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• Plants with fine leavesare prized both by herbivorousfish and otherspecies that lay their eggs on them.

their eggs. Another option is ferns, not only the best-known species from temperate regions but also those from the tropics that can survive entirely submerged by water.

• Plants with fine leavesare prized both by herbivorousfish and otherspecies that lay their eggs on them.

their eggs. Another option is ferns, not only the best-known species from temperate regions but also those from the tropics that can survive entirely submerged by water.

PLASTIC PLANTS

It is possible to find excellent imitations of natural plants, but as an aquarium is a reconstitution of a piece of nature, it is easy to see why they are totally off limits for many aquarists, who prefer their plants to be natural. Some of these artificial plants, however, can serve as a support in a rearing tank for those species of fish that lay adhesive eggs.

The effect created by plastic plants is not always in exquisite taste! •

PLANTS IN A MARINE AQUARIUM

There are substantially fewer marine plants suited to an aquarium than freshwater ones. The most common are from the Caulerpa genus, which grow quickly under the right conditions. These algae attach themselves to the floor and decor with a runner. They are highly recommended in a marine tank, as they are bound to enhance the overall balance. Their exuberant growth, however, can sometimes interfere with fixed marine invertebrates, such as anemones and corals. This anarchic behavior must therefore be restrained by regularly eliminating a certain amount of this vegetation.

THE ROLE OF PLANTS IN AN AQUARIUM

Contrary to what is often thought, plants do not merely serve as decoration but also make a major contribution to the equilibrium of the aquarium (see page 196 on the mechanism of photosynthesis): by day, they absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) given off by fish and produce oxygen (O2). Moreover, they absorb nitrates, the end product of the nitrogen cycle (see page 19), and thus reduce the concentration in the water.

Plants are similarly useful for fish. Some species (like Ancistrus and Gyrinocheilus) feed on algae that grow on the decor, or even on fine-leafed plants (as in the case of livebearers from the Poeciliid family), though this can spoil the visual effect. Others, such as South American Characins, lay their eggs on the foliage, which helps to keep them out of sight of predators. Fish such as scaklares, watching over their eggs, use large leaves to fan them. When the fry are born, they find shelter in the vegetation - particularly plants with floating leaves - as well as nourishment there, as the plants enhance the development of microorganisms like infusorians, which are a valuable food source.

Finally, if the vegetation is sufficiently lush, it can also provide welcome shade and hiding places for adult fish.

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