Live Aquarium Plants Vs Plastic Aquarium Plants
Live Aquarium Plants Vs. Plastic Plants
Whether you’re an expert aquarist or a newbie looking to enter the hobby, you may have questions about what type of decorations should be used in the average fish tank. On one side of the spectrum, we have fish keepers who prefer the use of artificial plants to decorate their tanks. On the flip-side, many fish keepers prefer the use of live aquarium plants to spruce up their tanks. The question boils down to personal preference.
Pros Of Live Plants
The use of live plants adds the extra benefit of providing oxygen to your tank compared to artificial plants. In most situations, this would be a pleasant benefit to your fish. Live plants act as a natural filter, able to soak up some of the waste that fish will naturally produce. This will help keep the water quality in more pristine condition compared to tanks without live plants. (This isn’t an excuse for not performing water changes!)
When properly taken care of live plants can add a nice look to an aquarium. However, plastic plants can achieve this same effect. The aesthetic appeal is subjective and an aquarist should weigh the pros and cons of live vs plastic to decide which path is right for them
Live plants use up excess nutrients in the tank as a food source. This will help limit algae growth in the tank. However, this isn’t to say that a planted tank will solve all your algae problems. If your tank conditions are severely unbalanced, the algae can still out compete for your plants.
Aquarium microfauna are micro sized organisms found in bodies of water. They are different types of phytoplankton that hang out in fresh and saltwater. Primarily found in the bottom of the food chain these small creatures can feed small fish and fry and will help to cycle your tanks.
With the proper care, your aquarium plants will soon start to grow and spread throughout your tank. This varies between the plant species used and the type of environment your aquarium provides. As your tank matures you can remove some of these plants and use them for other tanks or even give or sell them to other fish keepers!
Cons Of Live Plants
The upfront cost of buying live plants compared to their artificial counterparts tends to be more expensive.This additional cost can be offset by proper care and maintenance, as live plants in your aquarium can propagate. In the long run, you can save money on larger quantities of plants by growing your own. The live plants in your aquarium will propagate allowing for multiple plants for your tanks.
Always do your research when buying live plants. Depending on where you get your plants they can have some unwelcome guests. Plants can carry all sorts of parasites ranging from snails, leeches and even fish diseases such as ick. Some sellers are more trustworthy than others. If you are really worried about introducing snails to your tank you can take a more expensive route and purchase tissue cultured plants. These plants are cultured in labs and won’t come with any hitchhikers. Also, these plants tend to be healthier than their chain store counterparts.
Some plants are not beginner friendly and require a little more upkeep which can add to the cost. Plant care varies between species. On the higher side of the spectrum, there are species of plants that require a lot of care for them to thrive. I would only recommend these plants for people who have the time and money to take care of them.
Some species of fish might also end up snacking on your costly plants. If you are housing smaller fish species this isn’t much of a problem compared to other bigger fish. My recommendation for people with bigger fish is to look for plants that can take a beating or plants that fish might not find so tasteful.
Pros Of Artificial Aquarium Plants
Artificial plants are relatively cheap. Artificial plants can be placed in any part of the tank with no mess or fuss. They don’t require any light, fertilizers, or CO2 to grow. When dirty, they are easy to clean and put back into the aquarium.
New plastic plants bought from a store have a 0% chance of housing and unwanted parasites. If buying them from other hobbyists a quick diluted bleach solution should rid you of most unwanted pests. Just make sure you wash out the bleach well before putting the plant into the aquarium. Another added benefit is that most fish won’t try to eat your plants.
Cons Of Artificial Aquarium Plants
It’s not uncommon for some plastic plants to tear up fins of fish. The fish most affected by this are fish with longer fins. The most common one the average hobbyist might come across would be a betta fish. I recommend that people who house long finned fish should try to use silk plants if they want to go the artificial route.
Which One Is Better?
In all honesty, it’s up to the hobbyist about which they prefer to use. Everyone has their own taste and needs to decorate their tanks. My personal recommendation if possible always go with live plants if possible. Check out my top 7 beginner plants if you’re unsure how to care for aquarium plants!