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 info@aquariumgardens.co.uk if you have any questions, or leave me a comment 🙂

 

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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
MAX HEIGHT: 30cm
GROWTH RATE: Moderate
AREA: Midground/Background
LIGHT: Medium to high
TEMP: 22-28C
CO2: CO2 and NON CO2 tanks
PH: 5-8
DIFFICULTY: Easy
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!

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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

 

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Anubias in Flower

Anubias Species – Aquatic Plant Spotlight

Anubias is one of the most common species found in the aquatic industry. It’s hardy nature and attractive thick green leaves make it one of the most favourable species around. There are many varieties of Anubias, varying in size, shape and colour. 

One of it’s key strengths is it’s ability to thrive in situations other plants cannot tolerate, such as low lighting, it actually much prefers to be grown in shady areas, so you do not have to worry about other plants overshadowing your Anubias. This makes it an ideal mid ground filler, where other taller plants can grown upwards and over the Anubias.

Herbivores also tend to stay away from Anubias, due to it’s thick leaves. They also do not get uprooted by larger fish as this plant should be attached to wood/rocks.

Anubias tends to be a more expensive species to purchase, simply because it takes longer to cultivate and grow to a good size in order to sell. Expect to pay £1-2 more for a pot of Anubias than you would a regular aquatic plant.

Shop for Anubias Here!

How to keep Anubias – What you need to do…

Not a lot! Anubias will thrive in many tank environments. High light or low light, CO2 injection or no CO2 injection. Because it’s slow growing, Anubias is a particular favourite with ‘low tech’ aquariums, this being lower lighting intensities, minimal fertilization and zero CO2 supplementation. It will do just fine in such aquariums. Maintenance is also minimal with this plant as it’s such a slow grower!

One thing you must do with Anubias is bear in mind that this species should be attached to some form of hardscape such as wood or rocks. If you plant it in your substrate the Rhizome will rot and the plant will die. This can be done by simply using cotton, fishing line or super glue. Super glue works best for me, as it’s less hassle than using fiddly cotton or line. Super glue is not toxic and won’t harm your fish in any way. Did you know it was orginally designed for use under water!? Great for Anubias!

Flowering

Anubias is famously known for produce spectacular flowers, even under water! To get your Anubias to flower I would recommend using CO2 injection and a regular dosing of nutrients. This will encourage the plant to grow a bit faster and fire out some beautiful flowers.

Anubias in Flower

 

The flowers will last for around 2-3 weeks, once they start to look a bit tired just chop them off and more will come along soon.

Anubias Species List

Anubias Nana

The most common and loved of all Anubias. A.nana is the perfect anubias to get started with and widely available in the aquatic industry. Probably to easiest of all to care for and the easiest to get into flower. It’s quite a small variety, making a great all rounder for all different sized tanks.

Anubias Nana | Buy Online from Aquarium Gardens

Anubias Bateri

Leaf size is larger than A.nana, and the stalks can be much longer too. Therefore, I would recommend A.Bateri for medium to larger size aquarium. It could get a bit to out of proportion in a nano tank.

Anubias Bonsai

A superb mini version of the Anubias Nana, the leaves are even smaller. It makes the perfect Anubias for nano aquariums, or where the aquarist would like to give a greater sense of scale. Much the same demands as most Anubias, you can’t go wrong with this one.

Anubias Bonsai Plant

Anubias Minima

A great alternative to the more popular species, the A.Minima is just as easy to keep. What makes it different is its more slender long leaf shape. New leaves sprout a lovely light brown colour.

Anubias-Minima-Potted

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anubias Congensis

A much taller species, which can grow up to 12 inches so suited to larger aquaria. Leaf shape is more spear shaped. It’s a very slow grower and it’s leaves can last for many years. Great choice for larger aquariums.

Anubias Lanceolata loose aquarium plant uk online

You can find all the listed Anubias Here!

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Java Moss on Driftwood

Aquarium Moss – easy greenery for planted aquariums

Looking for easy spreading greenery for your planted aquarium? Look no further…growing aquatic moss is not very difficult. Many aquatic moss will thrive in most aquariums, low light or high light, CO2 infused or no CO2 infused. It can be used to create stunning nature aquariums by attaching it to wood or rocks, or used to create carpets or green walls. Alternatively, it can be used to create stunning backdrops.

