Tag Archives: foreground

Eloquent Echinodorus

Eloquent Echinodorus

Aqua Essentials are expanding all the time and expanding our plant range is top of our agenda. Three NEW varieties from the Eloquent Echinodorus family have just landed on the door step and are ready to go!

Echinodorus spectre

Firstly, I would like to introduce to an Eloquent Echinodorus which is the Echinodorus spectre.  A classic background plant that is stong and sturdy and will add immediate impact to your aquascape. Echinodorus spectre have large long leaves so will need plenty of space and light inorder to flourish in your aquarium. When planting Echinodorus spectre up they must not be over-shadowed by larger leaved plants. These really are perfect for beginners due to the easiness of keeping.

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Echinodorus spectra

Echinodorus gabrielli

Secondly, we also have new in to us and to add to our Eloquent Echinodorus family is Echinodorus gabrielii which is a foreground plant ideal for more skilled hobbist’s. This Echinodorus is quite unusual in comparison to all the other Echinodorus due to it’s size. A tidy looking compact plant that is very pleasing on the eye.

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Echinodorus gabrielli

Echinodorus parviflorus

And finally another Echinodorus to add to our range of Eloquent Echinodorus is Echinodorus parviflorus which is another easy to grow plant. It is most suited to large aquariums due to the fact that it can grow up to 70cm if given plenty of space. Perfectly suited to the background of the aquarium, this Echinodorus looks amazing when planted in bunches.

parviflorus
Echinodorus parviflorus

Three new Eloquent Echinodorus additions to our range which is very exciting and more to come so watch this space!

Any questions or advice please give us a call on 01363 774787 and we will be happy to help.

 

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 info@aquaessentials.co.uk.

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.

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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.

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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.

Aquascaping Layout & The Golden Ratio

Aquascaping Layout & The Golden Ratio

Some of you may have heard of this and some of you may have not and its called ‘The Golden Ratio’ which is widely used in planning the layout and perspective of an aquascape.  We have put together a simple ‘Aquascaping Layout  & The Golden Ratio’ guide on how to create a scape that is pleasing on the eye and has the right composition and design in mind.

The Golden Ratio

Firstly we will look at the The Golden Ratio which will guide you in creating perspective in your aquarium. This ‘Aquascaping Layout  & The Golden Ratio’ guide is used when wanting to acheive the perfect balance when placing objects in a space.  So let’s begin and these 3 steps explain what the Golden Ratio is.

1. Stand back and look at the front of your tank. Imagine there are four lines going across the front of the glass, two vertical and two horizontal, giving you now nine sections.

2. Where the lines cross are the Golden points where you should consider placing your key features to the tank i.e. rock, wood or prominant plants such as reds or plants that stand out.

3. You can use the Golden Ratio to plan the height layout of your plants too.

Symmetry

Basically symmetry does not work in a planted aquarium. It is too formal, structured and unnatural. Think about it would you see symmetry in the wild? No, so lets not make it neat and symetrical in the aquarium.  The focal point (as we mentioned earlier your key feature so wood, rock, red plant etc) should be slightly off to the center. 1 : 1.62 was calculated long ago as the point which is the most pleasing on the eye.  This is where you could consider having a slope on one side too, like a riverbed.

Shape

Please don’t have all your ‘tall’ plants lined up along the back and try and create a ‘hedge’ or ‘wall’ of plants to cover up the background! It is not needed and only looks dated. Try replicating a mountain look by trimming your plants to be taller on the sides and slightly shorter in the center.  You could also add some rocks either side (not symetrical remember to add to your mountain look).

Positioning of the plants

Depending on the scape you are looking to achieve, I like to keep my rocks or wood positioned amongst the midground plants as the stems can easily be hidden amongst the rocks plus you can carpet foreground plants around the base of the rocks to create a really natural look.

Creating depth

Creating depth is not the easiest task however keeping the golden ration in mind it can be done.  The first thing to remember is to avoid positioning the rocks from left to right across the middle in a straight line which just looks two-dimentional and very unnatural looking.  So I recommend planting and positioning in layers starting from the front to the back leaving a small gap in between and from low to high. With time and experience you will become more bold and challenging with your aquascaping and start creating some amazing looking scapes.

