Category Archives: potted 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.

Pogostemon helferi – a stunning foreground plant.

Each week we run deals on plants for £1.99. They might be big, they might be small but one thing for sure, they’re always a great deal. Today we’ve got a deal on the lovely foreground plant called Pogostemon helferi. We’ve bought over 200 of them and by Monday they’ll probably be sold.

This lovely plant needs brighter light to flourish and grows up to 10cm so great therefore ideal for nano tanks or smaller aquariums. You can, of course, grow it in larger tanks – you just need more of them 😉 Although it appreciates the addition of pressurised CO2 in the aquarium, it’s not a must – without it, growth is just a bit slower.

If you’d like to be the first in the line for these types of deals, maybe subscribe to my newsletters here

pogostemon helferi

You can find a link to the foreground plant Pogostemon heferi by clicking the above picture OR clicking this link here. So if you wanted to take advantage of this super offer, click the links and be quick. Normally on sale for only 4-5 days.

If you’re outside the UK and mainland Europe, we can’t get the plants to you fast enough.

If you’d like lots of detail on this plant, have a look at this link from the Tropica website

By: Ole Pedersen

Pogostemon helferi is a different but beautiful foreground plant which under good growth conditions forms a dense carpet of dark green leaves. The curly leaves and different leaf form make it stand out from the crowd of other foreground plants and thereby, it creates an attractive variation and regeneration of the planted aquarium.

The full scientific name is Pogostemon helferi (Hook. f.) Press and from this it follows that it is closely related to another popular aquarium plant, Pogostemon stellatus. The meaning of the genus name is “bearded stamens” from “pogo” (bearded) and “stemon” (stamen) but as yet there is no English common name for Pogostemon helferi. Two Thai aquarist, Nonn Panitvong and Arthit Prasartkul, recovered the plant on the boarder between Thailand and Myanmar and in Thailand the plant is called “dao noi” which means little star. Here, the plant is found in between the other amphibious vegetation along creeks and small rivers where it is found submerged during the wet season and emerged during the dry. The soil in this part of Thailand is often iron rich clay with a reasonable amount of calcium carbonate and this makes it ideal as an aquarium plant.

Pogostemon helferi is not easily confused with other aquarium plants because of the curly leaves. Under good light conditions, short internodes are formed which result in a compact and bushy look. The inflorescence is simple, 15-30 mm long and the individual flowers are lavender. Usually, it forms flowers only when emerged.
At Tropica, we cultivate Pogostemon helferi in emergent cultures which bring along advantages not only for Tropica but also for the aquarist. The emergent plants are always free from algae but in addition, they also acclimate much easier to the water in the individual tanks found among different aquarists. The reason is likely that in nature, these plants experience large natural fluctuations in water quality upon the start of the wet season when ions in different amounts are washed out from the catchment area. This phenomenon probably makes the plant more adaptive to submergence in different types of waters also in our tanks. When planting Pogostemon helferi into the aquarium, the cluster of plantlets should be divided into 4-5 blocks which are then planted into the substrate with a distance of 3-5 cm. In this way, a homogenous carpet is rapidly formed. Remember to remove loose leaves or leaves which are already senescent together with big lumps of roots. This tissue will soon die anyway and start to decay, and this will slow down the establishment of the new plants. Pogostemon helferi looks best if it is planted in small groups or even in larger groups in the foreground.

Pogostemon helferi is not particularly light demanding, but the more light we provide, the more compact the growth form, and the compact form is what most people find attractive. Under less light, the plant grows taller (up to 15 cm) whereas intense light results in compact shoots not longer than 5-8 cm. Pogostemon helferi is relatively fast growing and thus, it needs additional nutrients. Iron deficiency sometimes occurs and is recognized by the new leaves being yellowish but this is easily treated by using liquid Premium Fertiliser in the recommended doses. At luxurious growth, it becomes necessary to trim the plants and this should be done by removing entire shoots allowing light and nutrient to penetrate all the way down to the remaining shoots. CO2 enrichment always stimulates growth, but it is not really required to grow Pogostemon helferi successfully; the plant simply grows a bit slower. Pogostemon helferi thrives in a broad temperature interval from 23 to 30°C.

Pogostemon helferi is among the easiest foreground plant we have because it is not as light demanding as most other foreground plants; at low light, the individual stems simply grow a bit longer and the plant appears less compact. Try Pogostemon helferi together with other foreground plants such as Glossostigma or Hemianthus to create new and exciting color contrast in the aquarium.

