Planted Aquariums

By: Jim S.

Absolutely Fish and the Planted AquariumA beacon of truth in the wilderness

showplant150 So you say that you’re an experienced freshwater hobbyist whose past attempts at growing aquarium plants have been less than successful. Or perhaps you’re a complete neophyte wondering whether or not live plants should be included in your first setup. Regardless of your status, have you visited your local retailers and been disappointed by their selections of plants and related supplies? Have your attempts to get information from those who work in these establishments convinced you that they barely know which end of a plant should be stuck in the gravel? Have you tried the mail order route and come away with a renewed understanding of the expression “Let the buyer beware”? If any (or all) of this describes your experiences with planted aquariums, fear not; Absolutely Fish stands ready to offer assistance.

At Absolutely Fish we have over 400 gallons of tank space devoted exclusively to the sale of live plants plus a 150 gallon planted display tank that will knock your socks off. (Absolutely Fish is not responsible for lost or damaged socks.) With so many plants typically on hand, you’ll find not only the “bread and butter” varieties but also many that are rare and unusual. Additionally we have everything else necessary to make your own planted tank a reality, from tanks and lighting to fertilizers and CO2 systems. We also have freshwater tropical fish, just in case you want to include a few of them as well.

Our knowledgeable staff can help beginners avoid needless difficulties. Some hobbyists, when attempting live plants for the first time, make the mistake of regarding the plants as just another tank decoration, akin to a ceramic lighthouse or a piece of driftwood. Most plants selected and maintained in this fashion decline and ultimately die, leading to the invalid conclusion that maintaining plants is too difficult for mere mortals to attempt. Consider that plants, like fish, are living things and as such have certain requirements that must be met for them to prosper. Consider also that typical freshwater setups and maintenance procedures, while perfectly adequate for fish, fall short in several key areas as far as plants are concerned. By addressing these shortcomings, particularly those related to lighting and the availability of nutrients, the hobbyist can greatly increase the likelihood of success.

fernonionBeyond the actual setup (tank, lighting, substrate, etc.), the selection of the plants themselves is critical. As George Washington said in his first inaugural address, “Never try to teach a pig to read… It wastes your time and annoys the pig.” These are truly words to live by and, if one is willing to overlook the fact that I made up the part about George Washington, ones that actually relate to the topic at hand. Attempting to grow certain “aquarium” plants underwater will inevitably prove frustrating to the hobbyist and fatal to the plants regardless of the tank setup. The reason for this is simple: they are not aquatic plants and therefore incapable of growing while submerged. Beginners are generally dismayed upon learning that the plants they purchased for their tank are doomed. As a general rule, if it looks like a houseplant it probably is. Specifically, plants with strongly variegated or shiny leaves should be viewed suspiciously.

Although the great majority of the plants at Absolutely Fish are truly aquatic, a few are best kept above water in a paludarium (a marsh tank). Regarding those plants that are truly appropriate for aquarium use, the earlier comparison between fish and plants remains instructive. Just as some fish are more easily cared for than others, aquarium plants run the gamut between very hardy and very fragile. When selecting plants take into account your tank setup, water conditions, and the amount of effort you’re likely to expend on tank maintenance. If you are in doubt as to a particular plant’s hardiness or suitability for life underwater, just ask. Above all else, come on down to Absolutely Fish right away (you can take a moment to turn off your computer first) and see for yourself why we are the premier source for plants and related supplies in the northeast. – James S.

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