Vallisneria – The One Plant Wonder.on January 24th, 2011 at 8:44 pm
Whether you’ve got a green thumb or are green with envy, you can have a planted aquascape that looks like a slice of nature. Don’t worry, it won’t be hard or expensive. All you will need is 1 plant, Vallisneria. If you haven’t gotten to work with this plant yet, you’re in for a treat. Not only does it look beautiful but it’s undemanding! It can also single handedly transform an aquarium into a luscious jungle. Unfortunately, you probably won’t win any awards for aquascaping using only one easy to grow plant. However, it will be an impressive display. Not only will you and your fish appreciate it, your college buddy who thinks you’re weird for liking fish will be impressed. Even other hobbyists will lust after your shockingly simple aquarium.
There are only 2 requirements to grow Vallisneria. The first is you must feed it nitrates. Luckily this is a byproduct of feeding your fish. The second is you must provide it with 1 watt of light per gallon of water of 5000k-10000k lighting.
Ok, I’m sorry. For those of you who don’t have a green thumb, your head just exploded. Let me take a moment to break those numbers down for you quickly. The first part says, we want 1 watt of light per gallon of water. If you have a 29 gallon aquarium. You’ll want roughly 29 watts worth of lighting. Likewise if you have a 55 gallon aquarium you’d want 55 watts of lighting. Simple as that. Next we have “of 5000k-1000k lighting.” A very simplified definition of this means, you want light that is similar to what the sun puts out. In nature, plants use the sun to grow. In our aquarium, we need to supply lights that mimic the sun to grow plants. When you’re shopping around for your lighting, simply look at the kelvin rating; which is represented by the letter K. Then pick your bulbs that are somewhere between 5000K and 10000K.
If you haven’t grown any live plants before you may have to upgrade your lighting but maybe not because we are only talking one watt per gallon and that is very low. However, if you need to pick it up a bit, there are many options, one cheap option we’ve covered in a previous blog post.
Vallisneria is great because it does all the work for you. You simply plant one bunch of the plant in the back corner of your tank. It will then continue to spread throughout your gravel. After a few months your tank will be a lush jungle. Fish weaving in and out of all the long leaves. It grows fast too and uptakes a lot of nitrates. It’s also easy to remove if it’s going somewhere you don’t want it too. You simply pull it out of the gravel and replant where you want it.
Best of all, Vallisneria is cheap! Frequently found at fish stores for less than $4. Usually any other hobbyist that has it growing will gladly give you a plant to get started in your tanks. It grows so fast it often goes to compost.
I suggest everyone give it a try. If you’ve got 10 high tech planted aquariums, the Vallisneria jungle is a nice reprieve from all the maintenance. If you’ve never had plants before, it’ll unlock a whole new world to you. Once you’ve got it growing, you’ll always have it around in at least 1 tank. You never know when you’ll want to turn a tank into a planted masterpiece with a single plant.
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