When confronted with such variety of plants for your aquarium, there is a great temptation to take a piece of everything that appeals to you. If you do this, you will be wasting money needlessly.
A dozen different kinds of plants in a tank will compete for food and light, and before long the strongest will have gained all of the space, and leave the others dying off. So exercise self-restraint and limit your choice to only three kinds. Two of these plants should be for massing in the background, and one as a center-piece.
For one of the two plants to be placed in the background, I would suggest that one be either Vallisneria or Sagittaria (not both in one tank though, as they tend to compete).
For the second plant, it always looks nice to have one of the bushy plants, and of these, Hygrophila is the easiest to grow. But also note that Cabomba-Limnophila or Ludwigia are more decorative for the tropical tank. These suggestions are also the best ones if you are starting a cold-water aquarium.
And your third plant, the center-piece, a Cryptocoryne, Echinodorus or an Aponogeton are recommended for warm water aquariums, and a Hottonia, Muphar or Ranunculus do especially well for the cold water. Not to mention they are all very lovely to look at!
Healthy plants are plump, crisp and intense in color; refuse those that are limp and pale. Most aquatic plants are rather brittle when out of water and must be handled carefully. Never pick them up by the middle of the stem; the best way is to lift them by the base, so that they hang down from the fingers. Select young, half-grown plants rather than fully grown ones, and with as many leaves as possible.
Many of the plants which propagate by cuttings will be seen to have fine, hair-like roots sprouting from the nodes from which the branches grow; choose these, as they will “take" more quickly.
Plants with crowns must have good roots, and you should examine these to see that they are plump and bushy.
Of all of the aquarium plants available, the ones listed above have always proven to be the most reliable and attractive. Be sure to pick the healthiest ones of the bunch, and you will be creating a great looking, and happy aquarium.
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