Tissue Culture vs. Potted Aquatic Plants

Tissue Culture vs. Potted Plants Aquatic Plants

Gone are the days when aquarists had only one option: potted or bunched plants to grow in their aquarium. With the advent of in-vitro cultivation, today, one can use tissue culture aquarium plants and prevent many future complications. 

Tissue culture aquarium plants are usually found in small sealed cups. Since they grow in a protected environment, the uncertainty of bringing unnecessary pests, infections, and algae to the aquascape seizes. 

Selecting aquarium plants based on how it was grown has given aquarists wider options. However, some aquarists often face a dilemma when choosing as potted plants are inexpensive compared to tissue culture plants. 

In this article, we will provide information on tissue culture and potted or bunched plants and check out the major differences between them. At the same time, we will throw light on their major pros and cons to help aquarists decide the best option for their aquarium.

What are potted, bunched, and tissue culture plants?

In the aquarium hobby, potted and bunched plants have been widespread and the most common form for a long time. Earlier hobbyists used only such plants for their aquariums. Let’s know what they actually are. 

Potted Plants– These plants come in plastic net pots. The roots of potted plants are protected inside rock wool, which also provides weight to keep the plant down and retain moisture to stay healthy and fresh for a long time. 

Bunched Plants– Generally, stem plants are bunched plants. These plants are sold in a bunch of the same height of two to four stems that are attained by trimming. The slim foam material is then used to wrap the trimmed stems that provide protection to the roots and keep them alive for a long time. 

Similarity between Potted and Bunched Plants 

Potted and bunched plants grow emersed in the aquatic farms. Since these plants grow above the water’s surface, they grow faster. At the same time, the chances of algae growth subside too. All this help in increasing the survival rate of potted and bunched aquatic plants when they are shipped to their destination. 

Once they reach their destination, it is essential to plant them properly. Dry and melted leaves should be trimmed off, and regular water changes should be maintained to upkeep the plants’ health. 

Tissue Culture Plants– Plants grown in laboratories under ‘in-vitro’ conditions are called tissue culture plants. Since the time in-vitro cultivation of aquatic plants has become popular and easily accessible, aquarists are drifting more towards using them in their aquarium. 

How are tissue culture plants grown?

For in-vitro cultivation, the plant’s tissue is harvested and kept in a special medium that contains growth hormones and essential nutrients. This medium provides everything required for developing a tissue into a plant. 

Tissue culture plants come sealed inside plastic cups. Their roots are covered with a liquid or jelly-like substance, which is a nutrient-packed growth medium to help them grow and survive. Also, it protects the tissue culture plants from drying.

Advantages and Disadvantages 

Since potted, bunched, and tissue culture plants grow in different ways, they come with their own set of pros and cons. Let’s find out the major advantages and disadvantages of them. 

Advantages of Tissue Culture Plants 

Being 100% sterile is the biggest and foremost advantage of tissue culture plants over potted and bunched plants. Since these plants are grown in completely pure and sterilized conditions, they are free of pests and algae. So, if you are concerned about pest infestation and algae growth in your tank, tissue culture plants are the best bet.

At the same time, culturing such plants abandon the use of pesticides. Also, there are no pathogens attached, making them the safest choice for tanks already occupied by the inhabitants.

Another good advantage of tissue culture plants is that they come in more numbers as compared to bunch or potted plants. These plants come in small cups that usually have more plantlets. So, even though they may seem costlier, they are worth your spending. 

Using in-vitro plants or preparing them for your tank is easy too. Even though they are grown in special conditions, adding them into the tank is no fuss. All you need is to open the cup and gently pull the plants out. Remove the jelly or liquid substance in their roots by rinsing them under tap water, separating them into smaller bunches, and they are ready to plant into the tank. 

So, the major pros of tissue culture plants can be summarised as-

  • They are 100% sterile
  • Free of pests, pathogens, and other infections 
  • Devoid of algae 
  • Does not contain pesticides or related residues 
  • They usually come in more numbers 
  • Easy to use 

Disadvantages of Tissue Culture Plants 

Even though the tissue culture plants are sterile and pure, this feature comes with certain downsides too. The biggest drawback is such plants take more time to adapt to the new environment. 

