Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How to Choose Aquarium Equipment


Aquarium Plants
Fish feel more secure when there are plants in which to hide.
Fish feel more secure when there are plants in which to hide.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Live plants can add beauty to any aquarium and are good for the fish as well.

Fish feel more secure when there are plants to hide in. Some fish will spawn among plants, and vegetarian species will eat plants. Because you are not likely to want your aquarium plants eaten, you will either have to avoid vegetarian species or use plastic plants instead.

Many species of live plants will do well in an aquarium, but some do better than others depending on the water chemistry and the amount of light.

Do not use house plants in an aquarium. They will not last long and will contribute to water quality problems as they begin to decay.

Unfortunately, some dealers are not familiar enough with live plants to always know whether the plants they carry are truly aquatic species or not. A good book on aquarium plants is very helpful in this regard and will also provide extensive information on the care and maintenance of plants.

Live plants compete with algae for nutrients in the water, and therefore limit their growth. Many hobbyists think algae are unattractive, but they are a natural part of any aquatic ecosystem and can provide food for some species of fish.

Problems with these single-celled plants begin when they multiply too rapidly, which is usually the result of too many nutrients in the water and too much light being available. Partial water changes and a reduction in the number of hours the tank lights are on usually control excess algae. If the tank is located where it receives sunlight, it can be impossible to control algae growth.

Plastic plants are preferred by many hobbyists. They can be very realistic in appearance, and they largely eliminate the need to worry about having enough light.

In addition, some species of fish are stressed by intense illumination. They can be uncomfortable in tanks with the bright lighting required for plant growth. Artificial plants make it much easier to decorate their tanks suitably.

Learn how to test your aquarium water with a simple kit on the next page.

To learn more about freshwater aquariums, see: