Category Archives: Plants

How To Anchor Live Aquarium Plants

Live aquarium plants make an attractive addition to any home fish tank, and they help to keep the water clean and healthy for your fish by removing nitrates, too. Aquatic plants come in various forms, such as bunch, bare-root, potted, and tissue-cultured, and how you plant them is crucial if they are to stay put and not end up floating randomly around your aquarium.

In this guide, we explain how to anchor live aquarium plants to keep them safely rooted at the bottom of your tank or wherever else you want to grow them.

Floating Plants

If you keep fish species that tend to dig around the plant roots or tug on the leaves, you might want to consider using floating plants instead of those that need planting in the substrate. Floating plants can generally be grown in the substrate or allowed to drift freely with the flow in your aquarium, deriving their nutritional requirements from nutrients in the water and from your aquarium lights.

Floating plant species make good plants for your betta fish, as they provide the perfect anchor point for a bubble nest and shelter for vulnerable fry.

Use Rocks and Pebbles

Until the plant’s root system is well-established, there’s a good chance that it can be dislodged by fish activities, foraging through the substrate or nibbling on the plant’s leaves.

To keep the plant in place, sink it a couple of inches into the substrate, make a small bank of gravel around the plant’s base, and reinforce that with a few pebbles or small rocks.

The extra weight should be just enough to keep the plant in place and prevent it from floating away.

Tie the Plant to Driftwood or Rocks

An effective way to anchor some plant species, such as Java Fern and Anubias, is to tie them to pieces of driftwood or rocks.
Use a piece of fine thread or fishing line to tie the plant roots to a piece of wood or a rock. That’s a very effective way of keeping the plant in place and allows you to relocate it when you want to change things up in your tank. There’s no need to remove the thread; the plant roots will quickly grow over it.

I have several pieces of bogwood in my tank with Anubias plants tied to them with thread. When cleaning my tank, I can move the wood to vacuum underneath it without disturbing the plants, making it much easier to keep my substrate clean and remove potential pollutants.

Potted Plants

Most aquarium plants are supplied in small, plastic, slotted pots. The plants are grown in a special medium that’s commonly called Rockwool. Potted plants are grown hydroponically in water and dissolved nutrients, rather than soil, and the Rockwool provides an anchor point for the plant while its roots grow. When you come to plant the specimen in your aquarium, you should remove the pot and most of the Rockwool first.

Remove as much of the Rockwool as possible from around the plant’s roots, using your fingers or a pair of fine tweezers. Any remaining Rockwool that’s left clinging to the plant’s roots will help to anchor the plant in the substrate. Trim the plant roots to encourage new growth and carefully split the specimens into smaller plants.
Carefully push the plants about two inches into the substrate, and push a little mound of gravel back around the plant base to help keep the plant anchored securely.

Use Terracotta Pots

If you have fish species in your aquarium that are habitual diggers, you might want to consider using mini ceramic or terracotta plant pots to keep your plants securely in position. Ensure that your chosen pots have drainage holes punched in the bottom where your aquatic plants’ roots can grow through into the substrate.

Use Plant Weights

Bunched plants consist of multiple stems bundled together and wrapped with a foam strip with a lead or ceramic plant weight at the base. The plants may have tiny white roots showing, or they may be simply cut, like a bunch of flowers. Plants that are commonly supplied in cut bunches include Egeria, Hygrophila, Cabomba, and Elodea, whereas Cryptocoryne, Vallisneria, and Echinodorus generally have their roots left on.
Before planting bunched stems, it’s crucial that you remove the plant weight and divide the stems into individual plantlets or smaller groups; otherwise, the stems will rot around the weight.

Select a couple of stems and gently fasten them loosely with a plant weight before carefully pushing the mini bunch into the substrate to a depth of about two inches.

You can buy lead and ceramic plant weights in good fish stores, and these are excellent for keeping plants well-anchored in the substrate. There’s no need to remove the weights once the plants have rooted.

