How to (and Should You) Grow A Pothos Plant in an Aquarium?

pothos plant in aquarium header
As a nature lover, I’ve always wanted to fill my aquariums with as many plants as possible, including houseplants.

Golden pothos was one of the few plants I avoided experimenting with in my aquariums because I knew it wouldn’t go well with my other pets.

Unfortunately, for some reason I lost my furry friends and the only pets I had left were my fish.

This prompted me to thoroughly research the pothos plant and find out if I can finally plant it in my aquarium.

Here is what I found.

Can you grow pothos in your aquarium?

The pothos plant is a popular houseplant that is relatively undemanding in terms of care.

Its popularity can be attributed to the fact that it can be grown both in soil and in water.

Naturally, this leads many of its owners to wonder if it can also be grown in their aquarium. Here’s if you can grow pothos in your aquarium:

The pothos plant is a popular houseplant that can also be grown hydroponically. As a result, it is good at extracting enough oxygen from water to support its own growth and can be used as an aquarium plant.

Pothos also feeds on fish water nitrate, which helps in the maintenance of your aquarium.

One good thing about pothos is that you can grow it either emerged or fully submerged underwater.

Whichever option you choose, the plant will grow very quickly.

pothos climbing the wall

by ArtsySAHM

If it is fully submerged, you will see its leaves and roots begin to crawl underwater in a very short time.

However, one thing I learned from my research is that while pothos can live in water, its lifespan decreases when you put the whole plant under water.

Generally, it should last between five and ten years when maintained properly.

But if you submerge it completely, your plant’s lifespan will be closer to five years than ten.

Prolonged exposure to water is also the cause of root rot reported by some fish farmers.

My recommendation is to make sure at least part of the plant is exposed to the air.

Even if it’s just a few leaves, let them emerge.

Ideally, only the roots and stem should be submerged while the rest of the plant (which is basically all the leaves) remains above your tank.

Such a setup will give you the best results because the leaves get all the air they need while the roots stay in direct contact with the water, where they can suck up the nitrate.

Overall, pothos is a great and safe plant to have in a freshwater aquarium.

It can be kept with a variety of aquatic species such as Betta fish, Discus fish and goldfish.

And even though it has the creepy name devil’s ivy, it actually brings many benefits to an aquarium.

Here are some benefits of growing pothos in water with fish:

  • Eliminates nitrates. Pothos uses nitrates as nutrients. For this reason, it is excellent for regulating aquarium water quality.
  • Helps control algae.

    An algal bloom sucks nutrients into a planted aquarium.

    It also deprives the aquarium of oxygen and turns the water green.

    A good way to avoid this is to regulate nitrates (which act as fertilizer for algae) by growing pothos in aquariums.

  • It is fish proof.

    Omnivorous fish often eat plants and their roots. The good thing about pothos is that it has incredibly strong roots that even goldfish can’t eat or chew.

  • Coverage offers.

    The long-growing roots of a pothos aquarium plant provide cover for fish fry.

  • Cosmetic benefits.

    In my opinion, an aquarium (or any aquarium for that matter) looks best with plants in it or on it.

    The fact that you can have pothos emerged or fully submerged underwater means you can use them to enhance the aesthetic appeal of your aquarium.

How to grow pothos in your aquarium?

If you want to grow pothos effectively in an aquarium, start by placing a few of its cuttings in a separate container from the aquarium.

This allows the plant to develop roots. From there you can now transfer it to your aquarium.

Here is a step by step guide that you can easily follow.

It applies to all types of pothos, including golden and marbled pothos queen species.

1. Start with a few cuttings

rooted neon pothos cuttings

by LocksmithLittle2555

You don’t need an entire pothos aquarium plant. Getting a bite-sized cutting from a local nursery or garden store will get you the same results.

Alternatively, if you know someone who already has a pothos aquarium plant and is willing to help, you can ask them to prune a small seedling for you.

Once you have acquired the cuttings, take a few small ones and put them in a container with dechlorinated water.

