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? Pothos plants are the best choice for 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. Keep reading for more information about nature’s miraculous gift 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. Pothos is very hardy and can survive in low light conditions. Pothos is used in many aquariums. It can also be found in hydroponic systems or bioactive Terrariums. It is toxic to cats, dogs and other pets if it is ingested. However, we haven’t seen any reports of fish suffering from this poisoning.
Pothos is a natural filtration option for aquariums that house plant-eating fish like uaru cichlids.
How to Use Pothos In Aquariums
You can easily find pothos on the cheap at your local hardware store or plant nursery. You don’t have to buy large pothos plants, as they grow quickly in aquariums that have high bioloads. We bought the smallest pot for $4 and were capable of separating it into six to ten small 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. We prefer to start with a small plantlet with established roots for faster growth. To ensure that your aquarium’s water chemistry is not affected by fertilizer and dirt, thoroughly clean the roots.
Separate your pothos into individual plantlets with 2 to 4 leaves each, and thoroughly wash the roots to remove any dirt and fertilizer.
If you keep plant-eating fish, stick the pothos in a hang-on-back filter to keep it out of harm’s way. 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. 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. To prevent the plant from falling in, you should cover it with an aquarium lid.
Remove the lid on the hang-on-back filter, and “plant” the pothos in a filter media compartment as far away from the motor as possible. Trim the roots in the future if needed.
The pothos will eventually grow into a vine that you can guide to climb the wall or along shelves. Your fish will love the jungle created by its long, stringy roots. If they get too dense, you can trim them. You can also easily remove a stem or leaf to propagate it into another tank. Pothos may be the most affordable filtration system you can purchase for as low as $5.
Pothos plants not only provide excellent biological filtration for your aquarium, but they also grow into a beautiful vine outside of the tank and provide long roots for fish to swim around and hide in.
Get our free infographic to find out how often water changes are needed for your aquarium.