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? It’s time to get a pothos plant for 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 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. 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 alternative for aquariums with plant-eating fish, like 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 bought the smallest pot for $4 and were capable of separating it into six to ten small plantlets.
Even if you are on a strict budget, you could start small with a single pothos leaves from a friend. It will quickly grow roots in water if it is able to. We prefer to start with a small plantlet with established roots for faster growth. You should thoroughly rinse off any fertilizer or dirt on the roots to ensure it doesn’t affect the water chemistry of your aquarium.
Separate your pothos into plantlets with 2-4 leaves each. Wash the roots thoroughly to get rid of any fertilizer.
To keep pothos from getting into the eyes of plant-eating fish, place it in a hang-on back filter. 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. You can place the roots of your fish directly in the aquarium with the leaves still growing. The aquarium lid should hold the plant in place so that it won’t fall in.
Remove and “plant” the pothos in an area with a filter media compartment that is as far from the motor as possible. If necessary, trim the roots.
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. A stem or leaf can be easily removed and transplanted into other tanks. With its amazing ability to keep nitrate levels and algae growth down, pothos might be the best filtration you can buy for 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.