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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
'ello all! My sister is going to be bringing me an ivy she has been growing at school, and I am trying to figure out which tank - if any - to put it in to serve as supplementary filtration (this variety of ivy - I forget what type it is - is growing very well in filters for goldfish tanks). Among the tanks being considered is my future licorice gourami tank, which has a TDS of about 10 or 11. Is this water too soft for ivys (or other emersed houseplants, for that matter) to do well?
 

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Not sure what kind of ivy you could use, however, pothos is very popular for this reason. People allow it to root in a filter, a basket or some just leave the bare roots in the tank and let the plant act like a nitrate sponge. Be careful doing this, especially if you have fish that like to chew on plants. Pothos and other plant species like it have sap that is toxic to pets. I'm not sure what the sap would do to fish, but it is better to be safe than sorry. Only allow the roots of the plant to be in the water and avoid the leaves.
 

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Many house plants are native to rain forests where there are not many minerals in the soil, and lots and lots of pure water. As a general guide, I would assume that all house plants are candidates for aquarium use just from this consideration.

Other problems might be:
The size of the plant (I had a Pothos- Epipremnum aureum) make a few laps around my living room, dipping in and out of tanks along the way)
The shape of the plant (I have found tall stem plants hard to keep upright if they are not in some kind of soil or soil substitute like lava rock)
Lighting above the tank (even plants from a dense jungle need more light than many houses supply. Might need a spotlight on the plant)

Post a picture of the 'ivy'. Lets see what it really is.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
From some quick research, it appears to be english ivy, Hedera helix. The pictures I found look just about identical to the specimens my sister has already brought home (for use in goldfish filters, predictably)
 

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I've never tried growing English Ivy in a tank, but the stuff grows like weeds when in the ground. I've have a ton of it that is slowly trying to take over my backyard. I abuse it with the lawn mower and it comes back thicker with even more runners. As for lighting, it gets some direct sun in the afternoon but filtered light for the rest of the day.

As Diana pointed out, growing plants this way can be difficult if they don't get enough light above the tank, but if you can make it work, English Ivy doesn't require a lot of light. If the tank is in a room with enough ambient lighting, that may ( or may not) be enough.
 

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In CA Hedera helix is an outdoor plant, thriving in sun in San Francisco, part shade inland.
I would give it what would be considered very bright light indoors.
There are many cultivars with fancy leaf shapes and variegated leaves.

It is native to temperate zones, where there are somewhat more minerals in the soil, but I would still give it a try in your soft water tanks. If you find it is not thriving due to low mineral levels you could always turn it into a house plant separated from the tank.
Water it with water change water, and add fertilizers as needed to the pot.
 

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Be careful doing this, especially if you have fish that like to chew on plants. Pothos and other plant species like it have sap that is toxic to pets. I'm not sure what the sap would do to fish...

@Smooch I wouldn't be so hasty in warning about plant nibblers and "Pothos". Allow me to caution you're haste :)

The toxin you are referring to is CaC2O4 (Calcium Oxalate). This chemical is in ALL tissues of ALL members of the Araceae family, aka Aroids. Pothos (Epipremnum sp), as well as Philodendron, Caladium, Alocasia, Colocasia, Monstera, Syngonium, Anthurium, Zamioculcas, Spathiphyllum, Aglaonema, Rhaphidophora and Dieffenbachia (to mention commonly available/encountered genera - and still the tip of the iceberg!!) are all members of this large and diverse family of plants. Likewise, several genera of aquarium plants are included in this family; Anubias, Aridarum, Bucephalandra, Cryptocoryne, Homalomena, Lagenandra, Pistia, Piptospatha, and Schismatoglottis.
 

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If you have a HOB filter on any of your tanks,you can put it there to root.we've put all sorts of houseplant pieces in one of mine,and they all seem to thrive.They'll root right into the filter pads.
 

