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Taking Care of Aquarium Plants

Suvamita Ghosh Jul 23, 2020
Besides the vibrant-colored fish, plants can also add to the beauty of an aquarium. Read to know their caring tips.
Aquarium plants must be treated with utmost care. Some of the common aquatic plants are Anacharis, Cabomba, Dwarf Anubias, Amazon sword, Hornwort and many more.
These plants require adequate bright light and nutrients. Provide them light for 10-12 hours in a day. Providing them with CO2 boosters will help in enhancing the levels of CO2. This helps them grow well even in a short period of time.


Plants include foreground, middle-ground, background, contrast, and floating plants. Foreground plants require bright light and shallow water for their growth. They grow up to a small height and form runner plants. Medium-sized plants have medium growth that can be placed between foreground and background plants.
Contrast species are used in contrast color and shape with other plants, thus giving a different look to the aquarium. Green plants can be contrasted with red- or yellow-leafed plants. Cone-shaped leaves can be matched with round-shaped ones.
Sufficient light is required for floating plants, but ensure to keep distance between the light source and these plants. Floating plants have a high growth rate.

Filtration System

A good filtration system is a must as it balances the carbon dioxide produced by plants. A filter plate is required to remove the suspended particles, which may obstruct the lighting.
The filter should produce a current in the water, so that the floating particles do not settle on the leaves and the current helps keep the nutrients moving. Fine gravel and sand are recommended to use as substrates. Substrates provide nutrients to plants and hold the rooted ones upright.

Light and Water

The pH of the water can be maintained in the range of 6.5-7.2 and should be free from organic debris particles. Water suspended with different particles may interfere with the lighting, and hence, fluorescent and/or mercury vapor lamps are used.
For deeper tanks, the former may not be sufficient enough to light the entire tank. In that case, the latter can be used to provide maximum light.


Nutrients are present in the form of nitrates, sulfates, carbonates, and phosphates. These sources are mostly obtained from water and the fish present in the aquarium. Substrates also contain nutrients. Carbon is utilized by plants as an energy source. Oxygen is required for respiration at night.
Nitrogen and sulfur are necessary for protein synthesis. Deficiency of any of these nutrient sources causes diseases. Chlorosis in leaves is due to lack of nitrogen or sulfur. Deficiency of iron shows yellowing of tips on the leaves and they start falling.

Photosynthesis and Carbon Dioxide

These plants require carbon dioxide for photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is a process by which plants utilize carbon dioxide produced by fish and release oxygen and energy. Fish utilize this oxygen for respiration. At night, plants inhale oxygen and release carbon dioxide.
As a result, carbon dioxide levels becomes high during this time. This level decreases in the day, as light becomes available for the plants to perform photosynthesis.

Pruning and Propagation

Some species of plants have rapid growth, while others need to be propagated. Aquatic plants, like sword plant, produce small protuberances on their stem called runners. These runners grow along with the mother plant. Roots of some plants produce small nodules called rhizomes.
Each rhizome, when cut into pieces, produces new roots. Pruning should be done occasionally to control the overgrowth. Leafy varieties need to be thinned in order to make sufficient space for other plant species. Trimming helps keep the plants in proper shape.
Algal blooms are also common. It is essential to prevent the growth of algae. Using algaecide can reduce the growth, but make sure that it will not harm the plants and the fish. Clean your aquarium by changing the water on a regular basis, depending upon its turbidity.