The vast majority of aquatic plants are not taken from the wild but are grown by specialist
firms. These plants serve as decorative elements in the aquarium, but this is not their only
role, as they also contribute to its ecological balance, especially via their production of
oxygen when in the light.
The Origin Of Aquarium Plants
All aquarium plants will reproduce intanks, so there is no point in collectingthem in their natural setting, unless youwant new species or a pure variety. Someplants sold in aquatic stores are merehybrids bearing the name of one of its two”parents”, which can sometimes lead toconfusion. The collection of certain plantsfrom the wild is prohibited.
Aquarium plants are cultivated by specialistcompanies, mainly in South-East Asiabut also in Europe and the United States.Agricultural greenhouses are used, partlyheated by solar energy, or sometimesgeothermically, using hot water pumpedinto irrigation canals. Sunlight may becomplemented by artificial lighting if theplants demand this.Most species are raised with a large part ofthe plant – or even all of it – outside thewater, although the environment isextremely humid. They adapt to theaquarium setting, but tend to change theshape of their leaves when introducedinto this different environment.
Different Types Of Plants
Contrary to what one might expect, mostof the plants found in aquariums are notreally aquatic. They generally live partlyout of the water, with only the lower portionpermanently submerged. Their leavesare sturdy, unbroken in form, and quitebig. When the level of rivers and pondsrises due to rain – sometimes very heavyin tropical regions – the plants end upalmost entirely, or sometimes even completely,covered by water. They developsubmerged leaves, which are differentfrom those which appear outside thewater, being finer and more delicate. Atthe end of the rainy season, the waterreturns to its initial level, and the plantreassumes its previous form.Other plants are totally aquatic, with theupper part of their stems only rarely seenabove the water level – usually to producea flower.
There are also amphibian or totally aquatic mosses, that are very useful in aquariums, as they provide a place for some fish to lay
Different Types Of Plants In FreshWater Aquariums
|Stemmed Plants||Levaes of varying degress of fineness, on either side of the stem||Fairly rapid growth, easy to take cuttings.They are generally truly aquatic, but can survive outside water|
|Plants without any apparent stem, with roots and sometimes a bulb||The petiole (leafstalk) grows directly from the base. Sturdy and often large leaves||Fairly slow growth, reproduction by runners or by separation of the base. Amphibious adapts to total submersion|
|Floating plants||The Leaves spread out over the surface, with the roots visible to some extent under the water||Rapid growth if the light is intense They provide a refuge for fry. Swept along by currents in the water|
|Plants without buried roots||Rhizome (aerial root) developing on a support, with leaves growing out of it||Slow growth. The Attach themselves to various supports (rock, wood, artificial, décor)|
|Mosses||No Steam Visible, somewhat tufted appearance. They attach them selves to a support||Useful for some fish species to lay eggs|
Plants in a marine Aquarium
There are substantially fewer marineplants suited to an aquarium than freshwaterones. The most common are fromthe Caulerpa genus, which grow quicklyunder the right conditions. These algaeattach themselves to the floor and decorwith a runner. They are highly recommendedin a marine tank, as they arebound to enhance the overall balance.Their exuberant growth, however, cansometimes interfere with fixed marineinvertebrates, such as anemones andcorals. This anarchic behavior must thereforebe restrained by regularly eliminatinga certain amount of this vegetation
The role of plants in an Aquarium
Contrary to what is often thought, plantsdo not merely serve as decoration but alsomake a major contribution to the equilibriumof the aquarium (see page 196 onthe mechanism of photosynthesis): byday, they absorb carbon dioxide (CO2)given off by fish and produce oxygen(O2). Moreover, they absorb nitrates, theend product of the nitrogen cycle and thus reduce the concentrationin the water.
Plants are similarly useful for fish. Somespecies (like Ancistrus and Gyrinocheilus)feed on algae that grow on the decor, oreven on fine-leafed plants (as in the caseof livebearers from the Poeciliid family),though this can spoil the visual effect.Others, such as South American Characins, lay their eggs on the foliage,which helps to keep them out of sight ofpredators. Fish such as scaklares, watchingover their eggs, use large leaves to fanthem. When the fry are born, they findshelter in the vegetation – particularlyplants with floating leaves – as well asnourishment there, as the plants enhancethe development of microorganisms likeinfusorians, which are a valuable foodsource.Finally, if the vegetation is sufficientlylush, it can also provide welcome shadeand hiding places for adult fish.
Finally, if the vegetation is sufficiently lush, it can also provide welcome shade and hiding places for adult fish.
to be continued…
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