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9 Tips You Need to Know for Growing
Freshwater Aquarium Plants

Adding freshwater aquarium plants can be a great addition to your fish tank. The live plants can remove nitrates from the water, which improves the quality of it and reduces any algae growth. Additionally, the oxygen levels get boosted in the tank, and your fish can have fun hiding behind the plants. Best of all, it's not that complicated to grow them. It can be an easy hobby that you'll enjoy getting into. Here are some helpful tips for growing freshwater aquarium plants.

1. Choose common plants that are easy to grow.

Due to the differences in lighting requirements, some plants can be more difficult to grow than others. Fortunately, there are easy options out there. Find plants that are labeled Anubias, Anacharis, Echinodorus, or Lilaeopsis. If you’re interested in plants that grow tall, look for the Java Fern or the Amazon Sword. The Amazon Sword, in particular, grows quickly. A tall plant can also provide a good covering for your wiring and filter system if it’s visible to see behind your tank. If you prefer medium-sized plants, you can opt for a Dwarf Sagittaria or an Anubias Nana. The Anubias Nana has rounded leaves and curved stems. The Dwarf Sagittaria has a curved blade and long green leaves.

2. Install lighting for plant growth.

Similar to the plants that are on land, your freshwater plants will need lighting to stay alive. Plants undergo photosynthesis, which gives them nutrients and energy. Remember that light needs can vary from plant to plant. Some of the best options you can choose include LED tank lights or full-spectrum fluorescent. Freshwater plants can get light from windows nearby as well. When starting out, unless you plan to have a carbon dioxide system in place, stick to less than 2.5 fluorescent watts per gallon.

3. Quarantine and treat new plants.

New plants can potentially have pests like shrimp or snails that can risk the health of your aquarium. While the fish may feed on them, snails and shrimp can breed quickly. As a result, it introduces diseases or bacteria in the water. Quarantining your plants will help you to spot pests before they get into the tank. You can treat your plants with a bleach solution. Mix 1 part bleach with 19 parts water, then dip the plans for two to three minutes.

Be sure to rinse the plants in freshwater before you place them in the dechlorinated water. For preventing snail infestation, you can dip the plants into saltwater and mix 1 gallon of water with 1 cup of kosher salt. Place the plants there for 15 to 20 seconds. You'll need to rinse the plants off with clean, fresh water before putting them in the tank. When your new plants have been quarantined for a week, they'll be ready to be in the aquarium.

4. Add a plant-friendly substrate.

A substrate is a material used to cover the bottom of the tank. For growing plants, it’s important to use a substrate that’s rich with nutrients. One thing to watch out for is any clouding of the water when it’s disturbed. You can prevent this by applying a thin layer of gravel over the substrate. If you’re looking for an affordable option, laterite and clays can provide your plants with good nutrients. The only downside is they can take longer to settle in your tank. Seachem Flourite is another good option that comes in various colors and has all the nutrients your plants need.

5. Anchor your plants.

Your freshwater aquarium plants absorb nutrients by being rooted in the substrate. You should put the roots of your plants just under your substrate. Be sure not to bury them deep, or else, it will cover the rhizome of your plant. The rhizome is the thick green part that's above the roots. The rhizome being covered will cause your plant to die. Additionally, avoid anchoring one plant on top of another one. Other plants like Java Fern, Anubias Nana, and types of moss (click for a comprehensive guide on 26 types of moss for your planting projects) prefer being rooted in wood or rock. Wrap a fishing line gently around your plant, then loop the line around the wood or rock. Have the fishing line tied in place, then add the rock and plant to your tank.

6. Let plants stabilize, then add fish.

It will take about a week for your plant garden to be established. After the time has passed, you can add your fish to the tank. If you already have fish currently in the tank, you can put them in a temporary aquarium. The plants will be able to feed off of the waste excreted by the fish.

7. Prune plants.

Most freshwater aquarium plants can grow quickly. You’ll need to be diligent about regularly pruning them. If the plants outgrow the tank, the part that’s outside will die. You can use scissors to carefully cut off the excess. If you’d prefer not to do this often, you should opt for plants that grow slowly.

8. Clean water weekly.

Unlike fish, plants don’t need the water to change as frequently. Nonetheless, a regular changing of water helps your aquarium stay healthy. Scrap algae from your tank and use a siphon to get 10 to 15% of the water removed. Replace the removed water with fresh, dechlorinated water. Be careful to avoid using the siphon in the plant bed, so you don’t accidentally kill your plants.

9. Add fertilizer.

While fertilizer isn’t required for the plants to grow, it can help your plants grow better. Add some fluorite directly to the substrate. It will provide nutrients and iron to the plants. Another option you could also consider is root tabs. You place them near the root of the plants that are anchored beneath the substrate, and they’ll continually fertilize them for two to three months.

Freshwater aquarium plants can be beneficial for making your aquarium look nice, while also keeping the condition of the tank healthy. Keep all of these tips in mind to add plants to your tank successfully. If you’re interested in learning about aquariums, you can find more information at Titan Aquatic Exhibits.

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