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Aquarium plants for beginners

Advantages of live plants in your aquarium

Live plants are a great way of keeping your aquarium water healthy by reducing carbon dioxide (plants take in carbon dioxide when they make their food – a process known as photosynthesis).

They also have the added advantage of making your fish tank look interesting and providing your fish with places to explore and shelter. If the fish in your tank breed, plants can also provide them will a place to spawn and for the young fish to hide from hungry predators.

Importance of lighting
in your aquarium

The key to growing plants in your fish tank is the lighting. Most plants require high levels of light and if you have tried growing plants in your tank, only for them to go yellow and die in a few weeks, incorrect lighting is the most common cause.
It's usually a simple matter of getting a brighter bulb for the tank. Consult your retailer for advice.

Planting aquarium plants

Planting natural aquarium plants is quite easy. Most plants you buy will have a root system which needs to be planted into the substrate. To do this, grasp the root end of the plant between your thumb and first finger while making a little hole in the substrate with your free fingers. Gently push the roots down into the hole and hold in place while swooshing back some of the substrate to cover the root ball. Rootless plants can be planted much the same way, instead of pushing the roots into the gravel push the bottom of the stems in.

Some common tropical aquarium plants

Amazon Sword
The Amazon Sword (Echinodorus amazonicus (bleheri)) has long narrow flowing leaves that sway in the current. This plant can grow up to 50 cm tall. It requires good lighting and fertilization so is a bit harder to keep than most plants. If given the right environment, however it can be a fast grower, sending out shoots to reproduce. It prefers aquarium temps of around 30 degrees c. with a PH of 5.5 - 9.

Anubias Anugustifolia
Although the name is a mouthful, this plant is really quite pretty with long narrow leaves. This is a great plant to keep in your aquarium if you have a lot of herbivorous fish as they will not eat it. It does not need a lot of light so is rather easy to grow in most any aquarium. This plant is a slow grower but will reach up to 15 cm. It likes temperatures of between 20 and 30 c and a PH of 5.5 - 8.

Moneywort (Bacopa monnieri) is another plant that is easy to grow in most fish tanks. It has a long stem with small leaves in pairs all along the length. This plant is a pretty good investment as you can propagate it by taking cuttings and then planting those right in the aquarium. It does like a lot of light and a PH of 6-9 in a tank that is between 15 and 30 degrees c. Given the right conditions, this plant to grow up to 30 centimeters.

Wisteria (Hygrophila difformis) doesn't look anything like the vine that grows in your yard, but it is a wonderful aquarium plant with large oaky leaves. This plant also helps to prevent the growth of algae in the tank by absorbing nutrients from the water. It does need a lot of light but is a fast grower and can grow up to 50 cm. Plant Wisteria in a tank that has a PH between 5 and 9 with temps between 22 and 30 c.

Java Moss
This fish tank plant is different from the rest as it has a more mossy appearance and actually almost resembles coral in the way that it grows. It attaches itself to rocks or wood in the tank and it's mossy tendrils extend upward to a height of 5cm. Requiring minimal light, this is one of the easiest plants to grow. It will tolerate most water conditions but prefers temps of 15 to 28 c. This plant may be a slow starter but is very hardy.

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