Beautiful Aquarium Plants
Courtesy of Stan
Even the best of plants growing in the
most favorable circumstances require some basic care. Here are a few
practical suggestions that should help to maintain your plants in fine
condition, and in turn make your hobby more active and rewarding.
If you have to move your plants about, carry them
upside down! Of course it sounds silly, but it's important. Plants that
are grown under water have soft flexible stems and they can be broken or
damaged if held upright.
Don't use too coarse a gravel. Many choices are available and we can
help in pointing out the best choices for optimum plant growth. Depth of
gravel should be a minimum of three and preferably four inches. Color is
Maintain adequate lighting. Recent research indicates that the intensity
of the light is even more critical than the duration. A typical color
enhance bulb, such as a gro-lux, may be adequate for a ten gallon (or
other 12 inch high aquarium) but taller tanks need a higher degree of
luminance. Some modern reflectors or hoods have the capacity to hold two
bulbs. If this is the choice you make, we strongly suggest that two
entirely different type of bulbs be used. One choice would be an enhance
bulb in front so that your fish show to their best advantage, and a bulb
more advantageous to plant growth in the rear.
Remember to use fertilizer. The old adage that fish droppings will
fertilize the plants is partially true. Modern filtering techniques are
often rendering the aquarium too sterile! Most liquid fertilizers, in
addition to replacing needed trace elements and minerals, actually aid
in changing mulm (a pretty word for fish droppings) into substances that
are more easily absorbed by the plant's roots. A good quality liquid
fertilizer (shake thoroughly before using) may be adequate for a
beginner's aquarium or even one of small dimensions. However, those
wanting optimum results, especially for swordplants, anubias varieties,
cryptocorynes, and any plants that send runners to reproduce, would be
wise to also purchase one of the many products available that apply
fertilizer directly to the gravel.
When planting rooted plants, it's critical that they not be placed too
deeply in the gravel. We have found this to be the most common cause of
swordplant mortality. When planting, hold a rooted plant between your
thumb, index and middle fingers. Gently drill a hole with the foremost
finger, and remove after reaching a selected depth. Then, and this is
critical, pull up on the entire plant very gently until you can actually
see the top of the root structure. This is less critical among
cryptocorynes than among swordplants, and is an absolute necessity with
pygmy chain swordplants.
Prune your plants periodically. It's generally advisable to place some
plants toward the rear of the tank in order to hide heaters, siphons and
the like. Next, rocks or driftwood will hide the less attractive lower
plant sections as well as offer both a contrast and feeling of depth.
Then, place mid range plants with another level of rocks or other
decorations. Lastly, small foreground plants in the very front complete
the descending motif and further hide the bottoms of the plants
immediately to their rear. Most of this is common sense, but this
initial plan can eventually go astray if some pruning isn't done as the
plants mature. When selecting plants for tank placement, pay attention
to how rapidly they grow and what height they will eventually achieve.
In general, bunch plants grow rapidly while rooted plants grow much more
Avoid an undergravel filter if at all possible. There are instances when
we've heard of successful plant growth while using an undergravel
filter, particularly one of slow water turnover. But in general, it's a
no no. If you must have one, or if you already have one and don't want
to remove it, consider leaning heavily on potted plants.
Be careful of medications. Some medications that are not directly
harmful to fish can be lethal to plants. Dyes such as malachite green
and methelene blue should not be used. In addition, many antibiotics can
be equally dangerous. There are medications available that are less
harmful. Carefully reading labels is always a necessity before
introducing any foreign substance that can affect the balance of an
aquarium's system and should be followed for plants as well as fish.
A word about terrestrial plants in the aquarium.
In Nature most aquatic plants grow above as well as below the water's
surface. Many reproduce through flowering and pollination that occurs in
the atmosphere. Some of the plants you buy in your pet store were grown
above the water for various reasons. They should adapt, grow and develop
a softer, and usually more attractive submerse leaf structure. Other
plants that are often available are not aquatic at all. These plants
cannot grow or propagate underwater. A few will exist for months, but
the majority will have a life span of only a few weeks when submerged.
These should be viewed as accent plants (for they are usually quite
attractive) and pose no danger when added for their ephemeral