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 aureum) is a very popular houseplant that also has the nickname “devil’s ivy” because of its extreme hardiness. It is extremely hardy and can survive in almost all lighting conditions. Pothos is often found in aquariums as well as in hydroponic systems, bioactive terrariums and aquaponic systems. 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 great natural filtration solution for aquariums with plant-eating fish such as uaru cichlids.
How to Use Pothos In Aquariums
You can easily find pothos on the cheap at your local hardware store or plant nursery. 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.
If you’re really on a budget, you can even start with just a single pothos leaf from a friend, and it will readily grow roots in water. However, for faster growth, we prefer to use a little plantlet that already has some established roots. Make sure to thoroughly wash off all the dirt and fertilizer on the roots so that it won’t adversely affect your aquarium’s water chemistry.
Separate your pothos into individual plantlets with 2 to 4 leaves each, and thoroughly wash the roots to remove any dirt and fertilizer.
Keep plant-eating fish safe by placing the pothos in a hang on-back filter. It should be placed far from the motor compartment of the filter to ensure that roots don’t get into the filter and block it. You can place the roots of your fish directly in the aquarium with the leaves still growing. To prevent the plant from falling in, you should cover it with an aquarium lid.
Remove lid from hang-on-back filter and “plant” pothos in a media compartment. If you need to trim the roots, do so in the future.
Eventually, the pothos will grow into a long vine, which you can guide to climb up the wall or along some shelving. Its long, stringy roots will create a beautiful jungle for your fish to swim in and out of, and you can always trim them if they get too dense. A stem or leaf can be easily removed and transplanted into other tanks. With its amazing ability to keep nitrate levels and algae growth down, pothos might be the best filtration you can buy for less than $5!
Pothos plants provide excellent biological filtration and long roots for your fish to hide and swim in.
To find out how often you need to do water changes on your aquarium, download our free infographic that guides you step-by-step through the process.