How Do I Grow Plants?

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There are a few basic things plants need to grow, most importantly substrate, light, carbon dioxide and nutrients. Even though plants help the overall health of a tank, and have a direct and beneficial influence on your fish, many fish keepers do not have these conditions right from the start and often give up on plants.

For more information on plants take a look through our articles & guides section

1 - Substrate
The substrate in a tank should be the area where nutrients build up and are stored so that the roots of plants can access them. If the substrate has too big a grain size (over 2-3mm) there will be too much oxygen flowing through and nutrients will be oxidised and unavailable to the plants. A good substrate should be several cms deep and of small grain size (1-2mm) but not as fine as sand. Getting your substrate right is the most important thing to keep plants.

2 - Lighting
The more light the better, and lights should be on for around 10-12 hours a day. Adding reflectors, replacing bulbs over a year old, and making sure cover slides are clean are a few quick steps to making the most of your lighting.

3 - Carbon dioxide and nutrients
If you only have a few plants, and/or stick to hardier varieties, you can get by without adding additional carbon dioxide or nutrients since a small supply of these is continually produced by your fish. To get the best out of a wide variety of plants it is worth looking at adding fertilisers and carbon dioxide to the tank.

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