Spider plants are known for being super hardy, and can be propagated in water, but can you put a spider plant in an aquarium and expect it to grow properly?
Spider plants can be grown in aquariums, but it does require more effort to ensure that the water is suitable for the plant to grow. You also need to consider the other care factors for the plant, as well as the fish themselves and how much space there is for the roots to develop.
I personally opt to grow my spider plants in soil, and in this guide, I’ll explain why and what you need to think about if you decide to grow yours in an aquarium.
Spider Plants And Water
Spider plants don’t have a huge water requirement, which is one of the reasons why they’re so popular as a houseplant.
They prefer moist soil, but not overwatered to the point that the roots are flooded with water. This can lead to issues such as root rot that can eventually kill an entire spider plant if not addressed.
In aquariums, this is completely different, as the water should (hopefully) be filtered continuously which means that bacterial and fungal issues should not be a problem. You’ll need to ensure that the water has a good nutrient profile though, as there won’t be any soil from which the plant can extract nutrients.
Spider plants are not fully submergible either, which means the leaves need to be kept out of the water (more on this later).
Pros Of Keeping Spider Plants In Aquariums
There are certainly some benefits to keeping spider plants in aquariums.
Spider plants thrive in humid environments, with humidity levels of between 50% and 70% being perfect for growth.
Humidity is naturally higher above bodies of water as the water evaporates from the surface slowly over time. In the case of an aquarium, the humidity right above the water will be higher than average, which is great for spider plants.
This is the theory behind using pebble trays to increase the humidity of other humidity-loving houseplants such as anthuriums.
No Need To Water
This one goes without saying, but if your spider plant is in an aquarium it will obviously not need any additional water.
This is quite handy, as during the summer months you would need to water a spider plant around once per week.
Aquarium water is packed full of nutrients from fish poop. These nutrients include the main three required for spider plant growth – nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium – which are the components of ‘complete’ plant fertilizing products.
Aquariums can also be treated with liquid fertilizers to further boost the nutrient profile of any plants that are being grown.
Enriches The Aquarium
Live plants are an amazing way to boost the aesthetic of an aquarium whilst providing enrichment for any fish inside.
There’s a reason why artificial plants are so popular for aquariums, but there really is nothing like using a real plant that will grow and change shape over time.
Cons Of Keeping Spider Plants In Aquariums
I choose to grow my spider plants in soil rather than in an aquarium and the reasons below outline why I came to this decision.
Spider plants are known to grow quite quickly, and if you’ve ever propagated a cutting in water you’ll know just how fast the roots will develop.
This means you’ll need quite a bit of space in your aquarium to allow for the roots to grow, which can be impractical in many cases (including mine).
Requires Very Good Filtration
Over the last year or so I’ve been experimenting with propagating multiple houseplants in water, and one thing I noticed is that mold growth can happen almost overnight if you aren’t careful.
In an aquarium, it is important to have a good filtration system, so this shouldn’t be a problem in most cases. It’s always a risk with any plants grown in water, though, and it does seem like a lot of houseplants are prone to growing mold in water (at least in my experience).
Type Of Fish
Some fish rely on plants as a source of food, which is bad news for any plants that you keep in your aquarium.
You’d be surprised how many types of fish eat plants, ranging from the common goldfish to plecos. If you want to keep a spider plant in an aquarium you’ll need to consider first what type of fish are in the aquarium in the first place, or what type of fish you want to keep if you are just starting out.
Keeping It In Place
While the roots should be fully submerged the leaves and the rest of the plant need to be kept out of the water.
Spider plants need plenty of bright, indirect sunlight.
This can be tricky because once an aquarium is in place it can be difficult to remove depending on the size. There are several ‘grow lights’ on the market that can provide the full spectrum of light, but this is an added cost and may interfere with any other plants you already have in your aquarium.
Making Your Own Decision
The answer isn’t exactly black and white when it comes to choosing to put a spider plant in an aquarium.
I would personally avoid placing one of my spider plants in an aquarium for the reasons mentioned previously. However, there are some plant owners out there who have had success with growing spider plants in aquariums.
It all comes to maintaining the quality of the water while providing the other crucial conditions for spider plant growth, like temperature and sunlight levels. It’s also important to consider the type of fish that you have in your aquarium and whether they would be suited to a spider plant or not.