How We Keep Our Plants Healthy Before They Reach Your Aquarium

How We Keep Our Plants Healthy Before They Reach Your Aquarium - Windy City Aquariums
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The majority of the aquatic plants we sell are actually perfectly able to grow outside of water (or emersed). In fact, the majority of the plants that we sell that are not homegrown, from aquatic nurseries, are grown emersed: They are grown in air with only their roots submerged in water. Why? Because it allows for quicker, healthier growth, and can also lead to a more aesthetic plant.
(An Example of an Aquatic Plant Nursery)
Despite their ability to grow both submerged and emerged, transitioning between the two can lead to an unpleasant surprise. Emersed grown plants are used to conditions of limitless co2, extreme lighting, and a lot of fertilization. If you were to just put these straight into your low-medium tech aquarium (one with low to medium lighting and no co2 addition) they can actually begin to melt, with a lot of the leaves and sometimes stems dying. To combat this, we help transition these plants to submerged living when we receive them from our suppliers, by introducing them to an environment with similar conditions, just underwater. By tapering these conditions to then match those of the common home aquarium, we help provide our customers with plants that are ready to thrive once planted. In doing so, we aim to minimize the melting that can be suffered when buying emersed grown plants.

The pictures above show an example setup we use. We keep the plants either in a standard 20 gallon long Aqueon aquarium or 29 gallon Aqueon aquarium with SBReef Freshwater Lights for high-lighting and inject co2 daily. We have co2 running about 1.5 hours before the lights come on to 1.5hours before the lights turn off to maximize the co2 available for the plants to use.
We also dose the plants every other day with our own homemade DIY Liquid Fertilizer Mix and supplement using the Osmocote Root Tabs we sell when necessary. We use Sponge Filters to help help with water movement and surface agitation and keep the tank cycled for any livestock we keep in the tanks.
We also hang the roots of our Pothos Plants to help absorb excess nutrients, such as nitrates, when our plant stock in the tanks are low. 30% water changes and gravel vacuuming are done every 2-7 days depending on the amount of fish/shrimp poop and any fallen leaves there are in the substrate to keep the water fresh and to keep the tank clean.
For livestock living in the holding tanks, we have Amano Shrimp and Nerite Snails to help eat any algae. The plants that we receive wholesale direct from nurseries are certified to be pest-free, but we do keep Pea Puffers and Assassin Snails in some of our tanks that we hold plants in to help eat any possible pests snails that might hitchhike in from our other aquariums to ensure minimal chance of pests on those plants.
Please note though, that we still do not guarantee our plants to be pest-free (especially the ones that are homegrown by us in our own tanks) as there is always a chance that there may be hitchhikers. We do our best to pick out any visible snails on our homegrown plants while packing and portioning the plants as we know not everyone may be a fan of having snails in their aquariums.
If you are new to having a planted aquarium or have a low-tech tank (no co2 with basic inexpensive lighting), we suggest buying plants that are categorized as Easy/Beginner or Low Light to avoid being disappointed with the plants as the plants under these two categories are generally very hardy and should be able to adapt to almost any aquarium. We also suggest trying out our homemade DIY Liquid Fertilizer Mix and Osmocote Root Tabs if you do not have nutrient-rich substrates (such as Carib Sea Eco-Complete or Seachem Flourite). However, if you are experienced and have good lighting, fertilize often, or inject co2, the plants should have no issues adapting to your aquarium. If you would like an in-depth guide on how to prepare plants purchased from us after you receive them in the mail, please read our guide on How To Prepare Your New Plants For Your Aquarium!


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