How To Stop Aquarium Plants From Dying? (11 Different Ways)

Image of healthy aquarium plants

Plants are a great addition to any aquarium due to their numerous benefits. However, just like fish, aquarium plants also need intense care to live a long life and thrive. Without proper care and maintenance, aquarium plants can die. So, how to stop aquarium plants from dying?

To stop aquarium plants from dying, they should get sufficient nutrients, lighting, carbon dioxide, fertilizers, proper water parameters, suitable substrates, and compatible tankmates. Aquarium plants can survive in diverse aquarium conditions with proper tank setup, care, and maintenance.

Cultivating a tank full of aquarium plants along with the fish can be daunting. However, if we look at the benefits aquarium plants provide to the fish, the effort is worth taking. So, let’s understand how to take proper care of aquarium plants and stop them from dying.

11 Ways To Stop Aquarium Plants From Dying

Given below are 11 ways to save aquarium plants from dying:

1. Choose the right aquarium plant.

The first and foremost thing while choosing an aquarium plant is to check its adaptability.

You should not select a saltwater plant for a freshwater aquarium and vice-versa.

Besides, just like other living creatures, aquarium plants are also subject to diseases and stress. So, proper care and maintenance are of utmost importance.

Sword plants, Anubis, and Anarchies are often recommended and preferred by many aquarists for freshwater aquariums as they are comparatively easy to take care of.

2. Select a suitable plant substrate.

Plant substrate is essential for the healthy growth of aquarium plants. A substrate covers the bottom of the aquarium.

Proper and suitable substrate helps in keeping the plants alive. At the same time, a good substrate provides a fertile area for the plant roots to develop.

Aquarium plants need a minimum of 2 to 3 inches of a substrate to grow and anchor their roots. Fine gravel or sand is the best option for live aquarium plants. You must carefully choose the right substrate as selecting the wrong one can adversely affect the plants’ growth.

Plants require substrate mainly for two reasons:

  1. To get the essential nutrients.
  2. To stay in one place in the aquarium.

3. Have proper lighting.

Lighting is essential for aquarium plants to stay healthy. Plants that are in their natural habitat depend on sunlight for photosynthesis. However, when you have live plants in your aquarium, artificial lighting serves the purpose.

Plants require light for photosynthesis. In simple terms, photosynthesis is the process by which plants prepare their food. So, sufficient lighting is very critical for plants to thrive.

Now, the amount of light required depends on the type of aquarium plant. Some plants can thrive on low lighting, while some need moderate to bright lighting.

Generally, on average, 8 to 12 hours of lighting is sufficient for the proper growth of aquarium plants. However, if you notice excessive algae growth due to lighting, you should reduce illumination hours accordingly.

One important point to remember is that constant lighting tends to produce more heat and increase the aquarium’s water temperature. This may prove hazardous to your fish. So, fluorescent or LED lighting is a better option because of its low heat output. It is not only safe for the fish but also promotes the growth of live aquarium plants.

4. Use correct fertilizers.

Fertilizer is yet another factor that enhances plant growth. Suitable fertilizer helps in preventing many deficiencies in the plant. Without proper fertilizer, your plants will not grow as they will lack the appropriate nutrients.

Just as humans require nutrients to live, plants also need appropriate nutrients to grow and thrive. Nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium are the nutrients that plants consume in large quantities. On the other hand, iron, boron, and manganese are the nutrients that plants need in small amounts.

Any deficiency of these nutrients can result in stunted growth of the plants. To avoid these deficiencies, aquarists use fertilizers to ensure that plants have access to all the nutrients.

Before adding any fertilizer, you should always ensure that the light and pH levels are right. Once the conditions are suitable, you can use the fertilizer. Fertilizers come in either liquid form, tablet form, or substrate form that can be mixed.

Also, the frequency of fertilizer usage depends on the plant size, type of soil, and water temperature.

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5. Clean the water regularly.

Just like fish, aquarium plants also need clean water to thrive. Contaminated water is the biggest enemy of aquarium plants.

Good hygiene in the tank and clean water are essential as aquarium plants get fully submerged in the tank water. So, you should ensure that the aquarium water is always clean.

Regular water changes help in keeping the water clean and results in healthy plant growth.

6. Maintain water temperature and pH levels.

Water temperature is another crucial factor to be considered. Just like fish, aquarium plants also need suitable water temperature to grow and thrive. Most aquarium plants do well when the aquarium’s water temperature ranges from 70°F to 80°F.

Some aquarium plants like Anacharis and Japanese Dwarf Rush prefer cooler water temperatures for their optimum growth.

Along with the ideal water temperature, it is also advisable to check the aquarium water’s pH levels. Most of the aquarium plants prefer a pH level in the range of 6.5 to 7.8.

