Can I Put River Plants in My Aquarium

Can I Put River Plants in My Aquarium?

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At the local river, you notice many gorgeous plants. You consider taking some of these home to put in your freshwater tank. It will provide better cover for your beloved finned friends. Why shouldn’t you take a couple? They’re good enough for this environment, right?

But is it possible to put river plants into an aquarium? Yes, it is! But, you can’t just put them in right from the river. You have to quarantine and treat them first. This is because there are all kinds of organisms that can kill the life already existing in your tank.

Preliminary Considerations

As a matter of fact there are many plants you can take from a river that will thrive beautifully in your aquarium. But, there are two major concerns with doing this: unwanted visitors and keeping the plants alive.

First, you must avoid introducing unwanted visitors and other erroneous things into your tank. This can include such things as insects, worms, algae, bacteria, and many others. The other thing is your method for keeping the plants alive while you prepare them for an entirely new environment.

Identify the Plants

Also, you should know exactly what kind of plant you have. Don’t just take a plant from a river because it looks pretty; identify and know what it is.

This will tell you all you need for its requirements, such as water temperature, cleanliness, sunlight and air, among other things. Some plants will do well completely submerged while others will have problems unless they have both air and water.

Methods for Adding River Plants to an Aquarium

You have many choices and ways you can go about doing this. What you choose to do will depend on how much bad stuff from the river you want to keep out and how much stress you’re willing to put the plants under. 

If the plant experiences too many major changes to their environment, they may not survive. Therefore, it’s important to evaluate the condition and parameters of the water from where you take the plants.

Initial Removal

When you remove the plant from the river, you will have to have some sort of receptacle. Plus, you should take great care to avoid destroying the roots. Also, grab some of the substrate and water from the river and put it in your container for transportation.

Quarantine Setup

Then, the moment you bring the plant home, set up a quarantine tank with the current parameters of your aquarium. This will not only give the plant an adjustment period but it will also allow anything you don’t want from the river to exit from under the leaves, stems and roots.

During the adjustment, expect leaves to die off and experience a bit of wilting. This is normal but you should keep an eye on the plant. Ensure it has proper filtration, water flow, sunlight, nutrients and other things. Check the roots to ensure they’re attaching to the substrate properly too.

Light will be the most important aspect of the plant’s care during the quarantine period. This is because you took it from its natural environment where it received all the sunlight it liked. Indoors, you’re going to have to provide similar conditions.

Inspection ; Cleaning

Before putting the plants into your quarantine tank, inspect them for stowaways. Fill up a tub or bucket with clean, cool and pure water. Then gently submerge the plants. Inspect the leaves, stems, buds and roots for any algae, invertebrates, worms or any other critters.

If you notice any soft, mushy leaves or dead growth, remove those as well. If the plant is in a rosette style, thoroughly inspect the center for bugs, larvae, snails, spiders and etc.

Creatures that Come with the Plants

In many cases, you will have hitchhiking invertebrates that will come along for the ride. Sometimes people want them and in other instances, it’s best to get rid of them. More often than not, though, these critters can cause damage to your tank.

Plus, some plants may have an algae that’s not going to be ideal for anything in your aquarium. It’s for this reason that many people avoid keeping anything that might come with a plant taken from a river. Existing plant life and your fish may experience foreign algae as an invader and it can cause them to get sick and die.

Treatments ; Dips

The best way to kill any remaining algae or other critters is with some potassium permanganate. It’s one of the safest dips available. It’s a dark pink powder that you mix with a bit of water. You put the plants into it for about 10 minutes or less. Anything longer may injure or kill the plant.

Then, rinse the plant off in dechlorinated water. You can either do this step before adding it to the quarantine tank or before you put it in your show aquarium. Some people do both, it depends on how bad the infestation was. Some aquarists will use a solution of bleach, 1:19 of bleach to water. However, this carries a greater risk of injury to plants than potassium permanganate.


Bringing plants home that you find in the river is a very plausible option. As long as you can take the right precautions and be meticulous, this can be a very resourceful way of supplying your tank with plants.

See also:

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