage, causing the other plants not to receive enough light for healthy growth.

Care and needs of freshwater aquarium plants

There are three crucial things required for keeping live aquarium plants healthy and providing benefits to aquariums.

  • Sufficient lighting intensity to simulate photosynthesis for live plants. 

Depending on your tank’s depth, the lighting system’s intensity should be adjusted. If the tank is deeper, the light intensity must be stronger.

  • The right substrate is essential to provide fertile areas to stimulate the establishment and development of the roots.

Some of the best options for live plants are fine gravel, especially terracotta gravel, or aquarium sand.

  • Freshwater aquarium plants need some nutrients in the substrate to survive. 

A well-established aquarium will probably help in this case. For a new-established tank, it must be provided with live aquarium plant food. Moreover, plant nutrients should also be added to well-established aquariums to maximize the benefits of the community aquarium.

Lighting is essential for keeping live aquatic plants
Lighting is essential for keeping live aquatic plants

Lighting requirements for healthy-growing aquatic plants

  • Choosing suitable intensity of light for your planted angelfish tank. 

The lighting intensity varies with different depths of the tank. In the case of a too-deep aquarium, you can tell the shop owners about your aquarium size to get the best consultant on the suitable lighting fixture.

  • Besides adjusting the lighting intensity, setting lighting time is also important. 

When stocking live plants, the additional lighting time should be maximized. Usually, live plants require about 12 lighting hours per day. However, the exact length of the lighting period should be determined based on the tank setup and which species of plants and fish you plan to have.

  • Type of lights: LED lights are recommended.

The benefits of LED lighting are that it releases almost no heat during its operating time, is inexpensive, and exhibits a broad spectrum that stimulates the growth of plants.

Substrate requirements for aquatic plants

  • Substrate materials

In aquariums with live plants, laterite or vermiculite is often used as a substrate. Both materials are capable of storing and releasing nutrients. Moreover, they are often utilized as a lower layer of the substrate and usually have a gravel layer cover on top.

In a freshwater aquarium community, you should never use dirt or loam soil. It can be harmful to plants to use dirt or pond mud unless it is sterilized, as it usually contains harmful bacteria. Even if it is sterilized, it provides little to no benefits for plants.

  • Substrate quantity

Substrates are typically filled to a depth of approximately 2 inches in a planted angelfish tank. Increasing the depth of the substrate may be required when your tank has live plants that produce a robust root system.

  • Substrate maintenance

Regardless of the substrate types you choose for your aquarium, it would be best if you periodically clean the substrate to prevent waste from accumulating. Using an aquarium gravel vacuum is the easiest way to do this since it will take out the debris from the substrate without removing it.

How To Do Maintenance For Planted Angelfish Tank

Cleaning every surface in the aquarium daily or even weekly is neither practical nor healthy. Thus, cleaning everything in your planted angelfish tank at the same time is not an ideal solution. 

If you keep cleaning everything constantly, the bacterial colonies will be disturbed too much and can lead to a spike in ammonia and nitrites. Thus, you can choose to staggered clean the colony-rich areas like the filter and the substrate to minimize the impact of cleaning on beneficial bacteria. 

Therefore, the water should also be tested a few days after a thorough cleaning to ensure all the parameters are good.

My suggestions for aquarium plant maintenance are as follows for daily, weekly, and monthly routines.

Daily maintenance

1. Using fertilizers and liquid carbon.

The plants will not get a consistent supply of carbon if you fail to give their daily dose of liquid carbon. Inconsistent carbon levels can also stimulate algae blooms.

2. Take care to remove leaves that have fallen or decayed since algae will grow on decayed leaves.

3. Check the temperature of your tank water.

Doing this lets you know if there are any problems with the tank heater. Any fault with heaters can result in sudden temperature drops, harming your fish and live plants, especially in the cold winter.

4. Cleanse the glass surface of your angelfish planted tank and replenish the water if necessary.

Weekly maintenance

1. Change the water every week by at least 25-30% to prevent organic waste from building up, helping prevent algae blooms in your tank. 

