Aquatics Unlimited: Articles: Plants for the Fish Tank
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Plants for the "Fish Tank"

for the week of 6/11/98

You don't have to set up a "Natural Aquarium", complete with mega-lighting, CO2 injection, and Reverse Osmosis water supply to enjoy the beauty of living plants in the aquarium. Here are some favorites that do well under standard aquarium lighting and water conditions:

Green Hygro - Hygrophila polysperma - perhaps the most adaptable of aquarium plants, "Hygro" has light green leaves shaped somewhat like old airplane propellers arranged in pairs along a long vertical stem. It is usually sold as a bunch plant, and a pink-veined variety called "Sunset Hygro" is also available.

Water Wisteria - Hygrophila difformis - just as hardy as green hygro, but its lacy leaves give it a very different appearance. Available in bunches or sometimes in single stalks, Wisteria grows well even under the shade of other plants. If the stalks are planted horizontally, it can be used as a temporary foreground plant.

Anacharis - Egeria densa - also known as "Elodea," this plant's dark green color and rapid growth (up to an inch per day!) make it a best seller. Bunches are commonly sold for goldfish tanks, garden ponds, and for school science projects, in addition to those sold as aquarium plants.

Corkscrew Val - Vallisneria "spiralis" - one of the smaller of the grass-like plants, Corkscrew Val grows easily and reproduces by sending out "runners" from which baby plants grow. Eventually, a small "forest" of these twisted leaves takes over an area of the aquarium.

Jungle Val - Vallisneria gigantea - rather similar to Corkscrew, Jungle Val is much taller, wider, and with straighter leaves. It also reproduces by "runners," and is again easy to cultivate in quantity. Best for taller aquariums.

Amazon Swordplant - Echinodorus bleheri - another large but very hardy plant, the Amazon Sword makes a great centerpiece for larger aquariums, but can be kept in smaller tanks with moderate lighting for quite some time.

Water Sprite - Ceratopteris pteridoides - can be grown totally submerged, where it almost resembles celery, or floating, where its leaves look a bit fuller, perhaps like oak leaves, or emerged, where its leaves are thinner and more branhy. Its classic use is in guppy tanks, but thrives in most aquariums.

Apongeton - Apongeton undulatus - very fast growing plant with ruffled leaves, this common Apongeton grows from bulbs, which are sometimes sold barren as "Wonder Bulbs." After the period of rapid growth, plants often go dormant for a few weeks, then sprout up again.

Hornwort - Ceratophyllum demersum - this one's so easy, you don't even have to plant it! A branching stem plant with very fine, stiff, needle-like leaves, Hornwort develops no roots and simply floats at the surface of the aquarium.

Submitted by: Jim Kostich

"Tip of the week" appeared regularly in 1999 and 2000.

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