Live freshwater plants look beautiful and help to clean the aquarium water. What is necessary for live plants to thrive in your freshwater tank? Here are four factors you should consider.
Before you add plants to your aquarium make sure that the fish you have are compatible with plants. Many fish, including Goldfish and most Cichlids, will eat plants. If you have some fish that are known to nip at plants, but would still like to have some plants, then start with thicker leafed plants like Java Ferns and Anubais.
All plants need light. Faster growing plants need lots of light to continue to stay healthy and grow at a normal rate. Slow growing plants have lower light demands because they donít need to support fast growth. Some of the low light plants can be more expensive because it takes more time for the plants to be grown out for sale. Some good slow growing plants for low light tanks include Swords, Anubais, Java Ferns, Mosses, and Cryptocorynes.
If the light you use does not have timer capabilities, it is a good idea to use a timer like a Coralife Digital Power Center Timer
to ensure that your plants receive a consistent amount of light each day.
For planted tanks we recommend using:
- The Kessil A80 Tuna Sun LED Light
- The Kessil A160WE Tuna Sun LED Light
- The Fluval Fresh & Plant NEW 3.0 LED Aquarium Lights
To determine which lights you will need for your particular aquarium, consult our Planted Tank Lighting Chart
3. Additives: Fertilizers & Water Conditioners
All plants need nutrients to use as fertilizer. When you are starting out with plants, fish waste works as an excellent fertilizer. But if you are looking for a tank that has enough plants to be an underwater jungle then, it is likely that you will need to add additional fertilizers.
A good way to know if you need to add more fertilizers is by testing your nitrate level. You can use the Aquarium Pharmaceuticals (API) Nitrate NO3 Test Kit
to measure your nitrate levels. Nitrate should test between 5-10 ppm. If your nitrate is below this level then it is a sign that you need to add more fertilizers. We recommend Seachem Flourish
as a good all-in-one fertilizer for beginners. Flourish is a comprehensive fertilizer that adds nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and iron.
If you are using RO water, the reverse osmosis process will remove essential minerals. Brightwell Aquatics Remineraliz
is an additive for aquarists using RO water that adds essential minerals back to the water for plant health.
For those not using RO water, we recommend Kordon Amquel
. This water conditioner removes toxic chlorine from tap water.
All plants need CO2 to grow. If you start with just a few plants, you should not need to add any kind of CO2. But as your plants grow and you may need to add CO2. There are many excellent Complete CO2 Systems from Ista. For those intimidated by CO2, Seachem Flourish Excel is a liquid supplement that can replace CO2.