Lots of aquarists are drawn to planted aquariums. They are, of course, natural and beautiful to look at and they also provide a rich and healthy environment for the fish and other animals that live in them. A lot of times, however, newer aquarists especially, struggle with choosing the right plants for their planted aquarium. There are many things to consider when choosing plants that will yield the most successful results.
So what should be considered when choosing plants? Well, light requirements are always something to think about, whether the standard tank kit lights will do the trick or if more advanced lights will be necessary. The need for maintenance and trimming is also a factor, as well as cost, appearance, health, and substrate requirements, among other things.
In general, most newer aquarium keepers will simply want to look for plants that don’t cost a fortune and are relatively low maintenance all around. There are many good options out there for plants to start out with, at Aquarium Co-op there are two that come to mind immediately as easy with low requirements.
Cryptocoryne Lutea and Vallisneria are two staples of the freshwater aquarium plant hobby. This is because they are both low light plants that will grow under almost any light, and that are easy and rewarding to keep. Let’s break down some of their similarities and differences.
Cryptocorynelutea is usually used as a midground or background plant in nano aquariums. It is slow growing and provides texture without requiring a lot of care. Compared to other plants, this one retails for fairly cheap, with one or two plants coming in a bunch/bundle. To begin growing this crypt, one can simply take the plants out of the pots they are sold in and plant them so that the crown is above the substrate. You will always want to wash off the plants before adding it to the tank to avoid introducing dieseases to the tank.
A common issue, that you might have heard of, with incorporating crypts to a new tank is the “crypt melt,” which is when a crypt plant is grown out of the water and then melts when put underwater. Typically, plants from wholesalers have been grown up out of water since they grow faster and are easier to raise. If a plant melts the best thing to do is just wait. The leaves might melt off but the roots will still be intact and usually shoots of new plants will come back up.
Vallisneria, or “Val,” is much like Cryptocoryne lutea, in that it is also simple to plant and cultivate. It can propagate every five or six days, sending out runners that grow into new plants. Its appearance is a bonus, as it will grow to the top of the aquarium. It works particularly well for schools of fish and for breeding fish. The dense carpet of plants allows baby fish to survive. Fish like an Angelfish might use the leaves to stick their eggs onto.
The maintenance is very low, one can simply go in and trim it when the older Val grows to the point that it shades out newer plants. It is usually available for under five dollars as well. There are lots of varieties of Val, but it is recommended to start with the normal Val, because it is so easy to grow, and then to branch out.
Val is definitely one of the plants freshwater plant enthusiasts will want to keep in their arsenal. When keeping multiple aquariums, it’s a good idea to keep it in one tank at all times, so that it can always be on hand when switching up an aquarium scape. New, or established, aquarists can’t go wrong with either Cryptocoryne or Vallisneria. They are truly some easy, rewarding and versatile plants to grow. For anyone wanting to have a planted tank without spending a lot, they are what we recommend.