Can you leave aquarium plants in pots

Can you leave aquarium plants in pots?

Aquarium plants are exquisite brushstrokes of nature within the aquatic canvas of aquariums. These plants create a harmonious balance of beauty and function inside the terrariums. They oxygenate the water, provide shelter for aquatic life, and help control algae growth. But when we talk about practicality, a question that always pops up in our minds is, “Can you leave aquarium plants in pots?”

Yes, you can leave aquarium plants in pots, especially if you want to quarantine or control their growth. Potted plants are convenient for transplanting and maintenance. However, there is no rule of thumb here, but it comes with a few general guidelines and specific needs for each aquarium plant while leaving them in pots.

So, are you interested in creating a lush green and vibrant underwater world for your fish and other aquarium creatures? Do you have concerns about the health of your aquarium plants before leaving them in pots? Let’s dive deeper into the world of insights about whether aquatic plants thrive better if their roots are planted in substrates or pots.

Can you leave aquarium plants in pots?

Yes, you can leave aquarium plants in pots, but you need to ensure they don’t become root-bound or hinder the overall health of your aquarium’s ecosystem. There are a few principles and guidelines you need to follow to take care of your potted aquarium plants. Let’s see what those guidelines are:

  • Check the water level in the pot first, as water plays a vital role in the well-being of your aquarium plants. Make sure it doesn’t drop below the base of your aquarium plants. So, a correct water level will keep your aquatic plants safe and healthy.
  • Secondly, take care of your aquarium’s humidity levels and light adequacy. If the humidity levels and light of the aquarium are adequate, your plants stay healthy.
  • Last but not least, your aquarium plants breathe, and they need a little movement occasionally. So, move them in the aquarium and change their fixed location after some days. It’ll have a positive impact on them.

You know, every aquarium plant is a bit different, and so their care is also different. For example, aquatic plants like java ferns, swords, etc., grow slowly but last longer. So, they’ll grow better if you keep them inside a small or closed aquarium.

On the flip side, commercially available aquarium plants require large aquariums, and they don’t last longer than 3 to 5 years. Still, hobbyists and plant enthusiasts cultivate many species of these aquatic plants in their homes. Certain aquarium plants have a high tolerance level to survive in dry habitats compared to others.

That’s why it is always advisable not to move them frequently within your aquarium because they settle down better into their substrate easily when dry. If you relocate them, their roots get damaged, and, in many cases, the aquarium plants die. So, every aquarium plant requires different guidelines to flourish better.

Are pots safe for aquarium plants?

Yes, there is no doubt that pots are super safe for aquarium plants. Moreover, pots are a suitable option for specific aquatic setups, but you need to consider the following to prevent any damage or loss to your aquarium plants:

  • It’s crucial to choose pots made from non-toxic materials.
  • Monitor plant health to prevent root entanglement or overcrowding within the pot.
  • As you know, pots do not hold as much water as aquariums can, so it’s important to keep balancing the water level of pots. So, make sure that the water level within the pot stays either at the base of your plant or just slightly below it to prevent drowning or overwatering.
  • Always try to use pots that have drainage holes. Also, I prefer to use potted media that has sphagnum peat moss rather than soil. In this way, your aquarium plant will get enough oxygen.

Thus, pots provide containment and control over aquarium plants’ growth if they are properly used inside the aquarium. Ultimately, the choice depends on the needs of the plants and the preferences of the aquarists for aquascaping.

What types of pots are safe to use for aquarium plants?

leave aquarium plants in pots

Pots made from synthetic materials like polypropylene, PVC, and polystyrene are generally safe and suitable for aquarium plants. These materials are commonly used inside the aquatic setup and sound relatively safer than others. Furthermore, these pots lack harmful chemicals.

You can easily sterilize them with just boiled water. If you want to use pots made up of plastic, glass, and ceramic, you can use them for your aquarium plants. However, to prevent corrosion on these pots, it’s necessary to apply a sealant on them.

If you are using glass or ceramic pots, don’t try to clean them with a strong detergent. Many aquarists buy pre-packed pots of plastic. These pots are safe, but some of them have chemicals that dissolve into the aquarium’s water. As a result, your aquatic plants, fishes, and tank mates start feeling suffocation.

