Aquarium Houseplant Holder

On the stock list page, there is a listing for Aquarium Houseplant Holders.

This is a brand new item with many possibilities for decorating and starting new house plants. The Aquarium Houseplant Holder is a container uniquely designed to fit between the glass top on your aquarium, and the back frame. This area is currently filled/covered using a plastic strip that may be cut to fit around the aquarium accessories. The Aquarium Houseplant Holder is designed to replace this plastic strip with a container to grow house plants.

It’s purpose is to provide a container for starting roots from plant cuttings, allow house plants to grow on the top of your aquarium, and to provide a means of controlling/eliminating ammonia, nitrite and nitrate in your aquarium.

The original idea developed as I watched the fad involving growing peace lilies above a vase containing a betta, and reading and experimentation I had done with various house plants growing in aquarium water. The Aquarium Houseplant Holder is the final result of this thought process and experimentation.

The vase containing a betta and a peace lily is really an interesting and attractive decoration for the home. While I would question the idea that you don’t have to feed your betta because he would eat the roots of the peace lily, it also seemed to be a good opportunity to get new people coming into the pet stores to start keeping fish, albeit on a very small scale. As the roots on the peace lily grew in the water, they formed an attractive setting for the betta to swim around and through.

The second part of my thought process involved the concept of using emergent plants (roots in the water, leaves in the air) in a sump as a filter for the fish waste. The cycling of an aquarium involves encouraging bacteria to grow in your aquarium which converts the ammonia waste (toxic to fish) first to nitrite (still toxic to fish), and then into nitrate which is not toxic to fish. The only problem with this scenario is that we have to continuously replace a percentage of the water in order to constantly dilute the nitrate that is building up, since nitrate is a plant fertilizer, and algae is a plant.

While this explanation may be somewhat simplified, this is a crude way of explaining what is happening in your aquarium. The theory is that the use of emergent plants in the aquarium sump would eliminate the continuous buildup of nitrate, since these plants would utilize this waste product themselves, and prevent  this chemical from building up in the aquarium and providing a source of nutrients for algae. Since most people don’t have a sump for their tanks, the idea of the Aquarium Houseplant Holder developed for use by the majority of the hobbyists who may only have one or two tanks, but still may want to effect the water quality of their individual tanks.

This method would also provide an attractive backdrop of plant roots in the aquarium, and an attractive display of house plants on top of the aquarium.

Aquarium Houseplant Holder - 6in

Aquarium Houseplant Holder – 6in

The Aquarium Houseplant Holder comes in lengths of 3 inches and 6 inches, with each length available in 1.5 inch and 2.0 inch depths. Either take a cutting of your house plant, or a bog type plant from the aquarium, and cut a cross in the bottom of the Aquarium Houseplant Holder. Push the stem or roots through this hole and then fill the container with large aquarium gravel. The Aquarium Houseplant Holder is then put in placed in the space formerly filled by the piece of plastic. The stem or roots should be in the aquarium water.

Don’t be too impatient for the roots to start growing, but you will have to watch the water level in your aquarium to make sure it doesn’t fall below the level of the roots or stems.

Between now and the end of the year, I am hoping to experiment to see what effect this system might have on the initial cycling of an aquarium. As results become available, I’ll post them in this section of my webpage.

I did set up an experiment this Fall to measure ammonia and nitrite levels on 2 identical tanks being cycled side-by-side.

For the first 2 weeks, it was evident the tanks were going through the ammonia portion of the cycling process. Each tank did register ammonia levels increasing, and then decreasing over this period of time. The tank without the plant  recorded levels as high as 4.0 on the Aquarium Pharmaceuticals test kit. The tank with the plant (Peace Lily) showed increased levels of ammonia, but only went above 1.0 (1.5) on one day. It also dropped 2 days sooner than the tank without the plant.

As the level of ammonia dropped in the tanks, I did start to get a reading on the nitrite test kit, but it wasn’t a color that compared to the test control colors, so I was unable to complete the cycling experiment. I believe that because we are on a well, the test results were compromised for nitrite by the presence of some other chemical.

I did send a sample of my water to Aquarium Pharmaceuticals, but they took no interest in my explanation of the problem, and therefore were unable to provide any solution.

The results are encouraging, but not ready for publication at this time. I will try again when I can be sure of getting test results for the nitrite portion of the test.

Denny Rogers

By Denny | November 23, 2010 @ 7:26 pm | No comments

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