Fishes in an aquarium are a sheer delight to watch. Bright and colorful fishes swimming around your fish tank filled with nothing else but the water looks quite enticing but it is still not enough to get that mesmerizing effect. So what is missing in your fish tank? Yes, you guessed it right! Aquatic plants not only add to the charm and beauty of your aquarium, they have a very important role to play in safeguarding the health of your aquarium fishes. Artificial plastic plants only contribute to the enhancing the aesthetics of your fish tank and do nothing for the aquarium inhabitants. The most significant importance of live aquatic plants is generating oxygen that is used by the fishes for respiration. Aquarium plants have the following benefits for your fishes:
1) Photosynthesis and respiration: During the day, plants perform the natural process of photosynthesis necessary for their growth. Photosynthesis absorbs carbon dioxide released by the fishes in the water and in turn generates oxygen that is used up by the fishes for the respiratory purpose.
2) Natural filtration: Aquatic plants also absorb the organic wastes of fishes like ammonia, nitrate, phosphate, nitrite etc. before it starts polluting the water and adversely affects the beauty and quality of your aquarium water. Aquarium plants also help in creating an artificial medium for the helpful bacteria to grow on. This facilitates biological filtration. Plants act as natural filters for the aquarium water and are a lot better than the store bought artificial filters, as they do not require periodic cleaning and maintenance.
3) Controls the growth of algae: Algae growth in common in aquariums and causes great nuisance to the aquarists who have to often clean up the aquarium. Live aquatic plants help eradicate the growth of algae in the fish tanks significantly. Algae thrive on the surplus nutrients and sunlight in aquariums. So when you keep aquatic plants in your aquarium, they absorb all the excess nutrient and light that would otherwise be consumed by algae and thus keeps them at bay. Fish tanks and aquariums exhibiting luxurious growth of live plants rarely face algal growth issues. Some aquarium plants that grow into the thick carpet like fronds also prevent the formation of weed growth.
4) Spawning territory: Some fishes are largely territorial in nature and live aquatic plants provide shelter and protection to such different species of fishes. They provide a natural habitat for spawning fishes that can lay eggs on the leaves. The leaves of taller plants like Vallisneria gigantea act as great hiding places for shy fishes as well as protect smaller fries from being devoured by larger fishes.
5) Provides nutrition: Some softer aquarium plant species provide vegetative nutrition to herbivore fishes. Others provide snacking to fishes that nibble on the leaves of some varieties of succulent leaves. Leaves of plants like Duckweed, Cabomba Carolina, Elodea and Java moss are good sources of fish food.
6) Improves the quality of the aquarium water: While some plants act as natural filters to keep the aquarium water squeaky clean as mentioned above, other aquatic plants like Wisteria help manage the nutrient levels in water and optimize the quality of aquarium water. Nutrient rich clean water not only gives the illusion of crystal clear water, it also enhances the longevity of fishes in it.
7) Aquascaping: One of the most important reasons why aquarium hobbyists add aquatic plants to aquariums is simply because they increase the beauty of your fish tanks manifold. It’s like replicating a mini aquatic ecosystem right at the comforts of your own home. Aquatic plants are mainly used for foreground, mid-ground or background aquascape. Plants like Dwarf hairgrass, Java moss, Potamogeton gayi, Saggitaria subbulata etc. are shorter and goes well as a foreground plant. Dwarf lily, Nomaphila Siamensis, Mayaca fluviatilis, etc. are ideal aquatic plants for mid-ground aquascape. Taller plants like Hygrophila corymbosa, Limnophila hippuridoides, Vallisneria tortifolia, Amazon sword plant, Vallisneria nana, etc. are perfect as background plants. Colored plants like Rotala wallichii and Ludwigia regens impart a vibrant red contrast to the green plants and look stunning, so don’t forget to add them in your fish tank.
Now that you have learned about the multiple benefits of having live plants in your aquarium, the next step would be choosing the right species of aquatic plants in accordance with the size of your fish tank and the nature of the fishes you keep in it.