There’s nothing more exciting than bringing home an aquarium and buying exotic fish and plants for it.
The beautiful sight that the colorful fish and green plants, along with fancy, neutral-colored decorations, form has you admiring your water tank for several days.
Therefore, you must disinfect each of your aquarium plants before putting them inside an entire ecosystem.
How to Clean Aquarium Plants Before Planting?
Before cleaning any plant, remember to always wear protective clothing. Treat the plant and its roots with a diluted disinfecting agent like plant bleach, hydrogen peroxide, or diluted potassium permanganate. Repeat the process for at least five days and kill the pathogenic organisms.
Step-by-Step Guide for Cleaning Aquarium Plants
Before beginning the process, I strongly recommend you wear gloves and protective clothing. You can also put on eye goggles if you have sensitive eyes and a face mask in case of respiratory allergies.
Moreover, inspect your plant’s conditions for any signs of disease, such as yellow spots, loss of turgor, or dryness.
If you see none, follow the steps below:
Step 1: Breaking your Aquatic Plants Apart
Start off by removing any Rockwool or similar spongy material that may have been shipped with the plant.
Make sure to be thorough and gentle to avoid unnecessary damage to your aquatic plant.
Now try to get down to the plant’s bare roots and remove any absorbent material you see here; it may soak pollutants or pesticides.
Step 2: Introducing the Disinfectant
Now, with a pair of scissors, cut back about 1 inch of the roots, especially if they are long or overgrown. Don’t worry, the plant will regrow them soon enough.
Next, sterilize your plant with either plant bleach, 3% hydrogen peroxide, or diluted potassium permanganate. You can also use commercially available plant disinfectants.
Please do not forget to wear gloves, especially when dealing with potassium permanganate.
Step 3: Adding Water
Add your disinfectant, such as Seachem Prime Fresh and Saltwater Conditioner, into a bucket of water.
Such disinfects bind to pests and other toxicants, including nitrites, ammonia, and nitrates. They also help get rid of heavy metals often found in tap water, such as fluoride and chlorine.
Step 4: Repeating the Entire Process
Repeat this process for a few days by changing the plant’s water and keep spraying it with a disinfectant. This will completely eliminate the pathogenic organisms.
After the fourth or fifth day, thoroughly rinse the plant along with its roots using clean water. Turn the plant in various directions so that water reaches each part.
Reasons for Cleaning Aquarium Plants Before Planting
Snails are sneaky little pests. They are pretty common in almost all plants with leaves since they enjoy nibbling on them.
Snails frequently hitchhike on aquarium plants and may also burrow their eggs here. Some examples include pond snails (Lymnaea stagnalis), Bladder snails (Physa acuta), and Malaysian Trumpet snails (Melanoides tuberulata).
You must look for and remove them promptly if you see any snails on your new plants.
Parasites and Predators
While some may not take this seriously, parasites like aphids are known to have destroyed entire aquarium plant colonies.
These predators can set their eyes on any type of aquatic plant, even those that reach all the way up to the surface.
Removing such parasites becomes essential before putting the plant into your aquarium.
Contaminants and Pesticides
Numerous contaminants and pesticides remain on your aquatic plants, even after you think they have evaporated off the surface or dried off.
Several people have had massive shrimp and fish deaths because they put their pesticide-treated plants into the fish aquariums.
While cleaning plants with pesticides is imperative, removing the pesticide once it has done its job is a must.
If not wiped off properly, pesticides can wipe out entire aquariums due to considerable chemical damage, such as pH changes and toxicity.
Insects and Bugs
Some insects, such as the water-lily leaf and Donacia beetles, may colonize your entire aquarium within days.
They gradually feed off the plants, stripping them off of their nutrients and other characteristic features. Insects mostly attack when the air or the plant is too dry.
The simplest remedy to remove bugs is to catch them the soonest you spot them. The parts that are heavily infested should be removed promptly.
Alternatively, if the bugs are fish-edible, you can crush these insects and feed them to your fish. In the end, remember to rinse the plants thoroughly with fresh water to eliminate the bugs entirely.
Algae and Fungus
Perhaps no plant is really safe from fungus, no matter if it is terrestrial or aquatic. Algae and fungus thrive in hot and humid climates.
Therefore, if you live in a temperate area, you must inspect your plant for any signs of fungal infection, such as brown spots or discoloration, before placing it inside the aquarium.
If you see any such signs, treat the plant with a fungicide as well as neem oil.
Once the plant recovers, isolate it for a few more days, checking for any symptoms of reinfection. If not, only then introduce it into the aquarium.
Frequently Asked Questions about How to Clean Aquarium Plants Before Planting
How do I prepare my aquarium plant before planting?
Inspect your plant closely before putting it inside the aquarium. Remove any dead or yellow leaves to ensure that such leaves and their roots will not decay inside your water tank. Also, push the aquarium plant into the substrate to completely bury its roots in it. You may use tweezers for the job.
How best can you rid your aquatic plants of pests?
Treat your aquarium plants with a pesticide or other disinfecting agent thoroughly. Once you are done, dry it in the open air to ensure the plant does not have any pesticide stuck to its roots or leaves. You may then put it back into your aquarium.
How long can I keep aquarium plants before planting?
Aquarium plants can stay outside the water tank for about 3-4 days. However, it is mostly dependent on plant type, climate, and storage method. If you keep the plant completely dry, it will die much quicker. If you keep it moist in a wet paper towel or a similar material, it will last you slightly longer.