What are some cool plants to put in a planted aquarium?
March 1, 2015 2:55 PM   Subscribe

After reading the question about the ethics of keeping fish in a tank, I'm now curious about interesting plants (tank or not). What are some plants with extra features that don't take a lot of maintenance? (Glows in the dark? Is edible? Smells cool?)

I'm curious about interesting aquarium plants (or plants you can keep in a dark-ish room and not have to water very much, which might be the same thing). What plants are interesting or fun and have something curious about them? (Glows in the dark? Is edible? Smells cool?)
posted by 3491again to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
One thing I've learned is that it's much easier to get a plant that is wired to some wood - I have an Anubias plant (looks like pothos houseplants) and it requires minimal care. It's in a filtered tank though which still requires cycling of water (change out 10-20% every week or two). You might get more information on freshwater aquarium forums... you won't really find anything like a venus fly trap plant in an underwater situation as far as I know. Some tanks have different colored LED light settings which looks nice, as long as the plants are getting enough regular light.
posted by belau at 3:07 PM on March 1, 2015

These don't answer your question, but they're awesome anyway: Mimosa pudica, Ecballium elaterium, and the goddamn Venus Fly Trap, which is native to sixty square miles of North Carolina swamp and nowhere else on the planet. I'm pretty sure it's an alien.

As to the question... have you considered a bottle garden?

I can think of lots of plants I'd at least take a shot at if I had a sufficiently lit freshwater aquarium - wasabi, orchids, watercress... but I'm much less sure about water + low light. Ferns, maybe? Microsorum pteropus?

Ooh. Epiphyte. Air plants? Mushroom kits don't take much maintenance and they're edible.
posted by Leon at 4:10 PM on March 1, 2015

This is a pretty great book if you want to go that route.
posted by lydhre at 4:17 PM on March 1, 2015

On the very most simple side: I have a few marimo balls, they are little round balls of algae, they can handle low light and just need a water change now and then. You can buy tiny aquariums with mini landscapes like this one on etsy, or just buy marimos and put your own together. I love them.

On the opposite end of the spectrum: I wouldn't call these low maintenance, but I fell down a rabbit hole looking at aquascaping a couple months ago...here, or check out Takashi Amano. I got sidetracked by work, but I think I found next weekend's project. This is a pretty thorough article about setting one up.

You can grow aquatic plants with a low-tech setup (no lights, etc...all of this would be easier without fish to worry about anyhow), with careful plant choices. Article here.

Non-aquatic I agree with Leon, you can do a lot of fun things with air plants, and they're sort of indestructible. Carnivorous plants are awesome, but they are generally neither low light nor low maintenance.

There actually is a glow in the dark plant nowadays (not aquatic) , I'm wavering between awesome (because *glow in the dark!!!*) and not (because it's modified somehow, given that new growth doesn't glow). But kind of leaning toward awesome.
posted by lemonade at 5:44 PM on March 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

For dark rooms and minimal care but has a cool feature, I recommend bioluminescent fungus. Panellus stipticus are fun, I have some in the bathroom (intentionally I mean, not just volunteering themselves in there due to housekeeping issues) and other than remembering to drip some tap water into their jar every few weeks, they take little effort.

you won't really find anything like a venus fly trap plant in an underwater situation as far as I know
There is an aquatic carnivorous plant, Aldrovanda vesiculosa, which has traps similar to the Venus flytrap. Speaking as a longtime aquaria, planted tank, and carnivorous plant hobbyist: aldrovanda is not easy to grow.
posted by jamaro at 5:55 PM on March 1, 2015 [4 favorites]

Jamaro, thank you, I am ordering one immediately! Google is my friend, it looks like there is also bioluminescent algae you can buy. A fountain sounds fun and simple to set up.
posted by lemonade at 6:24 PM on March 1, 2015

The Planted Tank and Dusko's aquarium blog are great places for more info this. I'm on my phone but googling will get you there.
posted by smoke at 10:42 PM on March 1, 2015

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