Keeping plants tidy

In a healthy planted aquarium with good lighting and balanced nutrients, the plants should grow and propagate at a relatively fast rate. If left unchecked, an attractive display can quickly become a tangled mess of vegetation. To keep plants looking their best, they will need to be regularly trimmed and/or older leaves must be removed to allow healthy, new ones to grow in their place.

Stem plants will often continue to grow until they reach the surface, at which point they either grow horizontally across the water or produce aerial leaves above it. Unless you want to encourage this growth habit, you should regularly trim the top portion of stem plants. When trimming plants, it is often better to take off a significant amount -say 4-6 in (10-15 cm) - every other week, rather than small amounts two or three times a week, which could eventually damage the plants. Taking off a larger portion also allows you to replant the cutting as a separate plant If you wish. In any case, since the stem plant will eventually become worn out from continual growth and trimming back, you should use at least some of these top cuttings to replace the original plant.

Plants that produce leaves from the base, rather than on stems, can also be trimmed to prevent the leaves from growing too large. Older leaves (normally the larger ones) can be carefully separated from the base and discarded, allowing new leaves to form in their place. Applied over a period of time, this method of trimming can be used to influence the eventual size of the plant. For example, if older leaves are regularly removed before they reach their full size, the plant will remain small and compact. However, if the plant is allowed to grow large leaves Initially, it will continue to produce larger and taller leaves in succession, and the plant will eventually attain a substantial size.

As leaves age, they often become covered in algae or may begin to die off at the edges, sometimes developing dark

Below: Stem plants that reach the water surface can be trimmed with sharp scissors. Remove larger portions as needed, rather than regularly cutting small trimmings.

Below: Stem plants that reach the water surface can be trimmed with sharp scissors. Remove larger portions as needed, rather than regularly cutting small trimmings.

Fast Growing Stem Plants Fish Tank

patches or even holes. At this point they should be removed from the aquarium, because not only do they become unsightly, but they are often less useful to the plant than the new leaves that would grow in their place.

Plants do not have an unlimited lifespan; there comes a point when individual plants simply stop producing new leaves and will need to be replaced. When taking out old plants, it is very important to remove as much of the root as possible. Any root left in the substrate will rot and may create anaerobic conditions.

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