Keeping a heavily planted tank is not a new idea, but it is becoming more and more popular recently as the amount of varieties of live aquatic plants has increased and care for them has become easier. While many aquarium keepers focus on the fish as the centerpiece for their tank, having a healthy balance of live plants can have a significant effect on not just the appearance of the aquarium, but also on the health of their fish.
Types of Plants:
Bunched Plants: These type of plant grow continuously from their stems, and can therefore get really tall if not trimmed. Once a bunched plant gets too tall, it can be clipped and re-planted and it will continue to grow from there, making these plants a favorite for those looking to fill an aquarium or pond quickly.
Rooted Plants: Plants with bulbs from which they grow, or pre-potted plants such as Amazon Sword Plants do well when planted directly in appropriate substrate. Be sure to cover all the roots with enough of a layer to hold the plants in place. Some aquatic plants like Java Ferns and Anubias do well attached to driftwood, which can be started by using fishing line to tie the plants to the wood. Once the roots have grown into place, the line can be cut off.
Different fish get along with different types of plants. This is because certain fish have natural tendencies to either consume the plants, or simply relocate them constantly around the tank. Here’s a list of some of the varieties that would work well together:
Cichlids: Strong, thick-leafed plants such as Anubias, Java Fern, Vallisneria, Java Moss, and Large Sword Plants
Community: Bunched plants such as Anacharis, Ambulia, Cabomba, Bacopa, Ludwigia, etc. typically do well. Sword plants can help fill large areas of the tank. Foreground plants like Dwarf Hairgrass and Baby Tears can help to form a grass-like carpet along the bottom of the tank to fully integrate the planted tank look.
Outdoor Ponds: While Water Lilies are the most obvious choice for ponds, oxygenating plants like Anacharis are also good additions, though Koi and Goldfish may sometimes like to snack on these types.
The more heavily planted the aquarium, the more you might have to monitor certain water qualities for your aquatic plants to thrive. One of the best products to add is Eco-Complete Substrate, which contains many essential nutrients to help stimulate plant growth. You may also add CO2 to the tank, either via gas/regulator, or using Excel liquid CO2. Water Lilies do best (and produce the most flowers) when properly fertilized with Aquatic Plant Fertilizing Tablets.