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. Although pothos will not mechanically filter out particles, they are great at reducing nitrate (and algae) levels in your aquarium water so you don’t need to make as many water changes to keep your fish happy. Keep reading to learn more about nature’s miracle gift to fish keepers.
What is Pothos?
Pothos (Epipremnum Aureum) is a popular houseplant. It also gets the nickname “devil’s ivy” due to its extreme hardiness. It is extremely hardy and can survive in almost all lighting conditions. You often see pothos used not only in aquariums, but also in hydroponic systems and bioactive terrariums. 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
Pothos can be easily found at your local hardware shop 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.
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. 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 plantlets with 2-4 leaves each. Wash the roots thoroughly to get rid of any 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 the fish isn’t aggressive to the pothos, the roots can be placed directly in the tank. The plant’s leaves will grow out of the water. You should secure the aquarium lid to keep the plant in place and prevent it from falling in.
Remove lid from hang-on-back filter and “plant” pothos in a media compartment. Trim the roots in the future if needed.
Eventually, the pothos will grow into a long vine, which you can guide to climb up the wall or along some shelving. 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 is a great filtration option that can keep nitrate levels down and algae growth at bay. It costs less than $5.
Pothos is a plant that provides excellent biological filtration to your aquarium. It also grows into a beautiful vine and provides long roots for fish to use as a hiding place.
Get our free infographic to find out how often water changes are needed for your aquarium.