Providing sheltered hiding places for your goldfish can be achieved through the use of plants in an goldfish aquarium. The question is, real or fake? Which one has the most advantages?
In this post, we are going to look at what you should consider when deciding between using live or plastic plants for your tank.
The Benefits of Live Plants
- It can’t be denied that live plants in a goldfish aquarium do have their perks. For one thing, they will never be mistaken as fake and add the lifelike aspect of an outdoor underwater environment to any tank. This is probably the most common reason goldfish keepers choose live plants for their aquariums.
- Live plants also help to oxygenate the water of an aquarium. As the animals in the tank produce carbon dioxide, the plants absorb it and then, in turn, release oxygen into the water. The goldfish then uses the oxygen for respiration. While plants are not the only way to provide oxygen for your goldfish, they do help.
- They also assist in the breaking down of organic waste and toxins in the tank’s nitrogen cycle. This provides a sort of “natural filtration" and can help to keep the water clearer and healthier.
The Drawbacks of Live Plants
- One downside to live plants is their destructibility. Goldfish will munch on just about any plant, so finding a plant that will not be devoured can be tricky. Even if the goldfish cannot digest the plants, they will often tear them apart. This can lead to clogged filters and a messy tank.
- They require regular pruning and thinning, as well as proper substrate for root growth. This means more work on your part. For more on plant care, I would suggest reading this informative article on live plant care.
- Live plants can introduce harmful bacteria and/or diseases into your tank if they are not properly cleaned first.
The Benefits of Plastic Plants
- Plastic plants are virtually indestructible. Goldfish may peck on them to try to find food, but will never succeed in damaging them. This is especially nice when it comes to maintaining a clean aquarium. They can last for years on end, retaining their shape and color. They can also be easily arranged and rearranged in the substrate without fear of damaging delicate root systems and are often weighted for convenient positioning.
- They are very low-maintenance, and do not demand anything more than an occasional scrub to remove algae. No additional care is required.
- There is a wide variety of types and colors of plastic plants to choose from, depending on the desired look for your aquarium. Ranging from lifelike to whimsical, there is something for everyone’s taste. Some plastic aquarium plants even glow in the dark! All shapes and sizes are available as well.
The Drawbacks of Plastic Plants
- Plastic plants can never achieve the level of realism that live ones have, despite how lifelike many manufacturers can produce them (and they can create impressive replicas, in many cases). Obviously nature’s detail can’t be mass produced, no matter how lifelike a specimen one can create.
- The oxygen output of plastic plants is the same as their contribution to the nitrogen cycle: zero. You will have to rely solely on your filter and water changes to balance the parameters in your tank. Plastic plants are only useful to provide shelter for the fish and aesthetic improvement to the aquarium. Live plants in the wild are a natural part of the goldfish’s ecosystem. They have a symbiotic relationship with the fish, providing oxygen to the fish and in return, the fish provide them with yummy nitrates which helps the plants grow big and strong.
- Goldfish cannot snack on live plants throughout the day, and must be content to wait until mealtimes for food. Some goldfish owners enjoy purchasing live plants with the specific intent to allow for continual grazing, which promotes digestion and growth. Having an such an available food source in the tank is useful if for some reason a meal is skipped. Young goldfish fry also make use of the microscopic algae particles and nutrients of live plants when they are very small. This is not something plastic plants can afford to breeders, beside the spare bit of algae that may grow on the surface of the fake plant when exposed to light.
As a goldfish keeper, you will have to decide which you prefer when it comes to your tank. My advice is to do what is best for your situation, and whether it is live or plastic plants. Both offer their own set of pros and cons. You may experiment between the two to find out what works. So what do you think? Are you passionate about one or the other? I would love to hear your feedback.