Freshwater plants discussion

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Freshwater plants discussion

Postby rebel2004nay » Thu Dec 04, 2008 1:37 am

I'm trying to learn a lot about aquarium plants. So, it occurred to me that it might be a good idea to have a thread about aquarium plants where we could share our experiences and use this as a resource to help us choose future plants for our tanks. So, if you want, please post your opinions about the plants that you have experience with. To make things simpler, I thought we might could all follow a similar format, something like this (based very loosely on the canister and HOB wars threads):

Name of plant

Type of plant (does it float on the surface, is it a moss, does it root in the substrate, etc.?)

Level of care (you can specify whether it was a breeze or a total pain [and if so state why], or somewhere in between)

Pros (obviously most plants look pretty, but did it serve as a hiding place for shy fish or fry? Did it serve as a supplemental source of food for your fish, like duckweed does for koi? Do you feel it made a positive impact on your water parameters? etc.)

Cons (unforeseen or otherwise) (like frequently clogging the filter, etc.)

Hardiness/Survivability (do you feel it was a hardy plant? Do you think it could survive in a cichlid aquarium? Does it have a bad taste so that most fish won't eat it? etc.)

Overall sentiments (Do you feel this plant is a good plant for aquariums? If it's a lot of trouble, is it worth it? Would you put this plant in other tanks of yours? etc.)


Feel free to include any other information you think is pertinent, or add additional sections if you wish. I personally have no experience with plants, so I'm hoping to learn from those of you who have had them.
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Re: Freshwater plants discussion

Postby ~RuSh~ » Thu Dec 04, 2008 1:07 pm

Name of plant: Sword plants

Type of plant: Root feeding plant

My Setup:29g Tank, Flourite/Play sand substrate (roughly 50/50 mix), 65 watt p/c 6700k Coralife.

Level of care: Beginner/Easy

Pros: Most sword plants require only low lighting to survive. They are fairly fast growers when provided with a good substrate and nutrient supplements (root tabs).

Cons (unforeseen or otherwise): The last sword that I had grew to a very large size. It literally outgrew my 30g tank (chutes were sticking out of the tank). Although it was nice to see it was thriving, I then had to move it to a larger tank for it to continue to grow.

Hardiness/Survivability: Extremely hardy. I have two swords in a 10g tank right now with incandescent lighting (usually ineffective for aquatic plants due to the spectrum of light it provides) and the swords continue to grow and sprout new leaves. I also want to not that I bought one sword plant over a year ago, and I've had (I didn't keep them all) over a dozen daughter plants part from the main plant.

Overall sentiments: A great aquarium plant that I will always look to for ease and pleasing aesthetics.

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Re: Freshwater plants discussion

Postby rebel2004nay » Thu Dec 04, 2008 4:07 pm

Thanks Rush! Everyone feel free to post your thoughts even if it is a common plant. There may be visitors to this forum who have little to no experience with even the most common aquarium plants.

Does anyone have any experiences with duckweed, watter lettuce, or those little moss balls?
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Re: Freshwater plants discussion

Postby ~RuSh~ » Thu Dec 04, 2008 5:20 pm

Name of plant: Jungle Vallisneria

Type of plant: Grass type plant. Grows tall and is a good background plant.

My Setup: 29g Tank, Flourite/Play sand substrate (roughly 50/50 mix), 65 watt p/c 6700k Coralife

Level of care: Beginner-Novice

Pros: Vallisneria is a fast grower. If it is provided with the proper lighting, it will grow very quickly. A very tall plant that creates a nice foreground for a focus plant or other type of decoration. It also works well for small timid fish species as it gives cover on all levels of the aquarium.

Cons: If you do not provide the proper lighting, the vallisneria will not grow upward, rather it will spread outward and 'reach' for light. It will sprout many ground chutes to many areas but will not achieve the height that it is known for. On the other side, when well taken care of, the vallisneria sometimes can grow so fast as to take over other plants. It may need to be trimmed down weekly.

Hardiness/Survivability: Medium-Hardy. Vallisneria will survive in low light, but it will cease to grow unless provided for properly.

Overall sentiments: A very unique looking plant, and well worth the time if you're up to the work.