Pogostemon helferi is relatively new in our hobby and thus, there is not much information available as yet. However, we recommend consulting the articles listed below if you want to learn more about this exiting plant.

Scaped For You Collections

Scaped For You Collections

We just thought we would introduce you to our new Scaped For You Collections that we have just started offering here at Aqua Essentials.

What are Scaped for You Collections?

Scaped For You Collections are essentially ‘ready made’ aquascapes if want of a better phrase. They are aquascapes that have been created by professional Tropica Aquascapers and come with guidelines explaining how to replicate the scape in your own aquarium.

Some people admire scapes they see on Facebook, pinterest, Twitter etc done by the likes of George Farmer & Dan Crawford who are very talented Aquascapers and so many more out there.  They think to themselves “Oh I wish I could have that in my aquarium but just do not have the time to research all the plants needed nor spend time aquascaping it”. Well this is why we are offering you these Scaped For You Collections compliments of Tropica.

So what do I get?

We are offering a variety of Scaped For You Collections for different sized aquariums. We send you all the plants, wood and rocks you will need to produce your chosen aquascape.  You can refer to the product page on our website for easy to follow instructions which guide you when planting, positioning your rock and wood. You can also view the You Tube video by Tropica which explains step by step and guides you along the way. We even tell you which gravel or sand to use too.

What do it do?

So go to the product page (highlighted links) and choose the right Scaped for You Collection and then just ‘buy’! All that you will need will be packaged up and sent to you.

When will I receive it?

As you are no doubt aware we hold a large quantity of plants in stock so it is very rare that we will not have the plants in stock that you order.  However there may be occasions where a particular plant is not in stock or out of season or we are short of quantities (some Scaped For You Collections do require a large quantity of a certain plant) so we will have to order it in hence the reason why we give 1-7 days depending on availability however these Scaped For You Collections are well worth the wait…trust me! We have our plant deliveries in every thursday and friday and will always email you informing you of any minor delays too.

What level is it for?

We offer Easy, Medium and Advanced Scaped For You Collections here at Aqua Essentials.  Some people might like to start with Easy and progress up the ranks once they have gain knowledge and confidence and some keen and experienced Aquascapers might go straight for Advanced. You choose what suits you.  Easy set ups contain plants that are pretty hardy, need low lighting conditions and non CO2 so need little maintainance and easy to keep. Medium and Advanced set ups require more attention and some will require CO2 and good lighting.

What if my aquarium is bigger than the one I have chosen?

That’s no problem at all! Just either add the Scaped For You Collection you would like to your basket and then just add additional plants to make it up for your sized aquarium or just email us or call and tell us which scape you are looking to order and we will advice you how many more of each plant, wood or rock you will need for your size.

We are here for all the help and guidance you need so only a phone away or call 01363 774787 or email

This is a typical Scaped For You Collection we offer which is the finished article.

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This is the type of diagram you will be able to refer to when scaping your chosen Collection.

Layout43 diagram
Scaped For You Collections

Along with the Scaped For You Collection you can refer to additional images which will show you the progress and growth expected over time.

Layout 43 1a
Scaped For You Collections

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Scaped For You Collections

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Scaped For You Collections

More Scaped For You Collections will be available in due course.

Eusteralis Stellata Grof


Eusteralis stellata grof is a relatively new plant that is being introduced to the hobby. This plant has very strong, architectural stems that grow in a pretty straight manner. This plant has thin green narrow leaves with serrated edges. The underside of the leaves have a purplish hue to them. If Eusteralis stellata grof reaches the surface of the aquarium do not be surprised to find blooms of small white flowers appearing on the emerged stems.  Whilst this is lovely when flowers show it can hinder the growth of the plant so be aware of this.


This plant is native to Japan, China, Taiwan, Malaysia and Australia.


This plant is best suited to the back of the tank as although it is a slow grower it can get quite large. Eusteralis stellata grof is a demanding plant and requires a nutrient rich substrate. This plant performs at it’s best in soft slightly acidic water.  When planting separate the stems, do not plant stems together in a tight bunch.  This will ensure that all stems get adequate light at the base and none suffer from light deprivation.  Do not use sand as a substrate with this plant as sand holds absolutely no nutrient value which this plant cannot tolerate.  This plant will also need strong lighting. Eusteralis Stellata Grof has been known to stall in growth mode but simply replant and this will kick start the growth.  Finally this plant will require CO2 injection and the use of a good quality fertiliser such as Neutro + to be used in conjunction with CO2.

