How to anchor aquarium plants?

By Nadine Oraby | 2020 Update

Freshwater aquariums look beautiful when they have both, fauna and flora. And so, I went and bought many live freshwater aquarium plants.

But guess what? As soon as I put them in the fish tank, they started floating at the surface!

After that, I learned that these aquarium plants need to be fixed in a proper place. 

But how? Let’s see:

Aquarium plants are lighter than water. That is why they start floating on the surface instead of going deep down. You have to anchor the plants properly so that their roots can grow deeper and they can get stable. There are various ways of anchoring aquarium plants that are discussed below. 

Can’t wait to learn how to anchor your aquarium plants safely? Here you go. 

Ways to anchor aquarium plants

You have to look for ways that are safe for the plants. Obviously, you don’t want to damage those little aquarium plants in the process. Also, the Anchorage ways should be safe for your fish. At times, we manage to fix the plant but in the process, hurt our fish. So, below are safe anchorage methods that you can adopt to fix your aquarium plants in place. 

River rocks 

Using river rocks is one of the safest ways to anchor the aquarium plants. You have to choose the river rock that does not dissolve in the aquarium water. If it dissolves, then it changes the chemistry of aquarium water and that might be harmful to the fish. 

Granite rocks are the safe River rocks that can be used as anchors. Granite rocks are hard and they don’t dissolve in water. 

Follow the steps below to set the anchor and fix the plants:

  • Choose river rocks that are not too small or too big for your fish tank. Choose medium-sized river rocks that have smooth edges. Sharp edges can certainly harm the fish. 
  • Boil the stones in clean water for about 30 minutes to sterilize them. Then let them cool down before proceeding further. 
  • Now take a nylon fishing line and tie it on the stone in a way that it makes a loop at the end. 
  • Cut the extra fishing line carefully. If small threads are coming out then trim them as these can harm the fish. Your fish can get stuck in the fishing line. So, be very careful. 
  • Now put the plant in the loop. The loop should hold the stem of the plant just above the roots. Tighten the loop so that it can hold the plant firmly. But don’t break your plant in the process. 
  • Put this plant along with the anchor in the tank and voila! You have successfully added an aquarium plant in your fish tank. 
  • You can do this with all the plants one by one. After some days, the plants will grow and the roots will hold the gravel tightly. This is the time to cut the fishing line as now plants are anchored firmly. Cut the fishing line carefully so that you don’t harm the plant. Remove the fishing line from the tank as soon as you cut it. 

Let me tell you a pro tip. If you are not sure whether you have bought the right river stones then boil them with vinegar in the water. If the stone forms bubbles around it while boiling then that stone will dissolve in the water over time. So, don’t use this kind of stone. 

If you can’t find any rocks for your aquarium, here are some great natural coral rocks from chewy.

Driftwood 

Driftwood is a safe option to anchor the plants but you have to prepare the driftwood well before anchoring the plants. 

Driftwood can be dangerous if you put it right away inside the aquarium. Driftwood contains debris, dirt, and certain parasites as well. Obviously, you cannot afford this as the fish can die because of poisoning. 

Driftwood needs a thorough cleaning. Let’s look for the proper method to clean the driftwood. 

Cleaning the Driftwood 

  • Firstly, scrub the driftwood well. You have to remove all the debris and dust that has stuck on it over time. 
  • Now soak the driftwood in dechlorinated, clean water. You can place some rocks to make driftwood sink in the water. 
  • Soaking has to be done for 12 to 14 days. Change the water whenever you notice that the water has become dark. This dark color is because the tannins in the driftwood start leaching in the water. 
  • Replace the water again and again until you notice that the water has remained clear for almost two days. 
  • Now take the driftwood out and dry it. You can use this clean driftwood to anchor all of your aquarium plants. 

Now is the time to fix the plants. You will need a thread and clean driftwood. Once the driftwood is detoxicated, anchoring is easy peasy. 

  • Place the plants neatly in the driftwood. 
  • Now attach the plants with the help of a cotton thread. You have to attach the roots properly, not too tightly as the roots can get damaged. 
  • Now put this driftwood along with the plants inside the fish tank and you’re done. 
  • Choosing the right driftwood is also very important. Rough driftwood is suitable as the roots can easily grow on it. Smooth driftwood can’t hold the roots properly and the plants can get damaged in a few days. 

Know how to find and clean the driftwood in the video below:

Plant anchors 

Using plant anchors is a very easy way to hold your aquarium plants. Plant anchors are lead-based strings that are commercially available. You will just tie your plant with it and it will sink in the fish tank. 

Plant anchors are already clean and sterilized as they are specially made for plant anchorage. So, you don’t need to clean it for days as in the case of driftwood. This is a fuss-free way to hold your plant. 

Plastic mesh 

Plastic mesh is a great choice if you want to plant lots of aquarium plants. The plastic mesh should be embroidered to give it a rough surface. The plant roots can easily grow on rough surfaces rather than the smooth one. 

To use plastic mesh as an anchorage, you just have to:

  • Empty the aquarium and clean it. Sterilize your aquarium as well. 
  • Now layer the aquarium with the plastic mesh. Make sure the layer is uniform. 
  • Install all the aquarium plants where you want them to grow and cover the entire layer with the substrate. 
  • After a few days, your plants will grow out of the substrate and the roots will be firmly anchored to the plastic mesh. 

If you don’t want to layer the aquarium with the mesh, you can use small bits and place under the substrate. Then attach the plant with the mesh and cover it with the substrate. 

What is the advantage of using a mesh? This is because the mesh allows the water to freely flow in the tank. Mesh doesn’t hinder the water flow and that is why gaseous exchange also takes place in a normal way. 

Let them stay in the pot 

The aquarium plants come with the pots. You can simply put that pot in the fish tank and let the plant grow. This is the easiest way to fix the plants (as they’re already in the pot!). 

Pot is also safe for the fish. There is no danger of strangling whatsoever. If you don’t like the pot in which you bought the plant, you can replace the pot with your favorite one. 

You can also follow this video to make your own plant anchor!

The Bottom line

The freshwater aquarium doesn’t look complete if you don’t add live plants in it. Freshwater fish also need these plants to feel safe and for the supply of oxygen as well. 

After you have bought the plants, you will notice that plants are lighter than water and they will just float on the surface. So, you have to anchor these plants firmly so that they can remain in place.

For that purpose, you can use rocks, driftwood, plastic mesh, pots, and plant anchors. Make sure the anchorage you are using is sterilized and there is no danger for your fish once you install them in the tank.

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