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Re: Freshwater plants discussion

Postby T » Thu Dec 04, 2008 8:07 pm

Oooh good topic, I'll write some stuff when I get time

Rush that first plant you posted isnt an amazon sword(I forget what kind it is though).
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Re: Freshwater plants discussion

Postby T » Thu Dec 04, 2008 8:19 pm

Scratch that I have some time.

Name of plant: Water Lettuce

Type of plant: Floating

Level of care: Beginner/Easy (moderate to strong lighting)

Pros: The roots of this plant is a haven for small fish and fry. My shrimp also love hiding in the roots. Will also be used as a spawning site for some fish. Larger shy fish such as discus also enjoy the shaded areas it creates as is makes them feel more secure.

Cons: This plant grows very quickly and sends out many runners. Will clog the surface only a short time(causing lack of oxygen/light)so must be thinned out continously. I tend to leave a few of the larger plants and remove the runners.

Hardiness/Survivability: Quite hardy although does not do well in tanks with strong current or a lot of surface agitation. Also when first introduced may die back as it acclimatises to the tank.

Overall sentiments: A good plant for large tanks, breeding tanks or which house shy fish such as discus.

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Re: Freshwater plants discussion

Postby ~RuSh~ » Thu Dec 04, 2008 8:41 pm

T wrote:Oooh good topic, I'll write some stuff when I get time

Rush that first plant you posted isnt an amazon sword(I forget what kind it is though).


Yeah, I know its not, but there are several kinds that are sold as amazon swords. I just figured I'd post pictures of both types I own. Edited. :D
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Re: Freshwater plants discussion

Postby scrivz » Tue Jan 06, 2009 3:21 pm

Name of plant: Vallisneria spiralis (spiral val)

Type of plant: Rooted long grass with loosely spiraling leaves.

Level of care: Easy

Pros: Grows quickly, propagates like crazy

Cons: Frequent carrier of snail eggs. Inspect every single leaf meticulously to avoid infesting your tank. Also, if a leaf is damaged anywhere along its length the entire leaf will die (so just cut it at the base as soon as you see damage).

Hardiness/Survivability: Survived being frozen (in transit), so it must be tough. :D

Overall sentiments: Not a plant for for a tank in which SeaChem Excel is used, it will "melt" the leaves away and kill the plant. Beautiful green leaves that will grow to a couple feet in length, so good for tall aquariums. Wave nicely in current.

Tall spiral val reaching the top of a 29g after two weeks of growth (center plants):
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Spiral val runners:
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Re: Freshwater plants discussion

Postby scrivz » Tue Jan 06, 2009 3:33 pm

Name of plant: Ludwigia repens

Type of plant: Rooted plant with a central stalk and peripheral leaves

Level of care: Easy-Medium. A little tough to get to take hold of the substrate initially so some will float away and need to be replanted.

Pros: Adds a little red color to the tank. Small suckermouth cats like Otocinclus love to feed on the algae that grows on their horizontal leaves.

Cons: As stated, they take a little while to take root in the substrate, so be ready to replant them multiple times until they get going.

Hardiness/Survivability: Moderately hardy. A third of the plants I had survived being frozen--not too shabby.

Overall sentiments: A little forest of these can add some really nice soft red tones to that area of the tank. The lower stalks also add some different cover, kind of like a mini-bamboo forest.


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Re: Freshwater plants discussion

Postby scrivz » Tue Jan 06, 2009 3:53 pm

Name of plant: Microsorum pteropus (Java fern)

Type of plant: Epiphyte

Level of care: Easy

Pros: Will grow pretty much anywhere there is sufficient light. Can be attached to driftwood, decor, rocks, etc. and once attached are very firmly connected.

Cons: Take a while to firmly attach to decor and have to be tied down until they develop their own attachment. Beware buying sickly looking plants; set yourself up for success by buying healthy, green plants with as many leaves as possible.

Hardiness/Survivability: One of the few plants I'd recommend for an oscar tank due to it's epiphytic nature. Even if your fish tear them off whatever decor you have attached them to, the plants will survive (they just have to be reattached). As an added bonus, silver dollars don't eat them.

Overall sentiments: A good beginner plant that requires very little light to survive. Given higher light and supplements it will reproduce by budding daughter plants off at the tips of the leaves.

Two plants attached to driftwood:
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Daughter plant forming on top of center leaf (look for small leaves forming with brown root structures coming off of same point):
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Re: Freshwater plants discussion

Postby scrivz » Wed Jan 07, 2009 1:33 am

Name of plant: Anubias hastfolia

Type of plant: Epiphyte

Level of care: Easy, like other anubias. Survives fine in low light with little to no growth, but you can see active growth under higher light.

