Real Vs Fake Plants???

  • #1
HI everyone I'm new to the hobby and have established a 150l community tank for my water babies, I currently have plastic plants but I am considering switching over. Can anyone explain some pros and cons of both? And how easy is it to gravel vac with a planted tank?? Any info is great. Thanks!
  • #2
I would do a mix but some plants need lots of light but you can find low light plants so in my opinion I would do a low light plants and fake plant mix.

Reminder some plants will grow way to big and will take up a lot of space so I'll do a little research before choosing.
  • #3
I have all real plants and feel you shouldn't worry about vacuuming around/amongst them - it's not difficult.

Personally I think there are so many pros to having real plants, it would be hard to list them all. They'll be more work than fake if you decide to use fertilizers or need to trim them. But the benefits to the look of the tank and seeing the fish enjoying them - that alone makes the small amount of work worth it for me. : )
  • #5
I prefer live plants, but I found a couple of threads that may be interesting
  • #6

Pros - improve water quality, natural looking, huge variety of looks/appearances and types, much more aquascaping potential
Cons - can die, most require additional equipment and supplies, have to be maintained


Pros - last a very long time, don't die, no maintenance
Cons - artificial looking, do nothing for water quality
  • #7
REAL PLANTS ALL THE WAY! lol. I love my real plants. The only thing is to make sure you invest in a good light system and substrate.

Really, it depends on how much you're willing to spend. Real plants can be pricey to upkeep.
  • #8
Real plants ftw I agree. I went to PetSmart and bought an Amazon sword and it had with it 7 little Amazon swords (the lady didn't even know they were there so I just got those for no extra charge) and they grew like crazy. I also have some wisteria-whatever it's called. Not only do real plants provide more of a better hiding place. They grow over time and as I said earlier. Some reproduce easily and you get even more plants for free. Plus, if your fry need food they can always take a little nibble from the leaves. And they help with water quality too. Go real plants, but do your research on one before you buy one.
  • #9
Oh yeah, one con of real plants - the initial cost, depending on how many you buy.
  • #10
Well tbh the plastic plants I see PetSmart selling here in Canada are the same or more expensive as a real plant. You can probably go to a dollar store and a make a DIY one though.
  • #11
I've had both, though recently I've been using silk plants as they are softer and the risk of it injuring my current fish are greatly reduced versus the plastic kind ones.

When I had real plants I was actually enjoying them though some can be slow growers. Sometimes the foods and poop do get caught in bushes but when you use the vacuum to clean it just hover it over the plant and that should help out.

If you do want to venture into doing plants you can start with some easy plants like Anibus and Java ferns or Amazon Swords. They require low light and not much work. As you use different harder plants a lot of people will use CO2 to help the plants grow quicker and you'll have to buy ferts as well. So there's always the cost of more equipment and bottles.

PROS for plants:
-It makes your tank look beautiful and more natural looking.
-They are much cheaper than fake plants, though they do take time to grow.
-Some plants like Amazon Swords will produce "runners" so free weed for you to put in the sand.
-Lowers nitrates, or's one of the "N" words.

CONS for plans:
-As you get more acquainted with the plants you'll buy more stuff like CO2 and ferts and root tabs. Basically additional costs.
-Chance you'll have snails from them. They go like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
-If you don't cut them or prune them you'll have an over crowded lawn problem.

PROS for fake plants:
-They don't carry snails.
-They last forever.
-Easy to clean, pull it out of the ground and all that stuff come up (poop and food).
-You can relocate them much easier.
-They don't grow offspring's...if they do you have a special thing there.
-Easy to plant, nothing to cut.

CONS for fake plants:
-They are fake.
-They do collect algae.
-They can look lifeless, but depends on what you get.
-Harder plastic plants can cut fish. Go with the silk, cost more but looks some what more natural.
  • #12
I prefer real plants, always recommend them even to people new to the hobby. There are several easy no maintenance no special needs plants and they are commonly available. Anacharis, hornwort, anubias and dwarf lily basically require nothing but do benefit from having some sort of light on the tank. Swords and crypts come in tons of variety but many are good if you have an aquarium light that isn't obviously very dI'm and will survive without any additional care but do very well with a root tab every six months or so and of course trimming of dead leaves on occasion. And you always have the option to upgrade tank accessories and get plants that have more requirements if you choose to down the road.
  • #13
To me, a tank without plants is just wrong. It's a box. Fake plants are a waste of space, as good as they can look. I see zero benefits to them.

Real plants provide life to a tank. They combat algae, they nurture micro-organisms and they provide substrates at many levels for small fish to feed on. They filter, and they shade.

I'll be the extreme and say a tank without live plants can't be healthy. I guess the only exception is if you want species from no plant environments. Most of our small fish have evolved with plants, and the local plants have influenced camouflage patterns and entire lifestyles.

Would you rather live in a park/forest, or a parking lot?

When I was a kid, I had a box with plastic fish attached to the bottom with monofilament. I loved it - when you added water, they rose up and floated, and when you shook the table, they swam. Ish. That was a tank with good plastic plants. You could even carry it in your pocket.

It's like anything though - you have to think it through in advance. I only keep low light, aquatic shade plants in my tanks. I don't often use ferts, never CO2 and I have low tech lights. But I have jungle tanks with great plant growth - through having low light choices. I have bought high light needs plants, but I killed them. You learn.
Cori Elizabeth
  • #14
Real plants are good for participating to the ecosystem in the tank. Fake ones really aren't good for anything IMO
  • #15
This is my 20gal with guppies, snail, and ghost shrimp.Here are some pictures of what I was talking about. And when I meant little Amazon Swords I meant those runners. I counted and I shave a total of 8. Here are some pictures



  • #16
I can't think of a single con for live plants. If plants didnt exist I wouldnt keep fish at all. I refuse to keep tanks without plants, even my QT tanks had plants, they had jungles of hornwort.
  • #17
As pointed out. Plants provide filtering ,oxygen and food (for some fish). Fish provide some nutrients for the plants. Win Win.
  • Thread Starter
  • #18
Tank has only been setup for a few months but I will definitely make the switch to live plants, I'm unsure of the species but I have a friend with discus willing to give me some cuttings of his plants... they look similar to hornwort, maybe the nz species? Hoping to get some established in the tank within the next week... shall I update with before and after photos? I'm just hoping it doesn't end up as a snack before it has time to grow in
  • #19
I keep both live and fake plants, but I don't mix the two in the same aquarium. And just to bring a different perspective, I wouldn't say faux plants are completely useless either. They still keep my shrimp colony thriving and the majority of the babies safe enough to survive. My snails and shrimp also keep the plants nice and clean from algae; thus, they can be a bonus for growing food. Some of my fish even like to hide and explore in them as well. Although real is better, the denizens of your tank will still utilize faux plants to their benefit.


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