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Pretty much all tropical fish species recommended to aquarists come from natural habitats filled with plants, and you can be sure the fish and invertebrates you chose will enjoy having plants as part of the ecosystem. When you visit shops that carry high-quality freshwater aquarium supplies, their showcase tanks are invariably planted because they simply look better. However, the benefits of planted tanks go far beyond aesthetics. We’ll list a few reasons you should aim for at least 40 percent plant coverage in your tank, but we’ll also mention some caveats related to species that may be challenging to keep in a planted tank.
Why Fish Love Plants
Aside from the fact that plants can be found in just about any aquatic habitat, fish enjoy plants because they provide nourishment, hiding spots, sanctuary for breeding, and territorial boundaries. Fish that are confined to tanks without plants tend to get stressed out because such an environment feels completely unnatural. When fish nibble on plants, they’re, in fact, snacking. Territorial or shy species that need to establish distance from tankmates can do so behind plants.
Plants Improve Water Biochemistry
Aquarists who plan on keeping larger species such as Oscars will need as much dissolved oxygen in the water as possible. Larger tanks with powerful aerators will provide more oxygen to the water column, but this is mostly a mechanical solution. Plants feed on carbon dioxide, and the byproduct of this feeding process is dissolved oxygen molecules, which are crucial for the healthy development of large fish. Just so you know, when choosing large fish for your planted aquarium you should only pick out the hardiest varieties.
Plants Help with Tank Cleaning
Any aquarium that gets direct sunlight for at least an hour on a daily basis needs to be planted. Otherwise, algae blooms will become a cleaning nightmare. Aquatic plants compete with algae for nutrients, which means algal spores will have reduced opportunities to grow and develop into protist lifeforms. If you opt for plastic plants in a tank that gets afternoon sunshine, you’ll need to scrape the tank walls and do water changes with greater frequency.
Fish Species Known to Devour Plants
All fish enjoy plants, but some species are known to be problematic in lushly planted tanks. Some aquascaping enthusiasts play it safe by planting lush gardens stocked with a small school of species such as tetras that won’t go crazy munching on all plants. Common goldfish will tear into most plants unless they’re Anubias or water canes. Silver dollars are also voracious plant eaters, but they won’t be able to keep up with the fast growth of duckweed and Java moss. Finally, the Buenos Aires tetra, also known as Red Cross tetra, will quickly devour all plants with the exception of Anubias and Java ferns.
Whatever you need to properly care for your freshwater planted aquarium can be found at Aquatic Warehouse. We’re also a leading provider of saltwater aquarium supplies and pond equipment. Stop by our store in Kearny Mesa to get your supplies, or order them online from our website and have them shipped to you. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call 858-467-9297 to speak with one of our friendly aquatic experts.