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@Smooch I wouldn't be so hasty in warning about plant nibblers and "Pothos". Allow me to caution you're haste :)

The toxin you are referring to is CaC2O4 (Calcium Oxalate). This chemical is in ALL tissues of ALL members of the Araceae family, aka Aroids. Pothos (Epipremnum sp), as well as Philodendron, Caladium, Alocasia, Colocasia, Monstera, Syngonium, Anthurium, Zamioculcas, Spathiphyllum, Aglaonema, Rhaphidophora and Dieffenbachia (to mention commonly available/encountered genera - and still the tip of the iceberg!!) are all members of this large and diverse family of plants. Likewise, several genera of aquarium plants are included in this family; Anubias, Aridarum, Bucephalandra, Cryptocoryne, Homalomena, Lagenandra, Pistia, Piptospatha, and Schismatoglottis.
That's cool, however, what you deem as haste, I call avoiding a very expensive trip to the emergency vet clinic for anybody that has a multi-pet household.

Golden Pothos | Pet Poison Helpline

The Golden Pothos, commonly known as Devil’s ivy, is part of the Araceae family. Both the stem and the leaves contain insoluble calcium oxalates. Chewing or biting into the plant releases the crystals which penetrate tissue resulting in injury. These steroidal saponins and glycosides cause tissue irritation and possible swelling when chewed. When dogs or cats ingest insoluble calcium oxalate-containing plants, clinical signs may be seen immediately and include pawing at face (secondary to oral pain), drooling, foaming, and vomiting. Moderate to severe swelling of the lips, tongue, oral cavity, and upper airway may also be seen, making it difficult to breathe or swallow.]
 

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@Smooch you missed the purpose of my comment. My point is strictly in the frame of reference to your response to the OP cautioning the use of Epipremnum sp. (an Araceae containing CaC2O4 in ALL tissues, not just leaves and stems), as well as "other plant species like it", emersed in an aquarium by "allow[ing] the roots of the plant to be in the water and avoid[ing] the leaves", and again in potential risk to plant nibbling fishes. Many species of aquarium fish species nibble at plants - some out of curiosity while others do this as dietary supplement. The nine Araceae genera I listed in my comment as "aquarium plants" are almost always utilized fully submerged (both with and without plant nibblers) with no perceivable effects. Cryptocoryne sp as well as Anubias sp have been in use in planted tanks for more than 30 years - almost 50 years in the case of Cryptocoryne. If these, or any other amphibious Araceae genera, pose that much of a risk to aquarium fauna we wouldn't have the abundance available in the hobby. Similarly, other families of plants are commonly used in riparian plantings that contain CaC2O4, or other toxic compounds - Hypoestes sp (polka dot plant), and Tradescantia sp (wandering jews and related Commelenids), for example, also contain raphides.

People allow it to root in a filter, a basket or some just leave the bare roots in the tank... Be careful doing this, especially if you have fish that like to chew on plants. Pothos and other plant species like it have sap that is toxic... Only allow the roots of the plant to be in the water and avoid the leaves.
^^This^^ is misinformed, perhaps ignorant, advice (see my original comment, that I again reference above). To this extent it doesn't matter what part of an Araceae is exposed to the aquarium as ALL parts of the plant contain the toxin. Then, as I also mentioned I was simply trying to inform you (as well other misinformed/ignorant readers, and OP) of your misgivings while offering irrefutable fact. Take it as you will.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thankx for all the comments! The ivy are being grown in a part of the room with about 1500 footcandles, so they should be fine. Just in case, I will be letting them root for several weeks with weekly 50% WC's to allow any toxic sap to be released and removed before fish are added.
 

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I grow arrowhead plants in some of my tanks . The canopies are open in the back so they get light there and when they grow above the top they get enough sunlight from the windows . Grow like crazy and help keep moderately stocked tanks at 10 nitrates or below , with the submerged plants too of course . I have one that is growing on a trellis I fastened to the top back of the canopy .
 
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