Can You Add Plants to an Established Aquarium?

How do you go about growing plants in an aquarium? If you are new to this, then you might be a little confused about the best way to start with, especially if you already have an established aquarium. Well, there is no need to worry as we have got all the answers for you.

Photo showing a tropical aquarium fish tank that is overrun with snails and guppies, being planted with artificial green plants. Pebbles and ornaments, including a resin shipwreck and ruins, are placed on the bottom, around the gravel.

Can You Add Plants to an Established Aquarium?

Yes, you can add plants to an established aquarium. With a little bit of planning and research, you will be able to create a thriving ecosystem in your tank that features both aquatic and land-based creatures. Before adding any plants, it is important to make sure that the tank is prepared properly and stocked with the correct fish species. Additionally, be sure to remove any floating objects ornaments that could interfere with root growth or disrupt the balance of the ecosystem.

What is an Established Aquarium?

An established aquarium is an aquarium that has been in use for some time and has had its fish population dialed in. This means that the tank is stocked with the right type of fish, there are no floating objects ornaments, and all surface decorations have been removed. In addition to being prepared properly, an established aquarium should also be kept at 78 degrees Fahrenheit (26 degrees Celsius) as this is the optimal water temperature for growing plants.

Decorative aquarium.

What Live Plants Can Be Added to an Aquarium?

The following are a few tips that will help you decide which plants can be added to your established tank:

  • Consider planting brightly colored plants that will draw attention away from the fish and provide visual interest for guests. Some favorites include swords, java ferns, and Java Moss (Anubias nana Variegata). Avoid adding any greenery that could compete with or obstruct the vision of your fish.
  • Choose aquatic plants that can grow in wet or dry conditions. Some great choices include Vallisneria, Elodea, and Brazilian swords.
  • Choose terrestrial plants that can be easy to care for and take well to different water temperatures (mid-range tank levels are ideal). Some popular choices include ferns such as New Zealand fern, Lady Fern, Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum), Philodendrons like Philodendron bipinnatifidum, and cacti such as Echeveria grandiflora.
  • Choose plants that can be combined to create multi-colored vertical gardens or mosaics. One example is using terrestrial Philodendrons with aquatic Vallisneria for an artificial waterfall effect.

How to Prepare Plants Before Putting in Aquarium?

First, you have to make sure to align the roots of the plant so they are all pointing in the same direction. Gently snap off any damaged or dead branches and trim away any excess that extends beyond 1 inch from the base of the plant. Fill a container with water and add a few drops of aquarium salt (or commercial plant fertilizer) to adjust pH as necessary. After that, place the plant into the container, making sure the root is fully submerged.

Submerge the container in a larger bucket of water and ensure that the plant is completely submerged. Finally, allow plants to soak for at least 24 hours before adding them to your aquarium.

The view of freshwater aquarium with tropical fishes, shrimps and water plants

How to Add Plants to an Established Aquarium?

  1. First, check the water chemistry and pH of your aquarium before adding new plants.
  2. Gently remove any wet or dead plants and debris from the aquarium substrate using a vacuum cleaner, hoover, or bucket full of water.
  3. Add the plant to a container filled with fresh tap water leaving enough space at the top for it to grow into (a sponge can be used as an interim measure).
  4. Submerge plant in the container and cap with a lid.
  5. Replace water in the aquarium as necessary.
  6. Fix plants to the substrate using rocks, driftwood ornaments, etc.
  7. Leave planted aquarium for at least 2 weeks before adding new fish.

If you are adding new plants to an aquarium that has been established, remove any rocks and decorations from the tank. Fill a tub or container with tap water and add a few drops of aquarium salt (or commercial plant fertilizer) to adjust pH as necessary. If you are using artificial aquatic plants, soak them in water with just enough salt added to make them slightly salty before putting them into the aquarium.

Why Do You Need Plants in Your Aquarium?

Aquarium plants offer many benefits to aquariums, including:

  • Enrichment – providing a natural source of food and color;
  • Filtration – helping to remove impurities from the water;
  • Climate control – plants can help stabilize water temperature by reducing gas production or absorbing heat from the sun-warmed surface layers of the tank, raising ambient temperatures at night as needed;
  • Increased water quality – plants help to remove organic material, disease-causing organisms, and chemicals from the aquarium; and
  • Reduced stress levels for fish – having plants around can provide an area of calmness and distraction from loud or hostile tankmates.

How to Maintain Planted Aquarium?

In a planted aquarium, it is important to replace water as needed and to add nutrients (such as marine algae flakes) or CO2 for proper growth. It is also helpful to occasionally move the plants around so that they get plenty of light and some variety. If you are adding new fish to an established aquarium, it is important to wait at least two weeks before doing so for the new additions to get used to their new surroundings.

What Fish Will Be Best in a Planted Aquarium?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best fish for a planted aquarium will vary depending on the type of plant and water conditions. Some popular choices include African Cichlids, Pangasius Catfish, Tetras, Discus Fish, Guppies, and Neon tetras.