Having a lovely selection of aquatic plants in your fish tank is a good way to add interest, colour, and also contrast to the lovely colours of your fish. However, having plants in your fish tank isn’t just aesthetically pleasing. Live plants are an important part of your aquarium’s eco-system, and even fake plants serve a very important purpose.
I can’t think of any breed of fish where plants are of no benefit to them in one way or another.
In this article, I am going to discuss the benefits of having plants in your aquarium, the best beginner plants to go for, and whether danios will eat the plants in your tank.
Benefits of a Planted Aquarium.
It is very rare to come across a fish tank in that just has fish in it and nothing else.
The main benefits of having a planted tank are:
It is an important part of your tank’s eco-system.
I love National Geographic’s definition of an eco-system:
‘An ecosystem is a geographic area where plants, animals, and other organisms, as well as weather and landscape, work together to form a bubble of life.’
Our fish tanks are tiny little eco-systems compared to the natural ones ‘out in the wild’, but they are just as important. It is the circle of life in our own little glass box.
Plants help control nitrogen levels, by consuming ammonia and nitrates. They also provide much needed oxygen in the tank. This all helps maintain the quality of the water that your fish need.
They look good!
Having a planted tank looks much better than just having a tank with water and a few fish in! They can also help show the colours of your fish off better.
Aquascaping is a massive thing for some hobbyists, and you only have to look online at some of the amazing set ups people have created.
There are also people who don’t actually add fish to their tanks, they just put plants in!
What do Danios Eat in Their Natural Habitat?
Danios are omnivores, which basically means they will eat anything plant or meat based.
In their natural habitat, danios will feed on small insects, insect larvae and algae. Some of the larger danios will eat small fish and crustaceans.
What is the Best Food to Give Danios?
A good quality tropical fish flake is essential, and will form the main part of your danio’s diet. The flakes have all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients that tropical fish need, so this is the most important thing to give them.
Danios are big fans of freeze-dried bloodworms as a treat. Don’t forget you need to soak them in a little aquarium water for half an hour first to re-hydrate them before feeding them to your fish.
Instant baby brine is also a great treat for your danios. This must be kept refrigerated though or it goes disgustingly off!
The key is to make sure your danio’s diet is varied so they are getting their essential nutrients from different sources.
Do Danios Eat Plants?
Danios are omnivores so will eat food of both plant and animal origin. However, they are more likely to pick at any tiny specs of algae on aquatic plants, rather than eat the plant itself.
If you find your danios eating your plants, this may indicate an issue with their diet. Have a look at the fish flakes you are feeding them, to make sure they contain vegetable matter.
Best Plants for Danios.
The main benefits for danios being in a planted tank are for shelter and hiding spots.
The following are all good choices for planting in a danio tank:
Java fern should be attached to something rather then put into the substrate, a piece of rock or driftwood would be perfect for them. They have quite long leaves, and can grow up to approx 30cms if not regularly trimmed. They are very hardy and just need some light to help them grow.
Crystalwort is a floating plant and it grows in little balls, just below the surface of the water. It makes a perfect hiding place for small fry from hungry mouths.
With a bit of imagination, crystalwort can be grown anywhere in your tank. It can be grown as a carpet or to cover a wall of your tank very easily. All you need is 2 pieces of netting with the crytsalwort in between, and anchor it to something, and the crystalwort will grow, covering the netting.
Hornwort is one of the best plants for beginners as it is the easiest thing to grow. You would have to be particularly rubbish to kill off a hornwort plant!
It can be used as a floating plant, or can be put into your substrate.
Hornwort is a great hiding place for newly hatched danios as they can get right into the middle of the plant, away from any hungry mouths.
Anacharis (also known as elodea) is basically a waterweed, and grows at about the same rate as one! It is very hardy, can grow many feet if left to its own devices, and is a lovely, bright green colour, so always brings a lovely pop of colour to your tank. It’s another great hiding place for smaller danios as well.
Cabomba is another popular choice for hobbyists.
Cabomba is planted into the substrate but is best being weighed down at first until the roots have found something to attach themselves to. This is another plant that can grow very tall if left unattended so you will need to cut this back regularly to keep it under control.
Anubias Nana grows slower than the previous plants I have mentioned, which may come as a relief to you! People refer to this plant as a plastic plant due to the appearance of their large, thick leaves. It only grows to around 10cms and provides lots of hiding places underneath their big leaves for any danios that want a few minutes to themselves.
Whilst danios aren’t known for eating plants in their fish tank, they have been known to damage plants when nibbling on algae on the leaves. This can be kept to a minimum if they are on a varied diet that contains vegetables. A good quality fish flake is ideal.
I hope this article has helped you. If you are still undecided about putting live plants into your fish tank, maybe start with something like hornwort in the substrate, and then Cystalwort as a floating plant. Both of these plants are super easy to look after. Your local aquarium should have a good selection of aquatic plants, and will be able to give you advice on what they think is best as well.
Video on How To Set Up a Fish Tank with Live Plants.
This video from Irene at Aquarium Co-op walks you through how to set up your fish tank with live plants. It is well worth a watch.