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. While pothos won’t mechanically filter out particles from your tank water, they’re great at reducing nitrate levels (and algae growth) so that you don’t have to do as many water changes to keep your fish happy and healthy. Keep reading to learn more about nature’s miracle gift to fish keepers.
What is Pothos?
Pothos (Epipremnum ausreum), a houseplant very well-liked, has been given the nickname “devils ivy” for its extreme hardiness. It’s very difficult to kill and will survive even in very low light, nearly dark conditions. Pothos is often found in aquariums as well as in hydroponic systems, bioactive terrariums and aquaponic systems. It is toxic to cats, dogs and other pets if it is ingested. However, we haven’t seen any reports of fish suffering from this poisoning.
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 purchased at your local hardware or nursery for a very low price. There’s no need to buy a huge plant because pothos grows very quickly, especially in aquariums with heavy bioloads and lots of fish waste. We bought the smallest pot for $4 and were capable of separating it into six to ten small plantlets.
If you’re really on a budget, you can even start with just a single pothos leaf from a friend, and it will readily grow roots in water. For faster growth, however, we recommend using a tiny plantlet that has established roots. 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 the pothos into separate plantlets, each with 2 to 4 leaves. Clean the roots well to remove all dirt and fertilizer.
Keep plant-eating fish safe by placing the pothos in a hang on-back filter. The pothos should be kept away from the motor compartment and the impeller to prevent roots from growing into 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. The aquarium lid should hold the plant in place so that it won’t fall in.
Remove the lid on the hang-on-back filter, and “plant” the pothos in a filter media compartment as far away from the motor as possible. If you need to trim the roots, do so in the future.
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. Plus, you can easily cut off a stem or leaf and propagate it into other tanks in the future. Pothos may be the most affordable filtration system you can purchase for as low as $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.
Download our infographic to learn how often your aquarium needs water changes. It will guide you step by step through the entire process.