About Aquatic Plants

One of the most attractive features of a tropical fish tank in the home is the potential it has for creating a beautiful underwater garden with a variety of exotic plants. The visual benefits are obvious but there are also important unseen advantages too!

The simple function is the way carbon dioxide is absorbed and oxygen is produced by the plants. As the fish are consuming oxygen and producing carbon dioxide, they benefit from the process, as do the plants! However, there are more subtle and less obvious processes also aiding the water chemistry by the growing plants.

Feeding the plants is something which few aquarists seem to do, yet it is as necessary to feed the plants properly as it is to feed the fish well if you want to get the best from them. It is true that the fish waste will go some small way towards feeding the plants but this in itself is nowhere near sufficient.

Liquid foods applied to the aquarium water on a regular basis are the most popular types. There are also tablets which can be inserted into the gravel adjacent to larger plants, and other forms of plant fertilisers available. Many aquatic plants rely on their root system primarily for anchorage and will extract much of their sustenance from the water. The best option is to put a fertiliser under the gravel as this allows the plants to take the nutrients it needs constantly.

A frequent complaint is that the fish eat the plants. There are certainly some species which are vegetarian and eat them simply for food, and there are others … notably the larger cichlids … which just pull them up as part of their general tank rearranging habit. Some fish use plants to build their nests and the lovely Dwarf Gourami is one such species, sometimes seen ripping bits off plants to bind its floating nest together. But in the main, the fish will not trouble the plants if the diet is sufficient. Usually it is not that they are lacking a vegetable element in their diet but more often it is because they are being offered the same dry food day after day, feed after feed, and they are bored with that. Those fish that are fed thoughtfully with a varied diet, including frozen foods, rarely become destructive of plants, and other vices like bullying or fin-nipping, may be minimised or even eliminated.

Aquatic plants can really help to create the water wonderland you’ve been after!