Monthly Archives: May 2014

Water Changes – More important than you think

I have been asked this a lot recently… “why do we have to perform water changes in our planted aquariums?”

Well, we all know it has to be done…but here’s the reason why in a nutshell: It greatly reduces your chance of algae and increases your chance of success at growing plants!

Now here’s the long story. As your plants grow they use many elements such as light energy, CO2 and nutrients to fuel growth. Just like all living things that need fuel to live, there are always waste products. Plants are no different and the quicker they grow the more waste they produce (makes sense right?). This waste MUST be removed somehow: Enter water changes. In an enclosed environment such as an aquarium, all these excess waste products need to be removed somehow and the only way of doing this is changing the water with fresh clean water from your tap. Remember to always de-chlorinate your water by letting it stand for 24 hours, this will also bring it to room temperature (important for your fish!).

The rate at which we need to carry out water changes is determined by how quick your plants grow. What do plants need to grow? Light, CO2 and nutrients. The more we add the quicker they grow. The quicker they grow the more waste they produce…and therefore more frequent water changes are required! This is why in high tech set-ups with high light and high levels of fertilization, frequent water changes become more crucial.

Why do we have to remove of this waste anyhow? The waste that plants produce soon build up over time and are food for algae. The higher the concentration of these pollutants the more algae will thrive. It’s important to note that you cannot actually see these pollutants, you just need to know THEY ARE THERE. With no escape in such an enclosed environment such as an aquarium, these pollutants have nowhere to go unless we perform water changes.

Try conducting 40-50% water changes per week. This will effectively dilute your aquarium water with fresh clean water, thus decreasing the concentration of pollutants. You plants will thank you for it, trust me! In highly lit aquariums, twice weekly water changes are a good idea (more light = faster growth = more waste).

On a final note: I further recommend carrying out a minimum of 2 water changes per week during the first 3-4 weeks of a newly planted aquarium. Your aquarium is yet to mature and plants have yet to settle in. There is a lot more waste produced during this initial stage, so carry out more water changes until things have settled in. Please contact me on if you have any questions, or leave me a comment 🙂


Rotala Rotundifolia – Aquarium Plant Focus

After seeing a really cool video snap of Rotala Rotundifolia, it reminded me how beautiful this plant is in an aquarium. It produces spectacular colours, including reds, oranges, browns and greens. It make’s a perfect contrasting plant which can help break up an aquascape or create a focal point. Here’s the video that inspired me to write about this plant…

Rotala Rotundifolia is native to south east Asia. It has become widely available in the planted aquarium market and for good reason. It’s fast growing, easy to care for and eye catching. It’s leaves are needle shaped (2-3cm long), however oddly enough when in it’s emerged state, Rotala Rotundifolia has very small round shaped leaves, like this…

Rotala Rotundifolia














That’s why when you buy your Rotala Rotundifolia from Aquarium gardens, you will receive your plant with little round leaves, rather than needle shaped leaves. Do not panic, this is a good sign. Our Rotala has been cultivated emersed, meaning your plant will be fully rooted and in great health. The transitional stage from round leaves to needle leaves will happen over time, as your plants slowly adapt to being under water. Other sellers will sell cuttings in bunches, however these are normally of very low quality with no roots and have trouble adapting to new environments, which means they often suffer early on. Our potted Rotala will always arrive in superb health and fully rooted, allowing the plant the best possible start in your aquarium.

Here’s a few quick fact about Rotala Rotunidifolia:

ORIGIN: Southeast Asia
AREA: Midground/Background
LIGHT: Medium to high
TEMP: 22-28C
CO2: CO2 and NON CO2 tanks
PH: 5-8
WATER HARDNESS: Soft to hard

To get the best out of this plant I would suggest using CO2 injection (especially with high light). I would also suggest to prune regularly. This allows you to create a very bushy plant as each time you prune the Rotala, each parent stem will produce 2-3 new shoots. Using a good pair of aquascaping scissors will help you with your trimming. You may notice new roots appears from the sides of stems, do not fear, this is very normal and means the plant is growing. Cuttings from the plant can be re-planted straight into you substrate. You can plant them individually or in groups of 2-3. Each stem will quickly develop new root systems.

The plants colourations will vary under different light intensities. In the video above you will notice lots of bright oranges and reds. To achieve this you will need much light and CO2. Under lower light intensities this plant will stay more green and yellow.

It is very common for the lower sections of the plant to become overshadowed by the bushy sections of the plant above. It is therefore a good idea to prune regularly and not let the plant become too tall. I often like to use this plant as a midground plant and trim bi-weekly to keep the plant at the correct height and to ensure the lower sections of the plant stay strong and receive enough light.

You can purchase Rotala Rotundifolia here, you will get 6-8 stems per pot, fully rooted. Have fun with this plant!

Wave Aquascaping scissors

New Aquascaping Tools from Aquarium Gardens

Aquarium Gardens have released a new range of aquascaping tools for planted aquariums.

We have a wide variety available, from spring scissors (great for quick trimming of stem plants and moss) to wave scissors (perfect for carpet trimming such as Hemianthus Callitrchoides). The quality of the tools is really high, and the price is attractive too. The tools are made from surgical grade steel and will last you a long time.

Let’s take a look at how these tools can make trimming and planting a whole lot easier…

Aquascaping Tweezers

I’m sure we’re all familiar with trying to plant with our fingers? It’s often a frustrating and messy task. It can be very difficult to push the plant into your substrate using your fingers without it floating back up to the surface again. A long pair of tweezers makes the whole process much simpler. Not only can you plant with precision and ease, the extra length on the tweezers means you don’t have to get your whole arm in the tank.

Aquarium Plant TweezersAquascaping Scissors

When it comes to trimming your plants, we have every tool for the job. Trimming your aquascape calls for slender, sharp and clever tools. Tasks such as trimming carpet plants and shaping your stem plants requires tools specifically designed for the job…

Spring Scissors

Perfect for fast and precise trimming of stem plants and moss…

Spring Aquascaping scissors

Wave Scissors

Designed for trimming carpet plants such as Hemianthus Callitrichoides…

Wave Aquascaping scissors

Angled Scissors

Great for reaching those hard to get to spots….

Angled plant scissors