When we discuss aquariums, we mostly talk about their animal inhabitants. But no aquarium would be complete without also featuring some plant life (or semblance of plant life). Plants give the aquarium an authentic look, helping it mimic the fish’s natural environment. They provide places for the fish to play and hide. The real ones even contribute to the oxygenation of your tank.
Adding live plants to an aquarium obviously introduces another level of biological complexity. Some aquarium enthusiasts opt for imitation plants to avoid worrying about the extra maintenance, but most aquarium owners who invest in a good-sized tank opt for real plants.
Plants are usually categorized as filling out three aquarium areas:
The background—these are the plants that grow towards the back of your aquarium and help provide a backdrop to the whole aquarium. Please note that if you have an aquarium visible from both sides, you probably won’t have plants filling the traditional “background” section, because they would block the view from that side.
The foreground—near the front of your aquarium, these plants are low to the aquarium floor in order to contribute aesthetically but not block the view.
The middle ground— this area covers everything in between the background and the foreground. There are no hard and fast rules here, except aiming for a balanced, natural design that complements your tank.
When you go to purchase your aquarium plants, look for young, healthy specimens to ensure they’ll survive the transfer to your tank. Any plants with brown or dried out leaves, bruising, or bent or broken stalks should be avoided. Next month, we’ll discuss some specific plant species that fit well in the three areas outlined above.