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KEEPING AQUARIUM PLANTS BY SOMEONE WHO HAS BEEN LUCKY KEEPING AQUARIUM
PLANTS
By Al Ridley
First published in the newsletter of The Kitchener-Waterloo Aquarium Society, Canada
Courtesy: Aquarticles
I was surprised at the number of people that approached me last meeting about plants. I have
always enjoyed keeping them as have several of my hobbyist friends but there never seemed to
be much passion with the exception of a couple of people. In this article I will tell you a little
about keeping and growing plants successfully, or at least what makes it successful for me.
First of all, let's discuss the need for plants in the aquarium. An aquarium without plants is like a
home without furniture. It is livable - but ugly, uncomfortable and inefficient. Live plants aid in
displaying fish giving them shelter and security. They provide shelter for baby fish, shy fish,
weak fish and females giving birth. They serve as food for vegetarian fish. They help prevent
green water by competing with the algae for nutrients in the water. Plants absorb carbon
dioxide and wastes and add oxygen to the water. They increase the surface area for algae, tiny
worms, rotifers and protozoa to grow and in turn provide live food for the fish in the tank. And
you thought that they just looked nice.
I prefer to pot most of my plants. The method is very simple and does not take a lot of time or
effort. First you need some sort of pot. This could be the plastic pots that your garden plants
come in, yoghurt containers, the bottom cut off a plastic pop bottle or small clay pots that you
can buy at most nurseries. If it is a plastic container, make sure that it is not toxic to your plants
or fish. Next get a bucket and add some water to it. Into the bucket add some potting soil. I
prefer to use Hillview Potting Soil as I have found that it is pure soil with nothing added. The
reason for mixing the soil and water together first is that if you do not saturate the soil and
drop the pot into the aquarium, you take the chance of the air in the soil exploding to the
surface and making a real mess of the aquarium. Believe me when I say that it can be very
frustrating if you rush the job and end up with a big mess. It has happened to me too many time
to count. Once the soil is moist (not like soup, more like Play Doh), fill your potting container
2/3rds full of soil. Take your finger and push it into the soil to create a small planting hole. Take
your plant and carefully insert the root system into the hole. Carefully fill the hole from the
sides, then add aquarium gravel to top up the container. Gently pull the plant upward until the
crown of the root is just visible at the gravel surface. I usually have a bucket of aquarium water
close by so that I can now submerse the potted plant for a few minutes prior to adding it to the
aquarium. This will allow any trapped air to escape and possibly prevent the grief that I was
talking about earlier. Now you can place the potted plant into the aquarium and enjoy. The
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