Java Moss attached to Coconut slice. Simple and effective feature.

Moss on Coconut

Growing Aquatic Mosses

Moss is considered one of the easiest aquatic plants to grow. If you keep Java Fern or Anubias in a low light aquarium, then Java Moss is something you could have similar success with.

To get the most out of your aquarium mosses, like most aquarium plants you should supplement CO2 and nutrients. This will really bring your moss to life. You will witness much faster growth, beautiful green colours and more compact bushy growth. Under extreme low light, moss can become very leggy or stringy. However, it will still grow.

Moss is also very popular with shrimp keepers as they provide great places for your shrimp to hide, and also to graze on waste products caught in the moss.

Here’s a list of common mosses I would recommend for newcomers:

  • Java Moss – the most common moss of all, and the most undemanding. Give this one a go if you’ve never tried moss before, it’s a guaranteed winner!
  • Christmas Moss – as the name suggests, this moss resembles the fern like structure of a Christmas tree. Stunning and beautiful, this moss looks exceptional in CO2 infused aquariums.
  • Spiky Moss – Another great moss for beginners. A slower grower, however under higher light this moss can look beautiful.
  • Moss Ball – They are formed in shallow lakes with gentle wave moment which turns the balls as they go, giving its spherical shape. SUPER easy to keep, just need rolling every couple of weeks to maintain shape. Ideal for all planted aquariums.

Moss Ball

And some general requirements for most mosses:

Temp: 22-28°C
PH: 6-8
GH & KH: Adapts to most water conditions
Light: Low Light – High Light
CO2: No CO2, CO2 injection or Liquid Carbon
Tank Size: Perfect for any size aquarium!

Moss on Wood

Moss is the ideal candidate for attaching to wood. You can either buy moss pre-attached to wood, or attach it yourself to your chosen piece of wood. Using cotton helps temporarily attach the moss to the wood. Over 3-6 weeks the moss will naturally cling onto the wood. This can be used to create stunning natural effects which looks great in the planted aquarium. Moss has widely been used to create some of the most stunning aquascapes in the world. If you have some wood in your aquarium, it’s well worth giving moss a go!

Java Moss on Driftwood

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Lighting – Intensities and Duration

Light is the most important factor when growing aquarium plants. Deciding how much light you need over your aquarium depends on the plants you want to grow, how fast you want them to grow and how many hours of tank maintenance you are prepared to put it. It should also be played with carefully like you would be fire. Too much and your plants could be toast!

It is all to easy to go overboard with aquarium lighting. Often those not injecting CO2 stress out the plants by firing a ton of light at them. More light = more demand for CO2 and nutrients. When these are not supplied enough to meet the plants demands, they start to suffer. Growth deficiencies may occur, the plants might start loosing leaves or they could start to simply melt. Many of us know what happens when your plants suffer…and if you don’t know….algae starts to thrive!

A simple solution to this!? Reduce the intensity of your lighting. Do this by:

  • Disconnecting a bulb
  • Raising your light higher above your water
  • Changing the type of light you have e.g. from T5 bulbs to T8 bulbs
  • Use a dimmer. Many LED units are compatible with certain light dimmer controllers

By reducing your lighting intensity you are lowering the demand for CO2 and nutrients by your plants. You will then start to restore some sort of balance between your lighting and the available nutrients and CO2 in your aquarium. Your plants will start to perk up and over time health will be restored. Growth will be slower, but with lower lighting you have to accept that. However the up side is less pruning is required, and water changes become less rigorous than a tank with high lighting.

While your plants are recovering, remove any dead, deformed or unhealthy leaves by cutting them away using a sharp pair of scissors. This will encourage the plant to focus on new growth. Old unhealthy leaves will be taking up vital energy from the plant. This energy should be focusing on new growth while your plants are recovering.

