Can an aquarium have too many aquarium plants? (5 interesting facts)

After reading this article “Can an aquarium have too many aquarium plants?” the reader will be able to know the advantages and the disadvantages of aquatic plants. He will also know about the precautions with aquatic plants and plant destroying fish.

Can an aquarium have too many aquarium plants?

No, an aquarium cannot have too many aquarium plants. Your fish need space to swim and hide in the aquarium driftwood. Although the aquarium plants maintain the ecosystem of the aquarium. However, the thick plant cover stimulates the habitat of some fish species.

So far we have answered our primary question “Can an aquarium have too many aquarium plants?” we will now move to the benefits of aquatic plants.

Advantages of aquarium plants

There are benefits of the plants in your aquarium. The first one is the plants convert carbon dioxide (CO2) into biomass and then into oxygen which is utilized by the fish and in this way the aquarium plants benefit the aquarium. The oxygen aerates the tank and provides oxygen to the fish underwater.

The second reason is the aquarium plants gobble up the ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates which build up in the fish tank. In this way, they play an important role in the regulation of the ecosystem and the health of the fish in the aquarium.

The third benefit is the nitrogen cycle by which they remove the harmful nitrites, nitrates, and ammonia from the fish tank. Beneficial bacteria play an important role in this process. 

The fourth benefit is the plants in the wild help fish to hide from the predators, build nests and find food. Aquatic plants are a part of the natural habitat of plants.

The fifth benefit is plants act as a cover for most of the fish. In the wild, the plant covers the river. In this way, it saves the fish from bird predators or other fish predators. The plant cover also protects the fish from the direct sunlight and most of the fishes lay their eggs in plant cover. If you are a fish breeder you need to provide such kind of cover to the fish to encourage her to lay eggs

Many fish are herbivores or carnivores. The aquatic plants are a great source of diet for the herbivores and the carnivores fishes. The aquatic plants are not good for goldfish as they eat it to the root. The aquatic plants are good for aquatic shrimp. The aquatic shrimp can easily scavenge food. They love to eat leftovers from the plants as their source of diet.

Disadvantages of an aquarium too many plants in the aquarium

Here are the reasons why an aquarium shouldn’t have too many aquarium plants:

Plant respiration at night

You know that there is no light at night and the plants cannot perform photosynthesis at night, that is why they consume oxygen and release carbon dioxide. This is a natural phenomenon of the plants.

If you have too many plants in the aquarium, they will consume more oxygen at night and your fish will be left with little or no oxygen at night.

If you did not switch off your carbon dioxide source then gradually as the night passes the carbon dioxide builds up in the aquarium and your fish feels suffocated.

At night there is a competition among the plants and the fish for oxygen. If you have too many plants then surely the winner will be plants and you end up finding your fish dead or begging for oxygen at the surface of the water in the aquarium. This is why an aquarium shouldn’t have too many aquarium plants.

Make sure you have switched off your carbon dioxide source so that your aquarium ecosystem remains calm and your fish flourish in the ecosystem.

Lack of nutrients in the aquarium

We know that plants feed on ammonia, nitrites and nitrates in the aquarium. Our aquarium is running on high nitrogenous waste because the aquarium is small as compared to large ponds or rivers and the nitrogenous waste built up in the aquarium is more as compared to the nitrogenous waste built up in the ponds or rivers.

The plants also feed on other elements too like carbon dioxide, potassium and iron. If you have too many plants in the aquarium they will deplete all the nutrients from the aquarium and your fish will be left with no nutrients in the aquarium. In this way your fish will be dead soon due to malnutrition, that is why an aquarium shouldn’t have too many aquarium plants.

Here are the things you need to give your aquarium plants to keep the cycle of the ecosystem running:

The first thing is the aquarium lighting. If you provide your plants with enough light they will perform their activity more effectively and will not be dead due to lack of nutrition.

LED lights are far the best option in the market. You can set up an LED light( blue in colour) in the aquarium to provide your plants with enough lightning. LED lights provide a tailored high-PAR (photosynthetically active radiation) which is essential for photosynthesis.

The lights that are in the form of the spectrum are not good for photosynthesis so you need to select very carefully the right LED light for your aquarium plants. Layering in low light plants is the best technique for the lush growth of plants. For example, Java Fern in case of high light requirement plants like Amazon Sword promotes the growth of these plants. 

You need to provide enough space for the growth of plants. Java Fern also works well with betta fish.

