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Whether you keep freshwater or saltwater fish, adding live plants to their habitat is one of the best things you can do in terms of balancing the ecosystem. All the ornamental fish species kept in aquariums are used to having aquatic plants in their natural habitats. This is the main reason you should keep plants, but there are a few other important benefits as well. Plants provide shelter, nourishment, and biochemical oxygenation of the water column. Plus, they reduce algae growth. When you’re ready to introduce new plants to your tank, there are a few things to keep in mind with regard to preparation.
Considering Biological Safety
The source of your new aquatic plants is irrelevant when thinking about the safety of the enclosed ecosystem you’ve established. There’s a good chance plants from your local aquarium shop are safer than those you pull out from a nearby stream, but this shouldn’t exclude them from the quarantine and preparation process. It’s too easy for bacteria and other potential parasites to hitch a ride on aquatic plants. It’s better to take precautions even if your new plants come from an aquarium supplier that specializes in aquascaping.
Inspecting Each Plant
Snails and their eggs are fairly easy to recognize and remove from new plants. The problem with snails is that they reproduce quite rapidly and may become an infestation nuisance. Plus, some of them may host harmful bacteria. Check the stems and the bottom part of leaves for juvenile snails or a cluster of eggs covered in a yellowish goo. Damselfly larvae are also easy to spot on aquatic plants with roots. These creatures can be manually removed with tweezers before or after the initial rinse. If you notice leaves covered in brown algae, it’s better to clip them off.
Rinsing New Plants
Unless your new plants are exotics or known to be extremely delicate, use chlorinated tap water to rinse them off after visual inspection. This initial rinse should consist of soaking the plants in a bucket instead of holding them under the faucet or hosing them off, and it shouldn’t last longer than two minutes. A disinfection rinse in a 1:20 mix of bleach and water for about 20 seconds should only be done if the plants didn’t pass visual inspection, or if they come from natural habitats. The final soaking rinse is done in a bucket with water that has been dechlorinated with conditioner.
Using Quarantine Tanks
Seasoned aquarists often have a second tank they can use to quarantine new species, and this includes plants. The idea is to monitor the water chemistry levels after plants have been rinsed and disinfected. This quarantine period can last between one and three weeks. In the case of plants that are more delicate, you can gradually add cups of established water from the main tank to see how the plants react.
If you need beautiful, healthy plants for your saltwater or freshwater aquarium, Aquatic Warehouse offers an incredible and massive selection. We can also provide you with any of the essential supplies to properly maintain your tank. Stop by our store in Kearny Mesa, or order what you need from our website. If you have any questions, please give us a call today at 858-467-9297.