Live Plants Vs. Fake Plants

When you are setting up your fish tank, the decor is a big decision. One of the choices that need to be made is if you want to have live plants, or fake plants. There are pros and cons for either choice.

Live Plants

Natural Look

One of the biggest pros for many enthusiast for keeping live plants is the natural look. When setting up a home for fish, most people want it to look as authentic and realistic as possible. This can only be truly accomplished by having a full ecosystem. Nothing looks more realistic and natural than having real plants in the aquarium.

Natural Filtration and Oxygen

Another big benefit of having live plants in the aquarium is the benefits they have on the ecosystem. Plants will take in CO2 from the tank, and give off O2. It is important to make sure that there is enough oxygen in your tank, and having a heavily planted tank is one way to assure that instead of having airstones. Besides just taking in CO2, they also will absorb some of the waste in the aquarium and use that as fertilizer. They will take in some ammonia which is very harmful to fish. By having plants, it helps reduce the chance of lethal ammonia spikes from occuring in the tank.

Reduction in Algae

Since plants use up a lot of nutrients in the tank, they compete with the algae that also grows. Algae tends to be slow growing, whereas there are a lot of fast growing plants. These fast growing plants will consume a lot of the key nutrients, essentially starving out the algae. Having live plants will not completely take away all algae in your tank, it will however greatly reduce the amount as long as there are fast growing plants.


When selecting the plants that you want to keep, you can determine how much time and money you want to invest. There are plenty of low maintenance and hardy plants that will thrive with little care. However, there are a lot of plants that are very needy with light, substrate, CO2 conditions and a need for fertilizer. So this leaves it up to the tank keeper on which path they wish to pursue. You can either go for easy going hardy plants, or if you want a challenge and don’t mind spending the money, you can challenge yourself and get more needy plants. It is very satisfying being able to make difficult plants thrive.

Fake Plants

Easy to Care

The biggest advantage that fake plants have is them being nearly indestructible. There are plenty of fish that will eat or uproot live plants. By having fake ones, you don’t have to worry about all the money you spend being thrown away by some mean fish. They also only really require being cleaned every few weeks, depending on the cleanup crew you have in your tank.

Parasite Free

When purchasing live plants, there is always a risk of them having some freeloaders with them that can infest your tank. Snails are the most common culprit of doing this. However, with fake plants, you know that you are not introducing an unwanted species into your aquarium.

Not Permanent

Fake plants are a great way to test out what you want for your tank. They are relatively cheap, so if you get something that you don’t like, you can always take it out and hold onto it without completely losing your money. There might be a time down the road where that plant would look great. If you have real plants, you have to put it in the tank unless you are going to kill it. With fake plants you always have the choice of when and where to place them in the tank.

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