Trimming Plants/New Growth - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 3 Old 05-28-2011, 04:42 PM Thread Starter
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Trimming Plants/New Growth

I've had my planted tank set up for a month or so now, but ignore the specifics, I have some general questions.

Is it a good idea to remove brown/dead leaves? I've seen tanks online that keep them, some that have none, etc. I would think cutting the bad leaf on an amazon sword, to the stem would be a good idea, right? I've had some good growth and some dead leaves. Any advice here would be nice. I've heard leaving decaying leaves is bad.. correct? haha (some of this because they were dead upon purchase, thanks PetSmart)

How deep/covered do roots have to be, in general?

I had a pennywort planted which eventually broke from the roots and is floating now.. how do I handle this? Should I leave it? What about individual leaves? Can I re-plant? When do I know to remove?

Sorry for so many questions!
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post #2 of 3 Old 05-29-2011, 11:54 AM
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I remove dead or dying leaves during the weekly water change. A decaying leaf is adding organics to the system, and in large tanks that are not overstocked this should cause no problems, since the bacteria will break down the organics into plant nutrients. In smaller tanks this could add to the bio load suddenly, and if there are more fish in the tank, this might cause an ammonia spike, though in a planted tank that is healthy it is not likely to be an issue. It is probably more of an aesthetic thing, seeing dead plant leaves doesn't look nice. Anyway, I would remove them. With swords, remove the entire leaf and stem right down at the crown where the stem begins. If the leaf is yellowing and dying, the stem usually breaks at this pint quite easily as it will probably be dead (brown) at that point.

The roots of substrate-rooted plants like swords should be completely covered by the substrate. The crown (where the leaves and roots join) should not be buried but be at or slightly above the substrate. Burying the crown can often kill the plant.

Pennywort is a stem plant, and like all stem plants you can simply stick the cut end of the stem in the substrate as deep as you need in order to hold it down. The stem can be cut or broken at any point and planted this way. Pennywort is one stem plant that makes a very attractive floating plant. In some of my tanks i just float a stem or two on the surface, and they will grow fast so i cut them back when needed, by removing the lower portion. Keep the growing end portion and that is where the plant stem continues to grow. If this portion is cut off, the bottom part of the stem usually divides, producing two new growing tips. This works whether floating or planted in the substrate.


Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #3 of 3 Old 05-31-2011, 05:52 PM Thread Starter
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Nice, that helps a lot!
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