Is it hard to maintain a planted tank?

In short, no. But you probably would get the same answer if you ask a pro figure skater if it is hard to do a triple axel.

There’s no short answer to this question.
I don’t think it is hard to maintain my planted tank, but for a complete beginner, it can be very challenging due to the lack of skills needed.

Skills you need

Let’s start with the essential skill in the planted tank hobby.
It is probably not what you think, and it is not very technical either.
It is patience! Yes, you heard it right. Patience is the most important skill one needs to be successful in aquascaping.
Let me explain…
Things have to settle down and adjust to the new situation when you change something in your aquascape. When you change another parameter of your aquascape while things still have to adapt, you lose control, and results are hard to track or not to track at all.

ADOPT THE PACE OF NATURE,

HER SECRET IS PATIENCE

Ralph Waldo Emerson

For example:
Some plants start yellowing. You do some research, and you find 10 possible reasons. Immediately you get to work and change everything mentioned in the article you found.
Regardless the outcome, you’ll never know what fixed or worsened your problem.
Change one thing at a time. Wait and observe the result and then act again.

If you thought aquascaping is all about science.

If you thought aquascaping is all about science…

So the second most important skill an aquascaper must have is observing.
If you thought aquascaping is all about science. Well, you’re correct.
And science is nothing else than systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation.
Meaning that you have to gather knowledge about how to treat your tank, your setup, which basically is your experiment.
To gather all the information takes time. So to be a successful aquascaper, you need time to make mistakes and learn.
Of course, there’s a lot of information out there to help you get started.
But each aquarium is different. There are too many factors that have an influence on the result. So you can only take all advice as a guideline, as a reference point. And from there, you start your own journey into the wonderful world of the planted tank hobby.

So is it hard to maintain a planted tank?
Not at all. As long as you’re willing to put in the time and dedication.
Most newcomers to the hobby have high expectations. With all the stunning aquascapes one can find on Instagram and Youtube, that is no surprise. But mostly those are made by experienced aquascapers.
Don’t set your goals too high. Start off easy with an easy setup and learn.
It is crucial that you enjoy maintaining your planted tank and that you’re not only doing it for the result or that Instagram post.