What is a “high-tech” planted tank

A high-tech planted tank is commonly known as a planted tank that uses Co2 injection. Plants need several things to ensure good, healthy growth, one being Co2. Plants are 45% Carbon meaning to grow healthy plants really prefer Co2. Pair the Co2 with a good light and good fertilizer and you have a good quality high-tech build such as the one below.


A high-tech planted tank


As you can see, all the plants are growing healthy and vibrant. Having healthy plants is great not only for your view but also for the fish. Healthy plants help to oxygenate the water. Not only that but the plants also provide a great hiding place for fish to go and relax to avoid stress.

How does it work?

In-Tank DiffuserHigh-tech tanks work by injecting Co2 into the aquarium water, that could be done through an in-tank diffuser, in-line diffuser or reactor. This then makes the carbon diffuse into the water column which helps plants absorb the Co2. The plants spend their time when the light is on absorbing the Co2 and in turn giving out oxygen. Just giving the plants Co2 won’t be enough for them to grow so we need to ensure we provide extra nutrients when needed. These are sourced from nutrient rich substrates, fertilizers and naturally from your fish.


What do you need to make a High-tech tank?

First, you’re going to want to pick a tank. There are a few kits on our site which can be easy to set up. The best one in my opinion would be Evolution aqua’ s Aquascaper tanks. They are a great, rimless tank with opti-white glass which allows you to really admire the aquascape you produce using your plants, wood and rock. For this example I’m going to use the Evolution aqua Aquascaper 900.


Next, you’re going to want to pick a filter. I usually look at using a canister filter which has around a 10X turnover. For this example, I will use a Fluval FX4 which has more than enough turnover. 2650LPH. When we add filter media this will be slightly reduced as with all filters which is why I have gone higher than needed. Other filters suitable for this are listed below -

Next, you’re going to want to look for a Co2 kit. For this I’m going to use a pieced together kit from our website. I will use the Ista premium regulator pack which includes most of the required parts and I’m going to attach that to the Ista 2L aluminium cylinder. This will be enough Co2 to last for a while depending on how much we are using. You will also want to pick up a timer plug for the solenoid, so it turns off when the lights go off and one for the light to auto switch them on and off.


The kit above pieced together by myself is a large kit, however, there also other Ista kits together which are more than suitable. Please see the links for these below –

Now we’re going to want to pick a light. For this, I am going to choose the AI Prime Freshwater lights. Other lights you can use are Fluval 3.0 or the Radion Freshwater. When looking for lights, I always keep my eye on the spectrum offered by the lights. From my experience, I have found this to be the best way to pick a lighting unit. This is what the lighting spectrum table looks like for the AI prime.



As you can see, the has a colour spectrum perfect to support healthy plant growth and development. There are other qualities of lights to look out for such as the PAR (photosynthetically active radiation) which is how much light is usable by the plants.


Now let’s look at some substrates for the tank. We are going to want a good substrate that can help the plants root well while still providing good nutrition to the plants and their root systems. A couple of great options are Fluval Stratum and Caribsea Eco Complete. These are great options for complete substrates, meaning they don’t need a top layer. These substrates provide a slow nutrient relase to the plants which helps with the growth. The grain size is also a good size for root spreading. You can buy multiple sizes of these best suited to your aquarium size. You want the substrate to be between 2 to 3 inches in depth.

Next, let’s investigate the fertilizers. You can get many different types of fertilizers these days. Some which you dose daily, some weekly, all dosing at different amounts with different contents. The best way to find the right fertilizer for you is to try them out. A great fertilizer I started with and still use now is the Evolution Complete liquid plant food. This is the daily dosing kind which has added elements for heavy planted tanks. Easy Life profit is another great option. This one is a weekly dosing one but again. I have used this and had great results from it.


Finally, you need to pick out some hardscape and plants. You can get some wood and rock from our website.

How to set up the equipment

Now we have everything together we can begin the setup. You’ll need to set up your aquarium and place it in a spot where it won’t get direct sunlight. Next, add your substrate, slop it so that the back is deeper than the front. Now add your lighting. Then Add your rocks and wood to the tank in a way that you like it, I use inspiration on the internet before I begin placing. Now attach your filter so that the water has a good flow to get to all parts of the tank. We want to try and avoid dead spots in the flow. Next, add the plants, pay close attention to the way the plants grow. Learning how tall and bushy they get helps you to imagine what the long-term results will be.


Now with the Co2, you want to first attach the regulator to the Co2 cylinder. With the Ista Regulator, it can be done without any tools. Then attach the bubble counter to the regulator (different types of bubble counter are installed differently) and the Co2 tubing to the other side of the bubble counter, make sure to fill the bubble counter with either water or another usable liquid to help count the bubbles. Make a cut in the line at tank height to add the check valve. This will stop the water flowing backwards into your Co2 equipment. Finally, add the remaining tubing and attach the diffuser to this, make sure to position the diffuser low to the substrate in the tank. This helps the Co2 bubbles diffuse by giving more time for them to have contact with the water. Finally, add the Co2 indicator with the solution in it, place this on the other side of the tank from the diffuser near the top of the water


Plug both the light and Co2 into timers. You want the Co2 to come on 1-3 hours before lighting coming on. Give the plants between 6-10 hours of lighting. More lighting can cause algae so, be careful not to add too much, alter is as needed for your preferred result. You also want the Co2 to turn off about 1 hour before the lights go out. While paying close attention to the bubble counter. Alter the needle valve to do 1BPS (Bubble per second) per 50L. To get the correct Co2 you will want to check your tank 2 hours later. Alter the amount of Co2, checking every two hours after changing it, to get the indicator fluid to turn green.


Finally, you can now sit back and enjoy your aquarium. Of course, the usual weekly water changes are required as well as plant trimming and cleaning any algae growth that happens to keep your tank clean. Follow the fertilizer dosing instructions to ensure healthy growth.


The do’s and don’ts of a high-tech tank


- Do check Co2 cylinder levels regularly

- Do check your indicator regularly

- Do keep on top of maintenance

- Do dose as the label instructs



- Don’t overdose fertilisers

- Don’t leave Co2 on while lights off

- Don’t use too much lighting

- Don’t ignore algae, make sure it is cleaned off


Thanks for reading