5 Aquascaping Tips Using Plastic Plants That Will Make Your Tank Look Incredible

The debate over plastic versus artificial aquarium plants is a hotly contested one among aquarists. Though both have their strong points, it essentially boils down to a few things; plastic plants are simply easier to care for!

They also offer several other benefits over their live equivalents: artificial plants require no special lighting, no CO2, and no fertilizer. They are also not water quality dependent and can essentially be planted anywhere (as opposed to specific substrates that are often required by live plants).

An added bonus for those who like a well-kept aquarium: they can be easily cleaned! So if you’re looking to add some artificial foliage to your tank, here are a few tips for picking the perfect ones to really liven – and brighten – up your tank.

  1. Don’t be afraid to use fake plants purchased from a craft store
    1. Silk plants work great! They are nearly indistinguishable from live plants, and sometimes look even better.
    2. Use realistic looking plants. Sticking to nature’s green hues will add a more polished and overall healthy look to your tank.
    3. Don’t use anything that may break down in water. The items sold in pet stores and aquarium accessory stores are designed be submerged for long periods of time and will not deteriorate or break down, which can cause harmful toxins or chemicals to be released. (How about…”Don’t use anything that may break down in water like preserved or artificial moss type plants which will break down and may cause harmful toxins or chemicals to be released.”)
  2. Less is more – keep it simple!
    1. Not overcrowding the tank is essential for your fish’s health. Though many species of fish enjoy, or even require, some plant growth in their habitats, too much of it is never a good thing. (The natural habitats most aquarium fish are found in tend to have only a couple types of plants or rocks. Using too many different types or colors of artificial plants will make the aquascape fake looking and not very realistic.)
  3. Zone your tank
    1. Background – use taller plants to fill out the space behind the front of the tank, which will make for easier viewing and less crowding in the front.
    2. Midground – medium size plants, no taller than ½ the height of your aquarium
    3. Foreground – use short, grass-like plants to fill in the space at the front of the tank and create a complete look.
  4. Use natural rocks and driftwood as a centerpiece
    1. Place larger rocks and driftwood towards the back
    2. Adding a beautiful piece of driftwood or a collection of unique rocks in the middle creates a nice focal point and, as an added bonus, extra hiding spots for your fish.
  5. Use plants with different leaf shapes
    1. Don’t be afraid to mix it up a little – utilizing a lot of different types of plants will create an interesting, eye-catching tank. Many aquarists like to pair up different textures, like a thick moss with a few thinner sword plants or ferns in the background, to add a bit of character to the tank. Let your creative side take the reigns!

Aquascaping is, for many aquarists, one of the best parts about setting up a home aquarium. It really allows you to get creative and personalize your tank, and the whole process of picking out each plant and accessory you want is pretty exciting. Whether this is your first aquascaping adventure or you are a seasoned aquarist starting on your next project, these tips for working with artificial plants will help you build a stunning, healthy aquarium.