Does anyone else find that houseplants make great aquarium plants?
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Old 10-09-2012, 05:19 PM   #1
Hidden Walrus
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Does anyone else find that houseplants make great aquarium plants?


My grandmother has an enormous pothos vine growing in her kitchen. Whenever it gets too long she cuts a few of the vines off and sticks them in a jar, where they root. Sometimes the cuttings stay in the jar for two years or more before she gets around to planting them, at which time they've grown very, very long. I figured that if they grow that well in a dark, stagnant jar of water on top of the refrigerator, they would do great in a fish tank full of nutrients with good lighting.

So I took some of the cuttings and stuck them in my open-topped ten gallon betta tank, which receives no artificial light, only light from an east-facing window, and no ferts except fish waste. I made sure a few leaves and the growing tips were out of water but half of the leaves were submerged. They seem to be the perfect aquarium plant - they grow very quickly and send down lots of finely branched roots at every node, which grow down to the substrate, providing cover for the fish. They also keep nitrates almost nonexistent. The plant even grows different smaller, thinner leaves if the growing tips fall underwater and this tip can then be cut off and planted in the substrate, where it grows new leaves in submersed form just as quickly, but stays much more compact and resembles a yellow variegated anubias.

Then there's sweet potato vine, an ornamental available at garden shops in the spring. It's a cultivated variety of the edible vegetable but it comes in pretty colors. We had some yellow ones growing in a flowerbox outside, and on a whim took a few slips and stuck them in the tank as well. They started growing roots within six hours, and in a week the roots were a foot long. After a month the plants were enormous, three feet long and sprawling across the table (were six inches when planted) with roots just as long and I took cuttings of them and started over, throwing out the massive roots systems because although the fish loved it, it was kind of excessive. I think this plant would be great in a large open-topped tank, but in my small one it needs restarting regularly to keep it in check. Also with this one the leaves have to stay above water or they rot. The new cuttings, replanted yesterday morning, have one inch roots already at the nodes.

And then there's creeping jenny, a golden groundcover plant sold for outside. I took some little cuttings from the garden and stuck them underwater in my shrimp tank. They rooted quickly and are growing very tall now. The submersed leaves look the same as the leaves grown on land but the plant grows upright instead of creeping along the ground.

I also planted some spider plant offshoots in my HOB filters, and they've sent down long roots into the tank as well and are growing nicely, and I'm trying Swedish ivy and philodendron in my tanks as well but they've yet to root.

Has anyone else had success with non-aquatic plants growing in an aquarium?
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Old 10-09-2012, 05:34 PM   #2
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I've never tried but I'd like to now.

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Old 10-09-2012, 06:28 PM   #3
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Quite a few of the tropical houseplants do wonderfully with their feet in aquariums: peace lillies, dracaena and diffenbachia are some other classics. Basically, if it can be propogated with a stem cutting in water, it's got a good chance at making it under the same conditions in your HOB or a hanging planter in the tank.

Don't have the link to hand, but if you rummage around, there's a great thread on planted HOB filters here on TPT that shows quite a few options.
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Old 10-09-2012, 06:48 PM   #4
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I forgot to mention, I also have some stalks of lucky bamboo, which is a draceana, growing very well in the tank with their roots in the gravel and their leaves above water. But this one grows so slowly I doubt it cleans the water much like the others do.
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Old 10-09-2012, 07:26 PM   #5
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I've actually had bad luck with sweet potato in my riparium, they root up real nice for me at first but after a couple weeks they suddenly rot away really quickly. I'm having a lot of fun trying out different houseplants grown up top, I'm trying to find some new ones that people aren't already using for that. The only houseplant I've personally had indicate to me that it wanted to be fully submerged was my syngonium wendlandii which made a baby plant under the water line that is doing just fine planted in the substrate. If you're doing a riparium, I'm getting good results from my Spathiphyllum (peace lily), Dieffenbachia (dumb cane), Chlorophytum (spider plant), and Aglaonema (chinese evergreen). Jury's still out on Persian Shield (mixed results, had it in a raft and it was kinda eh, put a new one in a hanging pot and it seems to be doing better- either way it looks like it's going to die for a couple weeks then it perks up some) and Nematanthus (too recent an addition to tell, looks like half of the cuttings are doing okay though). Like I said, Ipomea (sweet potato) wasn't working out for me, but neither are most of the Tradescantia (wandering jew) cuttings I've tried, and I KNOW the wandering Jew should work fine growing like pothos in water, but the stem just keeps rotting away at and under the water line a week or so after sending out roots- maybe it's a fungus thing though and not necessarily the plant. I really wish I could get the ipomea going though, maybe it needs to be in a hanging planter with substrate in it instead of on the rafts. Eh.
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Old 10-09-2012, 08:45 PM   #6
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I'm surprised that your sweet potato vine rots like that - I only kept my first cuttings going a month before restarting them, but they just kept going and going. However, Out of five initial cuttings, I did have two that started to rot away after the initial growth of roots, but the remaining three did very well and the second generation cuttings I have now are growing nicely. Maybe it's just hit or miss. Mine seemed very hardy once they started rooting.
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Old 10-09-2012, 08:55 PM   #7
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I thought the wandering jew would be a shoo-in as well as I've used in in terrariums before with super high humidity. Tried it half a dozen ways, though, and despite new leaf growth and some roots starting, the stem ultimately rots away before it can get established. Peperomias, purple waffle plant, and a number of the begonias seem to do well too.
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Old 10-10-2012, 01:25 AM   #8
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Golden Pothos leaves approach a foot in diameter when they are growing in optimum light rooted in the tank.

