Tropical Aquarium - Live Plants
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Practically all tanks should have some live plants, not including the algae growth that will occur. Algae is a lower form of water plant without flowers and a simple structure. Algae blooms are usually caused by excessive amounts nitrate, phosphate, too much light, or exposure to sunlight.

Live plant have many benefits including:

Aquatic Plant Needs

There are basic needs that aquatic plants have starting with being firmly planted. Bury the roots in the gravel after cutting off any unhealthy roots. Then place the plant deep in the hole, fill in the hole, and pull the plant up a bit. Don't bury leaves, if there are some near the bottom cut them off. After they're planted you may need to increase or decrease the following factors as you watch the weekly progress of the plants. With all of these factors interacting it could be months before you reach a state of equilibrium.

Fluorescent Light: Get the type of bulb that is designed to stimulate aquatic plant growth. Then use it for 10 hours per day, setting up a timer would be ideal. Intensity depends on the plant and how deep it is in the water. Here are popular starting point guidelines based on light requirements: Carbon Dioxide: This is vital and if the amount produced by the fish is not enough then it may be added through carbon dioxide injection equipment into the water, especially if there are many plants. Low surface agitation should be maintained to lessen the oxygen [O2] and carbon dioxide [CO2] exchange, the plants will use the CO2 and produce the O2.

Fertilizer: Plants use nitrate as a fertilizer, but plant food may be introduced by using slow release fertilizers placed on the bottom. It's best to feed them little and often rather than a lot in a great while. Refer to the plant food manufacturer's recommendations if you use any.

Heat: In the ranges of 70°F to 86°F for most species.

How Many Plants

If you want to keep a few plants to help absorb the nitrate, reduce the amount algae, and make the aquarium look better. You can arrive at your ideal plant amount by first measuring the nitrates and scraping off the algae, then in a week take another nitrate reading and clean off the algae again. This will give you a feel for how fast the algae and nitrate grow. Second, add some plants and in a week see if the algae growth was less than the week without the plants. Then scrape it off again and add more plants, after a week take another measurement. You can keep doing this until the algae growth is very slow or not recognizable and the nitrate readings are about 10 ppm.

When to Fertilize

Here are some general guidelines for when to add plant fertilizer to your tank.
Aquatic Plant Information Table
Name Temperature
Range in °F
Minimum
Fluorescent Light
pH Picture Growth
Anubias Barteri 72 - 82 Low 6.0 - 7.5 Slow
Cabomba Caroliniana 72 - 82 Bright 6.5 - 7.2 Fast
Egeria Densa 50 - 79 Moderate 5 - 10 Fast
Sagittaria Subulata 68 - 82 Moderate 6.0 - 7.8 Fast
Shinnersia Rivularis 68 - 82 Moderate 5.5 - 7.5 Fast
Vallisneria Spiralis 59 - 86 Moderate 6.5 - 7.5 Fast
Hydrocotyle Leucocephala 59 - 82 Moderate 5 - 9 Fast
Cryptocoryne Willisii 68 - 86 Moderate 5.5 - 7 Slow
Anubias Afzelii 68 - 86 Low 5.5 - 8.0 Slow
Amazon Sword 72 - 82 Moderate 6.5 - 7.2 Medium

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