Propagation is simple – you can “pollard” the stems once they are big enough and simply replant into a suitable substrate and they should start to root.

eusteralis-stellata-grof eusteralis-stellata-grof eusteralis-stellata-grof

hydrocotyle tripartita

hydrocotyle tripartita

This is a really easy aquarium plant to look after so first and foremost, if you’re new to the hobby then look no further! It’s unchallenging but still has the beauty of the very best types of aquatic plants, but before we go into that, let’s look into the history of hydrocotyle tripartita.


Referred to in the hobby as Hydroctyle sp Japan, its true name is Hydrocotyle tripartita and it originates from South East Asia – as do most aquarium plants due to the warmer climate. This plant grows fast and is a major reason why it’s so popular – we all want results fast and don’t want to wait and this plant certainly ticks that box. The leaves are small and a brilliant green colour, some might refer to the colour as intense.


Best to plant hydrocotyle tripartita as a carpeting plant as it hugs the foreground and sends out runners on a daily basis. If the light is dim, you may find it stretches up the tank, but you really would have to minimise the light for this to have an impact. Once you’ve taken hydrocotyle tripartita from the pot, you’ll be able to split the plant into several portions and at the beginning it may look slightly scruffy and unkempt, you need to give it time to start to grow and take shape. If any of hydrocotyle tripartita pops back up, just push it back in.

Check out this video to see how you plant and maintain hydrocotyle tripartita:


hydrocotyle tripartita is available in two types for you and is available as a potted variety or available as hydrocotyle tripartita on lava. Both are great, just depends what you prefer the look of. If you’re planning on planting hydrocotyle tripartita direct into the substrate choose the potted variety but if you want to move it around because you might not be able to decide quite where you want to place it, use hydrocotyle tripartita on lava.

hydrocotyle tripartita
hydrocotyle tripartita pot

hydroctyle tripartita
hydrocotyle tripartita on lava


Micranthemum monte carlo care

Micranthemum monte carlo care

How can you not love this aquarium plant? I mean it’s truly beautiful in pretty much every way. Micranthemum monte carlo care is so easy – it looks great, carpets in your aquarium easily and pots are always a decent size. So where has it come from and where has it been all this time?

In answer, it’s a relatively new aquatic plant into the hobby and it originates from Europe and East Asia – which one is quite correct, I’m not sure. I would go for Asia as their environment is better suited (but I’m guessing!). The leaves to this aquarium plant are fairly round, and probably no more than 4mm in diameter. So imagine it to be a bit like the world famous aquatic plant Hemianthus, just a big bigger. The MAIN DIFFERENCE though is how easy this plant is to grow. Classified as Easy, Micranthemum monte carlo care is straight forward and suitable for beginners and up and that’s because it’s hugely tolerant to a very wide range of conditions. And, it’s great as a carpeting aquatic plant which always rounds things off nicely.

Micranthemum monte carlo careA bit of history on Micranthemum monte carlo care

About 2 years ago, Tropica brought this plant out in the tissue culture form, but they called it Elatine Hydropiper. Then after a several months they realised they were wrong, and DNA sequencing discovered that it’s actually part of the Micranthemum family. The Monte Carlo name, is probably a short term one until they find its true Latin name, so watch this space. Essentially this means it will change its name again…

Why has it shot to fame?

Because it’s so easy to grow and Micranthemum monte carlo care is so easy! You see Heminathus callitrichoides is the most similar plant to this and as mentioned above, it is far harder to grow, and that’s not what hobbyists want. People want aquarium plants that look pretty and grow easily. Now no aquatic plant (to my knowledge) is genetically modified and as a result, we have to work with what we have. But Micranthemum monte carlo care, comes as close to a GM product as any, because it ticks all the right boxes. You can grow it in high light, low light, CO2 tank, non CO2 tank. Literally take your pick. Sure you’ll get much better results if you place it in a high tech CO2 tank (what plant wouldn’t), but my point is how adaptable it genuinely is.

How do you plant it?

Bit like Heminathus. Once you’ve removed this aquarium plant out of its pot, all you need to do is trim the rockwool off so you have about 10mm left. Then you can cut the plant into 6/8 pieces (depending on pot size) and plant straight into the substrate. The rock wool will help to anchor the plant and keep it where you want it to.