Another element to consider when planting your scape is to take note of the estimated growth guides that come with the plants or you can use the guide we use on our plant product page. Obviously you dont want to have to be trimming your plant all the time as it grows quicker than the one behind it so it really plays off to carefully plan your scape and even put pencil to paper first and sketch it out.

With all the above considered when putting a scape together, you should be impressed with the results. If however you need further advice we are only a phone call away on 01363 774787.

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Cryptocoryne albida Brown, the rough diamond

Cryptocoryne albida ‘Brown’ – the rough diamond

What is it like?

What is so appealing about this captivating little beauty the Cryptocoryne Albida Brown all the way from Thailand, is that despite its delicate look and grace it is a real little toughy or a ‘rough diamond’. It can grow in pretty much ANY condition needing very little light, CO2 and care, making it perfect for beginners. Please note however in these conditions it will grow slower.

What does Albida Brown look like?

Its leaves are narrow and whilst it is a small plant, they are narrow too. The colour is red and brown with transparent dark markings leading to a crimpled edge. The leaves grow to about 2-3cm wide and maybe up to 15cm long, making cryptocoryne albida brown truly beautiful.

Where shall I plant it?

As a foreground plant, try positioning in the flow of the filter so the leaves can sway and lap in the current creating a natural and organic look as if it were in a stream in the wild. The Albida Brown also does well if nestled amongst larger plants. The contrast in colours amongst lush green plants creates a ‘natural’ theme to the plant display.

To find this aquarium plant on our shop, click on this link.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Freshwater Shrimp Seclusion

Freshwater Shrimp Seclusion – the Ultimate Shrimp Hide.

A little bit about it…

What I love most about this Freshwater Shrimp Seclusion is that it not only does this hide give your aquarium a natural yet urban feel with the vibrant green, lush and thickly grown moss. The somewhat industrial looking pipes is this great little hideaway is ideal for your shrimp to feel safe and at ease in your aquarium.

Hand crafted into these robust grey ceramic tubes making it a perfect refuge for not only just shrimp however other small crustacians, dwarf crayfish and youngsters too.

Why is it so useful?

Moulting is an important time for all shrimp where they need a quiet, safe haven. Moulting is part of their natural growth cycle however this time makes them very vulverable to other fish as once moulting has taken place their new skin is relatively soft so they hide from anywhere between 48 to 72 hours to give their new shell time to harden. The Freshwater Shrimp Seclusion is the perfect place for them to be as if your shrimp are unable to moult in safety they can become stuck in their old shell and perish.

Sit back and watch as your shrimp make their way through the tunnels and hop onto the plush moss for a clean up and tidy.

Where do I put it in my aquarium?

The Shrimp Seclusion is all ready to go – simply place in the desired spot in your aquarium. I always think slightly nestled away amongst your aquatic plants to give a real indigenous look and feel and allow your shrimp to take their fortress.

How big is it?

Measuring just 8 x 8 x 5cm so ideal for both nano and larger aquariums.

Freshwater Shrimp Seclusion

Freshwater Shrimp Seclusion

Freshwater Shrimp Seclusion

Tempted? Click here to go straight to the product.

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.

History

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.

Planting

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:

Availability:

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

 

Carpeting Aquarium Plants

Carpeting Aquarium Plants

Everyone loves carpeting aquarium plants right? I mean there’s nothing more delightful than looking at a beautiful green carpet of plants that are growing very happily at the bottom of your tank. They’ve always been popular and a question we’re asked fairly regularly so it made sense to put down in detail the plants we recommend, why we do that and how easy they are to grow. You see, the thing with carpeting aquarium plants is they’re not necessarily tricky but are neglected due to their location and this is why some fail. In addition a lot of carpeting plants have small root structure so you need to make sure you offer plenty of fertilisers and liquid carbon, AND a nutrient rich substrate. By covering all the bases you give yourself the very best chance of creating a carpet you have always dreamed of.

