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Aquarium Plant Care

By Julie Henry
Info Guru,
Thursday, June 2007

Aquarium plants are not only beautiful and decorative they also play a substantial roll in the overall health of the tank and its inhabitants. Plants absorb the carbon dioxide that fish release and turn it into oxygen through the process of photosynthesis. They also break down waste materials, provide food for aquatic life and contribute to the balance of the water chemistry. Because of all they do, proper aquarium plant care is essential, not only for the health of the plants but also for the well-being of the entire tank. In order to maintain your plants, you must make sure you have all of the necessary aquarium supplies which will be listed in this article.

Selecting the Plants

When purchasing the plants for your tank, make sure to choose ones that have similar care requirements and that will coincide well with the fish that inhabit your aquarium. Healthy, young plants will not have brown or yellowing leaves, holes or bent stems. Stem plants are the easiest to care for and may be suitable for beginners. Rosette plants are lattice type plants that produce runners. These plants are more sensitive to their environment and will require more care. Ferns and mosses are non-flowering plants which produce roots that attach to rocks and wood within the tank. Once you have chosen your plants, carry them home in a moist plastic bag or damp newspapers promptly rinsing them and removing any dead roots, stems or leaves.

Water Temperature

Before placing your plants in the tank ensure that the water is not too cold as this will shock and stress aquarium plants. Most plants do well in water that is between 72 and 81 degrees Fahrenheit and it is important to keep the water temperature constant, as many plants will not react well to sudden changes. A heater can help keep the tank water at an optimum temperature. Aquarium plant care also requires the proper water hardness and pH level. Check the specific requirements for the plants you have purchased.

Feeding Your Aquatic Plants

In order for plants to be healthy within an aquatic environment, there must be macro and micronutrients in the water. Micronutrients are needed is small amounts and are often found within a healthy aquarium environment. Macronutrients include oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus.

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Oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen will already be in the substrates and in the water and will not need to be added. Magnesium, sulphur, potassium, and phosphorous can be added through liquid or tablet fertilizer. A good quality brand name liquid plant fertilizer is more effective, however, because it is absorbed by the plants immediately. In addition, a carbon fertilizer is a necessity to any healthy tank. Although carbon dioxide will be released by the fish in the tank, the amount is not enough to facilitate healthy plant life. This nutrient can be added to the tank via tablets or liquid or by timed cylinders that can be purchased to release small amounts of carbon dioxide at regular intervals.

Creating a Solid Foundation

The substrate layer, or the substance placed on the bottom of the tank, is very important for the health of your aquarium plants. It gives them a place to root in, obtain nutrients, and propagate. Different types include pea gravel, aquarium gravel, sand, soil-based, clay and quartz or lime-free gravel. These substances can be mixed according to the needs of your particular aquarium. Most tanks do well with quartz gravel, as pea gravel and aquarium gravel are often too loose. Water can easily flow through them, cooling the roots of the plants and oxygenating the gravel removing nutrients in the process. Sand and soil can cloud water, which is not good for plant life within the tank. Layering substrates provides weight to lighter substances. Because of its importance, it would be a smart idea to read more about substrates and how to maintain them.

Light and Filtration

Lighting and filtration are also important for the health of your aquarium plants. Light is needed for photosynthesis and should be supplied for approximately 10-14 hours. The general rule of thumb is that plants that are light green or red in color require brighter lighting than those that are darker green. Fluorescent, mercury vapor lamps and halogen are good choices and the type you choose will depend on the kinds of plants within your tank and the deepness of your aquarium. A good filtration system removes debris and toxins in the water and is very important to your plants health.

Knowledge of aquarium plant care, coupled with time and effort will result in healthy plant and aquatic life within your aquarium, creating a beautiful environment for all to enjoy.     ###


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