What is the biggest difference you see in great looking aquariums and average looking aquariums? Tropical fish tank plants are what often make the difference. A beginner often buys a handful of the cute little plastic plants to decorate their tank, a serious hobbyist adds real plants, which enhance the beauty and health of their tank.
While you may think to add tropical fish tank plants is going to greatly increase your workload, you are completely wrong. They do add a bit of work to get them set up properly, but once in place, they aid in keeping down the sudden explosions of algae, since they absorb the light, and reduce the available nutrients necessary for an algae explosion.
For most beginners, you will need to stick with tropical fish tank plants which are designed for lower light conditions. This is due to the power of bulbs and fixtures which are bundled with most starter packs. They do not provide the high amounts of light needed to make certain more advanced plants grow and survive. Common starter plants include Microsporum, Cryptocoryne, Echinodorus, and Vallisneria. They will thrive in lower lighting conditions and are perfect for a starter kit.
Another common failure in adding live plants to your aquarium is not getting a proper substrate in the bottom of the tank. If your tank is just filled with the common pea-sized gravel it will not support plants well at all. Use sand or the clay like laterite to give your plants a substrate they can grab onto with their roots and get anchored in place.
One factor much first-time aquatic plant owners miss is the necessity of a fertilizer. Check with the pet store you are buying the plants from and get a good quality fertilizer. Always start off with less fertilizer than recommended, about 50 percent, and then increase the amount if the plants appear to need more. Using too much fertilizer can enhance the growth of algae, and be harder on your fish.
Since your tropical fish plants are living and growing you must plan to do routine maintenance. You will on occasion need to trim them back. This is quite simple with a good sharp pair of small pruning scissors. You will just need to plan on getting your hands a little wet. The ideal time is to prune your plants a the same time you are changing out 15 to 25 percent of your water for normal aquarium upkeep. The water level will be lower allowing you easier access to the plants.
Two items to always keep your eyes open for is dead material and algae growth. Trim away and remove dead material from the tank as soon as possible. It increases problems with water quality. The best way to keep algae growth down is to keep the tank out of direct sunlight, do not overuse fertilizer, and add algae eating fish and snails to your tank.
Adding tropical fish tank plants will take your aquarium from ordinary to fabulous. It is the simple difference between real flowing beauty and fake plastic green.