Improving Aquarium Plants

I’ve never had much luck with aquatic plants, it seems that all but the very hardy struggle to survive more than a couple of months in my aquaria so I’ve decided to do something about it.

One solution would be CO2 injection. I covered this briefly before but I have never seriously considered it for two main reasons –

1) Cost of set up

2) Risk to fish of from overdosing.

For these main reasons I decided against CO2 injection and have instead adopted a few cheaper and safer options to see how they work. My new plan to improve my plants consists of the following:

  1. Liquid carbon: I discovered this after doing a bit of research into gas injection alternatives. All plants need carbon to grow, it’s what they take in when they photosynthesise and in a heavily planted aquarium there can be insufficient carbon to supply the plants growth. This in turn can mean that the plants are limited in the amount of nutrients they take up out the water which can lead to excess algae growth. The theory behind liquid carbon is that it is safer than gas injection as there is less risk of accidental overdose, but it still increases the amount of carbon available to the plants, increasing the amount of growth and in theory also limiting algae growth. Liquid carbon is also much more cost effective than gas injection especially for a small to medium tank. The only downside as I see it is that you have to re-dose every day to keep supplying the plants. I paid about £10 for a 500ml bottle of Easy-Life Easycarbo and dosing about 3ml a day into my 180l tank (as per the guidance on the back) it should last around 3 months – not too bad at all.
  2. Fertiliser: I have used fertiliser before and never seen results, but I suspect that’s more to do with my inconsistent usage and in line with what I’ve said above, if the limiting factor is the carbon then fertiliser isn’t going to do much good. The fertiliser I purchased again cost around £10 for 500ml, and at 17ml weekly doses should last around 4 months. Used with the carbon above and maintaining a regular schedule of dosing I’m optimistic I’ll see results.
  3. Reflectors: My tank has two T5 bulbs under the hood but not fitted with reflectors. As the bulbs are cylindrical, they emit light equally in all directions meaning that a lot of light is wasted shining on the black inside of the lid. Fitting reflectors will allow a lot more light to reach the water and the plants, and hopefully should again allow the plants to grow quicker. My reflectors haven’t arrived yet so I cannot comment on their pros or cons, but at the very least they should prevent me being blinded every time I open the lid!

I am hoping that by utilising the three things listed above, and maintaining a regular dosing schedule I can achieve a bit more success in keeping and growing plants. Below is a “before” picture, and with a bit of luck I will be able to post an impressive “after” in a few weeks time.



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