Caring for Your Plants
1Prune plants that outgrow the tank so that they won’t decompose.Most plants grow quickly, so pruning will be a necessity. If the plant outgrows the tank, the part of the plant outside the cage will die. Use sharp scissors to carefully cut away the excess plant.
- As an alternative, you could choose slow-growing plants.
2Clean your water weekly to maintain the health of your tank.Plants do not need water changes as frequently as fish do, but regular changes will keep your aquarium healthy. First, scrape any algae from the sides of your tank. Use a siphon to remove 10 to 15% of your water, paying special attention to the gravel and area around your aquarium fixtures. Replace the water you removed with fresh, dechlorinated water.
- When using your siphon, don’t use it in the plant bed or you could accidentally kill your plants. Instead, keep it above the substrate.
- Shrimp and catfish both feed on algae, so they could make a good addition to your tank, depending on the other fish you’ve chosen.
- This is also called changing your water. Some people like to clean the entire tank every few months, but this can upset your tank’s ecosystem. It’s better to use filters and maintain a clean tank.
3Add fertilizer to speed up the growth and keep plants healthy.Your freshwater aquarium does not need fertilizer, especially if you have fish, which help fertilize the plants with their waste. However, fertilizer can help your plants grow better and can be worth the extra effort. There are several ways to fertilize your aquarium plants:
- You can add fluorite directly into the substrate, which provides iron and nutrients for the plants.
- Root tabs are placed near the roots of the plants that need to be anchored beneath the substrate. They will continually fertilize your plants for 2 to 3 months.
- If you prefer a liquid fertilizer, you can add it to your tank once or twice a week. Liquid fertilizer is great for plants that are not rooted in the substrate, such as those tied to rocks.
- A CO2 pump provides the plants with more CO2, which they absorb and convert to oxygen. If you have a high-light tank, it’s good to include more CO2 because light speeds up photosynthesis, meaning that your plants will convert CO2 to oxygen more quickly.
4Avoid letting plants that are not fully submerged dry out.If the plants dry out, they will die. To keep them healthy, store your plants in a bucket of fresh water. This is a great option if you are growing additional plants for your aquarium(s).
- You can store the plants in the bucket indefinitely if they have clean water and proper lighting. Plants that must be rooted in the substrate will need to be anchored if they are stored long-term. When storing your plants, clean your water weekly.