Above the Water’s Surface: A Guide to Emersed Plant Growth

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Aquarium plants are beautiful beneath the water’s surface, and bring an element of life and natural beauty to any tank. But growing plants above the surface of the water adds an interesting element suited to tanks that are partially land, like a paludarium.

First of all, what are emersed plants? Simply stated, it’s when a plant roots beneath the water’s surface and the plant portion grows above the water’s surface. To accomplish this, plants need a few key things to be successful. The first of these elements is light. Plants always require light, so this shouldn’t come as a big surprise.

Related: Paludariums Have Room For More Than Just Fish

However, lights above aquariums tend to throw off heat, which brings us to our next point – humidity. The plants cannot grow above the water if the environment is dry, so they need a warm and damp area. To accomplish this, a simple glass canopy between the light and the open space above the water usually accomplishes that goal.

That is the basics of how to grow plants above the water level, but why would you want to do this? First of all, those who keep paludariums, and even terrariums, know the importance of plant life for aquatic, and amphibian creatures. Not only is it beneficial to provide a natural environment that filters the air and water for the inhabitants, but it is also exceptionally beautiful. Some aquatic plants flower once they reach the water’s surface, like lilies.

Related: What Plants Can I Pair with Plant-Eating Fish?

Emersed plants are not specifically for aquariums, either. They can bring a gorgeous element to ponds and small outdoor water features as well. Lilies, cattails, various bushes, and some stem plants all fall into this category that can offer an extra element of nature to your backyard pond or water feature.

Many of the plants we grow in aquariums are mass grown in an immersed state, but few people realize that these plants are capable of growing out of the water. So next time you’re looking for a new and different project, why not try an emersed plant tank and see just what you can do!

summerSummer Davis is the mom of three kids, four dogs, and several tanks of fish. She boasts a passion for all animals, whether they are in the water or on land. This fish aficionado has kept many different species in her time, but holds a special place in her heart for wild and domestic bettas. When she’s not talking about fish, Summer “spins” her extra time as the director of a baton twirling organization.