Many new hobbyists transition from keeping freshwater fish to a planted aquarium. This is often inspired by the fantastic planted aquarium images available, as well as the aim of keeping live plants that look more impressive than plastic plants and keep the aquarium healthier. Indeed, live plants benefit the aquarium by providing more natural refuges (and even food) for fish and fry, oxygenating the water by day, absorbing excess nutrients, and/or releasing allelochemical defenses that may, to some extent, control algae.
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Live Plants in a freshwater aquarium are a great addition to most tanks. Unfortunately there is a lot of information out there and it can be tough to figure out what all you really need to do to successfully grow live plants.
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You should buy live plants from dealers that offer healthy plants, if you start seeing yellow or rotting sections of plants within the store’s aquarium, start to think twice! All the plants in the store’s aquarium should be a healthy green with sturdy leaves and stems.
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But how about the plants? You started with a few and they seemed fine until now. However, it is very obvious they are not as realistic as you would have them to be and you are thinking about buying some live plants very soon. With all your dedication, this still may seem like a difficult task, but most aquarists feel the same way before they start taking care of real plants.Similar advances in technology and propagation, which have made the marine aquarium hobby easier, have also been developed for the live plant aquarist. With such innovation making live plant care easier today, the hobbyist must still have the proper understanding and equipment to be successful. Common ground for any aquarists is to keep a watchful eye on aquarium water conditions, feeding, lighting, and the growth and death of the animals and plants.Increased environmental awareness, and the push to find a new challenge or dimension to freshwater aquarists has rejuvenated the interest in keeping live plants in the aquarium. Commonly referred to as “Dutch Aquarium", this European concept is beginning to catch on in the U.S. For years, Europeans have kept indoor “water gardens” (aquariums) loaded with live plants, and displaying only a few fish to accent their garden. This approach is opposite from the traditional fish keeper who considered fish the primary attraction in the aquarium. It can be argued that a true fish keeper would be hard pressed to create a biologically-balanced ecosystem more beautiful than one that is well planted with live vegetation.Nutrients
Nitrates, found in fertilizers, are another substance plants use in photosynthesis. A working biological filtration system produces nitrates as a result of the nitrogen cycle (see “New Tank Water Conditions” tip sheet). Aquarium plants actually complete the nitrogen cycle by eliminating nitrates from the water. Consequently, live plants generally do not fare well in newly established aquarium conditions where nitrate levels are low. An alternative for new tanks is to supplement with a fertilizer containing nitrates.