How do you trim it?

Very easily and this is why Micranthemum monte carlo care is so easy – simply use a pair of curved scissors and trim the top part off regularly. Failure to maintain this plant results in a build up of plant which can force the bottom half to die off. This would then lift the plant off your substrate – funny at first then the penny drops. So trim regularly and heavily. But one tip is once you have planted for the first time, avoid trimming until you have let it settle in for at least 2 weeks. Below I’ve found a useful video of someone trimming it. It’s also worth noting the excellent use of a circulation pump which is positioned directly over the Micranthemum monte carlo. This is a perfect example of why carpeting plants benefit from this – any nutrients are pushed right on top of the plant, and this is another reason why its flourishing in this environment (I recommend you do the same and you can find our circulation pumps by clicking here)

How many pots do I need?

We get asked this question A LOT! For most foreground plant, aim for one pot per 225cm2 (15x15cm). Use this calculation. So for example in a tank which is 60x30cm you would need 8 pots (1800/225).


If you’re looking for a beautiful carpeting aquarium plant that is easy to grow and perfect in a wide range of conditions, then Micranthemum monte carlo is ideal. If you’re looking to purchase this plant, you can find it by clicking here.

Plant Symbols – making it easier to choose

We’re making things even easier for you on the plant pages. We’re often asked which plants are suitable and what would we advise? So by introducing plant symbols makes it really easy for you in deciding if a certain plant you like is right.

Breaking it down into Apprentice, Skilled and Master – so what level are you?

Apprentice is as you might expect is geared towards new hobbyists – we have categorised these plants that even your Grandma could grow.

Skilled – Suitable for enthusiastic newcomers or better still if you’ve had  a planted tank for a few months and want to try something a bit more advanced (yet not too tricky).

Master – Suitable for CO2 infused tanks where you have plenty of experience, lots of lighting, good water circulation and lots of water changes.

All you have to decide is which category you belong to and choose plants to suit.

Do you love Vallisneria? Here are the top 5.

Who doesn’t like Vallis? If I cast my mind back it was one of the first plants I grew extremely well by doing…nothing. In fact it grew like a weed and provided a wonderful curtain effect that made me feel like a pro 🙂  I’m not sure which specific Vallis it was but it was dead easy. In fact the entire Vallis range is very simple to grow and unless you have very soft water you won’t have any problems.

There are currently 5 different types available – all similar (ish) with a variant. Let’s start with the biggest first:

Vallisneria gigantea rubra – large thick and wide leaves that grow fast. Great for bigger tanks and the leaves can grow up to about 2m (impressive heh!).

Vallisneria spiralis – suitable for beginners and up, this plant has narrow long leaves that look rather attractive. Grows in pretty much any tank.

Vallisneria spiralis red – just like the plant above but with a red tinge. A bit slower growing though.

Vallisneria torta – the smallest of the Vallis, this rather neat one tends to stay quite small as the leaves twist as they grow. Also great for beginners and up.

Vallisneria nana – the narrowest of all the Vallis, the leaves are a few mm thick. This makes them sway delightfully in the current. Not such a fast grower but very easy on the eye.

Just in case you’re not aware, Vallisneria do not appreciate liquid carbon. It can make them melt so best to avoid adding it.

Have you seen these plants before?

Found in the rice fields of Asia the Murdannia ‘keisak’ is a stem plant from the bamboo family. New in to us from Tropica, they describe this plant as easy to grow and unchallenging. We’re yet to give it a whirl ourselves but it looks the business.


Originating from North America the Penthorum sedoides is a low maintenance, easy growing stem plant. Another new plant from Tropica. Seems like they do the sourcing of this plant and then other growers jump on their ship. I might be wrong though (just seems like that). Anyway, looks pretty cool.


Which plants will my fish not eat?

I was asked this question twice this morning – not sure why but felt it promoted a quick blog post.

If your fish eat plants, you are massively restricted with regards to the plants that you will ever grow and keep in your tank. So you have 2 choices:

  1. move the fish on to someone who wants your fish
  2. only keep 2 species of plants

I know which choice I would have! But if yours is the second option Anubias and Microsoriums are the only species of plants I know that tend to be avoided. These plants either taste horrible or are simply too tough to digest. Who knows which one!

You can find all the anubias here and the microsoriums here.

Propagating aquarium plants.

