Artificial plants are mostly used for beautification of the aquarium, but growing real ones can make it look even more beautiful and real. Aquarium plants simulate the natural aquatic environment for fishes in the tank. Growing them is not very difficult and can be easily accomplished at home. Real plants maintain carbon dioxide and oxygen levels in water and ward off the necessity of artificial oxygen supply in the tank. A little care helps in keeping the aquarium lush green.
Instructions for Growing Aquarium Plants
- Variety of aquarium plants
- Plant substrate
- Light source
- Decide a look for your aquarium and depending on that select the plants you would like to grow. It is better to research about different kinds of aquarium plants and then choose your pick.
- Check the size of your tank and get a rough idea about how many plants you will have to buy. Do not ignore the fact that plants grow, so buy the ones that can easily fit into the tank.
- I insist on buying plants of small size as they are cheaper than the large ones, are easy to handle, and can grow over a period of time without the need of pruning.
- If you have a bunch of plant cuttings, separate them and rinse them thoroughly with fresh water to remove debris and unwanted creatures like small insects and snails that often come along with aquatic plant cuttings. To ensure the absence of such creatures, place the cuttings in a transparent container for a week or so before placing them in the tank, so that any creature present will be visible and can be removed.
- Aquarium plants require moisture to survive, so store the rinsed plants in a bucket of water or spray water on them to keep them moist till you prepare the tank.
- Add a reasonable layer (2 inches) of specialized substrate at the bottom of the tank. These substrates are easily available in aquatic stores and contain essential nutrients for proper growth of aquatic plants. On top of this layer, form a layer (one inch) of fine gravel. Many people include sand to form the top layer, but it is better to avoid it as it can clog plant roots.
- Fill half of the tank with water by placing a saucer over the substrate and pouring the water on it so that the substrate layer is not disturbed. It is better to use hard water for the tank as it contains essential trace elements that are necessary for plant growth.
- Heat the tank water by setting up a heater and adjusting it to the temperature required by the plants. Many plant species grow well at specific temperatures. Therefore, inquire about the temperature requirements of the plants you buy from the shopkeeper. Once the temperature of tank water reaches the desired level, you can start planting the cuttings.
- Decide where you want to plant the cutting and make a small depression in that area. Place the cutting in the depression and cover its roots with the substrate. If the roots are too thick, you can trim them slightly. Ensure the cutting is firmly fixed in the substrate as we do not want it to come off easily.
- The rule of the thumb is to place large plants at the backside of the tank and smaller ones in the front. This arrangement imparts a nice look to the aquarium.
- Like other plants, aquatic plants also require sufficient lighting for photosynthesis. Aquarium plants need around 12 hours of light everyday. To provide this, fluorescent full spectrum light must be used in the tank. "Daylight" fluorescent bulbs are inexpensive and an efficient light source for aquatic plants.
- For maintaining these plants, fertilize them whenever necessary using a good quality fertilizer, scrub off algae growing on leaves and tank walls, change the tank water at regular intervals and prune overgrown plants from time to time.