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Self-Improvement & Hobbies

Aquascaping – plants

If you’re a dedicated hobbyist who doesn’t mind putting in time and effort, try and add live plants to beautify your aquarium
CATS Classified In The Straits Times - January 8, 2011
By: Wong Wei Chen
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Aquascaping – plants

So you’ve got the substrate all laid out, your rockwork in place, and perhaps some ornaments as well? So what’s next?

Plants, of course!

Aquatic flora introduces a soft feel that complements hardware like filters, rocks and decor, and is therefore an indispensible element for any aquarist who aspires to set up a beautiful aquarium.

Natural or artificial

While many prefer live flora, using plastic plants is certainly not taboo. Artificial plants are easy to maintain: they don’t die or decay; they don’t grow too big; they don’t get dirty or covered with algae; they are remarkably durable; and best of all, you don’t have to worry about giving them adequate exposure to light. Plastic plants are therefore a good option for busy people (or lazy blokes like me).

On the other hand, if you’re a dedicated hobbyist who doesn’t mind putting in time and effort, live plants are the way to go. Not only are they more beautiful, they fulfil many functional roles which are beneficial to aquarium denizens. In addition, caring for live plants, observing their growth and seeing results when they mature can be as rewarding as keeping fish!

Planting techniques

Aquatic plants tend to be more fragile than their terrestrial counterparts, so handle them with care. Rough handling can easily cause damage to leaves, stems or roots.

Different types of plants require different substrate depth. Aquatic plants can be broadly grouped into four categories:

  • Plants that attach their roots to rocks or wood (eg, plants of the Anubias genus)
  • Plants with large rootstocks (eg, those of the Nymphaea genus)
  • Plants that have shallow roots (eg, those belonging to the genus Hygrophila)
  • Deep-rooted plants (eg, those of the genus Echinodorus)

The deeper its roots, the more depth the plant needs. Generally, a substrate depth of 5cm to 10cm should suffice for most plants. Inadequate depth will lead to malnutrition and entanglement of roots.

Rubber bands, weights or plastic pots are meant to be temporary, and are best removed if your plants have enough roots to hold themselves in place.


Here are some guidelines for arranging your plants:

  • Put tall plants in the background, and short ones in front.
  • By and large, aquatic plants look better in groups, so plant them in small bunches of three or four. (Some aquarists think that grouping plants in odd-numbered bundles makes for a more natural look. Experiment and decide for yourself.)
  • Don’t aggregate your flora in one spot. Intersperse your little bundles among rocks and decorations, so that you’ll achieve a balance of light and dark, hard and soft.


Aqua Muay Thai