So your wonderful plants have arrived from us and you’re wondering (perhaps) what to do with all the cuttings/trimmings you get from your plants. Some will grow really fast and rather than chucking them in the compost bin, you could propagate them. This is essentially what commercial growers do and what you can do too – it’s fairly simple for plants that live under water (above water is slightly harder but that’s something for another day!). Let’s assume you have a nice stem like this one (Alternanthera roseafolia).

Alternanthera rosaefolia

This plant grows pretty quickly and as soon as it’s getting a bit too long, hack it in half and I mean literally in half. Chopping it 50% at a time makes the plant grow very bushy and more attractive, and whatever you trim back simply plants straight into the substrate – it’s as simple as that. You can take cuttings from the side of stem plants but they are never as strong as the one’s from the top. Wherever you do trim, you’ll get a couple of buds forming there and this is why the plant can become very bushy as every time you trim, two more buds form.

Other plants will have what’s called Advantageous Plantlets. This asexual reproduction occurs when small plantlets form on the main plant – I see this quite a lot with plants from the Bacopa family. Let them grow for a while so they are a good couple of inches long and then cut them off with a pair of scissors and replant. I’ve found if you do this when they are too young and too short, they melt and die so give them a bit of time to grow  and get strong.

Another asexual way of reproduction you may see with your plants is what’s known as  offsets. This very simple method is similar to runners (which is when the plant literally throws off runners), except offsets grow off the main part of the plant but in particular , exceptionally close to it – they don’t wonder like runners do. You can pick offsets off the plant and then place them into your substrate and away they go! Again, don’t pick them when they are too young as they may die off. Similarly if you let them grow for longer they quite often fall off on their own, land in the substrate and then start growing again.

Biology lesson over 🙂

Fire red adds a splash of colour

If you’re after a cracking stem plant that adds some stunning red into your aquarium then maybe this plant could be just for you.

Ludwigia perennis is really lovely and stands nice and tall which is how I like my stem plants to grow. Like all stem plants they are fairly easy to grow and require medium light or higher. When planting, make sure you give them space otherwise the leaves at the bottom will drop off.

When trimming, be heavy handed and cut 50% off every trim. This might sound dramatic but the plant will look better each time, become bushier and bushier. If you don’t do this it will just become leggy and lose its colour too.

Ludwigia perennis

Not all plants are easy to grow…

Not all plants are easy to grow…

Yes, it’s true – some are and some aren’t. But if you decide on adding pressurised CO2, then those tricky plants become…not so tricky. To make that transition from easy plants, to difficult plants you need lots of CO2 better lighting and better water distribution with macro and micro nutrients. But here’s the flipper – when you improve one, you have to improve all of them. Step up CO2 and you have to tweak a few others. It’s no big deal but important that the right steps are taken – something people often overlook.

So what is easy then? An easy plant is one where you don’t really need to do much to succeed. You take it out of its pot, remove the rock wool and plant. Then in no time you’ll probably have some new shoots. An example of easy plant is Anubias nana.

You really don’t need to do much with this plant in order to grow – it’s even happy being tied to wood or rock.

Medium Difficulty – this is where it gets a little more interesting. The type of plant that falls into this category is one that prefers some type of CO2, (preferably the pressurised variety). As plants go up the scale of difficulty, in general they need more CO2, more light, more fertilisers and better water distribution. Lobelia cardinalis is one that falls under this category.

This plant (like all of our plants) is kept hydroponically and when we look at it in one of our grow tents, the leaves are dark green on the top and on the reverse, a deep purple (very nice). But you need intensive lighting for this plant to flourish so consider LED lighting or multiple T5 lights, then this plant will fly!!

Difficult Plants – The most tricky and challenging of all plants – and the key word really is challenging. Many have tried and failed very quickly but only because these plants allow little margin for error.

Hemianthus callitrichoides (HC for short) has to be the number one foregound plant. When you establish this plant and get it growing properly, it’s the definition of sheer delight. The tiny leaves (commonly known as baby tears) release O2 bubbles and your plant will literally be brimming with life.

Get it wrong and your HC will melt and disappear in front of your very eyes. To succeed the steps are simple – lots of CO2, medium to high light and lots of micro and macro nutrients. If you tick all the boxes and make sure CO2 bubbles are quite literally being pushed over and into this plant, it will grow quickly.


Not all plants are easy to grow but at the same time, if they were things would be a little boring wouldn’t they? Challenging plants like Hemianthus callictrichoides are difficult but at the same time, the most rewarding.