How big should my aquarium plant plot be?

There is no hard and fast rule about the exact size of an aquarium plant pot. But always remember that your pot must not occupy much space in your aquarium. Otherwise, your fish 🐠 ( especially Barbs and Danios) and other aquatic animals will limit their activities and start living in a conservative environment.

Additionally, the pot size depends on various other things, such as:

  • Size of the aquarium
  • Size of fish
  • Reasonably available space inside the aquarium
  • The weight-bearing capacity of the aquarium
  • Type of fish tank

So, I’m going to suggest a few general sizes of pots here:

Tank/Aquarium sizePot size
1-gallon tanks/aquariums (3.8 liters)6-inch pots or up
10-gallon tanks/aquariums (37 liters)12-inch pots or up
20-gallon tanks/aquariums (76 liters)24-inch pots or up
30-gallon tanks/aquariums (113 liters)40-inch pots or up
55-gallon tanks/aquariums (150 to 170 liters)55-inch pots or up
80+ gallon tanks/aquariums (200 liters)60 to 70-inch pots or up

Thus, the bigger the size of your aquarium, the bigger the aquarium plants, so the suitable size of pots will be bigger.

How do you plant aquarium plants in pots?

Various methods and techniques exist for potting aquarium plants. But I prefer to take the following steps to plant aquarium plants in pots:

  • Amend soil and water: Make sure you amend the soil and water in your pots with a suitable planting mix. Do it before adding aquatic plants. Also, the mix must contain essential nutrients (liquid fertilizers or root tabs) and substrate for aquarium plant growth.
  • Add aquatic plants: Now, plant the aquatic plants in the pots. Plus, well spread their roots in the amended soil. You can use stones or weights to secure them from floating.
  • Regular watering: Keep the soil in the pots consistently moist. For this purpose, water them regularly.
  • Variety for your tank: Consider a mix of large and small potted plants in your aquarium. This tip will give you an adaptable and visually appealing aquatic environment.

Thus, you can see that planting aquarium plants in separate or identical pots is similar to transplanting plants in the substrate or the tank.

Why should you use pots for aquarium plants?

Here are a few benefits of using pots for aquarium plants:

  • Pots control the overgrowth of roots and prevent them from spreading all over the aquariums.
  • Potted plants can strategically create a sense of organized and structured aquariums. They enhance the overall aesthetics of your tank.
  • It is easy to move and remove potted plants when you want to do trimming, replanting, or cleaning. This simplifies aquarium upkeep.
  • Pots for aquarium plants are ideal for tanks with specific substrates, where direct planting is challenging and messy.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. Do you leave aquarium plants in plastic pots when planting?

No, you typically do not leave aquarium plants in their plastic pots when planting them in your aquariums. The plastic pots, in which they come are temporary containers for transportation and sale.

To properly plant aquarium plants, you should remove them from plastic pots and follow the proper planting steps. You can plant them in an aquarium substrate or a new safe pot.

  1. Should I remove rock wool from aquarium plants?

Yes, you should remove rock wool from aquarium plants. Rock wool is a growth medium for aquatic plants during cultivation and transport. Therefore, there is no need to use them when your aquatic plant has reached its destination/aquarium.

  1. Can aquarium plants grow in gravel?

Yes, many aquarium plants can grow in gravel, but not all plants survive only in gravel. If you choose the right type of plant and take care of those plants, gravel alone will be enough for them. Still, nutrients and proper substrates will be required for the well-being of aquarium plants.


So, “Can you leave aquarium plants in pots?” is a viable option for many aquarists. It is an excellent way to maintain aggressive and fast-spreading plant species. However, choosing suitable pots is essential because aquarium plants need a reliable and chemical-free pot to survive and thrive. Ultimately, I think the decision to leave aquarium plants in pots is based on specific requirements of the plant’s species and the aquarist’s choice. 

I hope you enjoyed reading about the care and maintenance of aquarium plants in pots. If you have suggestions and queries, let me know here. I would be happy to add your concerns and answer your questions.