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Beginners Guide

Live Plants & Aquariums: 14 Useful Tips for Beginners.

by Catherine Tran 23 May 2023 0 Comments

Live Plants & Aquariums: 14 Useful Tips for Beginners.

Have you ever considered placing houseplants in your aquarium? If so, it is extremely important that you research which plants will grow well but also be good for the fish before you accidentally harm your aquarium.

Here are 14 answers about houseplants and aquariums that everyone should know before combining the two:

Can you put live potted plants in your aquarium?

Yes, you can put live plants in the tank as long as the plants are suitable for growing in the aquarium. Unsuitable plants will rot and fill up with bacteria, and even the right plants need to be grown in the right conditions to thrive.

Not all plants are suitable for aquariums, and we'll go into more detail about which ones later in this article, but it's important to check before you put them in the water.

You may also need extra light to keep the plants happy, as they can't get close to a window.


Are indoor plants good for aquariums?

Potted plants are great for aquariums. Even if you clean the tank regularly, plant life will greatly help maintain water quality, making fish and water healthier.

Certainly, an aquarium with live plants in it is much healthier. Plants will perform a variety of useful jobs while in the tank, including:

  • Absorb carbon dioxide.
  • Remove nitrates from the water.
  • Remove phosphorus from the water.
  • Fix oxygen in the flask.


Do house plants help to clean the aquarium?

Houseplants are a great way to prevent algae blooms in your tank. Planting plants in your aquarium will help keep the tank clean, although it's not a complete substitute for cleaning. Sometimes you will still have to clean the tank yourself.

Which houseplants are safe for aquariums?

Many plants are safe to use in an aquarium, but you should choose those that are popular in terms of safety, as your fish will likely gnaw them.

These are the safest houseplants for aquariums: lucky bamboo, climbing figs, golden potholes, Monstera deliciosa, arrowhead vine, java fern, amazon sword, and Water wisteria,...

Some of these plants are called emerging, which means they will grow out of the mouth of the tank and grow into the air. Their roots and lower stem will be in the tank. Others will be completely submerged in water.


Which houseplants are toxic to fish?

Many plants are not safe for fish. If unsure about your particular crop, conduct plenty of appropriate research.

Better yet, purchase your plants from a reputable aquarium supplier to discuss your aquarium needs and make sure you're buying something right.

Don't put houseplants in your aquarium without first checking to see if it's safe. You can accidentally kill every fish in your tank if the plants poison them.

Here are the toxic houseplants to fish: Hemigraphis colorata, hemlock, Cordyline "red edge", Trichomanes javanicum, Chlorophytum bichetii, cycads, etc.

If you want to put other plants in and are not sure about them, contact our experts and get some advice.

Can your fish eat the plants in their tank?

Your fish can safely eat or nibble on the plant in the tank as long as the plant is safe for them.

If you have vegetarian fish, they will definitely eat the plants in the tank. It's important to have plenty of houseplants in the tank so the fish won't simply destroy all the greenery in sight.

You can also separate the houseplants from the fish to make it difficult for the fish to reach the leaves, but be aware that if you don't do this, they will eat them.


Can you grow plants in an aquarium on gravel?

You can grow plants with gravel. The easiest way to do this is to get an elastic band and a fish-safe rock. Attach the tree to the rock so that the rock is slightly higher than the roots of the tree.

Once the rocks are in place, bury them all in the gravel. This will help keep the roots lying down and prevent the plant from drifting away.

Note that not all plants like to be buried in gravel, so check to see which species you're planning to grow likes before planting.


Do You Need Soil For Plants In Your Aquarium?

This will depend on the type of plant, but many people prefer to be planted in the ground. However, regular soil will float and dirty the water, so you must use a soil-based substrate or add gravel on top of the soil.

You probably already know that if you just put a pot full of soil in your aquarium, the soil will float out and create a mess. The tree is uprooted, and nothing remains.

The simple answer to this is to add a layer of gravel on top of the potting soil. This prevents the soil from slipping away and holds the plant firmly in place because it is heavy.

Another option is buying a substrate made from soil, which is basically lumps of earth that won't float and make the water cloudy. Note that they will eventually break too, but it will take longer.

Do aquarium plants need to grow lights?

Plants in your aquarium will need light to grow. They won't get enough water, even if your aquarium is fairly close to a window. Different plants need different levels of light, but you should definitely think about installing artificial light.

Your aquarium lighting will help the plants grow, and for some plants, this is enough. However, aquarium lights are designed to produce an attractive light on fish and tanks, so they don't have as much red and blue light – the colours plants need for photosynthesis.

Therefore, you may want to install grow lights near the tank. Grow lights are safe for your fish, but you should turn them off overnight. This will be best for both your fish and your plants.


How do you put houseplants in your aquarium?

There are different ways to grow indoor plants in a tank, and the method depends on the type of plant. You can use tongs to gently pin the plant to the wall of the tank so that the roots are submerged in the water.

You can also use the previous technique of fastening the trunk to the rock and submerging it in the gravel. Alternatively, you can plant the plant in a pot, cover the soil surface with gravel and submerge the pot.

It is possible to bury some plants, especially those that grow rhizomes, in the sand at the bottom of the tank. Place some small rocks around so that the roots are not disturbed.

What Houseplants Can You Put In An Aquarium?

Many popular and well-loved houseplants will grow perfectly in your aquarium.

You can try houseplants like:

  • Peace lilies, but you can only soak the roots and stems, not the foliage
  • Pothos are easy to grow in aquariums and are very popular
  • Yellow potholes will bring a little more colour to the tank than the standard green variety
  • Money trees must have left above the water but will grow well when the roots are submerged
  • Spider plant, once again, needs clean leaves in the water but will happily take root in the aquarium
  • Monstera plants, which can grow aerial roots into a nearby tank if available. Note that these will quickly get too big for the aquarium, but they look great!

Some common houseplants that won't do well include those in the succulent family and Snake Plants.

Succulents do not like being constantly wet; They need roots to dry out, so they are not suitable for growing in an aquarium. They will simply rot if you try.

Snake plants can readily grow in water, but they are quite toxic and should not be kept in your aquarium.


How do you know if your houseplants are aquarium safe?

The only way to know if a plant is safe to keep in an aquarium is to ask about that particular plant at a reputable aquarium store. There is a lot of misinformation surrounding aquatic plants, even online, and many plants that are not suitable for growing in water are mistakenly sold.

Always check before adding houseplants to your aquarium. Otherwise, it could kill your fish.

Can you propagate plants from your aquarium?

This is very plant-dependent, but many plants from the aquarium can be propagated as normal. Cut it out of the plant and place it somewhere else in the tank, or you can even grow it in a pot.

Many others, including Monstera plants, spider plants, and peace lilies, will also be fairly easy to propagate. Research each plant that you want to propagate and learn how to successfully take cuttings.


What To Do If Plants Grow Out of the Aquarium?

You don't need to worry if the plants in your aquarium start to outgrow. This is very common, especially with large trees like Monstera, and is nothing to worry about. In fact, emerging plants can be great for the tank.

Emerging plants typically receive more sunlight, or at least more light overall, so they will grow faster and filter nutrients out of the water more efficiently.

This keeps only your tank clean and free of algae while protecting fish from nitrate buildup.

Don't feel that you have to cut down the plants that are growing out of the aquarium. Instead, find ways to support them so they can continue to grow. Some people use cables, suction cups with hooks, or even homemade hanging baskets to help stabilize the plants when out of the water.


There are many houseplants that you can use to make your aquarium greener, brighter, and more natural. Try any of the above or ask your local aquatic store for more advice on which plants are best for the fish you have.

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