The second thing in the growth of aquarium plants is CO2. CO2 is essential for the growth of plants. There is unlimited CO2 available in the atmosphere but plenty of it diffuses in the water. 

If you are not using a CO2 injection, your plants will consume the CO2 production by the fish which is not enough for them. As a result, depletion of CO2 causes the death of plants. This is why an aquarium shouldn’t have too many aquarium plants.

Plants convert CO2 into biomass and then convert biomass into oxygen which is utilized by the fish. In case enough carbon dioxide is not present enough in the water the plants will not be able to produce enough oxygen and eventually it will affect your fish.

You need to add carbon dioxide supplements in the aquarium by using paintball CO2 regulators so that the plants have enough carbon dioxide for their survival and growth. When you inject CO2 it creates bubbles.

The paintball CO2 regulators fit onto 12-24 oz paintball canisters, which are filled from the paintball supply store for as low as $4. This can supply carbon dioxide to your aquarium for at least 1 to 3 weeks depending upon the size of the aquarium.

The next thing is the fertilizers. Fertilizers are not that important but still, the aquarists buy it more and more. If you’re not providing your plant with enough light and CO2 then you are providing the opportunity for green algae growth in the fish tank. 

The more plants you have in the fish tank the more fertilizer you need to feed them well. Fertilizers contain nitrogenous material which is essential for the growth of plants. It also contains other trace elements like potassium. Plants also get potassium from the waste material of the fish.

There are many plant substrates like Seachem Flourite which contains all the essential trace elements to feed your plant. The more the plants are in the aquarium the more fertilizer you need to feed them.

Dead leaves and decay products

If you have a few plants in the aquarium that is not a mess because they decay a few leaves. The decaying leaves release carbon and nitrogen and it is a serious problem.

If an aquarium has too many aquarium plants they will build up mulm which cover the substrate and pollute it. You can get rid of mulm by changing the water over a period of time.

Precautions while adding aquatic plants

Although most of the plants are safe to add to your aquarium, some of the plants have problems that you need to know about. Some sellers of aquatic plants add chemical pesticides to increase the growth of plants. Such plants are harmful to your aquarium and you should choose very carefully in case of your aquarium.

Some plants are infested by planaria, snails and other hitchhikers. Some plants even carry the disease or the fungus in it. This will surely damage your aquarium’s natural environment and you will soon realize that you have made the wrong choice. You need to quarantine the plants for a week before introducing it to your fish.

Plant destroying fish

It is very rare that your planted tank damages your fish but it is very common that your fish takes down the entire 75 gallons planted aquarium. You need to make sure that the fish you are selecting is not dangerous for your plants.

Following are some plant destroying fish:

The first one is the Plecos fish. This fish is a scavenger. They are active at night and uproot the plants when searching for debris and leftovers.

The second fish is Goldfish. Goldfish are grazers of the aquarium. This fish loves to graze all day long and can finish your planted aquarium.

The third one is the Cichlids. One of the habits of this fish is rooting through their substrate which is not good for your planted aquarium.


In this article “Can an aquarium have too many aquarium plants?” we have discussed the benefits and the disadvantages of aquatic plants and we know about the fish that cause destruction of aquatic plants.

Feel free to ask anything about “Can an aquarium have too many aquarium plants?” in the comment section below.

FAQ; Can an aquarium have too many aquarium plants?

Frequently asked questions of “Can an aquarium have too many aquarium plants?” are:

Is it hard to keep live plants in an aquarium?

No, it is not hard to keep a planted aquarium. It is as easy as keeping a single fish in an aquarium. Oxygen is important for fish and carbon for plants.

Can Too Much Light kill aquarium plants?

Yes, it may kill your plants. Too much light promote algae growth which covers the aquarium and do not allow the light to reach the plants. The light should be kept on for 8 hours only.

Why are all my aquarium plants dying?

Not giving them enough light, not suitable pH of the aquarium for a particular plant and lack of iron are the main reasons why your plants are dying. If the leaves turn yellow it is an iron deficiency. This is why an aquarium shouldn’t have too many aquarium plants because its maintenance is very difficult.

Will Live plants help cycle my tank?

Yes, live plants will help the cycle to keep running by consuming all the ammonia and carbon dioxide and converting it into oxygen.

Do fish like fake plants?

Yes, fish like fake plants because it gives them a place to hide, but it doesn’t provide nutrients and other benefits to the fish in the aquarium.

Should I remove dead plants from the aquarium?

No, you shouldn’t remove the plants because they provide carbon to other plants in the tank. You only need to remove the dead leaves in the aquarium.


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