Pros: Hardy, large plant that is tough enough to withstand the tuggings of a 12" oscar. Beautiful arrow-shaped leaves with long stalks.

Cons: It's the first Anubias I've seen my silver dollars chew on. They only eat a little at a time, but they still nibble the edges. Also, like all slow-growing, large-leafed anubias, it is prone to algae growth on its leaves.

Hardiness/Survivability: Due to it being an epiphyte, it can be attached to rocks, driftwood, etc. and survive for periods of time when it is not attached, thus it is a great option for those trying to keep live plants with oscars. Large enough to provide some significant greenery in some of the bigger tanks we keep O's in.

Overall sentiments: Very nice-looking plant, I like it a lot. I just wish my SDs would stop nibbling it; all the edges of the leaves look rough, but they don't eat any big chunks out of the leaves (must just be the tender new growth at the edges or something). Tied to driftwood with fishing line, it is (as of today) the ONLY plant I have ever kept with oscars that has not been ripped up or rearranged by the fish. Who knows how long that'll last, but it's fairly significant that it has made it this long.

On a side note, the limited literature available on this plant makes me wonder if it's a true anubias at all, or just a marsh plant (arrowhead) that has been renamed to sell to aquarists.

Anubias hastifolia attached to driftwood (the driftwood has a hole drilled through it ;)):
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EDIT: Fixed the name after properly IDing the plant--it was sold as gigantea but is actually hastifolia. :oops:
Last edited by scrivz on Mon Feb 23, 2009 12:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Freshwater plants discussion

Postby scrivz » Thu Jan 08, 2009 12:52 pm

Name of plant: Anubias (barteri and nana in the picture, but IME all the Anubias are pretty similar as far as care)

Type of plant: Epiphyte

Level of care: Easy. Survives in low light with very slow growth; to see more growth you have to increase the lighting.

Pros: Can be attached to driftwood and decor, has large dark green leaves that look great, provides great cover for smaller fish and inverts. Doesn't get eaten by herbivorous fish.

Cons: Grows so slowly in low light it takes forever to get to attach to things. Not a problem with increased light (or if you don't mind it being tied down). Slow growing with big leaves, so the potential for algae growth on the leaves is pretty high. Beware buying plants that already have lot of algae growing on them, especialy if it's black brush algae.

Hardiness/Survivability: Very hardy. I think you'd have to try very hard to kill it. However, if you bury the rhizome in the substrate you may succeed in killing it (so don't do it).

Overall sentiments: Beautiful plant, especially when attached to driftwood. Reproduces by rhizome splitting. I've found that drilling a large hole in the driftwood can help with getting it to attach in less time. These were my shrimps' favorite hideouts, and the otos loved them too, but I ended up getting rid of them because of the black brush algae that came in on one and spread to both. Start with clean plants and it'll go a lot better.

Anubias barteri in the foreground, Anubias nana on the driftwood in the background. Note how the rhizome is above the substrate on the barteri:
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Re: Freshwater plants discussion

Postby ~RuSh~ » Fri Jan 09, 2009 1:35 pm

As long as this is a sticky, I think we should go back and post our tank specifics so that others can reference what we were using. Give your lighting, substrate, and any chemical/biological additives you may have used to benefit this plant.
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Re: Freshwater plants discussion

Postby scrivz » Fri Jan 09, 2009 2:44 pm

It seems like all the rooted plants need a plant substrate (like flourite, eco-complete, etc.) and substrate fertilizers while epiphytes need liquid fertilizers. Beyond that I really don't think I know enough technical info about planted tanks to post suggestions for care other than what I already posted. :dontknow:
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Re: Freshwater plants discussion

Postby 2tigeroscars » Mon Jan 12, 2009 4:06 am

Excellent post. Bump, bump.

I was just about to ask about live plants, as I'm getting fed up with plastic plants that fall apart when you have to clean them.

