In general, what are the benefits of having live plants over fake decoration plants?
Also, I know blue lights are for saltwater tanks. The light that I have has 2 blue and 2 normal lights, right now I keep them both on during the day, as I can't currently afford to get 2 normal lights in the blue slots. Is this okay for a while?
To answer the first part of your question, if you have high tapwater nitrate readings, having live plants will help keep these down.
Another benefit of having live plants in my opinion is that the tank is generally more natural looking.
The thing with having a planted tank, is that it is constantly changing in appearance as plants grow etc which I think makes for a nice change.
id say its aestheticially more pleasing to have real plants, maybe even to the fish aswell. You might get beneift from the plants soaking up nutrients from tap water, but for me the plants are the tank and the fish are the decoration, my taste is that one is not complete without the other. Plants dont benefit my setup as i have no pollutant in the water, i build up R/O water so that the plants can survive. My tank is my aquatic garden, when i started i didnt think i want plants to help me with quality of water etc, i just looked at the amano books and thought WOW!!! i want a tank like that, so i went out and learnt how to do just that.
So aside from the looks (which I agree are superior), the benefits are minimal?
I think that fish also prefer live plants. I used to have plastic ones, and the fish never went near them.
I changed to live plants and immediately the fish were swimming amongst them, so I do think it benefits the fish. It's a more natural environment for them to be in.
I have noticed with the one live plant that I have in there that a few of the fish have gone up and taken a few nibbles, and my oscar enjoys swimming through it. I like the look better and want to transition to live plants, I was just wondering if it made a significant impact on the water quality or the oxygen levels...either way the aesthetics are enough for me, though. :P
Benefits: Uptake of waste material and dissolved solids in the water. Plants also produce oxygen in a dissolved for that is clean. Plants also help to prevent ammonia crashes in case your filter stops working for a short peiod of time. Plants also loosen the gravel in order to keep dead pockets of Hyfdrogen sulfide gas from building up (so do MTS), Live plants always change and are always making your tank look different instead of having to move around plastic plants to get a new look. Live plants don't have sharp edges that can injure delicate fish or any fish if it hits it hard enough. Damaged or algae covered leaves of live plants can be removed instead of removing the entire plant to wash it and try to get the algae off. Live plants provide food for fry and young fish and those that nibble plants providing a natural food when the fish needs it.
Plastic plants fade, wear out, don't move naturally, don't do anything to help the tank and I think are a waste unless you want a tank with no substrate.
Now as far as the actinics, if you have the wattage you need over your tank already then they should provide a good light wavelength to help your plants grow. They are not uselss to grow plants but they do not help when you calculate watts/gallon. If you already have 2+ w/g then keep the actinics. If you need more light, switch out on of them or both.
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