Plant care

Here’s how to maintain your aquarium plants

If you DON’T care for your plants they will become too long, sprawl everywhere but where they should be or grow badly. Perfect plant care needs a bit of attention. They are amongst your most important aquarium dwellers after all!


You can indeed regard your aquarium as a garden: except for the watering of the plants, many activities are quite similar. Gardening in the aquarium means pruning plants, thinning and removing dead leaves.

Trimming plants

Perhaps some of your plants are growing too high, even though they are not intended as background plants. You can easily trim these plants with scissors (e.g. JBL PROSCAPE TOOLS S STRAIGHT ). Protruding leaves, as with wild celery, need to be cut off at the base rather than simply cutting away the long leaves.

Thinning out:

Aquarium plants, like all plants, reach towards the light. Stem plants grow upwards and their lower part often loses their leaves, leaving the stem looking bare. Here you can trim off the upper part, remove the lower leafless part and replant the upper part. If plants are too close together, this effect also occurs.

Removing dead leaves:

If you snorkel in a tropical body of water, you will hardly see the bottom for all the fallen leaves. In the aquarium, however, unlike in nature, we have an extremely small water volume and the decomposition process of a single leaf releases so many nutrients into the aquarium water that algae can develop which will use these released nutrients as food. Therefore, it is ABSOLUTELY recommended that you cut dying or dead plant leaves off the healthy plant using scissors and then remove them from the water!

Cardinal neons in Colombia

If you’d like leaves in your aquarium, we recommend dried leaves from the sea almond tree (Catappa). These leaves do decay over time, but they release a lot of useful ingredients into the aquarium water ( JBL Catappa XL and JBL Nano-Catappa ). Moreover, they are of tropical origin and thus much more natural than oak or other European leaves.

Catappa tree

Plant care

What care do your plants need in the aquarium?

Since your aquarium plants need more than water and love, treat them to some minerals and trace elements. The substances available in the water are not sufficient for vigorous and healthy plant growth.

Fertilising your aquarium plants involves three factors:

1.  CO2 fertilisation: The staple food of all plants is carbon dioxide (CO2 gas), which can be added with the help of a CO2 fertiliser system (JBL PROFLORA CO2 system).

2.  Liquid fertilisation: With the help of liquid fertiliser ( JBL PROFLORA Ferropol ) you can add all your weekly essential minerals to the aquarium water and your aquarium plants will then absorb the minerals. For sensitive and demanding plants, the basic fertiliser JBL PROFLORA FERROPOL can be supplemented with a daily fertiliser ( JBL PROFLORA Ferropol 24 ).

3.  Root fertilisation: Almost all aquatic plants also absorb nutrients through their roots. JBL PROFLORA Ferropol Root was developed for this purpose. Insert a fertiliser tablet in the root area of the plant(s) every month. Half-yearly supplementation with clay minerals in ball form is highly recommended ( JBL PROFLORA 7 Balls ).

How do I get my plants to flourish in the aquarium?

All the factors needed for proper plant growth: light, LEDs, tubes, fertilisation, fertilisation amount, fertilisation check, interaction with water conditioners, chelated iron. Watch an experiment about checking the iron in the fertiliser. How to insert plants properly. How does fertilising in aquascaping aquariums differ from in normal aquariums? When is an NPK fertiliser useful?


Why do aquarium plants need to be fertilised?
Technical issues

If your plants are properly cared for and fertilised, you still only require the right light and a basic supply of their main nutrient CO2. For this purpose the JBL SOLAR light system and a selection of CO2 fertiliser systems are available for you.

The staple food of your aquarium plants: carbon dioxide (CO2)

For us humans, carbohydrates, fats and proteins form the basic building blocks of our diet. In all plants, CO2 corresponds to these elements and is therefore essential for plant growth. In photosynthesis, the plants can then process the CO2 with water under the influence of light energy into sugar (their food). This process releases oxygen, which all animal organisms need to breathe. In the aquarium water, a little CO2 is always present due to a concentration balance with the CO2 in our air. However, this low CO2 content is not sufficient for vigorous growth, for heavily planted aquariums and for more demanding plant species. With the help of a CO2 fertiliser system, you can add enough CO2 to the water to keep your plants perfectly supplied with their basic food.

Why do aquarium plants need a CO2 system?

If your aquarium plants aren’t growing perfectly, there must be a deficiency somewhere. Very often they lack their main nutrient CO2 (carbon dioxide). In this video we explain why plants need CO2 in the first place, why aquarium plants have different requirements and how to connect a JBL CO2 system.


Why is CO2 so important for plant care? What benefits does CO2 fertilisation provide?


How do you light your aquarium properly? Which aquarium lighting is best?

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