Freshwater Planted Aquariums: Caring for Your Live Plant Aquarium

Further hassles posed by the choice to maintain live plants in your aquarium include:
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Plants can carry disease, fungus and bacteria; infected ones will bring unwanted organisms with them into a new aquarium. Even when they come from a trusted source, you need to disinfect live plants to remove anything that could be dangerous for your fish before you add them to your tank. To disinfect an aquatic plant without killing it, soak it in potassium permanganate for 10 minutes and rinse it with conditioned aquarium water.
A more natural-looking aquarium. Live plants do look more natural than plastic decorations.
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Intensity refers to the strength and color of the light. Most plants require the red and blue spectrum in sunlight. Hobbyists attempting to cultivate live plants must use fluorescent or metal halide lighting specifically designed to emit these spectrums. The strength of light needed will depend upon the size of the aquarium. Generally, two (2) watts of lighting per gallon is recommended for sufficient plant growth. With the advancement of lighting fixtures today this may even vary. Ask your Aquarium Adventure Plant Specialist for advice on what light fixtures would best fit your tank and budget. Without live plants you can give up all hope of ever having a balanced aquarium.
Photo provided by FlickrI suggest to add live plants before adding fishes. Live plants usually help to keep the aquarium healthier.
Photo provided by FlickrHaving live plants does not have to be difficult. There are many easy to care for aquarium plants which is what we will focus on here.
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But how about the plants? You started with a few and they seemed fine until now. However, it is very obvious they are not as realistic as you would have them to be and you are thinking about buying some live plants very soon. With all your dedication, this still may seem like a difficult task, but most aquarists feel the same way before they start taking care of real plants.Instead of placing airstones and airpumps into aquariums which aren’t aesthetically pleasing, plants can provide adequate amounts of oxygen in aquariums while absorbing carbon dioxide released by livestock.Increased environmental awareness, and the push to find a new challenge or dimension to freshwater aquarists has rejuvenated the interest in keeping live plants in the aquarium. Commonly referred to as “Dutch Aquarium", this European concept is beginning to catch on in the U.S. For years, Europeans have kept indoor “water gardens” (aquariums) loaded with live plants, and displaying only a few fish to accent their garden. This approach is opposite from the traditional fish keeper who considered fish the primary attraction in the aquarium. It can be argued that a true fish keeper would be hard pressed to create a biologically-balanced ecosystem more beautiful than one that is well planted with live vegetation.How to add the live plants: Create a gap in the gravel with your finger. This gap should not reach all the way to the substrate but it should be close. Place the roots into this gap (sometimes this is best done with aquarium tweezers) and then cover them in gravel. The gravel is there to keep your plant roots and stem stable.

Planting tips:
Add larger plants towards the back of the tank, add smaller to the front. This will look great and allow for a better viewing experience.Similar advances in technology and propagation, which have made the marine aquarium hobby easier, have also been developed for the live plant aquarist. With such innovation making live plant care easier today, the hobbyist must still have the proper understanding and equipment to be successful. Common ground for any aquarists is to keep a watchful eye on aquarium water conditions, feeding, lighting, and the growth and death of the animals and plants.Nutrients
Nitrates, found in fertilizers, are another substance plants use in photosynthesis. A working biological filtration system produces nitrates as a result of the nitrogen cycle (see “New Tank Water Conditions” tip sheet). Aquarium plants actually complete the nitrogen cycle by eliminating nitrates from the water. Consequently, live plants generally do not fare well in newly established aquarium conditions where nitrate levels are low. An alternative for new tanks is to supplement with a fertilizer containing nitrates.