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FISH / fun & fashion

How to Grow Aquatic Plants for Your Tank

Decorating your fish tank with live plants


Aquatic plant basics

Plants help balance aquarium water by removing ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and phosphate from the water.

Overall tips for aquatic plants

  • To grow properly, aquarium plants need eight to 12 hours daily of simulated sunlight. Set up the aquarium near a power source (but out of the real sun). Then use a hood light on the tank to provide the rays.
  • The amount of light your aquarium will need depends on the size of the tank. Ask a PetSmart store associate if you need help with aquarium lighting.
  • When considering plants for your tank, don’t choose so many that there isn’t enough room left over for the fish.
  • Use 2 to 3 inches of aquarium gravel, or other substrate designed for plants.
  • Fill the aquarium halfway with water before adding any plants.
  • Add plants (as well as fish furniture, rocks, thermometers and other aquarium accessories) then finish filling the tank completely with water.
  • Bury plants in the gravel up to the base of their stems. For bulbs and tubers, cover the bulb with gravel up to the growing tip.

What plants to put where

  • Use foreground plants, which stay short, in the front of the tank.
  • Use middle-ground plants, which grow about 4 to 10 inches tall, along the sides and to make features near the center of the aquarium.
  • Use the tallest plants to hide the aquarium’s filter tubes and heaters, against the back wall of the aquarium.
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Water Quality Testing

PetSmart offers free aquarium water testing. Bring in a sample of your aquarium water and we can test the quality within minutes.