Aquarium Plants And Invertebrates
Aquarium Plants And Invertebrates
Marc Grover (Professional Aquarist) gives expert video advice on: What plants are best for my freshwater aquarium?; How do I choose a healthy plant for my aquarium?; What kind of lighting will my aquarium plants need? and more...
What are the pros and cons of adding plants to my aquarium?
When you do a planted aquarium, the pros are the look that you get, the lushness, the natural vibe that you get from the aquarium, and also that during the day part of photosynthesis cycle, it super oxygenates your water. The cons are that at night, it does the exact opposite. It takes in Oxygen and kicks out CO₂. You may have to augment your system with an air pump that's run on a timer that kicks on at night time to get Oxygen to your fish. Also, when you're dealing with live plants, they're another living organism in your aquarium. It provides a different type of food source for your fish, and it also has specific lighting requirements. They live almost exclusively off photosynthesis, so you have to have bright lights and proper color temperature to help them thrive.
What plants are best for my freshwater aquarium?
The best plants to use for a starter tank, or if you're new to the hobby are, in my opinion, Anubis or cryptocoryne. The reason I recommend them is because they can deal with a lot of different light intensities, so you don't have to go out of your way to get extra light for them. Typically, they don't require an external CO2 system, they're not temperamental, and they're usually a very hearty plant. They look cool, they're very natural, and they're typically easy to keep, and that's why I recommend them very highly.
What kind of lighting will my aquarium plants need?
When you are doing a full planted aquarium, the light requirements can be intense. Typically, people go between three and five watts per gallon. The other critical area is typically the color temperature. Daylight is 5500 degrees Kelvin. It looks great to plants, but it doesn't look so good to the naked eye. It's very yellow when you are looking at an aquarium. What I tell people to do is a combination of things. Get into the 5500, 6500 Kelvin range and then add some red, if you can, and then tint it blue, which is a much higher spectrum in color temperature. 7700, 9000, 10,000 Kelvin, the higher the Kelvin rating the more white or blue the light is, and the lower the Kelvin rating is the more yellow it tends to look. You have to give the plant what it needs but you also don't want a yellow looking aquarium. You want it to look as natural as possible to your eye, so you want to cover all of those spectrums.
Do aquarium plants need fertilizer?
When you have a plant aquarium, plants will need food of some sort, some type of fertilizer. Depending on the type of aquarium you have and how many fish you have, they may be able to drive that simply from the fish waste itself. Most of the time, that's not adequate enough for them. You're going to get an after market plant additive that's going to be pretty heavy in iodine, iron, and some other elements that those plants need for a fertilizer base.
When should I add plants to my new aquarium?
When you are adding plants to an aquarium, there are a couple of schools of thought. Because they absorb fish waste as food, you can sometimes get away with adding them pretty much right away when you start cycling your aquarium, because it's going to absorb the fish waste as food. That's the new school of thought. The old school of thought is to wait until your tank has gone through its cycling period or its breaking period if you will, and then go ahead and add the plants at that time.
What are 'invertebrates'?
You can have invertebrates in both salt water and fresh water and it basically means without a backbone, without a spine. Shrimp, lobster, crabs, feather dusters, things that either have no internal skeleton or their skeleton is on the outside. Mostly, it's no internal skeleton.
What supplies will I need for saltwater invertebrates?
When you're dealing with saltwater invertebrates, you have to consider food, and you have to consider a lot of times their exo-skeleton. If you're dealing with coral, or shrimp, or what have you. They have to have a certain level of calcium, and certain level of minor major trace elements always present in the water for them to thrive. They also, when you're speaking of coral, they are photo-synthetic, kind of like fresh water plants are, they have to have excellent lighting system so they can survive. And then there's foods that they also need. Phyto-plankton and zooto-plankton being the major ones. So you're looking at major minor trace elements, calcium, and different foods.
What should I feed my saltwater invertebrates?
If you're feeding salt water invertebrates, it depends on what it is. You can't go wrong with some mixture that is a phytoplankton, a plant plankton, a zooplankton or an animal plankton. Something that's plank tonic based, and almost every invertebrate will eat it up like it's candy.
Where can I find saltwater invertebrates?
When you're shopping for saltwater invertebrates, you're starting to get into the higher-end and more specialized end of aquarium keeping, for the most part. It is imperative that you see a trained professional and go to a reputable aquarium hobby store to find these specimens. The care is a lot different than with fish. The parameters of water chemistry have to be a lot more precise, and you really need someone who knows what they're doing to teach you how to do the proper things to keep your saltwater invertebrates alive.