Furthermore, one more thing you should take into consideration with your lighting is the lighting period. This is the length of time your lights come on to the timer they go off. We recommend sticking to 8 hours per day. Plants do not need any more than this and we think it reduces the risk of algae outbreaks. During the first 2-3 weeks of your tank start-up, try only having your lighting on 6 hours per day. You are less likely to be confronted with early algae formations during this fragile stage of the tanks life. You should also put your light on a timer so your plants are getting the same amount of light each day. Consistency is vital, and this goes for many aspects of having a planted aquarium.

LED Planted Aquarium Light

A suitable light for densely planted aquariums

See here for a post about of NEW LED LIGHTING

If you have any questions, please drop us a e-mail at info@aquariumgardens.co.uk or leave us a comment below, we are happy to help answer any of your planted aquarium questions!

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Multi-buy discounts on carpet plants

There’s now even more reason to buy your carpet plants from Aquarium Gardens…

  • Buy 2 and save.
  • Buy 5 and save even more!
  • Perfect for your next aquascape or lush green carpet of plants.

Carpet plants will happily eastablish themselves along the substrate in your aquarium forming what’s known as a carpet. Some carpet plants multiply through runners, others expand just like stem plants, except by creeping along the bottom of your aquarium substrate. Just like many stem plants, regular trimming of your carpet plants will ensure compact and rapid growth.
Carpet plants also need particular attention to flow and CO2, as you are required to provide CO2 to the lower areas of your aquarium where you carpet plants can absorb it. Ensure your flow is circulating around all areas of your tank, including along your substrate. You will be rewarded with a lush carpet of plants.

Here’s a quick video featuring some of our most popular carpet plants:

Remember, we hold our plants hydroponically, so when we receive them from producers we carry on growing them to ensure you receive a plant that is bursting from the pot. They are also super healthy and much better quality than those stored in tanks of water.

 

 

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LED Lighting for Tropical Planted Aquariums

Light is the most important factor when growing aquatic plants. The planted aquarium starts with a good lighting unit and I am now about to introduce to you some fantastic new LED lighting units for planted aquariums…

Beamswork LED Planted Tank Lighting

Say hello to the Beamswork LED lighting units designed for use with planted aquariums. These Hi-lumen light units are super slim and adaptable so will fit on any size aquarium. The unit housing is just 5″ thick, which means it will fit under almost any aquarium hood to replace your old aquarium lighting. The adjustable feet will allows the light to be extended to fit onto a range of different sized aquariums. The unit works great over open top aquariums and the feet rest on the aquarium glass side panels.

The 6500K colour is the perfect level for plant visuals, a level considered the best colour rendition for viewing your aquarium plants.

The unit comes in several different adjustable sizes so you can be sure to find a unit that will fit onto your aquarium. The bigger the unit, the more 0.2W LEDS are fitted into the housing.

The various sizes we have available are:

  • 12-18″, 33 x 0.2w 6500k LED’s, 600 Lumens
  • 18-22″, 54 x 0.2w 6500k LED’s, 1020 Lumens
  • 24-30″, 78 x 0.2w 6500k LED’s, 1450 Lumens
  • 36-40″, 129 x 0.2w 6500k LED’s, 2410 Lumens
  • 48-54″, 168 x 0.2w 6500k LED’s, 3140 Lumens

It’s definitely worth giving these a go. They will certainly look much better & take up less space than your old bulky T5 lighting units, and because LED’s use much less power than flourecent tubes, you will be saving £££’s off you electricity bill….win win!?

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Start with Quality Plants….

One of the most important things when starting a new aquascape is starting with healthy vibrant plants. You’re much more likely to have a successful planted aquarium if you start with the right plants….

Here at Aquarium Gardens you can rest assured that your plants will arrive in top condition. This is because we hold our plants in a very different way to most retailers. We hold all our aquarium plants in an emersed, humid, well lit and well fertilized environment. The results are outstanding. The plants continue to grow rapidly and are fed all the vital nutrients direct to their roots for super healthy growth. What’s more, because they are kept out of water, they are completely algae free GUARANTEED!

