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    Aquarium Plants General CareSheet Part 1

    Metal Maniac
    Metal Maniac

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    Aquarium Plants General CareSheet Part 1 Empty Aquarium Plants General CareSheet Part 1

    Post by Metal Maniac on Sat 04 Apr 2009, 00:22

    Aquarium Plants General CareSheet Part 1


    Live aquarium plants are a worthwhile addition to the fish tank. In a well planted tank, the fish have better colors, live a more natural life, and appear more comfortable than in an unplanted tank. Though they need more care than plastic replicas, live plants can be kept with few problems as long as there is plenty of light and no plant-eating or plant-destroying fish.


    Photosynthesis is the process by which plants convert carbon dioxide gas and water are converted with the help of light energy into glucose (energy) and oxygen gas. This process can be expressed in the equation:

    6CO2 + 6H2O + sunlight => C6H12O6 + 6O2

    Thus in an aquarium during the day, plants use the carbon dioxide, produced by fish, and water to produce oxygen and energy. The oxygen is used by fish for respiration. At night, there is no sunlight or artificial for the plants to carry out photosynthesis, so the plants must rely on respiration to make energy. So, plants take in oxygen and produce carbon dioxide. Because of nighttime plant respiration, the carbon dioxide level in an aquarium rises at night, but once the light is turned on, the carbon dioxide levels drop due to plant photosynthesis.


    Follow the suggestions under "Gravel" in theaquarium section for gravel set-up. In most cases, plants do best in fine gravel with some sort of base fertilizer. Base fertilizer is not required, but is recommended. Iron rich clay fertilizers like laterite, and other fertilizers manufactured for aquatic plants are suitable.


    One of the most important ingredients to a successful plant aquarium is strong lighting. As a general rule, 2-3 watts per gallon is sufficient for a well-planted aquarium. Often light is measured on a scale of lux. The following table gives the light requirements in terms of lux for plants growing at different water levels:

    Light Type Lux Watt/G Examples
    subdued 100-500 1-2 Cryptocoryne, Vesicularia dubyana
    moderate 500-1000 2-2.5 Sagittaria, Echinodorus
    bright 1000-1500 2.5-3 Aponogeton, Bacopa
    very bright 1500+ 3+ Cabomba, Lemma, Salvinia

    Fluorescent bulbs have proven to be the most practical bulb for lighting planted tanks. However, in tanks deeper than 20" (50 cm), most fluorescent bulbs are not strong enough to illuminate the tank sufficiently, so mercury vapor lamps can be used. For mercury vapor lamps, use about 6.25 watts per inch (2.5 cm) of tank length.

    Be aware that the intensity of fluorescent tubes decreases subtly, with time. Thus one tube should be replaced every six months.


    Most aquarium plants can be kept in water with a hardness from 4-12 dH, and a pH from 6.5-7.2. For specific species, see the individual descriptions. The water should be kept as clean and clear as possible because free debris can settle on plant leaves or cloud the water, interfering with light intensity. Very few aquatic plant species can survive in brackish water.


    Plants require macro- and micro nutrients to grow. Macro nutrients are substances that are required in relatively large amounts such as nitrates, phosphates, and sulfates. These nutrients usually occur naturally in the aquarium from tap water and fish. When these levels rise to excessive amounts, an "algae bloom" can result. Nitrate levels rise do to their production by fish. Thus these macro nutrients need not be added to the aquarium.

    Micro nutrients are elements that are required in trace amounts. Micro nutrients important to plants include copper, iron, manganese, boron, zinc, and calcium. These elements are needed in only the smallest amounts, and excess can prove harmful.

    The following table reviews some of the major nutrients important to aquatic plant growth. (The macro nutrients are marked with an asterisk*)

    Nutrient - Function

    Carbon* - the basic block of carbohydrates, which plants use for energy
    Oxygen* - important in plant respiration at night
    Hydrogen - (in the form of water) is needed for nutrient transport, among other functions
    Nitrogen* - (usually in the form of ammonia or nitrate) necessary for protein synthesis
    Phosphorous* - promotes flower development
    Sulfur* - used in protein synthesis
    Iron - used in chloroplast formation (chloroplasts are the structure in which photosynthesis occurs.

    When there is a deficiency of nutrients, the plants suffer. If the leaves yellow faster than usual, there could be a deficiency of nitrogen or sulfur. If the leaves yellow starting at the tips or the leafs seem especially brittle, an iron deficiency should be suspect. Evidence of an over fertilization of iron or a manganese, phosphorous, or potassium deficiency is yellow spots on the leaves.


    Because macro nutrients are usually available naturally in tanks, an all-around plant fertilizer cannot be recommended for aquarium plants. Instead use preparations of "trace elements" which are specially prepared for aquatic plants and are widely available in pet stores. Never overdose with a fertilizer because plants and fish can be damaged. Do not purchase a fertilizer than includes phosphate or nitrate, because horrible algae problems may arise. Fertilizers are commonly available in liquid and pelleted forms.

    Carbon dioxide

    Carbon dioxide is used by plants for photosynthesis and is a fundamental compound to the success of a planted aquarium. Carbon dioxide is present in aquariums as a byproduct of fish respiration and nitrification, and dissolved in the water from the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide levels should range from 5-15 Mg/l, once the level surpasses 20 Mg/l, fish may be harmed. Remember that aerating the water quickly causes carbon dioxide levels to decrease. If the tank is heavily planted and lightly stocked with fish, or if the water is hard, carbon dioxide fertilization may be necessary. However, carbon dioxide fertilization is usually not required for a beautifully planted aquarium. Carbon dioxide can be added to the fish tank using a carbon dioxide fertilizing system. Carbon dioxide fertilization is more popular outside the United States than it is within.


    Almost any filtration system (mentioned in theaquarium section) will work in a plant tank. The main requirements of the filtration system are: 1) that it does not create much water disturbance, because precious carbon dioxide will be lost; (2) that the filter remove floating particles that may block the lighting or settle on plant leaves; (3) and that the filter create some current to keep nutrients moving through the water and to prevent debris from settling on leaves.

    Undergravel filters are not the best choice because the air bubbles create surface disturbance and the filter plate limits substrate size and composition.

    ...cont in next thread

      Current date/time is Fri 13 Dec 2019, 07:49