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I admit it, plant friends; I was totally unaware of a total subsect of the plant community: the planted aquarium world. There is a whole corner of the plant world dedicated to elevating our common fishtanks to living, growing underwater worlds that look like art. Aquatic gardeners are using aquatic plants to aquascape insanely beautiful aquariums. It is biophilia in the highest sense because you have so many aspects of the natural world indoors, and you even get to keep cute fishies! I had many of you request this episode but, to be frank, I've only health with above-ground houseplants so I was totally out of my depths. I figured I’d turn to Karen, an avid aquatic gardener who has written a step-by-step tutorial on how to assemble planted aquariums for a chat about the basics of aquatic plants. Get ready to dive into the wild world of aquatic plants and gardening!


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In this episode we learn:

  • [01:06] Introducing Karen
  • [03:33] What to expect from this conversation
  • [05:20] How Karen became the plant lady she is today
  • [07:40] The importance of knowing your plants’ natural habitat
  • [08:42] Why are planted aquariums becoming popular again?
  • [10:33] Basic houseplants vs. aquatic plants
  • [12:04] How do you trade aquatic plants?
  • [13:33] What are aquatic plants and how do they grow underwater?
  • [15:04] The different types of aquatic plants
  • [19:48] How are emersed and submersed aquarium plants different
  • [21:24] The basic requirements for a planted aquarium with live plants
  • [23:43] What does ‘cycled’ mean?
  • [25:57] Why do you need to let your plants settle in the aquarium before introducing fish?
  • [28:43] Where to get bacteria that your aquarium needs
  • [30:04] Three uses of filters in your aquarium
  • [33:07] How to prep your plants for winter
  • [34:51] Learn from a horticulturist!
  • [37:06] What water to use in your aquarium
  • [38:31] How to figure out the water you have at home
  • [39:52] Troubleshooting your aquarium water
  • [42:03] Why do you need to change the water in your aquarium?
  • [43:17] Using fertilizer in your aquarium
  • [45:08] What type of substrate works best for your aquarium?
  • [50:23] Aquarium lighting and the basics
  • [53:26] The most important lighting factor for your aquarium
  • [56:56] Karen’s aquarium supply recommendations
  • [58:26] How to transition to a bigger tank
  • [01:00:11] Are CO2 systems worth it?
  • [01:03:14] How do you select plants for your aquarium?
  • [01:05:24] Top 5 best aquatic plants for beginners
  • [01:11:41] Maria’s plans for her own planted aquarium

Mentioned in our conversation:

Thank you to our episode sponsors:

Soltech Solutions

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Follow Karen:

Planted Aquarium Website
Vivarium/Terrarium Website
Planted Nano and Betta Tank Facebook Group


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