Plant Care

We recommend washing all plants prior to adding them to your tank. We regularly  perform quality checks prior to shipping plants! However, we cannot guarantee our plants to be snail free. If you do not want to risk snails, please consider purchasing tissue culture aquatic plants or quarantining and cleaning new plants prior to adding them in your aquarium. When dealing with aquatic plants, we ask that you remember that snails are a natural part of the environment :)

Carry your plants upside down – Of course it sounds silly, but it is important. Plants that are grown underwater have soft flexible stems and they can be broken or damaged if held upright.

Trim bunch plants before planting – WetPlant’s bunch plants already come with a weight to aid in holding them down. However, it would be prohibitively expensive for the harvesters at the nursery to tri the stems as well, so someone else must. Simply remove the weight, trim, as many leaves from the stem as practical, then replace the weight in a spiral fashion but not too tightly. Some plants will survive without this simple procedure, but more often the leaves under the weight rot over the first week or two, and this causes the stem to deteriorate at the base and the rest of the plant to surface. Some advocate letting the plant float suspended in the water until roots develop (two or three weeks) and then removing the weights all together. This is wonderful for those who have time and patients, particularly if a spare tank is available.

Do not use too course of gravel – Many choices are available and your retail merchant can help in pointing out the best choices for optimum plant growth. Depth of gravel should be a minimum of three and four inches. Color is irrelevant.

Maintain adequate lighting – recent research is indicating that the intensity of the light is even more critical than the duration. A typical color enhance bulb, such as a gro-lux, may be adequate for a ten-gallon (or other 12-inch-high aquarium) but taller tanks need a higher degree of luminance. Some modern reflectors or hoods have the capacity to hold two bulbs. If this is the choice you make, we strongly suggest two entirely different types of bulbs. One choice would be an enhance bulb in front so that your fish show to their best advantage, and a bulb more advantageous to plant growth in the rear.

If it is decided that only one bulb will be used, there are many new choices available. Excellent results are reported wit Tri-phosper, Mercy Vapor and Metal Halide varieties. Again, your retail merchant is an excellent source of information in this area.

Remember to use fertilizer – The old adage that the fish dropping will fertilize the plants is partially true. Modern filtering techniques are often rendering the aquarium too sterile! Most liquid fertilizers, in addition to replacing needed trace elements and minerals, actually aid in mulm (pretty word for fish droppings) into substances that are more easily absorbed by the plant’s roots. A good quality liquid fertilizer (shake thoroughly before using) may be adequate for a beginner’s aquarium or even one small dimension. However, those wanting optimum results, especially for sword plants, anubias varieties, cryptocorynes, and any plants that send runners to reproduce, would be wise to also purchase one of the many products available that apply fertilizer directly to the gravel. Product availability will vary and your local retail merchant should be a great source in recommending specific product names.

When planting rooted plants, it is critical that they not be placed too deeply into the gravel. We have most often found this to be the most common cause of sword plant mortality. When planting, hold a rooted plant between your thumb, index and middle fingers. Gently drill a hole with the foremost finger, in my case the middle, and remove your fingers after reaching a selected depth. Then, and this is critical, pull up on the entire plant very gently until you can actually see the top of the root structure. This is less critical among cryptocornes than among sword plants, and is an absolutely necessity with pigmy chain sword plants.

Prune your plants periodically – It is generally advisable to place some plants toward the rear of the tank in order to hide heaters, siphons and the like. Next, rocks or driftwood will hide the less attractive lower plant sections as well as offer both a contrast and a feeling of depth. Then, midrange plants are placed with another level of rocks or other decorations. Lastly, small foreground plants in the very front complete the descending motif and further hide the bottom of the plants immediately to the rear. Most of this is common sense, but this initial plant can eventually go astray if some pruning isn’t done as the plants mature. When selecting plants for tank placement, pay attention to how rapidly they grow and what height they will eventually achieve. In general, bunch plants grow rapidly while rooted plants grow much more slowly.

Avoid an under-gravel filter if at all possible – There are instances when I have heard of successful plant growth while using an under-gravel filter, particularly one of slow water turnover. But in general, it’s a no no. If you must have one, if you already have one and don’t want to remove it, consider leaning heavily on potted plants. 

Be careful of medications – some medications that are not directly harmful to fish can be lethal to plants. Dyes such as malachite green and methelene blue should not be used. In addition, many antibiotics can be dangerous. There are medications available that are less harmful. Carefully reading labels is always a necessity before introducing any foreign substance that can affect the balance of an aquarium’s system and should be followed for plants as well as fish.

A word about terrestrial plants in the aquarium – In nature most aquatic plants grow above as well as below the water’s surface. Many reproduce through flowering and pollination that occurs in the atmosphere. Some of the plants you buy were grown above water for various reasons. They should adapt, grow and develop a softer, and usually more attractive submerse leaf structure. Other plants that are often available are not aquatic at all. These plants cannot grow or propagate underwater. A few will exist for months, but the majority will have a life span of only a few weeks when submersed. These should be viewed as accent plants (for they are usually quite attractive) and pose no danger when added for their ephemeral beauty. I like to think of them like buying fresh flowers for your house, they look nice, and add to your home for the time they are there.

-The Wetplants Family