Aquarium plants are an essential element of any aquarium. If the aquarium is beautifully and tastefully decorated with plants, it will become a real decoration. The appearance of the aquarium is determined precisely by plants. The lush thickets of aquatic plants, located in the water column, create new specific possibilities of spatial arrangement, inherent only in the water element. By changing the direction and intensity of light sources, you can force plants to change the color of the leaves and their orientation in accordance with the composition you have conceived. The optimal selection of aquarium plants allows you to create a beautiful underwater landscape without excessive care efforts and additional costs.
The biological role of aquarium plants
Aquarium plants perform not only a decorative role. They establish the biological balance of the aquatic environment, enrich the water with oxygen, play an important role in the metabolism necessary for the vital activity of fish and the plants themselves.
For the amount of oxygen entering the water, the common surface of aquatic plants is crucial, not broadleaf plants, but, on the contrary, plants with many thin cirrus leaves – such as Cabomba, yarrow, Egeria, Javanese, and Indian water ferns – have a more extensive surface.
Another important task performed by aquarium plants is the purification of water. Unlike many terrestrial plants, water inhabitants have the ability to absorb minerals not only roots but also special pores on the leaves.
Some plants reduce the hardness of water and absorb calcium, being a kind of filter. Thus, aquarium plants play an important role in maintaining biological balance in the aquatic environment of the aquarium.
The value of plants for aquarium fish
For many species of fish, plants are simply necessary during the spawning period, as they lay eggs on the leaves of plants or in safe dense thickets. Some plant elements are used to build the nest. After spawning, floating algae serve as a refuge for fry.
For herbivorous fish, algae are the main food, and for omnivores – a vitamin supplement in the diet. Plants, bringing the aquarium closer to a more natural habitat, encourage fish to a more complete manifestation of their behavior.
According to the shape of plants and the features of their placement in the aquarium, aquarium plants can be divided into several groups:
The group of plants rooted in the soil includes plants with a well-developed root system. For them, the composition of the soil in the aquarium is important. Some types of plants are content with poor soil, while others need fertilizing with fertilizers. If spots, holes, and other defects begin to form on the leaves, then, therefore, the plant needs top dressing. For mineral dressing, you can use fertilizers for indoor flowers: 20 mg of potassium phosphate per 1 liter of water, you can add 5 g of magnesium sulfate per 100 liters of water.
These plants are characterized by a good development of the root system. They have a dense rhizome and well-developed leaves. For these plants, a soil layer of 5-10 cm is required.
Propagate vegetatively, as well as seeds and division of rhizomes. These include plants well-known to aquarists, such as Vallisneria, arrowhead, Nuphar, Spiderwort, and others. Many of them will give you a real aesthetic pleasure.
Plants floating in the water column
Plants in this group have a poorly developed root system, and sometimes it is completely absent. They have finely dissected leaves, which serve to absorb organic and inorganic compounds dissolved in water. The roots serve to strengthen the plant. Their roots are usually fibrous or creeping.
These plants actively saturate the water with oxygen, serve as a spawning ground and shelter for fry, and for some fish species, even a food supplement.
They need water filtration, as they are sensitive to contamination of their leaves and to temperature differences. Propagate usually vegetatively.
Plants floating on the surface of the water
Plants of this group are kept on the surface of the water. Sometimes their life can take place both in the water column and on the surface. For example, a Lemna trisulca rises to the surface of the water only during flowering.
Plants floating on the surface of the water perform several important tasks: they protect the aquarium from excessively bright sunlight, serve as a spawning ground for many fish, and contribute to biological balance in an artificial reservoir.
These ornamental plants can assimilate the waste products of fish, they can serve them to build nests, they can be a shelter for fry.
The leaves of this group are tender, with a large surface area. They reproduce perfectly vegetatively, grow very well. But these plants need diffused combined light.