Planted aquariums can be a beautiful addition to your home, but the plants require regular maintenance to keep them looking their best. Trimming The thing about aquatic plants is that you can’t prune them continuously and expect new shoots. Aquatic plant species are always in the process of shedding old growth to put energy into new shoots and leaves. If you trim the top of your stem plants to keep them short, eventually those old stems might not provide any new growth as they will be too far-gone to do much of anything.
So - you’ve started a new planted aquarium, it’s cycling away, you’ve put in some plants and hardscape and everything is looking great. Then one day you look in to admire your hard work and there is algae on your leaves, diatoms on your substrate, and generally things just look like a huge mess. Your immediate reaction will be to make some changes to your lighting, or your fertilisation, or throw in some algaecide, maybe mess with some other parameters you feel might be the root of the issue. But wait! Sometimes the key to beating algae is to simply just wait it out.
Have you put any plants in your aquarium? Then start dosing! Even if you have a nutrient-rich substrate, such as aquasoil or a DIY dirted solution, you need to dose liquid fertiliser to your water column. Why is that? These enriched substrates do hold a lot of nutrients and will be leeching ammonia and/or nitrates for the first few weeks after setting up your aquarium, but won’t be doing so at a rate sufficient for your plants’ needs. These substrates typically don’t supply enough potassium or micronutrients in the early stages either.
Avoiding Non-Aquatic Plants It’s a common mistake for beginners. You buy an attractive plant from the pet shop, bring it home and plant it in your aquarium, only for it to start rotting away over the course of a week or two. You assume you’ve done something wrong and try again, only to have the plant die again – so frustrating! The fact is that many pet shops sell plants that are not aquatic species alongside those that are. The non-aquatic plants will alwaysdie when placed submerged in water, sometimes quickly, sometimes over a few weeks.
Growing great carpet plants in a low tech set up, it’s a little more difficult, but not impossible! With the correct plant choices and a suitable low-tech setup, you too can have a carpet in your planted tank. Choose the right carpeting species for your tank size and lighting then follow these recommendations for the best chance of success. You can grow a carpet in low-tech, you just need to provide the right conditions!
Some varieties of “red” plants only reach their full colouration when availability of nitrate in the water column is limited. This is because a lack of nitrogen delays the development of chlorophyll, which is what makes leaves appear green. Without the chlorophyll, red or orange plants can become more intensely coloured. Species such as Rotala and its variants, Hygrophila pinnatifida and Araguaia, Ludwigia arcuata and Ludwigia brevipes (among others) will only reach this deep red or orange colouration under nitrate limitation. Nitrate limitation doesn’t work for all red plants - colouration of other species such as Alternanthera reineckii and Ludwigia sp. Red are not affected by nitrate limitation and rely more on other factors such as CO2, light intensity and spectrum.
Making upgrades to tank equipment or changing to better quality fertilisers is always exciting. You expect an improvement in your plants – better or faster growth, brighter colours – but sometimes they unexpectedly start looking worse! It can be puzzling to see your plants suddenly begin deteriorating rapidly when you imagined they would be growing vigorously under these new and improved conditions. Why is this happening? Shouldn’t the plants be happy?
Root tab fertilisation vs Water Column Fertilisation - what do you need? Some great options either way for fertilising your plants. Read on to understand the variations and needs that best suit your tank. Once established, your tanks needs will change so keep assessing and adjusting as needed.
Beginner planted tank hobbyists will often set up their aquarium to look visually appealing to them, without taking into consideration a few of the most important factors. They tip in some gravel, put a big piece of hardscape in the middle, fill out the tank with slow growing plants and put on a HOB filter. Job done, right? The fact is that sometimes tanks set up in this basic way can survive and even thrive long term, but more often than not you will encounter frequent problems and struggle to keep the system healthy day to day.
Most planted tank keepers would agree that a depth of around 6cm is ideal for plants to develop healthy root systems. You can have very thin substrate in areas but a lot of plants will not root into these areas and will continuously float out, so plan the layout of your plants carefully if you want to have shallow areas.
Planted aquariums can be a beautiful addition to your home, but the plants require regular maintenance to keep them looking their best. The thing about aquatic plants is that you can’t prune them continuously and expect new shoots. Aquatic plant species are always in the process of shedding old growth to put energy into new shoots and leaves. If you trim the top of your stem plants to keep them short, eventually those old stems might not provide any new growth as they will be too far-gone to do much of anything.
Anubias, Java Fern and Buce are attractive slow-growing plants, often praised for their hardy leaves and relative ease of care. They flourish in a variety of water types and are tolerant of most lighting levels, growing happily even in very low light. Their slow growth speed makes their demand for nutrients low, requiring very little care for beautiful results.