In certain amounts, chlorine is toxic to houseplants. So it’s best to play it safe and avoid chlorinated water altogether.

Related: Does boiling water remove chlorine and chloramine?

Finally, place the container with your pothos cuttings in full sun.

This will help them develop roots.

2. Clean the roots

clean the roots of pothos

by joe

You can skip this step if your pothos plant has no roots.

If so, be sure to clean them thoroughly of any fertilizer and dirt.

This is especially necessary if you bought the cutting.

Chances are the seller used fertilizer to grow the pothos.

Introducing external compounds like fertilizers can negatively affect the water chemistry in your aquarium.

Such changes could affect the health of your fish, so you need to keep the aquarium ecosystem as natural as possible.

3. Transfer to the aquarium

pothos tied in betta tank

When the roots reach four to five inches in length, you can transfer the pothos cutting to your aquarium.

Be sure to anchor it so that only the roots and part of the stem are submerged in water.

In an ideal setup, the leaves should be above the water so that they can receive as much air as possible.

There are many creative ways to anchor your pothos, but the one I found the most useful was to make a plant holder using plastic ties and a suction cup mount.

This way you can attach the plant to the back of the aquarium using the suction cup and anchor it with the zip ties.

Fish don’t usually eat pothos, but if you have herbivorous fish, consider hooking pothos to your aquarium filter anyway.

This will ensure its safety by keeping it out of reach of fish.

Author’s note: Make sure the pothos aquarium plant is as far away from the filter motor as possible to prevent its roots from clogging it when they grow too long.

You can also place the roots in the sump of your saltwater aquarium.

This will limit how far they venture into the aquarium, so they will eventually form a clump.

4. Provide artificial light

pothos in an aquarium turned into a vine

by BeefinBenita

Pothos plants grow faster when exposed to artificial light. This, combined with the biological loads and fish waste in the aquarium water, will cause your plant to grow more leaves and roots within days.

Eventually, the pothos will grow into a beautiful vine that you can guide along the wall or along any structure near the aquarium.

If need be, you can always cut a stem to propagate the plant to another aquarium.

One important thing to mention is that pothos can, in fact, be left floating in an aquarium.

This is an option if you are sure your fish will not attack or try to eat the plant.

Simply insert its roots directly into the aquarium water and leave the leaves at the top of the tank.

The aquarium lid will hold the pothos in place and prevent it from falling.

Why is my Pothos plant not growing?

Besides ammonia, the other main nutrient that a pothos aquarium plant uses for food is nitrate.

If your pothos isn’t growing, chances are it’s lacking in both of these nutrients.

It may experience stunted growth, resulting in dry, brittle leaves.

Sometimes your pothos can do just fine until you transfer it to an aquarium and its leaves start to turn yellow.

This usually happens for one of the following reasons:

  1. You exposed the plant to direct sunlight
  2. He is not getting enough nutrients
  3. There is algae accumulating in the aquarium

browning pothos leaves

by jstar1226

There are a few things you can do to try and reverse leaf yellowing.

First, make sure the aquarium and pothos plant are some distance from direct sunlight.

Second, consider using an additional source of nutrients. Chances are that your aquarium waste is simply not enough to fuel your pothos’ growth.

This is especially the case if the aquarium contains only one or a few fish and if the species of fish does not generally produce a lot of waste.

Finally, check for algae buildup on the roots of the pothos. If there is, clean it out and place the aquarium out of direct sunlight.

This will encourage the pothos to grow more leaves and it can fight algae buildup on its own.

Last words

I hope this post has managed to convince you that having pothos in the water with fish is a good idea.

What I like the most about this plant is that it requires little to no effort to grow.

All you have to do is transfer a small cutting with roots to your aquarium, and it will grow into a beautiful vine.

That’s the other thing – pothos in an aquarium are quite aesthetically pleasing.

Throw a little artificial lighting in there and this plant can create a small visual stain in the room where you place it.

Just make sure it gets enough nutrients and is out of direct sunlight.

Otherwise, its leaves may begin to turn yellow.

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