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Using Live Plants for Breeding Fish

Aquatic plants have more benefits than just tank aesthetics — they will make fish breeding easier.

By Mike Hellweg |

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Many aquarium hobbyists enjoy aquatic plants for their sheer relaxing beauty, and for the fun of setting up and maintaining a lovely aquatic garden, which often becomes their pride and joy. Other aquarium hobbyists find a thrill in the challenge of finding and propagating new and different aquatic plants. Others seek out new and exciting tech gear to tweak their aquatic garden to its maximum potential. All of these are familiar to most casual observers. But there is another group of unsung plant enthusiasts: those who find aquatic plants to be an excellent group of tools in their arsenal of breeding tips and tricks.

While they look good, live aquatic plants serve many important functions for the breeding tank that may or may not be readily apparent. One important role is that they serve as filters for the tank, removing pollutants and helping to purify the water. This extra purification, small though it may be, can be the difference between success and failure. Some plant species will sequester carbonates from the water, slowly softening it over time as the plants grow (duckweed and hornwort are examples of plants that perform this function). Then simply by removing the excess plant material from the water, you remove the carbonates. Others will act as a filter for heavy metals (e.g., water sprite, water hyacinth, water lettuce), ammonium, nitrates and other potential toxins. In fact, one trick I learned from the “old-timers” in my local aquarium club many years ago was that if the Indian fern (Ceratopteris siliquosa) did well in a tank for a couple of weeks, the water was perfect for spawning tetras. No other testing was necessary. Try it. It works!

Want to read the full story? Pick up the March 2011 issue of Aquarium Fish International today.

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