We all know that a good quarantine program for fish, especially marine fish, is an excellent bio security measure when we add a new fish to our aquarium. We seldom think of this extra safety net when adding plants however. Plants are a source of all sorts of bad freshwater parasites and maladies.
When adding new aquarium plants we should take a few minutes to consider whether or not we really want to risk adding snails and other similar pests. Often times they go unnoticed until they are eating holes in your favorite slow growing centerpiece plant.
With just a few minutes of precaution you can help avoid these slips in aquarium husbandry. It doesn’t take very long, it is easy to do, and almost everyone already has the things available on hand to help ensure that you enjoy your aquarium to the fullest.
When you get your plants whether they be from your local aquarium shop or from the Unites States Postal Service delivery you should inspect them carefully for pests and health. Some plants can be shipped as a rhizome and will grow back, like cryptocoryne. Melted cryptocorynes are not a major problem and should grow back if they are healthy. Mainly the culprits are snails and certain types of algae.
To help avoid maladies introduced through an absence of biosecurity in plants you can make a solution of bleach and water to soak your plants in. A 1:20 part solution is enough for a brief soak. Adding one part bleach to 20 parts water is sufficient to kill pathogens and snails eggs yet gentle enough to not kill your new plants.
The volume of two quarts of water is 64 ounces and to get a solution of 1:20 parts you need to add about ⅜ of a cup of bleach or 3 ounces to the first quart jar of water and fill with water then add another quart of water to that in a tub or large bowl. If you don’t’ have a ⅜ cup measurement then a little under ½ a cup will suffice.
Soak the plants in a tub or in the sink for about 30 seconds for stem type plants. Sturdy plants like anubias can handle up to about 2 minutes but be careful not to push the limitations of these more hardy plants. Moss on average can take about 45 seconds to be on the safe side.
Once they have been in their respective bleach bath to rid them of parasites, snails, and other bad guys rinse them in clean tap water. A similar tub or tray will work best to transfer the plants into once the time is up in their chlorine based bath. Dumping the water out and filling it gently with tap water will also work if you have no other containers. Use care in draining the bleach water and adding tap water to prevent pulverizing your plants. A second rinse is good practice just to make sure everything is cleaned sufficiently before adding the plants to your tanks.
This method should remove snail eggs or at least make them non viable and not hatch in your tank. Snail eggs will look like a pea sized glob of matter on the plants, often on the underside. Remember that not all snails are necessarily bad but when we don’t know it makes sense to take precautions.
This simple and quick step is a great way to take biosecurity steps to maintaining an aquarium. Just as you would quarantine fish before adding them to your aquarium you should take precautions when adding plants as well. Your aquarium health and well being may be riding on your practices when incorporating new plants into an established tank.