|Photo originally uploaded by Flaring|
Most aquarium stores will stock a wide variety of live aquarium plants. Aquatic plants are supplied as cuttings, as rooted clumps, and sometimes in small plastic pots. Always buy your plants from a reputable store, just as you would your Betta. Plants in the store tank should be healthy, with sturdy, vibrant green leaves and no yellowing or rotting portions. Inspect the plants closely for small snails in the plant tank. They eat algae and debris, but they will quickly multiply and start munching on your new plants, too. Before you purchase anything, have a good idea of the types, sizes and number of plants you will need to achieve the effect you want in your new tank.
How Many Plants?
|Use your imagination, as clearlydived did when creating this aquascape.|
It is easiest to place your plants into an aquarium after most of the water has been added than to try to arrange them in a dry tank. A partially full tank will enable you to get a more complete view of the final arrangement after the plants have spread out.
Substrate should be fine gravel or coarse sand, so water can circulate around the plants' roots. The plants should be spaced apart so that they have room to grow without crowding or shading each other.
If you find that your cuttings are too long for your tank, trim the bottom of the stem to the length you want, Trim the leaves off the bottom to leave 2 inches of bare stem, bury the stem in the gravel. You will see roots develop in just a few weeks.
|Originally uploaded by nycbone.|
Floating plants merely sit on the water surface and pose few problems. Plants that require attachment, like Java Fern, can be tied to a piece of driftwood using nylon fishing line. When the fern attaches itself in a few months, the fishing line can be removed.
Taller plants should be put near the back of the tank. Center areas should be filled in with shorter, bushier plants. Taller bushy plants should be used to hide tank corners, equipment and any odd-looking spaces. Low-growing or short plants should be placed near the very front. You can change this design as much as you like, use your imagination.
It is helpful to have any rocks, or driftwood in place before you begin planting. Plant around and behind them to create a natural looking underwater scene.
|Originally uploaded by nycbone.|
As most hobbyists will be working with a low-tech set up with moderate to low light, plant varieties which require high lighting conditions have been omitted.
Among the best plants for a small aquarium, crypts live in shallow warm waters similar to those inhabited by the Betta. Crypts tolerate lower light levels than many other aquatic plants. Many have colorful leaves and some will produce side shoots that can be detached and replanted. Some will even bloom, yielding flowers similar to a calla lily.
The fast-growing eelgrass species will thrive in all kinds of water conditions and do not require much in the way of intense lighting to reach maximum growth potential. They are great plants for the Betta aquarium and the beginning hobbyist. They have thin, elongated leaves which look like green fettuccine. They can form a luxuriant stand when conditions are right as they spread by means of runners under the substrate.
The Southeast Asian hygro family includes some wonderfully hardy plants. The pointed leaves on this species grow in pairs on either side of the stem. This plant does great in a Betta Aquarium.
Java Fern has large leaves that form a point at the top. It requires moderate lighting, and must be anchored to a piece of driftwood.
Water sprite does well in a moderately lit, aquarium with slightly acidic water. Offspring are produced in the notches between the leaf lobes. The plantlets can be detached and rooted in the substrate. Snails will destroy this plant if they get into your aquarium.
|Photo originally uploaded by Calwhiz|