Thanks to all for your input/experience.
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Re: Freshwater plants discussion

Postby XwingMike » Wed Jan 28, 2009 4:09 pm

Has anyone noticed differences between substrates? Does sand hold better and promote better growth then a rock bottom or vice-versa?
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Re: Freshwater plants discussion

Postby scrivz » Wed Jan 28, 2009 4:23 pm

If you use sand for rooted plants, you need to have a layer of porous clay, soil, or some kind of plant substrate underneath the top sand layer. Sand won't hold much for nutrients, and you won't see much growth for root-feeders. If you use fine gravel, it is not much better than sand, though it depends on the type of rock in the gravel. Porous clay is far superior in holding nutrients until the plants take them in via their roots, which is why it's often layered on the bottom of the substratum.

Soil is often used as a bottom layer as well, especially for grass-like carpet plants. I know much less about that and have never used it. Look around on planted tank forums for good info if you want to go that route.
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Re: Freshwater plants discussion

Postby likes2skatebabe » Sat Feb 07, 2009 10:56 pm

This is a great post! Does anyone know if any of the plants mentioned here can grow out of water? I would like to have plants in a tank that only has about 4 inches of water in it.
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Re: Freshwater plants discussion

Postby scrivz » Sun Feb 08, 2009 12:54 am

Any bog plants should work for that. Look for places that stock pond plants, they generally carry a fair supply of them. I can't name any off the top of my head other than arrowheads, sorry.
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Re: Freshwater plants discussion

Postby rebel2004nay » Mon Feb 09, 2009 7:45 am

Likes2skate, it sounds like you are making a paludarium, yeah?

This book I have has a suggested plant list for paludariums. Most of these plants aren't planted in the water. They are instead planted above the water on rockwork or driftwood that is assembled to make a background. A few plants are indeed planted below the water level, but only one, the peace lily, rises above the water level according to the pictures I have here.

Here are the plants.
Below water:
-cryptocoryne sp.
-anubias barteri var. Nana
-spathiphyllum wallisii (peace lily)

above water:
-acorus gramineus var. Pusilus (dwarf japanese rush)
-synogium podophyllum (stardust ivy)
-anubias lancelota (narrow-leafed anubias)
-ophiopogon japonicas "variegatus" (variegated fountain plant)
-lysimachia nummularia (creeping jenny)
-microsorium pteropus (java fern)


Obviously some of the above water plants could be put below water and maybe vice versa, but I've just listed them how the book recommends them. The book I got this from is Encyclopedia of Aquarium Plants by Peter Hiscock.

Here are some plants that are suggested for open-top aquariums which might also work in paludariums:
-echinodorus grandiflorus (large-flowered swordplant)
-pistia stratiotes (water lettuce)
-nymphaea lotus var. Rubra (red tiger lotus)
-anubias congensis (congo anubias)
-salvinia
-cryptocoryne parva
-nuphar japonica (spatterdock)
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Re: Freshwater plants discussion

Postby nam macs » Sat Mar 28, 2009 12:22 pm

The only plants I've ever grown in my tanks were elodea (Egeria densa) and the Anubias that Scrivz talked about. Both were in a cold water goldfish tank, with low light. Both were planted in in their original little substrate mini pots, right into the pea gravel. The Elodea grew a bit faster, and required pruning now and then, while the Anubias grew slowly, but looked much nicer.

This is an awesome sticky.
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Re: Freshwater plants discussion

Postby Al'Thor » Mon Apr 13, 2009 2:34 am

I just set up my 29gal a few weeks back and have a few crypts and some Java moss in there for now. I may switch things up a bit and create a wall with Christmas Moss. I'd also like to add some Baby's Tears around the substrate. I'll try to remember to take some pics of what I have tomorrow.
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Re: Freshwater plants discussion

Postby ArcAngel » Wed Nov 25, 2009 12:59 am

Jungle Vallisneria how does this work i wanna know badly and i was told it looks amazing with angelfish :mrgreen:
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Re: Freshwater plants discussion

Postby Jon M » Sun Dec 05, 2010 4:08 am

Wow. All these plants look really nice. I assumed SW had all of the good very eye catching plants. Totally wrong. After viewing this post I'll definitely be using live plants in my non O tank when it happens. :) Great plants guys.
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Re: Freshwater plants discussion

Postby Dan Isaacs » Wed Dec 08, 2010 10:54 pm

Just bought some Moneywort. needed something to give my tetras some respite from the GD, and the pet store had nothing else that looked healthy. Anyone have info/experiences with it? I have a play sand substrate, and just have some coral holding it down.
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