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Choose Wisely When Mixing Fish And Aquarium Plants

Aquarium plants provide many benefits for your fish. Learn which fish are safe to mix with aquarium plants and which ones you'll want to avoid.


aquarium plants xs 19488231Nothing is quite as lovely as a tank full of vibrant and healthy aquarium plants. In the home aquarium, live plants provide numerous benefits in addition to increasing the aesthetic appeal of your tank. Live plants provide natural hiding places for fish while helping to conceal in-tank equipment like submersible heaters and filter intake tubes. Because live plants are such a valuable asset in the home aquarium you should do everything you can to make sure your plants stay healthy. In addition to providing adequate lighting and nutrition, you also need to ensure that the fish with which you are stocking your tank will not uproot, damage or consume your plants.

Benefits of Live Plants in the Home Aquarium

discus 000000121652xsmallIf you have ever wandered through the aquarium supply aisle at your local pet store you have probably noticed a stark difference between the appearance of live and artificial aquarium plants. Artificial plants often appear stiff and unrealistic – even those which do not come in bright, neon colors. Live aquarium plants make your tank look more authentic, which is a benefit that not only adds to your enjoyment of the tank, but also makes it a more natural environment for your fish. The more your tank mimics the native habitat of your fish, the more likely your fish are to thrive.

The benefits of live aquarium plants versus artificial plants are not limited to aesthetics. In the home aquarium, live plants help to oxygenate the water and help to control algae growth by competing with algae for nutrients. Live plants can also play a major role in maintaining the nitrogen cycle by harboring colonies of beneficial bacteria which are necessary to break down toxins like ammonia into less harmful nitrates.

Fish That Eat Aquarium Plants

pacu xs 1351013While many species of fish may occasionally nibble on aquarium plants, few species will actually eat them. In most cases, your fish are picking off bits of algae or sunken fish food from among the leaves of your plants – they are not eating the plants themselves. Some species of fish, however, are notorious for having a tendency to devour live plants. Chief among these plant-eating species are Silver Dollar fish. These fish have been known to decimate entire planted tanks in a matter of days. Other species like Gouramis and Cichlids have been known to uproot plants while digging through aquarium substrate. Algae eaters like Plecostomus, and bottom feeders such as Loaches, have a tendency to chew holes in live plants as well.

Safe Fish for Planted Tanks

Most community fish are unlikely to eat aquarium plants, though they may appear to nibble on them from time to time. Some small species of fish that are safe for planted tanks include Barbs, Tetras, Danios, Platies and Guppies. Bottom feeders like Catfish, Corydoras and Gobies are also safe for planted tanks in addition to Discus fish and Dwarf Gouramis. Though these fish may not feed on the live plants in your tank, tetras cardinal xs 19751135fresh vegetation is an important part of their diet that you need to supply. Offer your fish fresh vegetables like cucumber, lettuce, zucchini and shelled peas. If you find that your fish are still tempted to eat your aquarium plants, consider adding some fast-growing plants like Hygrophila or Duckweed that will provide your fish with a constant supply of vegetation so they will not be tempted to eat your other plants.


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