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Fighting Algae with Fast-growing Plants

The advantage of having fast-growing plants is that they readily consume the excess nutrients and CO2 in the water, thus reducing the growth of algae and the chance of an outbreak in the tank. It is especially important that the higher-order plants win the survival battle over algae in the first 6 weeks of a new tank. Among the easiest to care for are Vals, Rotala Indica and Water Wisteria. They are robust plants that can be used be as a highlight or in the background. They require moderate to bright light, rich substrate and regularly pruning.

Tape Grass or Straight Vals (Vallisneria spiralis). Named after its long spiraling stalk of its female flowers, this grassy plant propagates quickly by sending runners along the substrate. It grows vertically to the surface and continues horizontally. Due to its popularity and vast varieties, there is a great confusion with their names. Commonly seen in stores are Spiral, Corkscrew and Twisted Vals. Some of them stay less than 1’ with leaves about ¼” wide, others are double in size. No matter what kind is in the tank, it will add a sense of tranquility with its soft swaying leaves.

Rotala Indica (Rotala roundifolia). The name of this plant means “plant with round leaves” in Latin. But when grown underwater, it produces long and thin leaves. It is an amphibious plant and does better when it is allowed to switch between wet and dry periods. Under strong light, it grows to be very compact and produces flowers in deep pink or wine color, which makes a great contrast to the ordinary green in a tank.

Water Wisteria (Hygrophila difformis). This is a versatile plant that can be anchored in gravel or left on the surface as a floating bunch. The shape of its bright green leaves varies depending on the position and the amount of light available. Hence, the name difformis which means “formed differently” in Latin. A mature specimen will eventually fall apart, allowing its young plantlets to float freely on the surface. Next...

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