Your aquarium should be changed more frequently during the first couple of weeks until it matures. 2-3 times per week are often recommended to help reduce the risk of algae outbreaks during the most fragile stages. Over time, your tank will mature and then you can decrease the frequency of water changes each week.

2. Check the equipment in your planted aquarium (heater, filter, light timer, CO2 equipment, etc.) to ensure they function properly. A malfunction could compromise the stability of your planted angelfish tank. 

3. Clean the glass, hardscape, and plants.

If you encounter a large accumulation of algae in your aquarium, you may want to consider reducing lighting, adjusting CO2 levels, and increasing the frequency of water changes. For long-term prevention of algae outbreaks, eliminating the initiating and stimulating causes is critical.

4. Use your plant scissors to trim your plants.

Regularly trimming the plants is necessary to encourage growth and prevent them from becoming out of control. Then, try to repellent any cuttings by removing the lower leaves, clipping the roots, replanting them into the tank substrate, or nestling them among the plants that already have well-established roots.

Nestle the cuttings using the tweezers
Nestle the cuttings using the tweezers

Monthly maintenance

1. Remove your filters and clean them.

The best way to clean your filter media is to do so with aquarium water that you’ve just removed from a water change. By cleaning the tank filter, you can remove organic waste that has accumulated in it.

2. Pipes, lily pipes, pond equipment, and other equipment should then be cleaned.

Other maintenance tasks

There are a few other tasks besides scheduled maintenance that should be addressed when necessary. 

  • Lighting fixtures must be replaced once a year, regardless of whether they have burned out.
  • If your system has a canister filter, check the tubing of the air pump and the filter. Then, use a filter brush to clean the intake of the canister filter. 
  • Fertilize any live plants you have in your planted angelfish tank.

Essential cleaning equipment

It does not take much equipment to maintain a planted aquarium. Nevertheless, having a few specialized tools at hand can be a big help. 

The most essential equipment you should have is an aquarium bucket. Make sure you are not using it for any other purpose or activity. Having a second bucket may help, but it isn’t that essential. 

You’ll also need a siphon, water conditioner, algae scrubber, filter brush, aquarium-safe glass cleaner, soft cloths, and towels to conduct your maintenance routine. 

Additionally, you will need fresh filter media, fertilizer, and small scissors to trim the live plants in your planted aquarium.

So, here is the list of essential tools for your planted angelfish tank maintenance.

  • Water bucket
  • Siphon
  • Algae scrubber
  • Filter brush
  • Aquarium safe cleaner
  • Cleaning cloths/paper towels
  • Replacement filter media
  • Scissors to trim plants
  • Plant fertilizer

Essential Notes For Effective Tank Maintainance

  • Water change is the most important thing for keeping a healthy and good quality of your planted angelfish tank. 

When working with a high-tech tank that contains CO2, enriched substrate, fertilizer, and livestock, you should do water changes about 20% or more, from two to three times a week.

In the case that your tank is low-tech and lightly stocked, it is sufficient to perform water changes once a week.

  • Do a quick survey of the tank before starting your maintenance routines.

In this way, you can spot any plants that appear to be in poor health, excessively tall, or in need of pruning, as well as debris and algae that need to be removed.

  • If you are using plant nutrient tablets, replace them every four to six weeks.
  • When siphoning plant debris off the substrate, you should not vacuum too deep into the substrate to avoid disturbing plant roots or the installed solid nutrient materials.
  • For a good CO2 flow rate, you can soak the ceramic diffuser in vinegar or replace it when necessary.

Video: Planted Aquarium Maintenance


Maintaining your planted angelfish tank is not too difficult if you try spending a bit of time each week on it. This can be both relaxing and rewarding.

Keep your maintenance routine simple by focusing on consistency rather than overcomplicating it. Your tank will be in great health and balance if you consistently perform proper maintenance routines.

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