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Each year, aquarists who put together the most gorgeous tanks enter the International Aquascaping Contest organized by the Aquatic Gardeners Association. Whenever you’re looking for ideas on how your tank should look, you should search online for pictures of the aquariums that took prizes in this contest. Invariably, you’ll notice their aquatic plant diversity is what makes them look amazing. You can never go wrong with freshwater planted aquariums because they look better, balance the biochemistry of the tank, make fish happier, and can even serve as nourishment. With this in mind, let’s review five tips you can follow when caring for aquatic plants.
1. Start the Nitrogen Cycle with Plants
The best time to add plants to a fish tank is right at the beginning and before Nitrobacter colonies settle. This is the most highly recommended method of establishing an aquarium, but it also calls for patience and diligence because you may have to wait four to five weeks before stocking the tank with invertebrates and fish. This recommendation applies to freshwater and saltwater tanks alike.
2. Provide a Good Source of Light
Aquatic plant species will thrive as long as you can facilitate the photosynthesis process, which means providing a reliable source of light. Direct sunlight isn’t recommended unless you can commit to a very frequent schedule of cleaning and maintenance to prevent algae bloom. LED aquarium lights are your best bet, particularly those that are specifically made for planted tanks. Indirect sunlight is a good source, but modern LED lights are better.
3. Dose the Tank with Plant Supplements
When you’re establishing a tank or introducing new plant species, you should provide additional carbon dioxide. Aquatic plant supplements are often sold as “liquid carbon” (like SeaChem Excel), and they include additional nutrients such as enzymes. Once the plants have received the recommended dose, it’s important to add it every day, or better yet—use a CO2 regulator.
4. Don’t Use Fertilizer from Day One
Plants that look healthy from the moment you get them don’t need additional nutrients. Whether you pulled plants from a natural habitat or purchased them from an aquarium shop, you can be sure they had access to nutrients if they have a nice appearance. Monitor the health of the plants in the tank after you introduce them. Most won’t need fertilizer for their first couple of weeks, depending on the aquarium plant soil you choose.
5. Quarantine New Plants
Before introducing new plants to a tank that’s already established, you could put them under quarantine so you don’t end up introducing pesticides, parasites, and other pathogens, though a small snail you might see pop up is no big deal if you remove it when you see it. But if you do want to quarantine, set up a container filled with dechlorinated water and a few drops of bleach. Let the plants soak for about a minute and rinse them off with aquarium water that you intend to change. It’s a good idea to set up a separate quarantine tank with just one resilient fish and the new plants so you can monitor their health.
To properly care for the plants and fish in your aquarium, you need all the essential saltwater or freshwater aquarium supplies. Aquatic Warehouse has got you covered. Come see us at our store in Kearny Mesa, order your supplies from our website, or call us today at 858-467-9297 with any questions.