How to Use Pothos as a Natural Aquarium Filter
One of the reasons we love aquarium plants so much is because of their ability to absorb toxic nitrogen compounds (produced by fish waste) from the water, but what if you own fish or aquatic pets that are natural-born plant killers? You need a pothos plant to grow in your aquarium. While pothos won’t mechanically filter out particles from your tank water, they’re great at reducing nitrate levels (and algae growth) so that you don’t have to do as many water changes to keep your fish happy and healthy. Continue reading to discover more about this amazing gift from nature to fish keepers.
What is Pothos?
Pothos (Epipremnum ausreum), a houseplant very well-liked, has been given the nickname “devils ivy” for its extreme hardiness. It’s very difficult to kill and will survive even in very low light, nearly dark conditions. Pothos is used in many aquariums. It can also be found in hydroponic systems or bioactive Terrariums. The only caveat is that it is toxic to cats and dogs if ingested, but we have not found any reports of aquarium fish having problems with this plant.
Pothos is a natural filtration option for aquariums that house plant-eating fish like uaru cichlids.
How to Use Pothos In Aquariums
Pothos can be purchased at your local hardware or nursery for a very low price. Pothos can be grown quickly in large aquariums, so you don’t need to purchase a huge plant. We purchased the smallest size pot for $4 and were able to separate it into six to ten plantlets.
You can start small if you have a tight budget. A single pothos leaf borrowed from a friend will allow you to plant roots in water. However, for faster growth, we prefer to use a little plantlet that already has some established roots. You should thoroughly rinse off any fertilizer or dirt on the roots to ensure it doesn’t affect the water chemistry of your aquarium.
Separate your pothos into individual plantlets with 2 to 4 leaves each, and thoroughly wash the roots to remove any dirt and fertilizer.
To keep pothos from getting into the eyes of plant-eating fish, place it in a hang-on back filter. The pothos should be kept away from the motor compartment and the impeller to prevent roots from growing into it. If your fish won’t attack the pothos, you can put the plant’s roots directly into the tank with its leaves growing out of the water. The aquarium lid should hold the plant in place so that it won’t fall in.
Remove and “plant” the pothos in an area with a filter media compartment that is as far from the motor as possible. If necessary, trim the roots.
Eventually, the pothos will grow into a long vine, which you can guide to climb up the wall or along some shelving. Your fish will love the jungle created by its long, stringy roots. If they get too dense, you can trim them. Plus, you can easily cut off a stem or leaf and propagate it into other tanks in the future. Pothos is a great filtration option that can keep nitrate levels down and algae growth at bay. It costs less than $5.
Pothos is a plant that provides excellent biological filtration to your aquarium. It also grows into a beautiful vine and provides long roots for fish to use as a hiding place.
Download our infographic to learn how often your aquarium needs water changes. It will guide you step by step through the entire process.