Aquatic plants should be chosen as per the availability of light, carbon and other resources. Water chemistry and temperature affect the health and growth of plants, so both these parameters should also be considered when buying a new plant.
In previous issues, we learned about the common requirements and cultivation of aquatic plants. In this issue, we shall read about some easy to maintain aquatic plants. Aquatic plants should be chosen as per the availability of light, carbon and other resources. Water chemistry and temperature affects the health and growth of plants, so both these parameters should also be considered when buying a new plant.
Foreground Plants:Plants which grow to be low in height are known as foreground plants. These plants are positioned in the front side of an aquarium. Some foreground plants require a lot of resources, while some can be grown in limited resources.
1. Marsilea hirsuta: Marsilea hirsute is a very easy but slow growing aquatic plant. Height of this pretty plant can be up to 2 centimeters. It spreads through runners and can adapt to a wide range of conditions. It can even tolerate temperatures of 30+ degrees Celsius.
2. Hair Grass: There are different variants of Hair Grass available, including Eleocharis acicularis, Eleocharis parvula, etc. This plant grows up to a height of 10 centimeters. This is a grass like plant and is easy to care for. It needs moderate to high light, clear water and nutrients in the soil.
3. Glossostigma elatinoides: This plant is commonly known as Glosso. A very attractive foreground plant, it grows to a height of up to 2 centimeters. This plant needs moderate to high light (direct) and nutrient rich water (and softer water) for optimal growth.. In insufficient light, it grows vertically; otherwise, it spreads speedily.
4. Sagittaria subulata: Sagittaria subulata is a very easy plant to maintain. It can tolerate a wide range of conditions from soft to hard water, and temperatures of up to 30 degree Celsius. This plant grows very fast through runners.
5. Hydrocotyle Sp.: Hydrocotyle sp. such as Hydrocotyle Honda and tripartite are popular foreground aquarium plants. They are very easy to grow but need a medium to high light. These plants are climbers and can take over any plants, rock or wood. Thus, they require regular trimming.
Mid-ground plants:Mid-ground plants are used to fill the middle area of an aquarium. Height of these plants varies between 30 to 40 centimeters but can be bigger in larger aquariums
.1. Anubias: Anubias is a very attractive and robust plant. It is undemanding and is able to tolerate a wide range of conditions. A slow growth rate, unique leaf structure, and the ability to grow without soil are some of the factors which make this a unique and popular plant. This plant can be positioned in different places within an aquarium. Anubias petite can be used as a foreground plant, while Anubias nana is suitable as a mid-ground plant.Anubias sp. plants can be grown under shade or in low light areas with soft to hard water. These plants can be grown over woods or rocks as they do not require soil.
2. Cryptocoryne sp.: Cryptocoryne species plants are hardy and robust. They can tolerate a wide range of conditions and are very easy to grow. Different leaf structure and height levels make these plants very popular. They are one of the best mid-ground plants as they possess specific characteristics like the ability to grow in shade or low light, their slow growth rate and adaptability to different conditions. Cryptocoryne and Anubias can, however, melt if kept in the same aquarium due to infection from a virus.
3. Hemianthus micranthemoides: Its small leaves, bright green color, and compact growth make this a unique plant. This plant is very
easy to maintain and considered a beginner plant. This plant does not have specific requirements and is able to grow in medium to high light. It is able to survive in high temperatures of up to 28+ degree Celsius. Regular trimming is required to maintain its compact growth. Its height can also be controlled to make a foreground lawn. This plant can also adapt to a wide range of conditions.
Hemianthus micranthemoides grows very fast and loves soft, clean water. Proper care and supply of adequate nutrients can help it grown into a stunning plant.
4. Java Fern: Java fern is one of the most popular plants among aquarists. This is a very beautiful and hardy plant. It can be grown in soft to hard water. This plant loves low to medium light. Due to its slow growth rate, high light can cause the incidence of algae. Java fern can be tied to rocks, wood or any other material. In other words, there is no requirement of soil to grow this beautiful fern.
Java Fern has many variants with different leaf structures. All the variants have similar requirements.
5. Mosses: Mosses are rootless non-vascular plants. They absorb nutrients through their leaves. Today, mosses have become an integral part of modern aquascaping styles like nature or forest styles. Aquascapers use mosses to create the illusion of trees and forests in the scapes.’ Most of the mosses don�t have specific requirements, except cold and clean water. They can be grown in low light and low-tech conditions. Mosses do not require soil for growth. These can be attached to rock or woods. Mosses can be used as a foreground plant over flat rocks, or net mid-ground or background plant by attaching to rocks or driftwoods.Mosses can be easily infested with algae, so they should be placed in indirect or low light.
Plants which are tall in height are called background plants. These plants are grown along the back wall of an aquarium.
1. Vallisneria sp.:/ Vallisneria is one of the most popular background plants. This species comes in many variants, each possessing different heights. It is easy to grow and is a hardy plant. Liquid carbon should be kept away from vallisneria aquariums due to the delicate nature of its leaf. They require low to medium light for their growth and a low amount of carbon and nutrients. New plants can be got from runners. Under proper conditions, they grow very fast.
2. Rotala rotundofolia: The narrow and fine leaf of Rotala rotundofolia gives it a unique look. It has different colour variants. Rotala rotundofolia is an easy to grow plant. It requires medium to high light with carbon dioxide and nutrients. It grows very fast and, thus, needs regular trimming, otherwise it will take over the entire aquarium within a few days. In favourable conditions, Rotala rotundofolia shows sharp colors depending on their variant. They can tolerate temzperatures of up to 30+ degree Celsius, and require soft to medium-hard water. Regular trimming provides it its compact growth.Rotala rotundofolia gives a great depth in aquascapes due to its leaf structure and varied colours.
3. Echinodorus sp.Echinodorus sp. plants have been very popular for decades. They have different leaf structures, heights and colours. Most of the plants belonging to the Echinodorus species are easy to grow in low to medium light, with low carbon and low nutrients. They do not require any special care and can tolerate different conditions pertaining to water and temperature.Echinodorus sp. plants are hardy and beautiful. They can be grown just by adding water and light in the aquarium. Some fishes uses Echinodorus sp. plants to lay eggs over leaf.
4. Ludwigia repens: is a beautiful looking and fast growing plant. Its round shape with a metallic tint coloured leaf adds a unique impression in the scape. This is one of the best background plants for medium to large aquariums. Ludwigia repens is an undemanding plant. It needs medium to high light, and low to medium amount of carbon and fertilizers.
This plant needs regular trimming. Its characteristics and low care makes it an ideal plant for beginners.
5. Cabomba: Cabomba looks like a pine tree. Its leaf shape adds a unique impression in aquarium. Cabomba needs medium to high light for its growth. In favourable conditions, it grows very fast and needs to be trimmed every week. This plant is easy to care without any specific requirements, except plenty of light.
In this issue, I tried to discuss some of the popular and easy to grow plants for beginner aquascapers.
* The Author Rajiv Sharma is founder of online aquarium forum www.aquapetz.com, an aquarium hobbyist and planted aquarium designer.