Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources (
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karjean 03-23-2010 07:59 PM

Is there somewhere a list of plants of which different fish prefer or would more likely find in their environment? I found at the local aquqrium store all type of different plants but any info is basically unknown.

Byron 03-24-2010 01:56 PM

I have not yet stumbled on a specific list as such, but there are some guidelines.

First, most fish are not particular over plants. Some have no real interaction with plants, others do. By "interaction" I mean fish that use the plants for some purpose.

One example is spawning; most characins (tetras, pencilfish, hatchetfish) spawn in clumps of plants, and fine-leaf plants work best because the eggs either stick to them or fall through where the fish can't get at them to eat them. "Spawning mops" are an artificial version of this and used in bare spawning tanks. Angelfish on the other hand lay eggs on large flat leaves such as those of Echinodorus (swords), or on wood or slate in spawning tanks. If your intent is to spawn any of these or some other fish, specific plants can benefit.

Plants also serve as nursery areas for fry, whether livebearers or the hatched fry of egglaying fish. Floating plants like Wisteria, cabomba and Ceratopteris provide excellent shelter for fry.

Some fish require floating plants to shade the light; forest fish such as most all of the tetras, pencilfish, angels, discus, catfish, rasbora, gourami fall into this groups. Dim light is beneficial to their health, and floating plants are an excellent way of providing it.

Then there are fish that regularly browse plant leaves for algae or other food. Taking the algae eaters, so-called, like Otos, Farlowella, Whiptails, etc., they will graze algae from all but the finest leaf, but plants like swords, vallisneria, sagittaria, etc. provide good opportunity. Other fish like many of the tetras and all the pencilfish, gouramis and Corydoras catfish regularly browse plant leaves for food particles. Here again, wider leaves like those of swords, crypts, Anubias provide excellent browsing.

Final comment, one can always be geographical in matching plants to fish. In a tank of Amazonian fish, obvious plant choices are South American species. With gourami, floating Ceratopteris is native and ideal for their habits, in building bubblenests, releasing fry, and browsing food among the trailing roots. Aside from the considerations mentioned above, this also ensures the plants will have similar water preferences to the fish, although generally speaking this is less of an issue for plants than fish; most plants, but not all, are reasonably adaptable except to extremes.


redchigh 03-24-2010 02:28 PM

Byron is chock full of good advice!

The only thing I would add, is that if you have fish that are either extremely active and over a couple inches long or larger fish that stay in the lower parts of the tank you might have a bit of trouble with stem plants...

Stem plants just take some time to root and anchor themselves, and the stems will often be found floating in the tank if the fish loosen them enough to come out of the gravel.

Biotope plants are a great way to find plants with similiar preferred conditions, (about 5 minutes of googling will tell you what will match with the fish) but since most fish are tank or pond bred, they won't neccesarily "recognise" them.
I think strict Biotope aquariums are almost more for the aquarist than the fish, but I do like to find a few plants from the fishes habitat if possible.

Ah, and as for the algae-browsing fishes, don't forget livebearers! they love eating algae off plants too.

karjean 03-24-2010 05:42 PM

Thank you very much on the advice and suggestions, they are extremely useful.

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