Let’s take a closer look at some of out most popular plants…

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Glossostigma Elatinoides

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Staurogyne Rubescens

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Bacopa Caroliniana

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Pogostemon Helferi

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Hemianthus Callitrichoides

For more super healthy aquatic plants visit our website at www.aquariumgardens.co.uk

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List of our Top 5 Aquarium Carpet Plants

Carpet plants are used to create a lush green lawn or mat of plants that, as the name suggests, create a carpet look along the bottom of your aquarium. The popularity of these plants has boomed tremendously over the last 5-10 years, especially in aquascaping. So we have put together a list of our top 5 carpeting plants available on our website:

 

1. Hemianthus Callitrichoides – the smallest aquatic plant in the world that’s currently available to aquarists. Hemianthus Callitrichoides or ‘HC’ for short, is the ultimate carpet plant. It’s tiny tear drop shaped leaves, lush green colour and creeping nature is what makes it so popular for carpeting. Not the easiest plant to care for mind you, certainly if your new to planted aquariums. It requires plenty of light intensity to penetrate down to the bottom of your aquarium, and CO2 that is adequately circulated around the lower parts of your aquarium. If these requirements are not met then HC often suffers. It also requires regular pruning, not only to keep it in shape, but to make sure the carpet does not get too thick. When this happens the underside of the plant usually dies and lifts away from your substrate. Due to the small size of Hemianthus Callitrichoides, it is the perfect plant if you want to create a sense of scale in the aquarium, or make things appear bigger than they actually are. Therefore they are great for smaller aquaria or nano tanks. If the aquarist has a good understanding of how to care for this plant, it certainly is one of the most stunning carpeting plants around.

Hemianthus Callitrichoides

 

2. Echinodorus Tenellus – sometimes refereed to as the ‘mini amazon sword’, this plant is part of the sword plant species group and is one of the smallest. It has long grass like leaves . It propagates by runners quite happily under good light and can quickly be used to cover areas of your aquarium. Under high light, growth can be very compact and fast. In my opinion Echinodorus Tenellus is a great plant to begin with if you have never tried carpeting aquarium plants before. It has much lower demands than other carpet plants (such as Hemianthus Callitrichoides and Glossostigma Elantinoides). However, having said this, to create the best carpets use lots of CO2 and fertz. Do not overshadow with taller plants.

 

Echinodorus Tennellus or Mini Amazon sword Aquarium Plant

3. Sagittaria Subulata – also known as “Dwarf Sagittaria”, this plant is another great beginner carpeting plant. It’s leaf shape is fairly similar to the E.tenellus, in that is has long grass like leaf shapes, usually a bit thicker and a bit longer. Much like the E.tenellus, it propagates through runners. This plant can sometimes, almost randomly, grow quite tall. The best way to keep it short is to trim it regularly. Another great choice for beginners as it has lower demands all round. A nutritious substrate always helps.

Buy Sagittaria Subulata or Dwarf Sagittaria - Aquarium Carpet Plant

 

4. Staurogyne Rubescens – a stem plant that has a low bushy compact nature, thus making it another great plant for carpeting. It can look similar to some Hygrophila species, however, it will not grow much higher than 5-10cm. To keep it low down, regular pruning it required. To carpet this plant requires a little more expertise. When the stems become to a long upright position, cut these off and replant the cutting. This can be done repeatedly to encourage a carpet. Under higher light, many stems will creep horizontally.

Buy Staurogyne rubescens

 

5. Eleocharis Acicularis – very similar to Eleochairs Parvulus. It has a common name of hairgrass. As this suggests, it has fine grass like leaves. When planted in groups it will quickly form a dense group of plants. To encourage fast growth, fire lots of CO2 at it and it will quickly shoot out runners to form a carpet. Under lower light, growth is much slower and creating a thick carpet is much more difficult. Because of its small delicate grass leaves, it is another good carpet plant for creating a sense of scale, and much suited to smaller aquaria. The leaves easily sway under the filter flow, thus creating some movement to your aquarium.

Eleocharis Acicularis AKA Dwarf Hairgrass - Aquarium Gardens

 

So there we have it, our top 5 aquarium carpet plants. One last tip that applies to all carpeting plants; ensure your aquarium water is being circulated around the lower areas of your aquarium, otherwise your carpet plants may not receive the vital CO2 and nutrients they need to grow.

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