In the past, an aquarist was someone who had an aquarium with fish. But today it looks completely different. The development of technology gives almost unlimited possibilities and aquarists – seeing their chance – try to use it and set themselves more and more ambitious goals. Thus, raising aquaristics to the rank of a work of art, they search and set new directions and trends in creating inventive and interesting arrangements. It even came to the point that we can admire aquariums with only plants and no fish! On the other hand, such an aquarium seems to be ideal, where both fish and beautiful plant compositions co-create.
Why are plants so important for an aquarium?
Plants in an aquarium do not only provide a sense of security and shelter for fish. They are not only an attractive background for them, but have a much more important function. By absorbing harmful and hazardous organic compounds that result from decomposition (and by enriching the water with oxygen in return), they are a fundamental biological filter – and the health of the entire aquarium depends on their correct functioning. If the plants grow quickly and correctly, there will be no problem with algae and the water will be well oxygenated. For this to happen, however, optimally selected lighting is indispensable.
Which aquarium lighting for plants?
Lighting for aquarium plants must be well balanced. More demanding plants require strong and effective light. In the past, when using T8 or T5 fluorescent tubes, the rule was 1W per liter of water. Today, when using led lighting, it is more complicated because LEDs have very different efficiency / light output. These values are given in lumens (this is the luminous flux, the amount of light – ed.) per watt. And so: DIP LEDs have a ratio of 35-80 lm/W, while SMD LEDs usually do not exceed 100 lm/W, and the most efficient CREE POWER LEDs even reach over 200 lm/W.
For aquarium purposes, the best seems to be the lighting based on CREE LEDs or possibly EPISTAR LEDs with a color temperature of about 6500-8500K with the addition of Full Spectrum LEDs (roughly converting: about 50 lumens per liter). Such lamps can be purchased ready-made or constructed independently using the DIY method.
Micro and macro elements – stimulants for plant growth
If we already have adequate lighting, plants need mineral salts in the form of micro- and macroelements taken from water and the substrate for the proper process of photosynthesis. The substrate must be suitably efficient, so active or enriched with peat or garden soil.
To water – preferably with pH (acidity and alkalinity) 6.5-6.7 and KH (carbonate hardness) 3-5° – macroelements (especially potassium, nitrogen, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus), microelements (mainly iron and copper, manganese, zinc, cobalt, boron, molybdenum) and carbon dioxide should be systematically added. It is important not to overdo with these “nutrients” and try to maintain constant water parameters (PH value should not change more than 0.5 per day). The content of mineral salts in water can be controlled with a TDS meter.
If we ambitiously approach the creation of our aquarium, the final effect should fully satisfy us.
Featured photo: pxfuel.com