Nylon Mesh

If you want to grow carpet plants or create a natural, underwater forest look by training plants and mosses to grow over your tank decorations or the back wall of the aquarium, you can use nylon mesh to do that.
Simply plant your plants in the substrate and cover them with fine nylon aquascaping mesh. Secure the mesh with rocks so that it doesn’t float away.

Use Nooks and Crannies as Planting Sites

If you have lots of driftwood and rockwork in your tank, you can sometimes utilize any holes and crevices to secure your plants. You can use thin thread to hold the plant roots in place until they grow through the hole and attach themselves to the wood or rock.

In Conclusion

Live plants make a wonderful addition to any freshwater aquarium, working as natural water purifiers, offering valuable shelter for shy fish and fry, and enhancing the aesthetics of any setup. However, burrowing fish and species that like to tug and nibble at the plant leaves can leave your plants floating freely around the tank instead of staying anchored firmly in the substrate.

Use our top tips to keep your live aquatic plants securely in place and thriving, wherever you decide to plant them.

Size of my aquarium plants

Many people often query us on why the plant they received is so small compared to a previous plant they purchased or if you can believe it, too big!!

Well I’m going to give you a brief understanding of what affects the plants and in what ways.

Firstly as I’m sure you know, most plants need good light and the right temperatures to really flourish. This means that during the summer in the high temperatures and lots of sunlight the growers will get lots of nice big, bright plants. These plants may well run into the first few months of winter.

However on the flip side during winter when its cold, dark and damp the plants will still grow but slowly. This will mean that they arrive with us small and as it even colder here that it is where the growers are we have very little chance of getting much growth.

These smaller plants will often run into the first few months of summer as there will be an overlap of when plants struggle and when they thrive.

Hopefully this has given you a bit of insight into how and when you will receive larger or small plants 🙂

Aquarium plants dying

If you go onto Google and type aquariums plants one of the first things that comes up is the question

Why are my plants dying?

There are a lot of different responses to this questions, and most of them are wrong! so I am here to set you straight and tell you why your plants are dying and how to stop it from happening over and over again!

Firstly before you buy your plants you need to do research on what substrate you need….NO you cannot just use gravel..No you cannot just use sand! Most people believe that they can just chuck a bag of sand in the bottom of there tank and everything will grow, well i can tell you now it will not. Substrates provide your plants with nutrients, food. Can you imagine waking up in the morning and eating paper for breakfast? your body will struggle to survive the day. You want to wake up and have a big bowl of porridge or even a full English, SO DO YOUR PLANTS. Get the substrate right from the start and that will eliminate most of problems.


So you have a substrate, you buy your plants, stick them in your tank and immediately they struggle, Why? think about a time when you have gone on holiday, the first day in a nice hot country, whats happens? you get burnt. your body isn’t used to this change in environment and neither are your plants. you may well get leaves going brown and dying but that doesn’t mean your plant is dead….you need to wait to see the new growth that will come through. The growth that is used to your tank environment. As long as your root structure is healthy you will get new growth.

Alternanthera rosaefolia

So your plant has taken to your tank and you have seen new growth but after a month the plant starts to die off, Why? Your not feeding it right. your plants need to eat right. Almost all tanks need Liquid CO2,  the liquid CO2 will encourage growth and keep algae down. To go along with the liquid CO2 your plants need macro and micro nutrients. With out all of these your plants will wither and die off, which will then encourage algae to your tank.

NEUTRO have three Fertilisers all of which provide your tank with everything that your plants need

Neutro CO2, Neutro T and Neutro +

Check our other post on fertilisers here


Cryptocoryne petchii grown on lava rock

You’ve gotta love this little Cryptocoryne on lava rock – perfect in every way. It’s dainty at only 7cm square so ideal for smaller tanks. The great thing about plants on decor from Tropica is that they’re well established which means they have cared for then for months so when you receive it, it looks perfect. Roots attached to the rock naturally.

The other benefit to this plant is very simple to grow (suitable for beginners and up) and you can move it about if you decide where you place it first isn’t quite right.

Tropica Cryptocoryne petchii on lava stone

You can find our other plants grown on wood or rock by clicking here.

Don’t you just love plants on wood?

