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Can someone suggest plants that can be used without substrate (just kind of floating about I suppose) and would be OK at 60-85F (the room varies depending on the season). Thought it might be nice to add some plants to the water part of my watersnakes cage.
 

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Do they have to be floating? Epiphytic plants attach to the surfaces of rocks and driftwood and do not require substrate. Good examples would be Anubias, Java Fern, and mosses, to name only a few. If you want floating plants then just get some Duckweed. That stuff grows explosively but is impossible to get rid of though so be absolutely sure before you add it.
 

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You can pretty much grow all the stem pants without a substrate.
You can?

I asked a question regarding why some plants had to be grown in substrate (even if inert) and didn't get much answers.

Typical plants that can grow without substrate are Java fern, Anubias, Bolbitis, Bucephalandra, Water Wisteria, floaters of course, etc. etc.

But most stem plants seem to always melt if left without a substrate, whether floating or suspended/tied/glued upright with no substrate (sure some might last a week or two, but then end up melting, at least from what I have seen).

To me it didn't make sense why aquatic plants would need a substrate. If plants can uptake nutrients through their roots, why can't they do that without substrate and just dosing the water column? If they did require substrate, what necessity did the substrate provide? (not really asking you, just some of the questions I had toward the subject).

Any sources that show stem plants being grown without a substrate source?
 

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I have been having success growing plants in small pots and tubs with the regular sand capped dirt in a bare bottom tank.
No mess, no fuss...
 

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Thing about water snakes is they may dislodge plants, even attached plants just by moving about.

I'd stick with firm attachers like anubias and java fern, or a floater like frogbit because it looks cool with the roots hanging down. Looks like a natural water snake type habitat that way,
 

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What I find is that most stem plants tend to float if not anchored in some way. I’ve kept a 29 gallon tank without a substrate for many years. Mostly it is Java Fern on wood but I always tuck a few stems in there to liven it up. Right at the moment there is persicaria, hydrocotyle, myriophyllum , ammannia trifolia, and some rotalla growing in that tank. I am also growing out a sword stalk with two or three plantlets in that tank. Star grass does really well as a floating plant. Alternathera does well. Hygropilas do well.

I am feeding all these plants regularly so perhaps that has something to do with it.
 

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As BruceF said you can pretty much grow all stem plants without substrate. I'll take it a small step further and just say "all plants". There may be one or two that don't work but I can't imagine why. All the substrate is doing is holding the plant in place. Terrestrial plants need the soil to protect the roots from the elements. That's not a factor in an aquarium. The only issue I see is without anchoring you'll get some odd growth patterns.
 
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