I always recommend to hobbyists that they start with plants that are straight forward and easy, do lots of research (so much available on google and our blog), build up your confidence levels and then move up the order of plants in terms of difficulty. Don’t jump in with both feet (however tempting) and plump for difficult plants just because you like the look of them. Master the basics and then the rest will simply fall into line.

Food for thought…

Sagittaria platyphylla flowering


I was so pleased this morning coming into work to find this incredible plant flowering. Bare in mind the temperature outside is very cold today (-1!), I never expected anything like this. As you can see it’s super happy and so am I!

We’ve been working very hard at improving conditions all the time and it’s beginning to pay off. The plant is called Sagittaria platyphylla and it’s a super little foreground plant with lovely green leaves.

Enjoy 🙂

What’s in your mixed boxes of potted plants?

A great mixture of plants is my usual answer and before you ask – no you can’t have specific one’s in there 🙂

The whole idea of the mixed boxes is that you, the customer, get a great selection of plants that are typically fast growing and will take readily in your aquarium. We know how daunting it can be if you are new to plants about which one’s to choose, will they look right, do I have the right quantities etc etc. So the hard work is all done.

Now if you want specific plants which I know you sometimes do, then it’s best to buy those separately. But just to make it even more simple, all you need to do is work out the size of your tank and then choose the mixed box of plants to suit. It’s as easy as that! Oh and one last thing, don’t forget your fertiliser and I recommend Neutro T.

fresh as a daisy…

You can definitely grow this aquatic plant…

This is the plant for you if you want total ease. If you want a no trouble, simple to grow, versatile, attractive, fast growing – sounds too good to be true doesn’t it? It gets better…

How about one that can grow on bogwood? Imagine this plant sat next to a lovely anubias. The leaves complement each other and the two greens are the perfect match.

What about a plant that can grow on the substrate and create a carpet if you cover it with gravel or substrate? This plant is just SO VERSATILE! It genuinely is this flexible and it you’re going to love it.

So what’s its name?

Hydrocotyle leucocephala

Great for beginners, experts or those of you who just want a trouble free plant.



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.

Aquafleur Plants – and a video!!

We’ve been a big fan of Aquafleur plants for a long time now. Not only are they great value for money, but they’re darn good growers of plants too. I knew they were a pretty extensive organisation and they’ve recently produced a video that is well worth a watch. Now I know you’re busy, but it’s only 4 minutes long and is a super watch detailing their premises and the plants they grow along with how they grow them.

It’s fascinating to see how some plants are sprayed really intensively (you wouldn’t want to be stood under it when it happens) and others are sprayed for less than 1 second. I wonder how they know this and what the time is from spray to spray. Do you know – if so let me know!?

Anyway, you can see their video by clicking here and then clicking their video on the top right of the screen.

I would love to hear your thoughts on it and don’t forget our range of Aquafleur plants can be found by Potted Plants.

Anubias nana – don’t plant it, tie it!

We love this plant here at Aqua Essentials and belive you will too if you haven’t already tried it. It’s been around for as long as I can remember and it’s here to stay. So what’s so special about it?

Anubias nana has dark green leaves which are slightly oval in shape. A slow growing plant that is suitable for a wide range of conditions means that it can flourish very easily. When it’s really happy white flowers grow (very nice!!) and new leaves take 1-2 weeks to show. However, it’s really important that you know where to place Anubias nana because unlike most, do not plant in the substrate. Anubias nana has a rhizome which means that if planted in the substrate it will rot. So the secret to longevity is tying it to wood or rocks. The easiest way is to use Aqua Fine Line which is super thin and means that when you tie it, you will barely be able to to see it giving the illusion that the plant has already grown onto the wood. Over time (several months) the roots will grow and wrap themselves around and the Aqua Fine Line will no longer be needed and can be cut off if required.

Overall, this delightful plant is a pleasure in the planted aquarium and if you’re thinking about it, give it a whirl. We’re offering them at only £4.99 each and you can find the plant by clicking here.

Aquatic Plants on sale

It’s that time of year again so this is a fantastic opportunity to get hold of some quality potted plants at a discounted rate. Of course, these prices won’t last long but if you were thinking about getting your tank looking in tip top condition so all your relatives and friends could see, maybe now is a good opportunity.

Large selection at super prices.

Check these deals out by clicking Aquatic Plants On Sale.