Tissue culture plants are so clean that transitioning from a completely germ-free place to a new tank full of microorganisms and germs may give them a shock. It makes tissue culture plants fragile and prone to melting, especially in their first few days of being added to the tank. 

Another drawback is the size of tissue culture plants. Usually, they come in a tiny form as they are grown in compact conditions. Therefore, such plants take time to reach their normal size and give a lush planted aquarium. 

Last of all, tissue culture plants may die if left in a container for long days. Therefore, always try to plant them soon after you receive them. Also, always try to buy fresh and healthy tissue culture plants as it increases their chances of proliferating easily and in lesser time in the tank. 

So, in a nutshell, we can list the disadvantages of tissue culture plants as follows:

  • Adapting to the new environment takes time 
  • They are fragile and prone to melting if not taken care
  • Take time to give a lushly planted tank
  • They are expensive 

Advantages of potted and bunched plants 

The biggest advantage of potted/bunched plants is they are healthier and stronger than in-vitro plants. Since they are grown in normal conditions, they become robust and not ready to melt easily, even when planted in new water conditions. 

Apart from the survival rate, the rate of acclimatization is fairly quick in potted or bunched plants. They are also good for low-tech setups where lab-originating versions often fail. The rate with which they adapt and grow new submerged leaves to replace the emersed ones is quick. 

Moreover, potted or bunched plants also have the advantage of height over their tissue-cultured counterparts. Since the later ones are grown in compact conditions, they usually stay small and take time to attain their normal height. 

On the contrary, potted or bunched plants are taller, which helps them reach light easily. It ensures they won’t get shaded by taller plants or other hardscapes in the tank. 

We can summarize the pros of potted or bunched plants are following:

  • They are stronger and taller
  • Does not melt easily 
  • Show robust growth 
  • Acclimatize or adapt to the new water conditions easily 
  • Good for low-tech setups

Disadvantages of potted or bunched plants 

Everything comes with its own set of pros and cons, and so are the potted or bunched plants. Even though they are stronger and more robust than in-vitro plants, the possibility of coming with pest infestations is more likely. 

Potted and bunched plants may bring pathogens, algae, pesticides, and certain undesired plants like duckweed with them. So, once you introduce them in your tank, the chances of infestation increase. However, by using certain precautionary measures like cleaning the plants with bleach, you can avoid such problems completely. 

The major cons of potted or bunched plants can be listed as:

  • They may bring pathogens 
  • Pests infestation is higher 
  • Essential to clean it before introducing it into the tank
  • Tanks may get infested with certain unwanted weeds

What is better and which to use?

Now that we know the potential pros and cons of tissue culture and potted or bunched plants, concluding one as better than the other won’t be fair. Each plant type has certain pros and cons, and what seems better for one aquarist may not be for the other. 

Usually, choosing a tissue culture plant or potted or bunched plant depends on what you want in the aquarium. If you are looking for a lush tank in lesser time, potted or bunched plants may seem better as they are stronger and have a better acclimatization rate and robust growth. However, if the intention is to avoid pest infestation completely, tissue culture plants will suit the needs. 

 As long as you take enough care of the plantlets, maintain good water conditions, and keep your plants in a nutrient-rich environment, both tissue culture and potted or bunched plants will give good results. 

Experts’ Advice

According to experts, tissue culture will be the best if you have a new setup and are looking for a high-tech, fully planted tank with diverse plants like stem plants, carpet plants, etc. A clean start will always ensure better results in the long run. It will also keep the new tank pest-free. 

However, if the tank is already established and you want to add a few new plants into it, potted and bunched plants will be the best. Make sure to dip them in bleach to avoid infestation of any kind. 

Since potted or bunched plants have the advantage of height and are robust, their chances of adjusting to the new environment are more. They are more handy in low-tech setups with no additional carbon dioxide. 

Final Words

Different plant options may feel intimidating to the new aquarists, but proper knowledge of them with their potential advantages and drawbacks will help make the right decision. If you are new to the road of aquascaping and planted tanks, make sure you grab enough information on different plants before introducing them into the tank. It is the only way to a successfully planted tank. 


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