But let’s start with the easiest and work our way down to the trickiest. Note that our selection will be very different from other shops, most probably because we know what we’re talking about as we’ve been aquascaping for over 20 years. So here’s the top 5 Carpeting Aquarium Plants:

In FIRST PLACE THE Easiest Carpeting Aquarium Plant – Micranthemum ‘Monte-Carlo’

Micranthemum ‘Monte-Carlo’carpeting aquarium plant. This beautiful carpeting aquarium plant is suitable for beginners and up is unlikely to cause you any problems whatsoever. In fact its very tolerant of beginners which makes a refreshing change in the carpeting aquarium plants section.The leaves on this plant are small but not too small if you know what I mean. Now this is key because it’s able to photosynthesise very nicely doe to leaf shape and number. You can tell by the pot that this plant is absolutely loaded – literally thousands of leaves per pot. You can have high light, low light, CO2, no CO2 and it will still do well. There’s very little negative to say about it which is why it gets the top spot that beginners and above will love. If you’re after a bit more detail, view our other blog post on it by clicking here.

And here’s a rather neat video of the plant being trimmed.

In SECOND PLACE in carpeting aquarium plants is Staurogyne porto vehlo. Now you probably haven’t heard of this plant nor considered it as a carpeting aquarium plant but it seriously is a huge contender. Not quite as straight forward as Monte Carlo but if you kill this plant I’ll give you your money back (actually I won’t but it’s really Carpeting Aquarium Plantseasy to care for plant!) Once settled into your tank, you need to do very little to it for it to start creeping across the bottom of your nutritious substrate (you have got one right?! If not you need to). Suitable for both high and low light planted aquariums, only start to trim once it throws down roots. Apart from that you need to do VERY LITTLE for this plant to flourish and become and excellent Carpeting Aquarium Plant. Buy this plant now by clicking here.

 

In THIRD PLACE in carpeting aquarium plants is Micranthemum umbrosum. Not too dis-similar from the easiest of the carpeting aquarium plants as you can tell from the name. Very easy to care for and creeps perfectly. Leaves are small and round, maybe 5mm in diameter. But can you see the way it hangs down over the pot in the picture? This is why it’s another perfect carpeting aquarium plant – gravity forces it down. In termCarpeting Aquarium Plantss of lighting, it would benefit from slightly higher light, so you might get away with it in a low tech tank, but the addition of liquid carbon would always help and benefit the plant. Like all plants once you’ve placed it in the substrate, avoid trimming it for a few weeks so it can become established. The trigger for me is new roots – once you see them, it’s fine to trim, otherwise you can end up traumatising it. Apart from that, dead easy and ideal for beginners.

 

In FOURTH PLACE in carpeting aquarium plantsis Elecharis acicularis which has been in the hobby for donkeys years. In fact when I first startCarpeting Aquarium Plantsed to aqusacape (back in the 20th century!), I remember this plant being very popular but it was always sold in clumps. I vividly remember thinking I was getting a bargain as a bought two lots of 50. When it turned up I was severely disappointed because it was 2 bunches of 50 stems, which was maybe the equivalent to 2 pots at best. But I digress, this is a brilliant contender in Carpeting Aquarium Plants, but I’ve placed it at number 4 because it’s somewhat tricky as if it gets too much light and not enough CO2/fertilisers it clogs up with algae. It can also clog up with general debris so it does need cleaning and syphoning every week unless you have plenty of freshwater shrimp that will clean it for you. Apart from that it looks delightful when swaying in the current and you can trim it very short to give a manicured effect. If you want to see this plant being trimmed have a look at the video below.

