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FISH / fun & fashion

How to Grow Aquatic Plants for Your Tank

Decorating your fish tank with live plants

Overview

5 things to know about aquatic plants

  • Purpose: Plants help regulate the aquarium ecosystem by removing harmful chemicals from the water
  • Size: They grow up to 12 inches (30 cm) tall
  • Lifespan: They can live from 1 to 5 years
  • Habitat: Aquatic plants thrive in a tropical community aquarium
  • Did You Know: Some fish species will eat plants or uproot them. However, most tropical community fish will not harm plants

How do I set up my aquarium for aquatic plants?

  • To grow properly, aquarium plants need 8 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. The table below shows how much lighting to install or equivalent LED.
Tank Size
Lighting
10-gallon tank
One 15-watt tube
20-gallon tank
One 30-watt tube, or two 15-watt tubes
30-gallon tank
Two 20-watt tubes
40-gallon tank
Two 30-watt tubes
50-gallon tank
Two 40-watt tubes
85-gallon tank
Three 40-watt tubes
  • When considering plants for your tank, don’t choose so many that there isn’t enough room left over for the fish.
  • Layer the bottom of the aquarium with 2 to 3 inches (5-8 cm) of aquarium gravel (that’s about 1½ pounds of gravel per gallon of water), or other substrate designed for plants.
  • Add aquarium-plant fertilizer according to the instructions on the label.
  • Fill the aquarium halfway with water.
  • Add plants. Bury them in the gravel up to the base of their stems. For bulbs and tubers, cover the bulb with gravel up to the growing tip.
  • Add fish furniture, rocks, thermometers and any other aquarium accessories.
  • Finish filling the tank with water.

Where should I place plants in the aquarium?

  • Use foreground plants, which stay short, in the front of the tank.
  • Use middle-ground plants, which grow about 4 to 10 inches (10-25 cm) tall, along the sides and to leave an open swimming area 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.
Shop aquarium plants & rocks Shop aquarium hood lighting Shop aquarium starter kits

How do I keep aquarium water clean?

  • For optimum water quality, change 10% of the water each week, or 25% each month.
  • Regular water changes not only prevent the undesirable accumulation of solid wastes, but also remove nitrates and other waste products of the fish and plants.
  • PetSmart offers free aquarium-water testing. Bring in a sample of your aquarium water and we can test the quality within minutes.

How do I keep aquatic plants healthy?

If you notice any of the signs described below, speak with a PetSmart store associate about the health of your plant:

  • Brown spots on leaves
  • Pale green to yellowish leaves
  • Plants cease to grow and die off
  • Rotting bulbs
  • Algae in the aquarium
  • Take care when growing semi-aquatic (that is, not fully aquatic) plants in an aquarium. Semi-aquatic plants do best when their roots are submerged in the gravel underwater, but their tops grow above the water surface.

PET SAFETY TIPS

  • Thoroughly wash and rinse your hands before contact with your aquarium.
  • Aquatic animals and plants can transmit disease to humans. Wash your hands with soap and water after interacting with your aquarium. Children, pregnant women, elderly people and people with immune-system problems should take extra care. Adults should assist children with hand washing.
  • Keep aquatic plants and habitats away from food and areas where food is prepared.
  • Do not dispose of aquatic plants in the wild. They may harm the environment.

VET ASSURED™

Pets purchased at PetSmart are part of our exclusive Vet Assured™ program, designed by PetSmart veterinarians to help improve the health and well being of our pets.

Our vendors meet a high standard in caring for pets and screening them for common illnesses. This program also includes specific standards for in-store pet care.

PETSMART PROMISE

If your pet becomes ill during the initial 14-day period, or if you’re not satisfied for any reason, PetSmart will gladly replace the pet or refund the purchase price.