Planting different types of fish tank plants


When it comes to fish tank plants, there is a wide variety to choose from.  Aquarium plants come in 5 or 6 different types – stem, rhizome, bulb, rosette, and floating plants.  The planting techniques will vary depending on the type of plant you have. 

Stem – Planting stem plants is done by removing the bottom one or two leaves of the specimen.  The stem is then buried directly in the gravel.  Roots will start to grow within a few days.  Usually after a week this type of fish tank plant will be firmly anchored in the substrate.  If you are trimming from an established plant, cut off above a node (where leaves attach to the stem).  The new plant is planted using the same technique, and the original will regrow naturally.

Bulb – A few species of tank plants are available for purchase in bulb form.  One example is the lace plant.  To plant a bulb, simply bury it halfway into the substrate.  A new plant will grow from this dormant bulb once it awakens after a week or more in the aquarium.  Sometimes this will occur off of a runner from the main bulb, in which case you can trim the plant off when it develops a several strong roots.

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Rosette – The most popular rosette plants are Amazon swords, cryptocoryne, and vallisneria.  In this type of fish tank plant, the new leaves grow directly from the outside of the rosette rather than from a stem.  For cryptocorynes species, make a depression in the gravel, push in the bulb, and leave the tip of the crown buried.  For vallisneria and sword plants, the same technique is used, except the crown tip must be just above the level of the substrate.

Rhizome – Rhizomatous fish tank plants have a horizontally growing stem (the rhizome) and examples include java ferns and anubias.  To properly plant these species, bury only the roots.  The rhizome must remain above the substrate.  Don’t worry though, the roots are strong and will still firmly anchor the plant.

Floating – Floating fish tank plants are the easiest of all to add into an aquarium.  They are simply dumped into the tank and they will float on their own.  Examples include duckweed, water lettuce, and frog bit.  Roots will often be seen descending into the aquarium, which provides great hiding places for baby fish.

As you can see, each type of fish tank plant has a specific method for planting.  Only if you plant them properly will they thrive and become beautiful aquarium plants.  Click here for a guide to the 101 best aquarium plants.


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