I do and for good reason too. The pieces add instant impact into your aquarium with little or no effort. In fact the hardest effort is parting with your hard earned cash 😉

So you’ve dipped into your savings and the piece arrives with you and BANG. Instant focal point with minimal effort. Don’t you just love that – not having to put any effort in and getting a great result immediately.

Now don’t go plonking it right in the middle of your tank, where you want it is slightly off to the left or the right – that’s where it will look best. And if it doesn’t look quite right there then don’t worry. That’s the beauty of these sort of pieces – they can be moved with minimal fuss.


But not only that but the require low lighting and minimal nutrition.You can find this piece by clicking on the picture or if you wanted to see our whole range, click on this link.

What more do you want 🙂

Mixed Box of 10 plants example

I’m often asked what plants do you get in a mixed box – of course the answer is always the same. A mixture of plants chosen at our discretion. This is part of their charm –  you never quite know what you will received but we do know you will like them :). But one customer kindly sent in a picture of her tank after purchasing a mixed box of 10 plants so I wanted to share with you.

Mixed Box of 10 Aquarium Plants

Not bad heh! You can find this mixed box here if you like this idea

Fluval Edge Aquarium Plants

A customer called me up the other day about this and I thought it was a really great idea just to make a short blog post about it.

He owned a Fluval Edge and wanted some plants which were small enough to not dominate his tank but easy enough not to cause him too many problems. Lighting is limited. So my top 3 plants for it are:

Echinodorus magdalensis

keeps low and is pretty easy to grow

Micromanthemum umbrosum

easy to grow and spreads nicely

Staurogyne rubescens

grows nice and low

All these will not only look great but are relatively easy. Make sure you use some Neutro T fertiliser and you’ll have a lovely looking tank in no time!

Trim those pesky leaves

Plants need trimming all the time. If you want them to look their best and remain healthy and bushy, then you need to get your scissors out and give your plants a good trim. And generally, I don’t mean a little snip here and there, I mean hack them off. Stem plants for example, need to be cut very heavy, perhaps 50% off each time. But what about plants that some of you may never trim? Cryptocorynes.

Below I found a lovely YouTube clip that shows how to trim Cryptocoryne’s. The angled scissors (very nice) make light work and are accurate enough to provide clean crisp cuts. Crypocoryne’s (particularly in the early days) can lose their leaves especially if there is some melt. But rather than wait until the leaves go all mushy, nip them off.

It’s as easy as that…

World class aquarium potted plants

It’s a bold statement isn’t it? I mean what truly is world class and how do you really know? So I checked out t’internet and this is what it said:

1. (adj.) world-class
ranked among the world’s best; of the highest caliber:

I believe this is Aqua Essentials for a few reasons. I know my standards are really high and the feedback we get from customers to the quality of the packaging, the plants themselves, the quick despatch and the free advice we give day after day in the quest to help hobbyists with their planted aquarium. World class isn’t just one aspect in my opinion, it’s a number of factors based over a period of time and compared to others in the field.

Top of the range potted plants

Amazing plants delivered to your door

Our classic mixed box of aquarium plants

We only send out plants that I would be happy with. No point in sending out anything substandard – no one wants to be disappointed when what you were hoping for ends up not being quite what you were…hoping for. You just pull this expression then 🙁

We’ve been there, done that and didn’t enjoy the experience…

So the plants we send out are World Class. Kept hydroponically just like the growers. They get nice and warm air with plenty of O2 and ferts, and guess what some even flower. Not only that but because we keep them hydroponically, they ship really well and will take to your aquarium much quicker.

What’s more is that most of our plants now cost only £2.99 each and if you buy 5 or more this price drops to £2.69. Not bad heh for world class?

TMC LED lighting test on our hydroponic plants

We’ve been running a trial for about 6 weeks now on the TMC LED lighting as we believe this is the way forward for our hydroponics lighting – TMC do but were kind enough to let us test their products. Our aquatic plants are really loving the lights and we’re even running them 24/7 because they are so economical. We’re using the MiniLED 400 and the Grobeam tile and they are elevated about 15″ above the plants.

