How to Get Started with Aquarium Plants
Aquarium plants are an amazing addition to nearly any fish tank. Not only are they beautiful and natural-looking, but they also help greatly with biological filtration and create a comfortable environment for your fish. Many people fear that growing plants under water is a risky venture. Not to worry – here are our top four tried-and-true tips for getting started with your first aquarium plants!
Tip #1: Use a Good Fertilizer
Easy Green all in one fertilizer to fertilize the water
The great thing about plants is that they consume the toxic nitrogen compounds produced by fish waste. But to truly grow well, plants need more “food” than fish poop can provide. Plants need both macronutrients, like nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous, as well as micronutrients, such iron, manganese, and boron. They also require these nutrients in the right amounts.
Experiential aquascapers love to use customizable products that provide separate containers for each nutrients. This allows them create customized fertilizer concoctions to suit their needs. But if you’re like me, I just want an easy, all-in-one solution that’s already premixed by the experts. That’s why we offer Easy Green liquid fertilizer to make your life simple. For low-tech tanks, add 1 squirt to 10 gallons each week. High tech tanks will need twice as much. To provide nutrients from the soil, root tab fertilizers can be used for plants that are dependent on their roots.
Easy Root Tabs for fertilizing the ground
You can find more information about plant nutrients in our article, Picking the Aquarium Fertilizer for You.
Tip #2: Use Good Lighting
Fluval Plant 3.0 LED light
A steady supply of light is essential for plants to photosynthesise. But direct sunlight is not recommended because it’s difficult to control the intensity and can cause severe algae problems. It is better to use a dedicated light for aquarium plants. You can also research the best light for other plant tank keepers. Fluval Plant 3.0LED is our favorite light because you can adjust the intensity of the light depending on the needs of your tank. This light allows you to start with low-light plants (plants that require low levels of light) and then move up to high-light plants as you grow experience.
You can find out more about the best planted tank lights by reading our quick selection guide.
For the best growth, pick an aquarium light intended for plants. Regular aquarium lighting is too dim for optimal growth.
Tip #3: Select the Right Fish
Although this may seem strange, certain fish enjoy eating plants. For example, silver dollar fish, certain plecostomus, and even goldfish thoroughly enjoy their vegetables, so certain plants may not be well-suited for their aquariums. Other fish have the tendency to sift through substrate and uproot plants, so you may need to switch to floating plants, rhizome plants attached to hardscape, or potted plants to decorate your tank. It is easy to find out which fish are suitable for plants by doing some research online or talking to others in our Facebook group.
Goldfish, and other species can cause damage to aquarium plants. Make sure you research before you buy your new pet.
Tip 4: Start with Beginner plants
Low light plants make the most sense as they are slow growers and easier to work with when you’re learning how grow plants underwater. For beginners, we recommend buying one plant of each species you like. You can also get five different starter plants instead of five. This will increase the chance that some plants can survive, and you will still be able to experience some success even if your husbandry skills aren’t perfect. You should also know that certain species may prefer specific water conditions. Talk to local hobbyists about which plants will thrive in your area.
Make sure you only purchase aquatic plants that are able to be grown completely submerged or underwater. A few pet stores also sell “semi aquatic” plants for use in terrariums. Interesting fact: Most aquatic plants are grown out of water in plant farms in order to reduce algae problems and speed up growth. Once you place a new plant in your tank, it will melt a bit, then produce new leaves, which are more accustomed to being completely underwater. Aquarium Co-Op helps you jumpstart this process by placing them in holding tanks that have lots of light and fertilizers to help them convert to submerged grown leaves before they reach your house.
With this in mind, remember that a plant that looks like it’s dying may still be possible to save! You may see it melting as it adjusts to the new water conditions. Give it another chance and you’ll be amazed at how it grows back. In the future we will be covering more topics regarding planted tanks. To receive email notifications whenever new blog posts become available, create an account.