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How to Plant Aquarium Plants

By Melissa Lewis ; Updated September 21, 2017
Live plants are beneficial to fish.

Whether you have a large or small fish tank, live aquarium plants are a nice addition. They not only add interest to an aquarium, but improve the quality of the water inside the tank. Aquarium plants absorb the carbon dioxide fish breathe out, and absorb some of the waste fish produce. Once you plant your aquarium plants, make sure they receive a minimum of 8 to 10 hours of light each day.

Rinse the tank five times with lukewarm water mixed with salt. Use about 1 tbsp. of salt per gallon of water. Scrub the sides with a nylon sponge, if necessary. Rinse the gravel by pouring it into a shallow pan. Pour water over it and swish it around. Pour off the water--debris will be floating on top.

Set any decorative rocks in the tank, usually near the back. Fill the tank with 2 inches of gravel and 6 to 8 inches of water.

Place taller, denser plants, such as cabomba, in the rear corners. Place shorter plants, such as dwarf Cryptocoryne, in front and to the sides of the taller plants. Leave the front of the tank clear of plants so you can see your fish.

Dig a hole to accommodate the roots so they point down and outward, if necessary. They should not bend up back toward the top of the gravel. The crown, where the plant meets the roots, should be just above the gravel, not buried.

Cut off the bottom inch of bunch plants (which are sold in bundles and usually tied together with a rubber band) on a cutting board. Strip off the first inch of leaves. Unbundle the plants and bury the inch where you just stripped the leaves. Bury the plants individually, but close together in bunches.


Things You Will Need

  • Gravel
  • Cutting board
  • Knife

About the Author


Melissa Lewis is a former elementary classroom teacher and media specialist. She has also written for various online publications. Lewis holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.