Carpeting Aquarium Plants
The famous carpeting plant Hemianthus callitrichoides

FIFTH PLACE in carpeting aquarium plants, but certainly one of THE most popular Carpeting Aquarium Plants of all time is the famous Hemianthus callitrichoides. Now you might be surprised this wasn’t at the number one spot but we’re talking about easy carpeting aquarium plants and whilst this one isn’t necessarily difficult, it is unforgiving. Hemianthus callitrichoides can die  quickly – in fact you can do a pretty good job at killing it off in a couple of days if you don’t give it plenty of CO2 and lots of fertilisers. With minimal roots, it needs to take all of its nutrients from the leaves and if it doesn’t get just what it wants, it dies off. I know customers who have bought 20+ pots from us, for them all to die because his conditions weren’t quite right. This was a very tough lesson for sure, but it’s a reality. But if you get the conditions as it needs, it’s so beautiful and I’m suggesting that you work up to this plant. Imagine it to be the gold medal of all carpeting plants, because if you can master this one, you will have no problems with any others. If you want to see how fast this plant can grow then check this video out – took a mere 78 days to carpet.


and similarly if you want to see how you can trim Hemianthus callitrichoides, then check this video out

 

 

Where do your shrimp sleep?

Shrimp are essential for all planted aquariums but they’re also part of the food chain.

I can’t count the number of customers who buy shrimp for the right reason, only to turn them into expensive fish food. Now you always have to be aware of the tank mates and if they are compatible for obvious reasons, so you must plan.

But you always have to remember that as shrimp are part of the food chain, they naturally hide. Provide them with somewhere to shelter where fish can’t get to them and you will find your shrimp will not only be happier but will breed more quickly and more often.

Our Shrimp Shelters are awesome for that. Not only are the covered in moss so they look natural, but the tubes are small enough for only shrimp to shelter in. What more could they want :)

To find other cool shrimp accessories click 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.

Struggling with foreground plants?

You won’t be the first and certainly not the last. Foreground plants are the trickiest – not because they are harder than other plants, but just that they need a little more attention than others. The main factor to consider is their location – right at the bottom of the tank where there is the least amount of light, water movement and CO2.

If your foreground plants are struggling, think about their location and then ask yourself this question:

are you giving them what they want?

 

They want decent light, good fertilisers and CO2. If you don’t give them this, growth will be slow and odds are the plants will die off and algae grows. Point your circulation pump at them – they need to sway in the current and make sure CO2 is physically being pushed over them and getting trapped in the leaves.

Make sure you’re providing good ferts like Neutro+ because when the CO2 is being pushed over them, the ferts will be too (double whammy :))

Are you struggling with foreground plants? Let me know and reply to this post and I can help

What’s your favourite one – mine if HC :)

Sagittaria Subulata

This is a tasty looking foreground plant that I thought you might like. Foreground types are always the most popular for reasons I’ve mentioned in previous posts. However, they can be rather tricky sometimes but this one won’t cause any problems.

Sagittaria Subulata is a small yet elegant plant that has a lovely vivid green colour to it. It reproduces easily via runners (see the picture below) and will grow in medium to high light. Like most plants it does better with pressurised CO2, but will be fine is a low tech planted tank (i.e. one without CO2) – it just grows slower that’s all.

Each pot can be split into 6 different plantlets and place them into a nutrient rich substrate for the best effect (try Colombo Flora Base). Position them about 25mm apart from each other (use tweesers for this) and in no time you’ll see new runners. Don’t forget if you start to see your plant going yellow, then you need more nutrients! Add AE Design Aqua Nourish.

Lastly with all our Aquafleur plants we offer deals for multiple purchases so if you invest in 5 or more, we offer it to you for £3.59 per plant.

Top 3 most popular foreground plants

What’s the easiest, what’s the best, what’s the quickest, what’s the nicest…?

We get asked all sorts of things regarding foreground plants and the answer is always the same “it depends!!”….

it depends on what you are trying to achieve, what your skills as a hobbyists are, if you’re using CO2, what your lighting levels are etc etc. So there’s no easy answer but here’s my personal top 3:

Pogostemon Helferi – probably the easiest foreground plant to grow as it will happily flourish in CO2 and non CO2 tanks. Lighting wise it’s not too fussy either and again likes low and high light. Great for beginners and upwards.

Eleocharis Acicularis – a long term favourite amongst planted aquarium hobbyists you can see why this plant became so popular so quickly. Relatively easy to grow, it looks great and reproduces quickly by throwing out runners pretty much everywhere. In a CO2 infused aquarium, it really motors and you will have a lushous carpet in no time.


