Live aquarium plants can be a beautiful addition to any aquarium, whether you have it stocked with fish or not. But many who have trouble keeping their plants alive finally give up populate their fish tank with artificial plants.
However, keeping underwater plants alive and healthy is not really that difficult, if you know what they like and need. It is important to know the main reasons why plants end up dying or not thriving well, so you can avoid those situations and maintain healthy ecosystem also for plants!
Not enough light
Light is very important to almost all plants. You can give all the fertilizer it can handle, but if you don’t give it enough light, it won’t survive for long. Most tanks these days either come with a light attached to the top or they come with pre-drilled holes that will allow you to install a light relatively easily. If not, most acrylic tanks will allow you to drill your own holes and set up your own lighting. Especially LED lights are a perfect choice as they don’t generate so much heat and there are also special grow lights which emit wavelengths needed for healthy photosynthesis.
Another perfectly good alternative to adding more light is simply to place your aquarium on the south side of your apartment or house, near a window where it will be sure to get plenty of light. However, direct exposure to sunlight could cause extensive algae problems.
Failure to secure the plant roots
If your plant has been doing well for a while, but all of a sudden the leaves begin to turn brown and fall off, it may be a simple matter of the roots had come loose. Roots often come loose in aquariums, especially if you have rowdy fish that love to dig. In this case, simply replant or reposition the plant making sure that the roots are well covered and secure.
If the plant is new, however, the browning leaves may simply be the plant adjusting to its new ecosystem. Most plants experience “environmental shock” when being transplanted from one place to a brand new place. Simply give it time to adjust and it should be fine.
Plants need room to grow. In a crowded aquarium, you have too many plants fighting for too few resources. Give plants plenty of room to grow by providing it with a large enough space to accommodate its future growth spurts. If it starts to get a bit unwieldy, it also helps to trim it every once in a while.
The wrong environment
Plants are living things. And like all living things they do better in some environments than in others. You may have fallen in love with the most perfect, beautiful tropical plant. But, if you live in the northern part of Alaska, chances are your plant is not going to survive. The situation could be exactly the same what comes to fish tanks. There could significant differences for example on water temperature, properties, and the whole ecosystem.
Many times the cause of a dying plant can be traced directly back to it not being right for the environment it has been moved to. Makes sure that plants are compatible with the ecosystem you have.
Buy only from shops who have enough knowledge about plants
Not all animal stores or fish stores are set up to deal with plants. To most of them, plants are just a sideline. One red flag is the number of plants that the store has for sale. If they have just a few types of plants and a rather small stock, odds are that they aren’t very knowledgeable about the types and their suitability.
If many of the plants that a store has are yellowing or brown, or if the plants seem to be loosely planted and not well cared for, it’s probably best to look elsewhere. The last thing that you want to do is to introduce a diseased plant into your aquarium!