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Add Life to Your Design Aquarium with These Beautiful Freshwater Plants

Posted by on Monday, January 20th, 2014

Our aquariums tend to age with us. Our first ones tend to be very simple, when we’re kids, both out of a lack of experience and because of pragmatic parents not wanting to dump a lot of money on the fluctuating whims of a child.  I don’t know if the comic-stereotype of the little bowl with some gravel and a lonely goldfish bubbling around is something that people still do – or if they ever did – but if not, that is just a slight exaggeration of the simple way many of us start our hobbies.

For those that stick with it, that recognize the fun and embrace the responsibility of creating an ecosystem, our aquariums tend to get more elaborate. They get bigger and incorporate more fish, and then tend to get plants. Again, at the beginning, people often want plastic plants. I know my first aquarium plants weren’t real – it was scary enough to try to keep fish alive; I wasn’t going to do the same with plants. But the main problem with plastic plants, of course, is that they are static: they never change, which takes a large chunk out of why having an aquarium is such a joy. You want a living space. Plants that grow and shift and flower add an organic and dynamic addition to any aquarium.

Flowering plants

A collection of plants give a natural feel to your tank.
Image from ebay.com

If you’re looking to add life to your tank, here are several plants to consider. In today’s post we’ll cover plants that are ideal for freshwater aquariums, and we’ll tackle salt-water plants in a later post.

Barclaya Longifolia

I’ll admit that I am a bit biased here – the common name for this plant is “Orchid Lily”, and those are my two favorite flowers. But even beyond that, it is an amazing plant if you have a larger (75 gallons) tank.  They don’t grow fast under lower light levels, but they still do keep growing, and thrive under medium light and heat. With long red and green leaves, the longifolia has a natural undulation that gives your aquarium a living feel, giving its residents something to swim around and through. At full size, they can be almost hauntingly alive.

Barclaya longifloria

The barclaya longifloria provides a rippling beauty for your tank.
Image from aquaticplantcentral.com

Devil’s Eye

With a name like Devil’s Eye, you might expect this to be a dangerous-looking, difficult plant. Luckily, that isn’t the case. A perfect complement to the Orchid Lily, this leafy plant is smaller, with thicker and shorter leaves, taking up space on a horizontal plane where the Orchid strains for the sky. A green plant with a red base, the Devil’s Eye gives the floor of your aquarium a clean look. It needs medium light to thrive, making it ideal for most tanks.

Devil's Eye

The Devil’s Eye spreads out closer to the floor of your tank.
Image from aquaplants.biz

Swordplant

So how about something that flowers? If that is what you are looking for, try the swordplant. Swords, coming from the amazon, have (predictably) long and thin leaves, which are fairly sharp and can create beautiful, white underwater flowers. These bloom easily, without much work, but the plant itself needs a fair amount of maintenance, with a solid substrate and, according to some, a CO2 infusion. This plant can easily expand to fit into a 50 gallon tank. There is something amazingly beautiful about an underwater flower, undulating in the water as if in a hidden breeze. Definitely an important addition to your tank.

Swordplant

This swordplant flower could be in your tank.
Image from photobucket.com

This is just a small sampling of the kind of plants you should consider for your freshwater aquarium. In addition to being aesthetically pleasing, real plants help to keep your tank clean, your fish healthy and happy, and your friends continually impressed. Watching your fish swim in and out of this natural beauty will add another level of fascination to your design aquarium.

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