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The fish and live plants in your tropical freshwater aquarium rely on each other for health and nutrition. But because they are in a closed environment, they also rely on the diligence of their caretaker. So, just as you would care for the well-being of your fishes, you must also take diligent care of your aquatic plants. Here are some tips to remember:

1. Provide the right amount of light. Most aquatic plants require about 10 to 12 hours of light exposure in order to thrive. Some need intense light (which is not the same as prolonged exposure) for proper growth. Research on the specific requirements of the plants you’ve chosen so that you can determine what type of lighting is appropriate.

2. Do regular check-ups and plant grooming. Trim dead or damaged leaves and branches, propagate by cutting or separating new growth, and remove plant-eating snails.

3. Fertilize. Aquatic plant fertilizers that are rich in nutrients like iron and potassium are available as pellets and in liquid form. Follow the product instructions on the quantity, schedule, and manner of applying these fertilizers.

4. Change some of the water. Aquarium plants play an active role in the tank's nitrogen cycle, but sometimes the water composition degrades into one that is not highly beneficial to plants anymore, in which case, refresh the quality of the environment by changing up to 20 percent of the tank water every couple of weeks. Be sure to de-chlorinate and check the temperature of the new water before introducing it into the tank.

5. Avoid introducing elements that are toxic to the plants. The standard manner of treating fish ailments is by dropping medication directly into the water. Unfortunately, many fish medications are harmful to plants, because they can affect leaf coloring and absorption of nutrients. Never pour anti-chlorine and water conditioners directly on the plants. When medicating fish, transfer them to an unplanted tank.

6. Be aware of indications of poor maintenance. When the tank’s conditions are less than ideal, you will see the effects on the plant leaves. Pale and widely spaced leaf growth is a sign of poor or insufficient light. Blackening of the leaves indicates pollution. Yellowing of the leaves is a sign of lack of nutrients like iron. And holes or damage indicates the presence of either snails or vegetarian fish. Attend to these distress signs immediately so that your aquarium garden will always be in good health.