Sweet Potato roots took over the whole tank. Beautiful top growth, though. I have a purple leafed ornamental variety in my greenhouse pond, and the edible variety in a glass in the kitchen window and in a tank (where it is growing best)

Most other house plants are fine with roots in aquarium water as long as the water is moving.
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Old 10-10-2012, 02:59 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana View Post
Golden Pothos leaves approach a foot in diameter when they are growing in optimum light rooted in the tank.

Sweet Potato roots took over the whole tank. Beautiful top growth, though. I have a purple leafed ornamental variety in my greenhouse pond, and the edible variety in a glass in the kitchen window and in a tank (where it is growing best)

Most other house plants are fine with roots in aquarium water as long as the water is moving.
This a good point! Think about it, hydroponics is growing plants in water, with the right parameters. Virtually any plant can be grown in water as long as the water isn't stagnant (anaerobic) and has the right nutrients, I think...
So it's more of what plants fit the bill best, tolerant of lower light levels?, adapt to some submersed conditions, not too big and ?
I like Tradescantia/Commelina, Mosses, Water Sprite, Dwarf Acorus as possible candidates.
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Old 10-10-2012, 03:11 AM   #10
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Don't forget bicolor caladium and jasminium
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Old 10-10-2012, 03:16 AM   #11
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Also works well the other way around....using old tank water and canister filter water to water house plants.
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Old 10-10-2012, 02:27 PM   #12
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I used to have lots of these, I still have the pothos, peace lily, mondo grass, etc in my HOB's, and I love it!

Unfortunately I didn't know about the dangers of dumbcane when I bought it at a home depot. Apparently it's called dumbcane because you would place a leaf inside the mouth of a disobedient slave and it would cause them to go mute, aka, "dumb". All three of my cats managed to nibble on it, and all three of them died. They had never nibbled on any of my plants before other than their pet grass that I grew on one of their cat tree levels. After that I started looking into the toxicity of everything and was really surprised at the amount of highly toxic plants commonly available. Sadly I don't have any cats anymore after this, nor any pets that can effectively eat any of my indoor plants, but I will definitely try to identify everything before I bring it inside ever again. I was very displeased that home depot had dumbcane on the floor, as I have seen kids in their store and I wouldn't put it past a curious kid to put some in their mouth, or even just kids at home.
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Old 10-10-2012, 04:39 PM   #13
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I'm sorry to hear that, Bunfoo. A few years ago my cousin lost her kitten to (what she's pretty sure was) poisoning from a dumbcane that came in a little mixed planter she got as a housewarming gift. After that I threw out my big one (that I had grow from a little seedling) because I didn't want my cat to eat it.
I never understood why all these stores sell such poisonous plants. At a local nursery this spring they were selling daturas (moonflowers), and kids were all touching the big flowers and fuzzy leaves, unaware that if they got any of the sap in their eyes or in an open cut they could easily face acute poisoning, nerve damage, renal failure or blindness.
Or my neighbor who grows castor beans (pretty plants, grow really tall and look cool, but arguably the most poisonous plant in the world, source of the toxin ricin) along the sidewalk where kids walk to school every day. If the kids were to eat two of the pretty little seeds those plants grow they'd be dead before they got down the block. I actually grow castor beans and moonflowers myself, but in the middle of a fenced off garden where nobody can get to them to try a taste.
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Old 10-10-2012, 05:04 PM   #14
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Default Using Land Plants in Freshwater Tanks

Hello Hidden...

I emerse the root balls of Aglaonema (Chinese Evergreen) in all my larger planted tanks. I just rinse all the potting mixture off and put in the plant with the roots under the tank water and the plant leaves above.

I've found I don't have to change very much of the tank water, because the roots take in the nitrogen produced by the fish waste. The plant thrives in ambient light, so I just leave a pole lamp with a 60 watt bulb on a timer for 12 hours above the tank.

There are some others I've used, but the "Ag" plants work the best. I've used Pothos, Philodendron, Peace lily and Nephthytis. Some varieties of Impatiens will also work.

Again, if you use these land plants, you must remove the potting mixture or not only will you have a mess in the tank, but the wet potting soil will cut off the oxygen to the roots and the plant dies.

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Old 10-11-2012, 12:03 AM   #15
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As an opposite note, crypts and mosses make incredible semi-closed terrarium plants, and plants like ludwigia are fairly nice looking low maintenance houseplants.
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