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Non-Aquatic Plants

Local fish stores and big box pet stores have always sold various plants that are not true aquatics – non-aquatic plants that will very soon die in completely submersed growing conditions.

Posted: December 15, 2010

By David Lass

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I am a firm believer that any aquarium will do better with some healthy live aquatic plants growing in the aquarium. This is not to say that average hobbyists need to have CO2 injection, high-intensity lighting or always be adding drops of stuff to the aquarium. With the good fluorescent lights/hoods that are being sold today, any aquarium hobbyist can keep many different kinds of aquatic plants growing strong. The operative word here is “aquatic” plants.

Unfortunately, for as long as I have been in the aquarium hobby/business (which dates back to the late middle of the last century), local fish stores and big box pet stores have always sold various plants that are not true aquatics -- plants that will very soon die in completely submersed growing conditions. To name a few, there are purple crinkles, Brazilian sword plants and Sanderiana, as well as the ever-popular lucky bamboo. In my humble opinion, selling plants that are not true aquatic plants is taking advantage of the public. Where do you draw the line? What really is the difference between selling a Brazilian sword plant, that you know will die in the water in a few months and selling begonias to unknowing hobbyists? Non-Aquatic Plant Slideshow>>

The problem is now being made worse by the fact that some large and well-known players in the aquarium business are offering plants in clear plastic tubes with some growing medium in the bottom of the package. Apparently it doesn’t matter to them that many of the plants they are offering are not true aquatics and will fairly soon die and melt away in the aquarium. One executive whose company sells these non-aquatic plants told me that it wasn’t really a problem, because hobbyists don’t expect their plants to live long anyway.

I will probably get flak for this, but I simply do not think that is a responsible way to market “live” plants to aquarium hobbyists, knowing that in the very short future the plants will be dead. We have enough problems getting and keeping aquarium hobbyists interested and successful with their first fish aquarium. Why would we ever want to add to the problem by selling something that we all know will not survive very long, ruin aquarium water quality, and possibly kill fish?

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Reader Comments

Ken    Atlanta, GA

12/27/2010 6:07:21 AM

You are right on! When you discourage planted tanks because the plants all die, you discourage future sales. I know which of these plants are not aquatic, and don't buy them. Instead of selling plants that will die, these stores should just not sell plants at all. It is exactly the same as if someone was in the store and was sold a seahorse or blenny to put in the tank with their guppies. The seahorse or blenny will die. And that poor customer will stop buying from that store, and maybe stop the aquarium hobby, because all the fish keep dying. It is dishonest and should stop!

jake    indy, DE

12/23/2010 6:20:31 PM

weird? i never knew this stuff

Vicki    Malta, OH

12/22/2010 11:56:49 AM

I totally agree with this article. I saw the plants the author is talking about in the plastic tubs and knew that several types were not designed to be totally submerged. The beginner doesn't know this and is deceived into purchasing them and then disappointed when they die. This is very discouraging to the beginner. I remember when I first got into tropical fish the disappointment of their deaths and dead plants. I loved the hobby so much that I stayed involved and am still involved. "Pet Smart" sells those plants.

reef keeper    Edmonton, AB

12/20/2010 11:31:53 AM

This is one reason I do alot of research before I buy anything pertaining to my tanks.

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