I am a firm believer that any aquarium will do better with some healthy live aquatic plants growing in the aquarium. This is not to say that average hobbyists need to have CO2 injection, high-intensity lighting or always be adding drops of stuff to the aquarium. With the good fluorescent lights/hoods that are being sold today, any aquarium hobbyist can keep many different kinds of aquatic plants growing strong. The operative word here is “aquatic” plants.
Unfortunately, for as long as I have been in the aquarium hobby/business (which dates back to the late middle of the last century), local fish stores and big box pet stores have always sold various plants that are not true aquatics — plants that will very soon die in completely submersed growing conditions. To name a few, there are purple crinkles, Brazilian sword plants and Sanderiana, as well as the ever-popular lucky bamboo. In my humble opinion, selling plants that are not true aquatic plants is taking advantage of the public. Where do you draw the line? What really is the difference between selling a Brazilian sword plant, that you know will die in the water in a few months and selling begonias to unknowing hobbyists? Non-Aquatic Plant Slideshow>>
The problem is now being made worse by the fact that some large and well-known players in the aquarium business are offering plants in clear plastic tubes with some growing medium in the bottom of the package. Apparently it doesn’t matter to them that many of the plants they are offering are not true aquatics and will fairly soon die and melt away in the aquarium. One executive whose company sells these non-aquatic plants told me that it wasn’t really a problem, because hobbyists don’t expect their plants to live long anyway.
I will probably get flak for this, but I simply do not think that is a responsible way to market “live” plants to aquarium hobbyists, knowing that in the very short future the plants will be dead. We have enough problems getting and keeping aquarium hobbyists interested and successful with their first fish aquarium. Why would we ever want to add to the problem by selling something that we all know will not survive very long, ruin aquarium water quality, and possibly kill fish?