Planted aquariums are some of the most beautiful fish tank types in the fishkeeping hobby. Many look like a work of art if setup correctly. There are many different plant species to choose from to populate the aquarium. However, not all plants in an aquarium are the same. Each one has specific needs in order to keep it happy and healthy. This guide will discuss 4 of the more difficult plants that are kept in a planted aquarium.
Dwarf Baby Tears
Dwarf Baby Tears are gorgeous foreground plants that carpet your aquarium’s substrate. They’re a fantastic way to make your planted fish tank full and vibrant with green color. It is also an excellent plant to use for spawning fish because the fish can hide their eggs within the leaves. However, they are a little more difficult to keep alive than other plants such as, Dwarf Hair Grass or Micro Sword. There are a few reasons that Dwarf Baby Tears are difficult to keep successfully in an aquarium.
The first and probably most important factor that makes these plants hard to keep alive is lighting. These plants require a higher amount of lighting than many others. Light intensity quickly diminishes in an aquarium the further it has to travel. The amount of light that reaches the bottom of your aquarium is a fraction of what is available at the surface.
Plants need to have proper water parameters to keep them alive. Most are pretty versatile and will do well in a range of water parameters. Dwarf Baby Tears do well in:
- Water Temperatures between 68 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit
- KH levels between 0 and 10
- pH levels between 5.0 and 7.5
Most plants will suffer in water that is to alkaline or water that is too hard. Keeping your KH and pH levels down is really important. Certain substrates and driftwood are used to help lower those levels.
Plants like Dwarf Baby Tears will most likely require added supplementation of nutrients. Plants require macronutrients such as: Nitrogen, Phosphorus and potassium to grow. They also require micronutrients like iron, copper and more. Creating a balance of nutrient levels and lighting are very important at keeping this plant alive. Supplements can be acquired usually in liquid or tablet form at many fish store and on online pet stores.
Dwarf Baby Tears will require CO2 supplementation to help them grow properly. CO2 can be acquired in liquid form or through direct injection (pressurized CO2). Liquid CO2 will become more expensive with larger aquariums and is not always consistent. Direct injection has a larger setup cost but will become cheaper overtime. It is also much better for larger aquariums. Be careful with CO2 because too much can have negative effects on any wildlife residing in the aquarium. It can suffocate the inhabitants of your fish tank!
The Glossostigma plant is also a very beautiful plant used in the aquarium hobby in foregrounds. Similar to Dwarf Baby Tears, the Glossostigma Plant carpets substrate under proper conditions. The bright green coloring of this plant will make any aquarium pop! Furthermore, this plant is excellent for shrimp tanks and fish tanks where fish breed and lay eggs.
Full spectrum lighting is important for this aquatic plant. It should receive high intensity lighting ranging from 5000K – 7000K. Like the Dwarf Baby Tears, Glossostigma need high lights because of how deep they are in the aquarium. The only time where they may do well under moderate lighting is if your aquarium is very shallow. Regardless, that is not always guaranteed.
Stable water parameters are important for fish but they are also important for plants. Constantly swinging parameters brings unnecessary stress. Glossostigma does well under the following water parameters:
- Water temperatures between 72 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit
- KH levels between 3 and 8
- pH levels between 6.0 and 7.5
This plant has a fairly nice range of water parameters it can reside in. Sadly, incredibly alkaline water will cause this plant to suffer severely. This plant will do well with many different species of tetras and shrimp because their water parameters usually line up well.
Just like the Dwarf Baby Tears, Glossostigma will require balance supplementation of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium. These supplements are commonly found in liquid form or in the form of tablets. Seachem Flourish is commonly used liquid supplement for planted aquariums.
CO2 supplementation is a must for the Glossostigma Plant. Liquid CO2 supplementation or direct injection (pressurized CO2) are both different ways of supplementing this plant CO2. Seachem’s Flourish Excel can be used for liquid CO2 but for larger aquariums direct injection (pressurized CO2) will be more cost effective and safer.
Madagascar Lace is a rare-ish freshwater plant that is often sought after in the fishkeeping hobby. It has wispy or “lace” like leaves that adds a very unique style to an aquarium. This midground plant is difficult to keep because of its lighting needs, husbandry requirements and supplemental requirements. However, its unique design really makes it a special plant.
Just like the other two plant species, the Madagascar Lace requires high lighting in the aquarium. Under great conditions it will flower regularly, so providing it with excellent lighting is a must!
The Madagascar Lace has more specific water parameters compared to the Dwarf Baby Tears and Glossostigma. It will do well in the following parameters:
- Water Temperatures between 72 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit
- KH between 3 and 6
- pH levels between 6.0 and 7.0
Being a more delicate plant, it is very important to keep water parameters within these ranges and also keeping them stable. Straying away from good water parameters may cause the leaves and bulbs of this plant to melt or deteriorate.
Besides regular supplementation, the Madagascar Lace should receive extra supplements of iron. Extra iron is needed to help keep the structure of its leaves. Seachem’s Flourish Iron is commonly used to provide extra iron into the water table for this plant. Other supplements such as Seachem’s Flourish or root tabs should benefit the Madagascar Lace.
The Madagascar Lace does not require as much CO2 supplementation as the Dwarf Baby Tears & Glossostigma. However, always consider providing CO2 supplementation because every plant can benefit from it. You can supplement the aquarium with Seachem’s Flourish Excel or pressurized CO2. As always, be mindful how much you dose because too much carbon dioxide can suffocate the inhabitants of your aquarium.
Ludwigia Peruensis as a whole is not incredibly hard to keep alive, however it may be a little more challenging to get those vibrant red and green colors. This midground plant is an excellent broadleaved addition to make any aquarium vibrant. This plant is amphibious, which means it will grow fully submersed or partially. I will discuss ways to keep this plant happy and glowing.
Probably the biggest deciding factor whether this plant will glow vibrantly is the amount of light it receives. If you want this plant to be more colorful, you will need to provide it with more lighting. Moderate light will help give it some color, but realistically giving it high light is ideal. Ludwigia Peruensis does not do very well under low light conditions.
Ludwigia Peruensis is quite a versatile plant and does well under a sizeable range of water parameters. To keep this plant growing well it is recommended to keep between the following parameters:
- Water temperatures between 72 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit
- KH between 3 and 8
- pH levels between 6.5 and 7.5
Just like the other plants in this list, keeping Ludwigia Peruensis in hard and alkaline water will most likely cause this plant to whither away and die. There are other plants that are more hardy such as java fern or annubias that may tolerate more intense water parameters but it’s never guaranteed.
This species of plant should be given general supplements that contain Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Postassium. Ludwigia Peruensis should also be given a supplement that is rich in iron, such as Seachems’s Flourish Iron. Both of these supplements will aid your plant in showing off those gorgeous and vibrant colors.
CO2 is not mandatory to keep this plant thriving. However, in order to achieve optimal growth Carbon Dioxide supplementation will be a must. As stated above, liquid supplementation may be adequate but pressurized supplementation is ideal for larger planted aquariums.
There are many different and unique aquatic plants that can be kept in a freshwater aquarium. Some are more tolerable and versatile but in this hobby I know we love to challenge ourselves and try caring for more difficult plant species. That is why I put together this guide, to showcase some of the plants that may be a little more challenging to keep. If these are a little too challenging for you, consider looking at my beginner plant guide.