We initially were growing rotala rotundifolia and they did very well in a short period of time. In fact they threw out loads of runners over the space of about 3-4 weeks and became very bushy. So they enjoyed the light (a lot!). We have just tried 3 new plants to see how they fair up:

It’s only been a few days so far, but remember the lighting is on 24/7. The red variety has responded very quickly –  these are new shoots and the reds are already showing good signs. The green variety is grown a little but they are under the MiniLED 400 tile so I guess the growth rate shouldn’t be as fast due to the lesser power.

The Bacopa monnieri hasn’t done anything yet so nothing to report there.

I’ll be updating this post every week to tell you about progress.

If you have any questions about this experiment – let me know!!


OK so I’ve taken a few snaps for you just to see what they are like at the moment.

bacopa monneiri

Baby rotala rotundifolia

One thing I will mention is the Ludwigia palustris red was planted a week before the others so it’s growth is expected to be bigger, but I wasn’t expecting it to have grown quite that much – impressive heh 🙂 I wonder what it will be like in another weeks time?

UPDATE 20th March

Only 4 days later, attached are some new pictures of the plants.

Bacopa monnieri has grown 1cm in 4 days

Ludwigia palustris green has grown at least 2 cm in 4 days and looks excellent with great colours.

Ludwigia palustris red is turning into a bit of a beast and is growing rapidly! Difficult to measure now as it doesn’t stand upright very easily. Not sure if this is going to be a problem as it gets bigger but health wise it’s A1.

Rotala rotundifolia has grown 1 cm in 4 days and looks rather nice as I am sure you will agree. Very perky and healthy – notice a couple of shoots appear much larger than the others. It will be interesting to see if the others catch up or if that size becomes more apparent.

I also had a question from Andre on Twitter (follow me @AquaEssentials) asking me for some more details about the growing conditions. I have tried to replicate what the growers do but tweaking a few things just to see what happens:

Lighting: 24 hours per day

Ferts: AE Nourish and Nourish+

Air Temp: this swings from 14C-20C

Air movement: Controlled by computer

Humidity: Also controlled by computer but sits at 90% humidity

Plants sit in their pots about 3/4 deep of nutrient rich flowing water.

Any questions, please ask 🙂

UPDATE 12th April

It’s been a long time since our last update. We’ve moved premises so updating this has gone on the back burner. However, we’re back up to speed now and I have some new photos to share with you. The plants did stay in boxes for 3 days whilst we moved. I don’t think the young plants particularly enjoyed that but it’s just a gut feeling.

I welcome any comments/thoughts you have on this experiment so far.

Bacopa monnieri is nearly at 9cm now. Seems an easy plant to grow at the moment.

Ludwigia palustris green is still doing well. Health is excellent but the stems are floppy (not sure why…) and ideas anyone?

Ludwigia palustris red. Well what can I say about this one as it’s grown a lot but again cannot support itself. It really is very very big …

Rotala rotundifolia. This is my favourite of all the plants as it grows well and supports itself pretty much. It’s attractive and nearly 9cm in height. Colours still look good.

Would love some comments on this to hear what you think.

Mixed Boxes Of Aquarium Plants

I’ve written a post about our rather excellent mixed boxes of plants, so I won’t repeat myself. What I will do is remind you of the benefits of them and how the more you buy, the cheaper the plants are.

The benefits of mixed boxes are that we decide for you which plants are a best. Typically a mixed box of plants is suitable for hobbyists who are either new to the hobby, or they just can’t decide! We put in pots that are considered relatively easy to grow, so we won’t put in plants that would only survive with CO2. Not only that but don’t forget all our plants come with a full root structure which means not only do they plant easily and anchor down, but they also begin growing immediately in your tank.

When you invest in a mixed box of potted plants, not only do we select a superb range of foreground, midground and background plants but we also give you free fertilisers. That’s right, totally free. And, if you go for one of the mixed boxes of 40 or 50, the price of the potted plants drops down to £2.75. This becomes incredible value for such high quality potted plants when you consider a typical potted plant costs £3.99.

You can find our mixed boxes by clicking here and if you have any questions, I’d love to hear from you.

Potted Aquarium Plants