If you've ever had an aquarium, you've probably had underwater plants. They provide color and interest to the tank. Baby fish hide in the plants for protection from being eaten by bigger fish. Plants have another function and that is adding oxygen to the water. The oxygen is vital to the fish, whether in your aquarium or your garden pond outside. Oxygenating plants grow under and above the water. Sometimes the same plant will do both.
These plants form a dense mass of finely feathered foliage growing up to several feet long. The plant produces tiny white flowers. The plants will root from the end of cut branches. Start new plants by cutting some of the longer stems and putting the cut ends in the gravel at the bottom of the tank.
The leaves of the moneywort plant are round and bright green. It spreads and will start carpeting the bottom of the tank. The plant blooms in early summer with bright yellow flowers.
Add some bright red to your tank or pond with red rotala. The leaves are round and stacked in light red and green. The plant grows quickly up to 20 inches. The downside is that the stems break easily and the plant is fussy about its growing conditions requiring bright light and soft water that's slightly acidic. If the lighting conditions aren't adequate the leaves will turn to green.
The plant will grow in low light conditions. The leaves are green on top and white underneath. It has small purple flowers if it emerges out of the water into the air. In an aquarium the plant looks different underwater than above the water because the leaves out of the water are shaped a bit differently. It's a fast grower and fills in space quickly.
Bacopa, also known as blue water hyssop, is another oxygenating plant that grows both under the water and above. It has small light blue flowers on stems that emerge out of the water. The leaves are small, bright green and oval shaped. Crushed leaves have a very lemony scent.
Pond Water Sprite
This plant is one of the few that grows underwater in deep shade. It resembles an asparagus fern with thin narrow leaves on long branched stems. The root system serves to anchor the plant rather than provide nutrients. The leaves of the plant absorb nutrients from the water directly. It does a good job of keeping the water pure. Water sprite grows quickly.
- "Ponds and Water Gardens"; Ponds Magazine; 2008
- "The Complete Pond Builder"; Helen Nash; 1995
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