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How to make a grass carpet in your aquarium?
January 31, 2022
The green grass carpet has a unique charm, whether in the garden or an aquarium. For a newcomer hobbyist, the aquarium grass carpet could be shocking at first sight in a good way. But how is it possible to grow grass underwater? While it may seem complicated at first, it is not at all. And not all grasses are demanding species, as we think.
Grass types of plants belong to the group of foreground plants. They are used most often in the first third of the aquarium. There are lower (2-5cm tall) plant variants, but we can also find those that reach a height of 10-15cm.
These plants have one thing in common: they can fill the available area relatively quickly if the water parameters and other conditions are optimal.
The secret of a beautiful grass carpet
Soil and substrate. We recommend using clay substrates, as this has many advantages over traditional gravel and sand. Aquarium soils soften the water, keep the pH in an ideal range, stores nutrients. The plant roots easily grow with this medium, and the oxygen supply to the roots is better. Some clay soils contain nutrients, but most do not. Nonetheless, we recommend using a substrate under the soil in both cases because most foreground plants prefer nutrient uptake from the root system. The wrong choice causes a slower growth of the foreground plants.
Light is also essential. The plants need enough light on a substrate level; otherwise, the grass will not form a dense carpet. However, some plants thrive nicely in lower light as well. Make sure to choose the plants for the existing aquarium lighting specs.
In addition to light and soil, we must also ensure the proper dissolution of carbon dioxide to grow the demanding species. With the dissolution of CO2, the plants develop faster. Without this, the demanding ones will never form a dense carpet.
Water temperature. More delicate plants find it difficult to tolerate water temperatures above 25C. But what if you have warmer water in your aquarium? Some species can be used in tropical aquariums with warmer water, of course. These foreground plants grow well in shady areas, less sensitive to water temperature and light.
Dosing liquid fertilizers are recommended for growing carpeting plants, as the substrate contains only slow-release nutrients. It is advisable to support the plant with nutrients from the root system and leaf for best results.
Which grass plants to use that are easy to grow?
The following low-demanding plants are frequently used in aquariums without CO2, using medium-light and water temperatures typically around 22-28C:
Echinodorus tenellus, Helanthium tenellum, Lilaeopsis brasiliensis, Sagittaria subulata, Cryptocoryne parva, Littorella uniflora
These aquatic plants are typically 5-15cm tall in the aquarium. They grow taller because of the lower light intensity, but they can also live in the shadier areas of the aquarium. No need for high maintenance as we do not need to trim them. Only thinning will be required a few times in a year. Due to the thicker leaves, the water flows easily between the leaves, and debris will not get stuck in the carpet.
Because of their unique properties, these aquatic plants work great for larger aquariums where a small grass species would not be an ideal choice due to small size, lower light intensity, higher temperatures, or other maintenance reasons.
Grass aquatic plants that are harder to grow
These demanding species require more intense lighting, constant lower water temperature, and carbon dioxide injection to form a perfect carpet.
The plants start to melt at higher water temperatures, regardless of the other conditions are optimal.
If the light is insufficient, the plants will develop more slowly and never form a dense carpet.
Some popular plants in this category:
Eleocharis acicularis mini, Eleocharis parvula, Eleocharis acicularis, Utricularia graminifolia
These plants require regular trimming due to thinner leaves and a denser, more compact structure. Trimming provides an opportunity to remove debris settling in weeks and months between the leaves of the plants. It is the most common cause of algae appearance on carpeting plants.
Whatever plant you choose, use a single pot of plant in an area of the palm of your hand at planting. If you're after a denser appearance or need a full-grown carpet quicker, you may want to buy 2-3 times more of the amount of the selected plants.
Under lower conditions (less intense light and without CO2), the grass carpet evolves in 4-6 months, while the faster-growing plants with optimal conditions typically take 2-3 months to develop.
If we don't insist on a grassy look, several other foreground plants might be a good alternative, but let this be the topic of our next post.
Hard to find the perfect plants?
If you need help with plant selection, please get in touch with our customer service, and we will be happy to help.