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Aquarium Advice

Real Plants vs Fake Plants in Aquariums

Fish sitting on a leaf in an aquarium

Can I use fake plants in my aquarium?

This has been a question that aquarium owners have been debating for some time. The answer is based upon a few factors; including the type of fish that you own, the size of your tank and personal preference. Here at Pond Planet, we have created a list of the pros and the cons of fake vs real plants in aquariums so you can decide for yourself! 

Can fake plants hurt fish? 

One benefit of using fake plants within your aquarium is that rearranging the space is easier than it would be with real plants; changing the space of your tank is a tactic that you can use to keep the semi-aggressive species in check. If the aquatic space is kept the same, then certain species can become territorial over areas and lash out at wandering fish who are wanting to explore. In short, fake plants could help protect your fish from turning on one another. 

Fish swimming in aquarium

Pros of using live plants in an aquarium 

Using live plants within your aquarium can have benefits to the overall look of your fish tank, the health of the fish and the cleanliness of your water. Here you will find a full list of benefits of using live plants within your aquarium in more detail.

1. Added nutrients

Live plants provide nutrients and oxygen to the aquarium, this helps to promote the natural nutrient cycle in the space as live plants take in carbon dioxide. 

2. Water filling and decorative

Aquariums can often be difficult to fill and natural plants help with this, acting as a natural water filler. Real plants are constantly changing and growing, this means that your aquarium will also evolve over time.

3. Protection for your fish 

Keeping your fish entertained and active is something that will benefit the space, and by introducing real plants your fish will have places to explore and shelter to hide behind. This will ensure that your aquarium is active with life constantly exploring the environment. 

4. Recreate natural environment

Using natural plants will help recreate the natural environment that the fish would be living in if they were in the wild. If the fish believe that they are in a natural space then they will exhibit their natural behaviours and be more at ease. 

Two fish in an aquarium

5. Beneficial food source

Many fish are omnivores and will eat the plantation in the aquarium. Real plants can act as a source of food for the fish within the aquarium; this doesn’t mean that you should stop feeding them, but natural growing plants can be a snack for your fish. 

Cons of using natural plants 

Despite the benefits of using natural plants in your aquarium; there can also be drawbacks. At Pond Planet we have rounded up the main reasons why natural plants may not be as beneficial for your pond or tank.

1. Upkeep can be difficult

Natural plants can be hard to care for! Various species of plants require specific fertilisers and substances which can be confusing and take the joy away from creating your aquarium. As natural plants are live, they can often need trimming or pruning which can be difficult to do and could upset the dynamic of your aquarium.

2. Decay and appearance

Decay from natural plants can become an issue for your aquarium if the conditions of your water aren’t suitable. During the process of decaying, the plants can take up the oxygen levels in the water which means that nutrients aren’t spread around your tank. Dead plants will also distract from the beauty of your aquarium, so if you do decide to include live plantation in your tank then make sure that it is maintained regularly. 

3. Real plants can be expensive

If you like to change the appearance of your aquarium then it can become expensive to try and update your pond or aquarium. The cost of real plants in comparison to artificial plants can be pricey. 

Pros of artificial plants in an aquarium

It’s a question that is often asked, but what are the benefits of having fake plants in your aquarium opposed to real ones? Here at Pond Planet, we have created a list so that your questions are answered and you can decide for yourself. 

1. Minimum upkeep 

By dotting fake plants around your aquarium you are providing the life within the tank places to hide behind and explore without having to maintain and upkeep them. When you are cleaning your aquarium, it is easier to clean artificial plants as opposed to real ones. Many real plants need to be fertilised whereas fake ones are ready to go as soon as they are unwrapped. 

A blue fish swimming in an aquarium

2. Disease-free 

When purchasing an artificial plant they are always ready to use and arrive in clean packages. This will ensure that your fish are not exposed to harmful parasites or diseases. 

3. The filter won’t clog

With real plants, pond and tank owners often face problems with clogged filters. This usually happens due to aquatic life consuming the plants and the natural decay of the plant. These factors combined can cause a backlog within the filter system. Fake plants don’t decay and cannot be eaten so your problems are eliminated from the start. 

An orange fish swimming in an aquarium

4. Cheap and changeable

Adding fake plants to your tank can be a way to rejuvenate a tired tank. Fake plants are a lot cheaper than real ones and you can choose your designs to match the style of the surrounding area.  There is a wide selection of fish tank ornaments available here at Pond Planet for you to choose from. 

Cons of using artificial plants in your tank 

Fake aquarium plants are easy to clean and are an affordable alternative to the real counterpart; but what are the drawbacks? 

1. They provide no biological value

Fish cannot eat fake plants which means that they could be missing out on some nutrients that could help them thrive. With real plants your aquarium life can eat vital nutrients that can be beneficial to their growth and upkeep.

2. Finding the right plants for your tank

There are thousands of artificial plants on the market and it can be difficult to find the right ones to suit your aquarium. If you don’t select your fake plants carefully it can contrast the beautiful aesthetic of your space if not chosen carefully. 

3. Be careful with sensitive fish

As previously mentioned, artificial plants can be harmful to sensitive species of fish such as telescope eye goldfish. Silk variations are more beneficial to these types of fish and can look more natural. 

A School of fish in an aquarium

Fake plants or real plants? You decide!

Now that you have read the pros and the cons of having both artificial and real plants within your aquarium you can decide which type of decor that you would like to fill your tank with. As you will have gathered, the type that you choose is often personal preference but the choice should be determined by the aquatic space and what you are trying to achieve with it. 

Discover the full range of aquarium decor at Pond Planet today which includes our range of decorative features and ornaments which can be filtered to the type of space that you are filling. 

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