How To Keep Live Plants In An Aquarium [And Keep Them Alive]

How To Keep Live Plants In An Aquarium [And Keep Them Alive]

There comes a time in your fish keeping journey where plastic plants will just not cut it. You need to learn how to keep live plants in an aquarium. There are many benefits but the way that live plants can transform your tank is phenomenal.

Purchasing live plants can be daunting, it’s another living thing you have to keep alive. Believe it or not, plants are a lot easier to keep alive than fish.

Today I am going to show you the basics of how to care for three of the best live plants for beginners. I will show you how to plant, feed and care for them so you do not feel overwhelmed.

So if you have been wondering how to keep live plants in an aquarium lets get started…

Why Are Live Plants Great For An Aquarium?

So before we dive into all the hands-on stuff it is important you know some of the benefits of live plants. This will help you decide if they are right for you.

I touched on this above but live plants give your tank that au natural look and feel. Some plastic plants look pretty realistic but they will never beat the look and feel of a real plant.

Not only will plants transform the look of your tank but they are also a great source to absorb ammonia. This is one of the most toxic gases for fish that can get in your tank. With live plants, you are providing a way for it to be absorbed reducing the amount of work the filter has to do.

You will still need a filter but the plants will help keep the ammonia level to a minimum.

Live plants will also provide a tasty and natural food source for your fish. So if you have a fish that likes to eat make sure the plant is safe for them. As well as a food source plants will provide shelter and a spawning source for new babies.

What You Need To Keep Live Plants Healthy In Your Tank

Have I sold live plants to you yet?

If so then let me show you the essentials that you will need to keep your new plants healthy. There is no point in spending money on a live plant for it to die a few days later.

For most plants, you are going to need a substrate of some description. For most 2-3mm of gravel will do the trick. If gravel is not your thing then coarse sand or volcanic soil will do the trick (Fluval Stratum is great volcanic soil).

The substrate will become the home for your live plant’s roots unless you have a floating plant.

Read More: Check Out The Best Substrate For Planted Tanks

As well as substrate some plants will require a fertilizer to keep them in tip-top condition. So before you rush out and buy your live plants check what fertilizer it needs.

The last thing you may want to consider is a CO2 injection system. Carbon dioxide is essential for many species and it will improve growth in the easiest plants too.

Having the correct proportion of gases in your tank will make it a lot easier to grow and look after your new plant.

Java Fern: A Low Maintenance Aquatic Plant

Now we have the basics covered it is time to actually look at some decent plants for a beginner. Some live aquarium plants are a lot easier to care for than others but they still give your tank that lovely natural feel.

The first to mention is the Java Fern.

When you purchase this it will come in a small bag ready for you to transfer to your tank. It is super easy to plant, simply find a rock or some driftwood (that is safe for your aquarium) and wedge the stem.

The roots of the plant will make their own way into the substrate so you don’t need to bury the roots. It’s important that you don’t bury the stem or leaves because as the old leaves die they will start to decompose in the substrate.

This can kill the actual plant.

With Java Fern, it is best to hold off trimming until the leaf is completely dead. A new leaf will grow from the old leaf so cutting to soon will stop the growth of new leaf.

For tank lighting, your Java fern will prefer tube fluorescents. Having lights that are too strong could reap havoc for your new plant.

Lastly to feed the Java Fern just add a plant fertilizer like Seachem Flourish Iron with your weekly water change. These plants get most of their food from the water so you need to add a fish safe fertilizer to keep them happy.

Java Moss: Great Floating Plant For Beginners

Next, we move onto another extremely hardy plant, Java Moss. This is great for small tanks. If you are breeding fish the moss is great for providing shelter for the fry.

The little fry can also get a light meal from the moss too.

Like the fern, you don’t have to actually plant it into the substrate just attach it to a rock or driftwood. If you can grow a Java Moss wall you will have striking addition to give your tank more… WOW!

To anchor it to a rock or driftwood you can use a fish safe mesh or some fishing line. Simply wedging it between rock will do the trick too.

Keep light to a minimum because the bright light will hinder their growth. Your Tanks fluorescent tube lights should be fine but if you need brighter I would give Java Moss a miss.

Java Moss is a grower, once established it can be rather difficult to remove. It is so easy to care for it will reproduce super easily.

Anubias Barteri: Beginner-Friendly Aquatic Plant For Your Tank

The last plant I want to show you is the Anubias Barteri. It is super easy to grow and care for and is widely available. So it is perfect for new live plant keepers.

Unlike some species, it can be partially submerged or fully submerged and because of this, it can thrive in a lot of home aquariums with ease. You will notice this plant growing upwards rather than outwards so keep an eye when near the surface.

If you need to trim back simply cut the stem (rhizome) and avoid the leaves as this could harm your plant. You can give your cutting to a friend or put it back in the tank and it will grow again.

In most tanks with Anubias, you don’t need to plant into the substrate. Just simply wedge it between rocks. If you do want to bury the roots you need to make sure that the rhizome is left alone. These may rot when buried in the substrate.

If you want to get a CO2 injection kit this plant will love you for it. It isn’t a must but will really help the growth. All this plant really needs is a quality fish safe fertilizer to keep it at it’s best.

Unlike the Java Fern and Java Moss this plant like a brighter light. Having said this it will do fine in a low light tank too. It will just grow slower. This plant is a slow grower anyway.

Now You Know How To Keep Live Plants In An Aquarium It’s Over To You…

Now that you have had a primer in to live plants it is over to you. As you can see there are a lot of easy to care for plants that will provide a delicious treat as well as shelter for your fish.

To get you started Java fern and Java Moss are perfect because they are super low maintenance. Simply wedge them and let them attach themselves to the substrate and then add a quality fertilizer when you do your water change.

Light is a big consideration with some species of plants. Always check what lighting conditions your dream plant needs before you go and buy.

Are you ready to take the plunge into the world of living plants? You now know how to keep live plants in an aquarium so what are you waiting for.

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