Keeping live plants can be a new and interesting challenge for aquarists with any type of experience. For some, live plants are incredibly challenging to keep alive, while others with a green thumb, can keep them all thriving. There are plants available on the market for any experience level. If you have tried and given up on keeping live plants, consider trying again. This article will dive in and discuss some of the benefits of keeping aquatic plants in your aquarium.
Before we continue, let’s give a quick rundown of live plants in an aquarium. There are many different plant species to choose from in this hobby. Most, if not all will aid in keeping your aquarium healthy and beautiful. Not all plants are the same, some are incredibly easy to grow, while others need a little more knowledge. If you are new to plant keeping, check out this guide that will discuss plant species that are more beginner friendly. If you would like to dip your toes into more “expert” plants check out this article that lists a few plants that can be a challenge. Keeping live plants is exciting whether you are new or a veteran in this continuously evolving hobby.
1. Live Plants & Fish Health
Overall, growing live plants in an aquarium will help keep your fish healthier. Plants kept in an aquarium are a nice little food source for your fish, snails, shrimp and more. Also, in the wild, many fish take refuge within incredible masses of live plants. If something startles your fish they will more than likely dart to the nearest patch of wisteria or crypts that are growing in your fish tank.
The other benefit of keeping plants is that they take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen into the water throughout the day. For beginners, providing water movement (usually through filtration) is still a must because plants “breathe” at night. They will take in oxygen at night and release carbon dioxide. Usually, plants produce enough oxygen throughout the day to sustain the animals in the aquarium at night. If the aquarium is not well planted there is a possibility of suffocating your fish without additional water movement.
2. Keeping Your Water Parameters in Check
A well planted aquarium will most definitely help keep your aquarium’s water parameters in line. Fish food, fish poop and decaying plant matter will create nitrates and ammonia in your fish tank. Plants will help remove ammonia and nitrates from the water by absorbing them. Keep in mind, plants cannot do everything, regarding cleaning. It is still completely up to you as an aquarium keeper to guarantee water parameters are in check. Keeping live plants should not give the green light to ease up on aquarium husbandry or to carelessly overfeed the aquarium.
Because of their fantastic ability to absorb ammonia, nitrites and nitrates out of the water, plants are sometimes used to help speed up the nitrogen cycle. Remember, this hobby is all about patience and normally the nitrogen cycle will take about 4 – 6 weeks to complete. However, your live plants may shave off a little off that time.
3. Aesthetically Pleasing
Plastic plants are a nice and easy way to begin your fish keeping journey. A time will most likely come where plastic plants just aren’t enough. You’ll find yourself researching different plant species for an aquarium. This step is always fun and might be intimidating for newer aquarists. It is a great leap into aquarium keeping because although plastic plants are nice looking and easy to care for, nothing compares to live plants.
Keeping living plants in an aquarium will help your create a more natural look in your fish tank. There are only a few things that look nicer than a gorgeous mosaic of driftwood and plants in a aquarium.
There are probably plenty more benefits that live plants give in an aquarium setting. I am covering some of the biggest benefits of keeping them around. If you’re new to fishkeeping check out some easy to grow plants that do not require much fertilization and CO2 supplementation. If you’re an expert at aquarium keeping, you may have already known all of this information. Regardless, it is great review.