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transport and handling, although it may take a few days to show up.

Roots Good root growth is vital for the overall health of plants, although many plants can survive with little or no root growth by taking nutrients directly from the water through their leaves. These plants are often sold in bunches rather than pots, and close inspection will usually reveal that they are top cuttings and not fully formed plants. Most plants sold in this way are relatively hardy and adaptable and should grow new roots as soon as they are planted in a suitable substrate. Potted plants should have good root growth, which can often be seen emerging from the pot. The roots need not be long, but should be white and free from obvious damage.

Selecting plants

Depending on the parameters of the aquarium you are planting, there are several factors to consider when aiming for a varied mixture of plants. Choose plants on the basis of their aesthetic appeal, practicality, and compatibility.

Growth rates Plants can be described as fast- or slow-growing, but a more important consideration is the time they take to become established. Fast-growing plants, such as Cabomba, Ambulia, or Egeria, will establish and grow quickly. They soon begin to use nutrients in large amounts, which may cause problems for other plants that need a "settling in" period before they start to grow. The faster-growing plants may use up nutrients in the water before the slower-growing ones have become established, making it even more difficult for them to get started. You should therefore introduce the slow-establishing plants (including many foreground and harder-to-keep species) before fast-growing and fast-establishing species, or give them additional help in the form of substrate fertilizer tablets.

Planting areas Choose a good mixture of foreground, midground, and background plants, plus floating plants if you wish. Many background plants are sold well before they reach their potential height, so picking plants on the basis of their size at the point of sale will not ensure a mix of plant heights when the aquarium is established. Midground plants should be species that can sustain regular trimming without suffering any long-term damage.

Leaf shape and color Selecting plants with different leaf shapes, sizes, and colors will create a varied, interesting, and contrasting display. A good approach is to restrict the choice of foreground plants to just a few species, but to include a number of different midground and background plants. Remember that different leaf shapes and colors require different conditions in the aquarium. For example, red-leaved plants should be placed in areas where they can receive the most light, while fine- and feathery-leaved plants prefer areas of moderate, but not strong water flow, so that they do not trap too much debris between their leaves.

Environmental conditions The plants you choose should all be able to thrive in the conditions provided by your aquarium. This means they should share the same requirements with regard to temperature, light, and water hardness. Careful research is vital when choosing plants, so make a list of all the suitable species that could be included and identify alternatives for each if your first choice is not available.

Transporting plants

Most aquatic plants are fairly hardy and will transport well if packaged correctly. If you are moving a few plants, simply place them in small plastic bags (such as

Vallisneria americana

Cryptocoryne willisii 'Lucens'

Cryptocoryne Willisii Lucens

Alternanthera reineckii

Cryptocoryne Willisii Lucens

Foreground planting

The COMPLETE guide to Aquariums

The COMPLETE guide to Aquariums

The word aquarium originates from the ancient Latin language, aqua meaning water and the suffix rium meaning place or building. Aquariums are beautiful and look good anywhere! Home aquariums are becoming more and more popular, it is a hobby that many people are flocking too and fish shops are on the rise. Fish are generally easy to keep although do they need quite a bit of attention. Puppies and kittens were the typical pet but now fish are becoming more and more frequent in house holds. In recent years fish shops have noticed a great increase in the rise of people wanting to purchase aquariums and fish, the boom has been great for local shops as the fish industry hasnt been such a great industry before now.

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