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Keeping live plants in a freshwater aquarium is one of the smartest things you can do for all the species in your enclosed aquatic ecosystem. While some of the artificial plants you can get for freshwater tanks these days look just like their real counterparts, you would be doing your fish, invertebrates, and microorganisms a disservice by opting for fake plastic plants. There’s more than just aesthetics involved when caring for aquarium plants. Let’s take a look at all the benefits plants provide to freshwater habitats.
Chemical Water Oxygenation
You should always keep optimal levels of dissolved oxygen in a freshwater tank. It’s generally accepted that 5 parts per million is a healthy level that can be achieved with a combination of mechanical and chemical oxygenation. The mechanical process of aeration is mainly taken care of by the air pump, although you can also use a spray bar to cause more agitation of water molecules. Plants provide chemical oxygenation through the photosynthesis process, which takes carbon dioxide fish exhale and converts it into dissolved oxygen molecules. In other words, fish and invertebrates will breathe easier in a planted habitat.
A More Natural Ecosystem
Freshwater fish make up about half of aquatic species, and they mostly live in habitats where they enjoy the company of plants. In fact, if you take a species count in a body of water such as a stream, you’ll find greater biodiversity of plants compared to fish. The aquarium hobby is all about trying to recreate natural habitats, and one of the best ways to do so is by keeping plants. All other species in your tank will appreciate having plants as part of their ecosystem. Remember to plant fast-growing plants that root from the stems. These plants (macroalgae) will compete for nutrients that the undesirable nuisance algae (microalgae) need to grow.
Keeping Algae Bloom Under Control
Let’s say the only spot in your home where you can set up your freshwater tank is exposed to direct sunlight a few hours each day. This isn’t the most ideal situation because of the excessive photosynthesis, which will result in algae growth and require more frequent water changes and overall maintenance. However, having a couple dozen plants in the aquarium can help you reduce the risk of a potential algae bloom. Plants consume the same nutrients that contribute to algae growth, and they’ll usually get to them first. A couple of algivorous fish and some plants can go a long way in terms of keeping freshwater tanks algae-free.
Nourishment and Sanctuary
Herbivorous and omnivorous fish will nibble on aquatic plants whenever there’s no food in the tank, or they may do so as a form of snacking. Moreover, plants have natural antibiotics in their cells and also serve as hiding spots for timid or territorial species that don’t get along with their aquarium pets. Some schooling fish such as neon tetras seek the protection of plants when they sleep at night.
To properly care for the plants and fish in your aquarium, you need all the essential freshwater aquarium supplies. At Aquatic Warehouse, we have everything you need for a freshwater tank, saltwater aquarium, or garden pond. Come stop by our store in Kearny Mesa, order what you need from our website, or give us a call at 858-467-9297.