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Why have aquarium plants in your fish tank?

Aquatic plants play an important role in the aquarium ecosystem. They help to absorb chemicals that are poisonous to the fish. However, these days it is not uncommon to have plant only tanks were the foliage takes centre stage.

Types of aquatic plants

There are many different varieties of aquatic plants.

Tubers - these plants need to be anchored by the root to the bottom of the tank or decorative objects within the tank. They usually have a fat, bulb like base.. They may be tied or simply buried underneath the substrate in the bottom of the aquarium.

Floating plants - these plants simply float in the tank. The do not need to be planted in the substrate and will happily grow floating in your tank, requiring little maintenance. Water lettuce and Lily pads are examples of floating plants.

Rooted plants - like tubers need to be anchored to the substrate or pieces of rock or wood. Some rooted plants can grow very tall and are excellent background plants. Others can remain quite small. The roots will grow outwards and require additional space.

Cuttings - these are plants of growing plants that have been pruned. The pruned part will grow on its own and will gradually grow its own roots.. Cuttings should be planted individually. They will grow vertically and sprout shoots at the joints of the leaves.

Benefits of plants in your fish tank

Live aquariums plants may be kept in aquariums alone or with fish. Some omnivorous fish will eat the plants as a source of food (which can be annoying!). At the very least, aquatic plants will provide shelter for the fish and provide visual interest for the fish tank owner as the fish explore the plants.


All plants require some form of light in order to thrive through photosynthesis. There are many different forms of lighting, and some plants thrive in light intensity lightly only. Most beginners tanks are supplied with low intensity lighting, so if you are going to grow live plants in your tank, you need to make sure that you opt for species that are tolerant of low lighting conditions. Check the specifics on the types of plants with your local retailer.


Some plants will thrive on the waste products produced by the fish in your aquarium. Others need some form of regular fertilization. , Again check with your supplier for compatibility and feeding requirements.

Caring for your plants

When you buy aquatic plants, you need to make sure that they are healthy looking, and are fresh. Live plants should be pruned weekly. Dead or broken leaves should be removed daily.

I want to set up a plant only tank - what do I need?

You will need the same basic equipment needed for an aquarium containing fish:

A tank
Filtration system
Heating (if you are growing plants that need higher temperatures)

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