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When to Plant Aquarium Plants? (and How to Plant Them)

There are a lot of benefits of keeping live aquarium plants in an aquarium.

So you want to keep some live plans in your tank.

But you don’t know when to plant aquarium plants.

Well, in this article, I am going to answer the same question

Keep reading.

When to Plant Aquarium Plants? (and How to Plant Them) image

When should you plant aquarium plants?

You can plant aquarium plants anytime in your aquarium whether you are starting with a new tank or you already have an established aquarium. However, there are some additional benefits of planting the plants while setting up a new tank.

Benefits of planting live aquarium plants in an established tank

Benefits of planting live aquarium plants in an established tank image

There are a lot of benefits of planting live aquarium plants in an established tank.

1. Added filtration

Fish require a clean environment in an aquarium for their healthy growth.

Though aquarium filter helps to keep the aquarium clean, the live aquarium plants will provide an added filtration.

All the waste present in your aquarium such as fish poop, uneaten food, etc produces ammonia which is harmful to the fish in your aquarium.

But this ammonia is actually beneficial for the plants. So the plants will absorb the ammonia and use it as a fertilizer to grow in your aquarium.

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2. Oxygen

Plants respire just as we do and the fish in your aquarium does.

But the difference is plants take Carbon dioxide during the day and release Oxygen.

This helps to oxygenate the tank.

But at night time this process reverses.

At night plants take Oxygen and release Carbon dioxide.

Usually, this doesn’t cause any issue in most of the aquarium unless you are planting a lot of plants in your tank.

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3. Substrate health

If you are using sand substrate in your aquarium then, as the substrate is very tightly packed, there is a possibility that oxygen may not reach deep into the substrate.

If Oxygen didn’t reach any part of the substrate then anaerobic bacteria starts to form in those areas.

The anaerobic bacteria produce hydrogen sulfide gas.

Over time this gas build-up into the substrate of your aquarium.

And it can blow up anytime.

Hydrogen sulfide gas is toxic for the fish and it can even cause the death of the fish in the aquarium.

You can easily eliminate this problem by planting root feeder aquarium plants in the aquarium.

The roots of the plants will spread out deep into the substrate which will break these anaerobic bacteria pockets. So the hydrogen sulfide gas will not build up in the substrate of your tank.

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4. Algae

If you’re noticing algae growth in your aquarium then planting some fast growing live aquarium plants can help to reduce the algae in your tank.

Algae require nutrients to grow in an aquarium. So when you plant some fast growing live aquarium plants in your tank, the plants will absorb all the available nutrients which will starve the algae and restrict its growth in your aquarium.

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5. Emulate the natural habitat

Most of the fish have live aquarium plants in their natural habitat.

The live plants in the natural habitat provide hiding places to the small fish to protect themselves from bigger fish.

The live plants also provide a surface for the fish to lay their eggs. so if you’re planning to breed live fish then keeping live plants can be beneficial.

Besides, some fish also like to nibble on the plants sometimes.

Overall, you can emulate the natural habitat of the fish in your tank by planting some live plants in your aquarium.

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6. Decoration

Along with all the benefits mentioned above, live aquarium plants also offers you an opportunity to design your aquarium and give it a unique look.

There’s a lot you can do with live aquarium plants in your tank.

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Benefits of planting live aquarium plants in a new tank

Benefits of planting live aquarium plants in a new tank

Along with all the benefits that I have mentioned above planting the live aquarium plants in a new tank provides you more control.

What I mean by control is that while setting up the tank you can choose the plants of your choice and you can choose the substrate of your choice for the plants. 

Overall, you can plan out your planted tank.

1. Substrate

A substrate is one of the most essential parts when it comes to growing live aquarium plants.

A substrate is especially important if you are going to plant heavy root feeder aquarium plants like Rosetta plants such as Sword plants and Stem plants in your aquarium.

As these plants absorb most of the nutrients through their roots, planting them in a nutrient-rich substrate can really 9help them grow better and faster.

You can also plant these plants in sand or gravel substrate. But then you’ll need to provide them nutrients through root tabs.

Root tabs are basically tablets of fertilizers that you can insert near the roots of the plants.

Slowly, over time, the nutrients will get released into the substrate through the root tabs. Live plants can use these nutrients for their growth.

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2. Plants and placement

If you plant the live plants while setting up the aquarium, you have a lot of choices which you may not have while planting in an established tank.

This is because, in an established tank, you’ll have to choose the plants according to the fish in your tank.

Also, you have total control over the placement of the plants. And you can design your planted aquarium as you want it to look when it is grown up.

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3. Nitrogen cycle

Live aquarium plants can speed up the nitrogen cycle of your aquarium.

When you plant live plants in your aquarium, some leaves of the plants will shed off. These leaves will create ammonia in the aquarium. 

The plant will absorb this ammonia. And over time beneficial bacteria will start to form in your aquarium. 

After a few weeks, anywhere between 2 to 6 weeks, your tank will have sufficient beneficial bacteria to support fish in your aquarium.

