Real Versus Plastic
Sometimes it can be a tough decision to make between real plants and plastic ones.
On the one hand live plants can make your discus aquarium just that much more spectacular, however they can also cause a lot of headaches as well.
It can be difficult to find aquatic plants which are suited to the very specific water chemistry and temperature of the discus aquarium. Some of the species of aquatic plants which can acclimatise themselves in discus aquariums include: Java fern; Java moss; Sword plants; Onion plants; and Water sprite:
Discus fish does not need plants in their aquarium to be happy. However if you want to keep your discus with other fish then they might prefer a planted aquarium. Popular species to keep with discus fish such as different types of dwarf cichlids and the ever popular neon tetra prefer a planted aquarium.
Java ferns are some of the easier plants to keep in a discus aquarium. They do not require much maintenance, and are pleasing to the eye. Java ferns grow to be between 20 to 35 centimeters tall, and between 12 to 18 centimeters wide. The only thing you need to make sure of when using Java ferns in your discus aquarium is that you be sure that the stem is tied to a piece of rock or driftwood and planted directly into the substrate in the aquarium.
Java moss, much like Java ferns, attach themselves to rock or driftwood pieces rather than planted directly into the substrate of the aquarium.
Sword plants are commonly found in the natural habitat of the discus, so they feel right at home with them in the aquarium. The interesting characteristic that sets sword plants apart from other aquatic plants you may use in your discus aquarium are its leaves, which can grow to between 40 to 60 centimeters wide.
These plants are an excellent addition to any discus aquarium, but they do have a downside. They can outgrow the discus tank, as they can grow to be up to 150 centimeters or even taller. In contrast, the leaves on the onion plant are typically only about 2 centimeters across. Because of their height and longer leaves, onion plants make an excellent background plant for your discus aquarium.
Water sprite is a fairly popular discus aquarium plant because it is both aesthetically pleasing and economical. These plants can be left to float freely around the discus aquarium or they can be planted directly into the substrate, depending on your personal preference.
Although there are many advantages to having live aquatic plants in your discus aquarium, they are high maintenance and need to be cared for properly, or they will become a problem for your aquarium rather than an advantage.
Plastic plants on the other hand, don’t require a lot of maintenance, and look just as good as aquatic plants, but they don’t have the inherent benefits of using aquatic plants in your discus aquarium.
Whether you use real aquatic plants or plastic ones is a matter of personal choice. Discus love the cover provided by both plastic and live aquatic plants, and if they have sufficient cover to get away from time to time, then they are perfectly happy.