Besides, aquarium plants can alter the pH level by either raising or lowering it under different circumstances. Just like fish, plants normally adapt to the water chemistry of their home waters. For example, the Amazon sword plant prefers soft and acidic water. On the other hand, plants like Anubias are hardy and can adapt to various pH levels.

So, it is essential to provide your plants with the ideal water temperatures and pH levels for their optimum growth.

7. Control algae growth.

Excessive algae growth on aquarium plants can be one of the reasons for their death. Hence, it is crucial to check on the growth of algae on the leaves of aquarium plants.

If the algae growth is meager, it is of no concern. You can then rub off the algae from the leaves, and your plants will survive.

However, if the algae growth is moderate to high, you should immediately remove the plants from the aquarium and scrub the algae off with a brush. After scrubbing, you can rinse them with clean water and place them back in the aquarium.

On the other hand, extreme algae growth is dangerous. You will then be required to cut off the leaves and bleach the aquarium plants. In this process, there are high chances that your aquarium plants may get damaged and may not survive. However, you need to take that chance because if the algae continue to grow, the plants will not survive anyway.

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8. Remove plants while changing water.

It is essential to remove plants from the aquarium while performing a water change. If the aquarium plants are not removed, they may die while performing the water change.

Once you remove the plants and place them in another container, the water temperature of that container should match the temperature of the aquarium water. There shouldn’t be any drastic difference.

Also, the container should not contain any chemicals. The water in the container should be clean.

Besides, you should also pay attention to the water that you are filling in the aquarium. The water should not contain any toxins or impurities that can harm your aquarium plants.

9. Provide sufficient nutrients.

Just like humans, plants also need nutrients to grow and thrive. Aquarium plants need several macronutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, carbon, and potassium in large quantities.

Similarly, plants require micronutrients such as iron, copper, zinc, and magnesium in small quantities. Lack of sufficient nutrients can result in stunted growth of the plants.

Usually, some of these nutrients are naturally available in the aquarium. However, these are not sufficient. So, you should supplement them with appropriate fertilizers to ensure the proper and healthy growth of the aquarium plants.

10. Supply enough carbon dioxide.

For the healthy growth of aquarium plants, carbon dioxide (CO2) is essential. CO2 is a vital nutrient for the plants. Without sufficient CO2, plants cannot perform photosynthesis for their healthy growth.

Carbon dioxide deficiency can result in crippled growth of the plant and yellow leaves.

So, you should provide your aquarium plants with carbon dioxide fertilizers to cope with CO2 deficiency. You should also regularly check the carbon dioxide levels in the aquarium for the optimum growth of plants.

Although all plants require carbon dioxide, some plants like Java Moss can thrive in low CO2 levels.

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11. Keep compatible tankmates.

Another way to ensure the long life of aquarium plants is to find compatible tankmates. Many fish love to nibble the aquarium plants. Fish often look upon plants as a food source and devour them. There are some aggressive fish that will even uproot the plants. So, don’t be surprised if your plants get dislodged and start to float on the water surface.

Java Fern is one of the popular plants preferred by many aquarists as most of the fish do not like to munch on this plant. Also, avoid keeping any aggressive plant-eating fish such as Tetras, Cichlids, and Silver Dollar. Instead, try to find the aquarium plants that can be safely kept with the fish in your aquarium.

Alright! So, you are now aware of the various ways to keep your aquarium plants alive. But…

How To Keep Aquarium Plants Alive Before Planting?

To keep aquarium plants alive before planting, the first thing you need to do is to clean them thoroughly. This will eliminate any bacteria that can threaten their growth. Besides, if you do not wish to keep your plants in the aquarium immediately, you need to keep them in a bucket filled with water.

If the water in the bucket is tap water, it is essential to dechlorinate it before putting plants in it. Additionally, you can add a small quantity of liquid fertilizer into the water so that the aquarium plants get all the essential nutrients.

It is recommended that you use the aquarium water to keep your plants as you will then not be required to treat the water separately. Besides, the aquarium water may contain some fish waste, which is nutritious for the plants.

Your plants should also have access to adequate lighting so that they can photosynthesize and stay healthy till the time you plant them in the aquarium.

Another method to keep the aquarium plants alive is to wrap them in a paper towel and then wrap them in the newspaper. You can then wet the newspaper by sprinkling some water on it with a spray bottle.

This process is tedious as you need to regularly spray some water on the newspaper to keep it wet and change the newspaper every day to ensure the plants are fresh and alive.

This method should only be used when you have hardy plants because, in this method, the aquarium plants will be deprived of any light that is essential to keep them alive. This method is also not useful if you will not be placing the plants in the aquarium soon. Hence, the bucket method is widely used by most aquarists.

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Final Thoughts

Just like fish, aquarium plants also need proper care and maintenance for their survival.

Cultivating a tank full of aquarium plants is a big challenge. However, aquarium plants can be an attractive way to add natural beauty to a fish tank with little effort.