Fishbowl Adviser

How to Plant Aquarium Plants

Live plants in your aquarium are not only beautiful but also very beneficial for your fish community, no matter which type you keep. They create an almost natural environment for the animals, and they take action in the nitrogen cycle. If you’ve decided to take out plastic greenery and get some live ones, you should learn how to plant aquarium plants.

Your pets will be grateful for this change for many reasons. Live aquatic plants offer shelter, shade, and sometimes even food – fish sleep nested under plants, and one of the answers to what do fish eat is aquatic plants. Of course, you’ll properly feed your aquarium fish, but they will surely be thrilled to have a munch on an aquatic plant now and then.

Aquarium plants and fishes

The Technique of Planting Varies

Just like you have to know how to acclimate new fish to the tank, it’s also essential to do the same for new live plants you’re about to plant. Not every aquatic plant can be planted the same way – the technique will be different depending on the plants you chose to buy. For example, you will have to use different methods for floating aquarium plants, ground-covering plants, loose mosses, and aquatic plants that can be grown on sand or gravel. The whole trick is to plant them the right way, so they don’t end up floating around your aquarium randomly. It’s best to do this while setting up a fish tank and acquiring the best aquarium gravel or some other substrate.

Do Aquarium Plants Need Soil?

Different aquatic plants have distinctive growing conditions. For some, you might have to adjust the pH in your aquarium, light, water hardness, or temperature. However, they have one thing in common – they can all grow in any substrate, so the answer to the question of can you plant aquarium plants in gravel is most definitely yes. The ideal scenario would be 2 to 3 inches of laterite, which is a rock and soil combination very rich in nutrients such as iron and aluminum. That layer should be covered with one inch of a larger substrate, such as gravel. If you decide not to use laterite, make sure you provide the plants with fish-safe fertilizers, iron supplements, and food additives.

Acquire the Right Type of Gravel

Before you start planting, make sure you’ve got the right kind of gravel – the ideal one that will give your plants the best starting conditions. Small gravel is usually a better option for the growth of most aquatic plants – the size of grains should be 0.1 to 0.2 inches.

Try not to shift your gravel for as long as you can so that the plants can remain stable and thrive. It will take some time for the newly planted greenery to develop its roots and then spread.

However, not shifting gravel can lead to having a cloudy fish tank. To avoid that, you can use a siphon vacuum for cleaning aquarium gravel and aquarium maintenance.

How to Plant Aquarium Plants in Gravel?

Here’s a step-by-step list of the best method to plant aquatic plants:

  • The first step is layering the gravel not more than 2 to 3 inches
  • Next, you should add fertilizer to the gravel and then fill the tank with water about halfway before you add in the plants you selected
  • Take the tweezers and grab one plant by the roots, and place it directly into the substrate
  • Handle the bulbs and roots gently
  • Hold the plant with your finger and remove the tweezers, and the plant will be securely planted in the gravel

Once you finish, you can continue to beautify your tank by adding more accessories like rocks or caves.

How to Plant Aquatic Plants in an Established Aquarium?

If you have an already established fish tank, the essential step is to ensure that the plant can attach to something that will weigh it down so that it doesn’t get dislodged because of fish activities. It can be a rock or any other fish-safe item. It would be good to have some extra support for the plant, so get a small amount of substrate to cover around the root. You can also reinforce it with a few small rocks to keep it from floating away.

Pick the Right Aquatic Plant and Learn How to Care for It

Make sure you learn all there is about the specific plant you bought. That includes the following:

  • Care level
  • Light requirement
  • Growth rate
  • Temperature
  • Ph
  • Hardness
  • Placement in the aquarium
  • Maximum size of the plant
  • Minimum tank size

For the successful growth of your plants, you should invest in a beneficial light source, iron-based fertilizer, and a fish tank cleaner. Keep an eye on the possible overgrowth, especially when it comes to floating plants that can easily block the light to the plants on the bottom of the tank if not pruned regularly.

Freshwater aquarium plants


Having live plants is an amazing way to improve the lives of your fish community. They will have a place to hide, sleep, lower their stress levels, and have a snack. Aquatic plants are also great for fry, they control algae growth, and most importantly – they produce oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide. Planting them isn’t hard, and with proper technique, they will stay anchored securely in one place, providing your fish with all the beneficial things they have to offer.


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