Creating an underwater garden

Gardening is one of the most popular past times in the world, but with an aging population and more people living in dwellings with small or in the case of apartnments, no backyard that past time could be under threat. Sometimes, a little imagination and thinking outside the box (or in this case the yard) means that you can still enjoy this hobby but in a different way.
Plants don’t only grow in soil under the sun, there are aquatic plants that grow underwater and you can create a beautiful thriving aqua scaped garden in your home aquarium - no wheel barrow or soil required!
Growing aquatic plants is easy and they have similar requirements to their terrestrial cousins. The main requirements include iron, potassium. Get these right and your garden will thrive for many years to come.

The Substrate
Good outdoor plants start with good soil and that’s no different for aquarium plants. In aquariums this is referred to as the substrate and although common aquarium gravel is okay, the best success is achieved when you use aquarium soil. This usually contains clay called laterite that is high in iron, an essential pant nutrient for aquatic plant growth. Modern aquarium soils do not cloud the water and require no gravel cleaning so maintenance is reduced.

In nature, the sun supplies the light that plants require to grow whether they are growing on the land or in the water. However when light hits water, much of the spectrum from the light is filtered out. With this in mind, aquarium light tubes should have what we call a high red, high blue peak to mimic the conditions that are found in the natural environment. If you are using fluorescent tubes for this then they should be replaced every 12 months as the spectrum declines over this period. Modern LED lights last up to 50000 hours, use less power and run at a cooler temperature. Aquarium plants should receive between 8-12 hours depending on the type of plants you are keeping.

Carbon Dioxide
The most essential element to plant growth is carbon dioxide, we all know plants use CO2 and produce oxygen O2 and food . This process occurs in the presence of light and is known photosynthesis. The important part to look at in the process is element of Carbon (that’s the C part in CO2). This is the primary nutrient that plants use and it occurs naturally in the aquarium due to respiration from plant, algae, fish and also from bacteria. Unfortunately these sources of CO2 are enough for sustained plant growth so additional CO2 can be added in the form of gas which is required for more advance species of plant or in a liquid form on a daily basis.

Finally, like all plants eventually some of the important nutrients become exhausted especially as plants mature and grow. These should be replenished weekly using aquatic plant trace elements and include iron and potassium. Very small amounts are required and it is very cost effective.
Aquatic gardening is not hard and it's just as relaxing as out garden with heat or the physical work, plus you get the added bonus of beautiful completing your aquatic environment.


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