Today, the cultivation of aquatic (aquarium) plants, whether for sale or for decorating a home aquarium, is becoming increasingly popular. But regardless of the reasons for cultivating these beautiful exotic plants, most aquarists ultimately want to get a charming and healthy specimen that will decorate even the most ordinary-looking aquarium.
And yet the novice lover sometimes lacks the necessary knowledge that an experienced aquarist has acquired over the years of practice, so he cannot always correctly assess the situation and achieve the desired results. This is especially true of aquarium plants cultivated in nutrient substrates, the growth and development of which directly depends on the quality of the soil and on the state of their root system.
Having well developed roots, many species of aquatic plants grow rather quickly due to the fact that they are adapted to absorb the nutritional components contained in the soil. This also applies to most aquarium plants in the hydrophyte group, which, among other things, are adapted to receive nutrients from water and air.
Generally, representatives of this group tolerate the absence of a full-fledged substrate relatively easily. In addition, the systematic substitution of water and the presence of organic matter, the supplier of which are aquarium fish, provide most plants with quite acceptable conditions suitable for growth, vegetative reproduction and even flowering.
And yet, in order for the purchased specimen to develop well and be as attractive as possible, it must be planted in a special soil that contains various additives.
Such nutritional mixtures, produced by various companies, contribute to the good development of aquatic plants and at the same time do not harm the fish or other inhabitants of the aquarium. When planting, the substrate is poured on the bottom and is covered with a layer of ordinary neutral soil.
However, such actions will be useless if along with them you do not take care of creating the necessary conditions, including proper lighting organization and the availability of optimal water parameters that would meet the needs of this instance. When introducing the nutrient mixture into the soil, it is important to be very careful, since for some time after a transplant, aquarium plants are often in a painful state, and excessive nutrition can lead to the exact opposite result.
But as soon as it becomes obvious that the plant has taken root in a new place, it should provide the most nutritious and diverse feeding. As can be seen, to achieve the desired effect, the creation of a nutrient primer must be carried out on time and with great care.
In the absence of mass plantings, aquarium plants are planted singly in separate containers with a nutrient substrate. Conventional flower pots are quite suitable for this purpose.
The ratio of the area of the walls and the diameter of the holes at the bottom of the pot is important, because due to the exact location of the latter, proper breathing and nourishment of the root system is carried out due to oxygen and nutrients supplied to it. Thus, growing hydroponic and aquatic plants in a special container, you can achieve excellent results in a relatively short period. Using the materials at hand, such as a plastic bottle, you can make the pot yourself.
The height of such a pot should correspond to its diameter or, as a last resort, be a quarter more. Then the protruding parts located on the bottom of the bottle, you need to cut so as to get the holes, the diameter of which would be equal to 1 cm.
This will enable the developing roots, which will become crowded in plastic containers, to grow through holes in the common ground.
In a separate container, the soil is laid in several layers. First, a layer (approximately 2 cm) of coarse is poured on the bottom, and then a layer (1 cm) of shallow drainage.
A nutrient mixture consisting of sand, a two-year compost and garden soil with a peat content ratio of 1: 1: 2 is laid on top. Depending on the type of cultivated plant, coniferous soil, limestone or marble chips and clay, preferably blue Cambrian or red ferrous, are sometimes added to this mixture.
Having planted an aquarium plant in this layer, a nutritious soil is poured on top with a layer of pebbles about 2 cm thick. Another mixture can also be used: on the substrate, covered in a pot, on top of the layers are placed white swamp moss-sphagnum, and then coconut substrate, which is mixed with fertilizer “AVA”. A small piece of porous limestone, the diameter of which is one and a half to two centimeters, is placed in the center.
In some cases, there you can add red clay. Having planted the plant in this mixture, a thin layer of sphagnum moss is placed on top and covered with pebbles to the top.
Now the container with the plant can be placed in the paludarium or aquarium.
In order for the plant not to die as a result of transplantation into a nutrient substrate, it is necessary to prune the roots, and it is very important to do this correctly. When extracting plants from the soil, you can see that some parts of the rhizome are slightly rotted. Of course they should be removed.
In elderly specimens, some of the roots, however, like the leaves, are constantly dying off and rotting, forming a nutrient layer in the ground. However, the main rhizome should still remain completely healthy without the slightest sign of damage to rot.
When purchasing aquarium plants, preference should be given to young specimens, the roots of which are initially healthy, intact and clean. If, while transplanting an old specimen, you find rotted roots, then after removing the affected parts that are easily separated, it is advisable to use poor soil for planting.
As for healthy roots, they are pruned in exceptional cases, for example, when they are too long and would have to be twisted in the process of transplanting. When planting, the rhizome should cover the hill of the prepared substrate in such a way that the length of the roots corresponds to the radius of the pot.
Carefully laid the roots sprinkled on top of the soil, which is then slightly compacted. It is almost impossible to determine in advance which part of the roots will die after planting, but this will certainly happen, because in the process even the most careful transplant causes partial damage to the root system.
Due to the fact that part of the roots is preserved, the plant adapts much faster in new conditions for it. Usually, in the first few weeks, new roots form and grow.
Sometimes in the literature, recommendations are made that relate to the treatment of the rhizomes of aquatic plants with heteroauxin, which stimulates the growth and development of the root system. However, based on experience, it is safe to say that this does not bring any tangible changes. First of all, it concerns the planting of echinodorus, in which, as a result of soaking the rhizomes in solution, stronger roots are not formed.
Compared to them, semi-semi-water-semi-aquatic specimens (hydrophytes) grown in paludarium are rooted better after treatment with heteroauxin.
Adhering to simple recommendations, we can expect that as a result these excellent representatives of the aquatic flora belonging to the group of hydrophytes will grow rapidly and develop well. The main thing is to replace them in time and every one or two years to change the nutrient mixture in the pot.
As for echinodorus, it can grow well without a transplant for two or three years, and this will only benefit the plant. It is important to remember that the pots in which the aquarium plants are planted require careful handling, since accidentally overturned capacity, whether by an aquarist or a nimble aquarium dweller, can cause a lot of trouble.
At the very least, there will be a need for thorough cleaning of the entire tank.
Thus, both aquarists with experience and novice amateurs who do not have sufficient experience in dealing with special nutrient mixtures should weigh their potential well before deciding to grow aquarium plants in pots, since this is a rather complicated and time-consuming process that requires a lot strength and patience, and sometimes unceasing control over the state of the aquarium and its inhabitants.