Echinodorus Tenellus – a cracking plant that has been in the hobby since the mid 80s. A plant with lovely shaped leaves which when submersed become slimline and grass like so it sways in the current (very relaxing to watch). Suitable for non CO2 tanks, however if you’re looking to create a carpet effect (which most are with foreground plants) then CO2 would be necessary along with a decent fertiliser such as AE Design Aqua Nourish and Aqua Nourish+.

 

Rotala Wallichii – a versatile plant

This is one of my all time favourite aquatic plants and I’m so pleased that some stock arrived today. Rotala Wallichii is an amazingly versatile plant and I know you will love it as much as me. Originating from South East Asia, it’s a well know plant in the hobby and comes from the Lythraceae family.

It’s not the easiest plant to grow but don’t let that deter you as the plus side to this plant by far out weigh the negative. However I must say that whenever I have grown this plant, I have never found it to be particularly taxing. Rotala Wallichii has very delicate stems and in order for it to stand up right it does need the support of water. The delicate leaves are very attractive and will sway in the current. Give this plant enough light and watch it turn a stunning red colour (in particular the tips). In fact this is probably why some hobbyists find this plant a bit tricky because they use very high lighting in order to change the colour, but then forget to increase their CO2 and fertilisers to suit.

In terms of size, Rotala Wallichii will grow up to about 30cm but I prefer to see it much shorter than this, and treat it like a foreground plant for the best effect. When you trim, you can use cut stems and replant so in no time you will have multiplied this plant. However, I still recommend that you invest in a few pots of this plant at a time to create the desired effect. To make sure this plant really flies (so to speak!) provide CO2 and you will be amazed at the plant growth. The CO2 will also provide the softer water which this plant prefers.

To see our complete range of aquatic plants which all come with a full root structure, please visit our potted plant section on our website.

Plants For A Planted Aquarium

The exciting part and the one reason that you became interested in this hobby. These wonderful aquatic plants make your aquarium come alive with lush colours of green and red. Now the difficult part of choosing what plants to grow!

It’s important to do your homework before you choose which plants you keep in your tank. By doing some research you save yourself both time and money. Many hobbyists make the mistake when they go into a fish shop and are amazed by certain plants that look beautiful, may be a lovely red colour or a certain shape or size. They take them home and gradually they deteriorate. You’re left puzzled and confused as to why they didn’t grow and flourish.
Not all plants are suitable for aquariums. I’ve been in countless shops that sell non aquatic plants, so no matter how good your conditions are these plants will always fail. Shops only sell these plants because they know as soon as they are placed in your aquarium they begin to die – they hope rather than do your research you will come back and buy some more. I’ve never understood that concept and surely it’s better to educate customers so that they come back and buy a much broader variety of plants as their skills expand. So just beware of what plants are aquatic prior to purchase.

There are a huge amount of plants available for people in this hobby. There are 3 major growers of plant in Europe and they are Tropica, Aquafleur and Dennerle. Most plants will have labels on them indicating different requirements from a plant. They always state their Latin name, what size they grow to, their lighting requirements and normally where you should place them in your tank. Some will have other information on the labels such as how easy they are to grow. As you are at the early stages of this hobby, it will be best to opt for plants that are easy to grow. These types of plants will not require lots of light (this is key!) and normally flourish in the most basic conditions. A very small sample of these plants are:

Crinum Thaianum, Echindorus Parviflorus, Java Moss, Lilaeopsis Novea-Zealandie, Marsilea Crenata, Micromanthemum Umbrosum, Microsorium Pteropus, Nuphur Japonicum and Vallis Spiralis.

There are many others that are suitable simply check the label and marry that up against your tank set up. If a plant requires high light you can be sure it needs CO2 – this is typical of red plants. View the range of plants here.

Most plants are grown in pots – make sure they have roots. When you get them home remove the pot and rockwool carefully and split into about 6 plants. Tall plants must always be planted at the back of your aquarium are are ideal for covering up filters or heaters. Medium sized plants are most suitable for the midground and small plants are typically suited for the front of the tank to avoid obstructing the plants behind. Foreground plants often the most sought after because of the way they look and grow. They also spread rapidly given the right conditions and can really transform an aquascape.