When you are setting up a new aquarium, there is always the question of whether you should go for live aquarium plants or not. Real plants usually look better than fake plants and are a nice addition to most aquariums, but many aquarists worry that it is too difficult to keep them alive and so opt for the plastic version.
I’m a huge fan of real plants in aquariums myself, but for those who are still in doubt here’s a list of benefits that might convince you!
Fish love a planted tank
Fish and invertebrates such as shrimp love plants because they can hide among them, sleep on them and, in some cases, nibble on them between feedings. Plants imitate the natural habitat of many fish species and create darker areas in the tank for them to retreat to. This makes them feel safer and less stressed, which reduces the risk of stress-related diseases such as fin rot.
The right aquarium plants in the right place provide a beautiful picture
They provide color and depth and make the aquarium look natural. Of course can the ‘underwater garden effect’ be achieved with good quality fake plants, but usually see real plants are still just a little bit better. The Internet is full of breathtaking examples of what can be achieved with well-placed plants, so get inspired.
Plants absorb nitrates
The end product of the nitrogen cycle in your aquarium is nitrate. This is less toxic to fish than ammonia and nitrite, but if the concentration is too high it can still cause problems. Unfortunately, nitrates remain in the water until you do a water change or until you add aquarium plants!
Plants absorb some of the nitrates and use them as food, keeping the aquarium cleaner and the inhabitants healthier. Of course, the weekly water change still has to be done, but plants certainly contribute to a healthy aquarium.
Plants encourage cultivation
Many fish species like to hide their eggs between the plants and therefore breed less quickly if there are only stones (or luminous bubbling castles and the like) in the tank. If you want to breed your fish or encourage their natural mating behaviour, which is very interesting to watch in many species , plants can help. The fish will then feel more at ease and have a place to lay the eggs.
Leftover cuttings can often be sold
If your plants take off, you will notice that after maintenance you will increasingly end up with cuttings that you do not have room for. These can often be sold through aquarium forums or Marktplaats (if packaged properly, you can easily send them by post). Local pet/aquarium shops also often give a small fee or discount if you bring unnecessary plants. And what to do with that money? Buy other plants of course!
Aquarium plants provide depth and color, absorb nitrates, make fish feel safer and help encourage natural mating behaviour. For me the choice was easy – all my boxes are planted. If you’re still in doubt, here’s a list of the easiest aquarium plants!
If you have any questions about planted containers or want to share your experiences, leave a comment below!