Plants in your freshwater aquarium are an essential element that should be introduced about a week before you acclimate your starter fish in a new aquarium. In addition to the oxygen plants put in the water, plants chemically process the waste (nitrogen cycle, see water chemistry). Thus they are another means of naturally regulating your water chemistry to successfully support a community or a family of fish.
Plants also serve as a food source or grazing area for food sources, while also as shelter for fry fish. Plants also many times the form of transport for those algae and organisms that feed fry fish.
Unfortunately, plants are also transportation for many unwanted passengers, such as snails, snail eggs, hydra, Planaria worms and others, so you should dip your plants and look carefully for unwanted hitchhikers. A flash dip in some (brine shrimp hatching strength) salt water for a few minutes, or a brief soak in a solution of cupric sulfate pentahydrate (SnailRid) will usually take care of most unwanted invertebrates problems.
Common Plant Species:
There are many varieties of aquarium plants from around the world that are available through your local fish shop (LFS) or on-line through us and our affiliate shops.
Your choice of plants for your aquarium should reflect the area from which your fish originate, as much as may be possible. Remember your fish will be healthier and more likely to spawn the more closely you can simulate the natural environment from where they originate. An example might be Amazon Sword Plants in a tank of Angelfish, Discus or Tetras from the Amazon River. Angelfish and Discus spawn on wide leaf plants, so an Amazon Sword Plant is a very good choice for these South American cichlids.
However, if you are using plants for fish spawning and fry shelter, you can do some things such as floating or anchoring tall clusters of Cobomba, or similar, when breeding Killifish in the Aphyosemion (Chroma) group as an idea. If your fish spawn and the fry tend to stay near the bottom, java moss would be a good choice, etc. Even when doing substitutions of plants not native to the area of your fish, these plants, in most cases, are better than no plants.
Click here for a description of the most commonly available aquarium plants.
Excellent Books About Aquarium Plants:
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