The first part of the article described the benefits of using live plants instead of artificial ones in the aquarium, and provided a list of plants suitable for beginners. Below we will talk about why specialized equipment is required to create a beautiful aquarium with live plants, what exactly needs to be used, and what aquatic organisms will help to decorate a plant aquarium.
Let us remember that plants in aquariums have been grown for more than 150 years. Twenty years ago, no one could have thought that in our time everything would be so automated, it would become much easier to maintain an aquarium due to the use of new technologies and it would be possible not to go into details and not design the necessary equipment on our own. It should be remember: the simple use of expensive equipment is not enough; you need a correct, well-grounded approach and deep awareness of each process that will be launch to improve the conditions for plant growth.
Therefore, for the cultivation of “difficult” plants, you need daily fertilizing with fertilizers, the supply of carbon dioxide and a certain acidity / hardness of water. In addition, the use of specialized equipment and aquarium chemistry allows you to keep more plants in the aquarium, i.e. reduce the distance between plantings of stems and bushes.
Let us take a closer look at the various factors that affect the growth and condition of plants in an aquarium:
The best option for home use is an aquarium made of silicate glass. We recommend purchasing aquariums made of Plexiglas organic glass, which gives additional transparency, creates the feeling of no glass as such. The dimensional factor is also important: it will be optimal to use a low aquarium, with a water column of up to 60 cm. This height implies that light penetrates to the bottom of the aquarium and the plants are illuminated along the entire length. It is better to make the length of the aquarium larger, since for each bush plant you need to have at least 10 square decimeters of area, while the required depth can vary from 30 to 60 cm. Based on the above, a good option would be an aquarium with dimensions: 200 * 50 * 40 ( d * w * h)
- Thermal cable.
This is a low-voltage ground heater, which is place at the very bottom of the aquarium in the form of a coil and is attached with rubber suction cups. Serves for a slight increase in the overall temperature in the aquarium (depending on its capacity), creates a thermal movement of water (i.e. warm water from the bottom of the aquarium rises up, giving way to colder water), and also improves the root development of plants
A beautiful and healthy aquarium with live plants needs very powerful light. As practice shows, it is better to have 1-1.5 W / l, taking into account that the aspect ratio of the aquarium is proportional to the above and its depth does not exceed 60 cm. Otherwise, it is necessary to install metal halide lamps. It should be remembered that the value of wattage per liter of capacity is conditional. If the height of the aquarium is significantly greater than the length and depth, then the above condition cannot be met, because the lower half of the aquarium will be in semi-darkness.
- Chemical parameters of water
Maintaining the correct chemical parameters of the water, At first glance, it may seem strange to combine plants from different habitats with different chemical and physical parameters of water in one aquarium. However, many plants are eurybionts, i.e. organisms capable of adapting to current habitat conditions. In addition, we will talk about creating optimal or weighted average conditions in the aquarium in which most of the plants sold on the market today will feel comfortable.
Consider the most important chemical parameters of water that every advanced owner of an aquarium with live plants needs to know:
- PH – pH value
Even from school and chemistry lessons, many remember that if the pH is below seven, then the medium becomes more acidic, if the pH is more than seven, it is more alkaline, and at pH 7, the reaction of the medium is neutral. The optimum pH is between 6.8 and 7.4. The reaction of the medium is made alkaline by water changes (in tap water, the pH is usually greater than or equal to 7), as well as by increasing the hardness of the water – baking soda, aragonite and coral chips. However, in a plant aquarium, there is no need to increase the water hardness; it is enough just to change the standard 15 – 20% water once a week.
- dGH – total water hardness
An indicator of the total content of calcium, magnesium and other salts in water. This value should not exceed 10, or even better 7 degrees, otherwise (with a lack of carbon dioxide) calcium deposits will form on the plant leaves, which significantly reduces the aesthetic appeal of the aquarium
- dKH – carbonate water hardness or carbonate buffer
Carbonate hardness is a measure of pH stability, i.e. the higher this figure, the less likely it is that there is a jump in the pH in the aquarium. In this case, the value of KN should not be too large, because this can lead to a loss of pH stability (and the fact that it begins to rise), as well as the fact that the content of free carbon dioxide will tend to zero. The recommended dKH value should be 4-5 degrees.