Live plants will also provide space for beneficial bacteria.

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How to plant live aquarium plants in a tank?

You can put the live aquarium plants at different locations in your aquarium.

And depending on the type of plant, you can plant it at several places in your aquarium.

How to plant live aquarium plants into the substrate?

You can plant stem plants as well as rhizome plants into the substrate of your aquarium.

Some people also attach moss plants to the substrate.

How to plant stem plant into the substrate of your aquarium?

Planting stem plant into the substrate of your aquarium is a pretty straight forward process.

You just have to bury the roots of the plant into the substrate if it has roots.

If the stem plants you got don’t have any roots then you can simply bury the bottom part into the substrate just enough to hold it straight into the aquarium.

How to plant rhizome plant into the substrate of your aquarium?

Rhizome plants are the plants, as the name suggests, which has rhizome.

These plants also have roots.

So when planting the rhizome plant into the substrate, you should just bury the roots of the plants into the substrate.

And make sure you are not burying the rhizome of the plant into the substrate because the rhizome will rot 0if you bury it and the plant will die.

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How to plant the live aquarium plants on the ornament in your aquarium?

You can plant the live aquarium plants on the ornaments such as rock or driftwood in your aquarium.

One thing to note here is that you can’t plant all the live aquarium plants on the ornaments.

Usually, you can plant rhizome plants and moss plants on the ornaments such as driftwood or rock, etc.

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How to plant rhizome plant on the ornament in your aquarium?

As I mentioned earlier, rhizome plants have rhizomes along with roots.

You can easily attach rhizome plants such as Anubias to any ornament like driftwood or rock by tieing its rhizome to the ornament.

You can tie the plant to the ornament using a cotton string for a fishing line.

Besides, you can also glue the plant to the ornament using super glue or glue that is specially designed to attach live plants to ornaments.

Seachem Flourish Glue is specially designed to glue live plants in your aquarium. Check it out at Amazon here.

How to plant Moss plant on the ornament in your aquarium?

You can easily attach moss plants such as Java moss or Christmas moss to any ornament such as driftwood or rock using a fishing line or cotton string. You can also glue the plants to the ornament using super glue.

Moss plants don’t have any roots.

So you just have to take small portions of the plant and attach them to the ornaments.

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How to keep floating aquarium plants in your aquarium?

Floating aquarium plants, as the name suggests, are the plants you can keep floating in your aquarium.

You don’t need any substrate to keep them in your tank.

Besides, you can keep most of the rhizome plants as floating plants in your aquarium. Though it is not very common practice to keep rhizome plants as a floating plant. And they are generally tied to ornaments in the aquarium.

You can also keep Moss plant as a floating plant in your aquarium. However, eventually, they will get attached to something in your tank.

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FAQ

What do you plant aquarium plants in?

You have a few choices when it comes to planting live aquarium plants.

You can plant the plants in a gravel substrate, nutrient-rich substrate, or sand substrate.

Actually, you should choose the substrate according to the plants you’re going to plant in your tank.

If you’re to plant heavy root feeder aquarium plants in your tank then ideally you should plant them in a nutrient-rich substrate.

Because root feeder aquarium plants, as the name suggests, absorb nutrients through their roots.

So as a nutrient-rich substrate is packed with a lot of nutrients, planting root feeder plants in a nutrient-rich substrate will help them to grow better.

Besides, you can also plant live aquarium plants even root feeder aquarium plants in sand or gravel substrate.

But then you will need to supplement plants with root tabs which are basically small tablets of fertilizers.

You can also attach rhizome plants and moss plants to any ornament like driftwood or rock using a fishing line or cotton string and keep it in your aquarium.

Can you plant aquarium plants in gravel?

You can plant live aquarium plants in gravel. 
However, if you plant the live aquarium plants that absorb nutrients through the substrate then you will need to insert root tabs into the gravel substrate to provide them the nutrients as gravel doesn’t contain any nutrients.

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Do aquarium plants need soil?

You don’t need soil to plant live aquarium plants in your aquarium.

You can plant them in sand or gravel substrate.

But to provide the nutrients, you just have to insert the root tabs into the substrate to provide the essential nutrients.

Do aquarium plants grow better in sand or gravel?

Both sand and gravel are very good substrate to plant live aquarium plants in.

You can grow live aquarium plants in both substrates.

However, both sand and gravel are inert substrates and they don’t provide any nutrients to the live plants. So you will have to provide the nutrients by inserting the root tabs into the substrate.

As far as which one is better between sand or gravel is concerned they are both good for plants as I mentioned above.

And they both have some pros and cons over others.

So, whether sand or gravel is good for your aquarium really comes down to the aesthetic look you are going after. And the type of fish you want to keep in your tank.

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Conclusion

The live aquarium plants are a very good addition to any aquarium whether it is established or a new tank.

You can plant them at any time in your aquarium.

However, there are some benefits of planting the live aquarium plants at the beginning compared to planting them in an established tank.

I hope you found this article helpful.

If you do, please share it.

Happy aquascaping! 

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