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How Do I Take Care of Floating Plants?

Picked out a winning set of plants to cover the surface of your aquarium, but unsure what special requirements they might have?

Let's explore why someone would favor floating plants over other types of plants in the first place.

Floating plants are among the simplest aquarium plants to grow.

They are a great alternative for both outright beginners and those searching for cost-effective options.

Floaters are largely self-sustaining, fuss-free, and affordable to maintain.

In a pond or aquarium, these plants are beneficial to the entire ecosystem in many ways!

They are excellent aerators and assist in filtering dangerous levels of chemicals out of the aquarium or water garden.

In order for other life forms, like fish, to flourish, they balance the pH and maintain a low nitrate level.

Floaters can also supply food to some fish (like Goldfish), as well as shade for other plants and fish who may not appreciate direct light.

Fish and other cohabitants of the area can find good hiding places and breeding grounds in the surface and undergrowth of floating plants.


Another reason why people like floaters: they are above water generally, and so have unlimited access to co2.

This generally means they grow a lot faster than below water (submerged) plants. The roots are still in water, so they suck up nutrients and other harmful chemicals that could hurt your tank inhabitants.

Many people add them as a temporary plant right at the beginning of cycling in an aquarium. They grow pretty fast (for the c02 reason above), and so work great to cycle the aquarium better than slower growing regular plant types. 

Finally, floating plants also improve the ambiance of your tank or water garden by giving the fish a more natural landscape that's more comfortable for them, and looks better for you.

Here's a brief overview of how to care for floating plants in an aquarium:

  1. Start by choosing a type of floating plant that is suitable for your aquarium. Some popular options include water lettuce, duckweed, and frogbit 

  2. Before adding the floating plants to your aquarium, make sure it is properly set up and cycled. This means that the water is at the right temperature and pH, and that there is enough filtration to keep your nitrates, nitrites, and ammonia low. 

  3. Once your aquarium is ready, you can add the floating plants to the tank. Simply place them on the surface of the water, making sure they have enough room to spread out and grow. Be sure their little roots are pointing DOWN!  

  4. After adding the floating plants, make sure to provide them with the right lighting and nutrients. Floating plants generally prefer bright, direct light, as that's how they grow in nature. You can also add a liquid fertilizer to the water to provide the plants with the nutrients they need to grow. 


  5. Most Floating plants can't stand water splashing on their leaves. If you see a fair amount of browning and rot on your floaters, this could be a contributing factor. Be sure to corral them away from your filter intake or outlet, or away from an aggressive airline output. Consider turning down your bubblers too. 

  6. Having some issues with color? Floaters such as Red Root Floaters require high lights to get that deep, bright red on their upper leaves. They might also appreciate a little Iron supplementation too! Once they get established, (color or no) they grow like weeds!

  7. Be patient and give the floating plants time to grow and establish themselves in the aquarium.

  8. It may take several weeks or even months for the plants to become fully established and start growing well.

Generally -- and as compared to most other aquatic plants-- taking care of floating plants in an aquarium requires the least care and attention .

By providing reasonable tank conditions, you are pretty much guaranteed success with this category of live plants.

Enjoy the beauty and benefits of floaters in your aquarium!

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