Wednesday, 14 November 2012

How to Quarantine Aquatic Plants

So you finally bought home a nice aquatic plants... so do you put them directly into your tank?

My advice is DO NOT PLANT directly!! the reasons are fairly simple

  • LFS/Farm tanks/ponds are filthy may have pests like snail or even parasites
  • The plant you bought may being laced with pesticide , which is poisonous to shrimps and invertebrates 
So how do you actually clean them? there are several ways

1) Repeated rinse with tap water, soak in tap water for several hours; for me, i soak for 1-2 days .I will put it back into the plastic bag ( after cleaning) put in some water and let it float in the tank ( with light, it won't die so easily). During the soaking, you can monitor whether is there any hitchhiker floating/crawling around the bag.

2) Soak with anti snail/ diluted salt solution. The soaking is not 100% effective as i still can see some hitchhikers now and then. Note: must rinse the plant and soak it with tap water at least 2-3 times before introducing plants.

3) Soak with diluted bleach( warning, try this at your own risk) some people diluted bleach (1:10) and soak the plants in it for 1 minute. Then, rinse with anti chlorine treated water until there is no more chlorine smell. FYI: I did try this for algae infested plants and this does not work well with some plants as the plants withers away after few days. It works with some hardy plants like ferns...but i do not recommend it if you do not know what you are doing, just to share how it works.

4) It is best if you have a quarantine tank with lights, some fish and few cheapo shrimps to spare. This is to check whether there is any residue pesticide after your "proper" cleaning

The reason i wrote this because my friend (bluebubbles) and i accidentally bought some pesticide laced plants and caused few casualty despite we soak and quarantine it for several hours. 

After this incident, i always clean, soak, quarantine, try out with cheapo shrimp before introducing the plant into my shrimp tank... hope you guys learn from our experience...:)


Q: My cheap plants are like 1 dollar per bunch, so tedious to quarantine and clean them?
A: There are no right or wrong answer, some people just plant them and no problem at all but better play safe if you have sensitive critters

Q: My plants are cultures plants 10+ bucks, do i need to clean them?
A: My answer is yes, you still need to clean off the gels on their root. I find them rich in nutrient and causes some fungus growth

Q:my plants are expensive, i worry i might kill it
A: i do agree there is a chance for you to mess up and kill the plants. well at least flush it with de-chlorinated water and quarantine them if you have doubts

Q; my plants are emerge plants from farm, do i need to quarantine them?
A: yes, emerge plants may have pesticide too

Q;do you have expensive plants? how you manage to buy them
A; i buy from hobbyist, LFS, want to know how i buy them? pay money or exchange with my existing plants lah... hahaha

Q; I got no money, can you give me some plants?
A; i admit this hobby is not rewarding, i can't give you money or plant but i can show you how to earn some passive income, check out the below links.

Patric Chan's website
George Brandon's website

its better for me to teach you how to fish rather than pass you the fish directly.


  1. I quarantine in a heated and lit QT or in a clear plastic container with daily water changes near a window (if its a temperature tolerant plant).

    I leave plants in QT for 2 weeks as most parasites do not encyst on plants for longer than that (depends on temperature - in winter could take up to 3 or 4 weeks to be safe).

    Most plants tolerate an unheated container with dechlorinated water and natural daylight for 2 - 3 weeks. Some very sensitive plants may require a heated filtered tank with CO2 injection and ferts as a quarantine.

    I generally buy new fish and new plants at the same time and quarantine them together. When they're clear they all go into the display together.

    If you need to treat fish in QT with plant damaging meds then you can remove the plants to a separate container for a few weeks (changing the water daily). A few weeks without hosts should kill most parasites and their eggs.

    Some diseases (certain bacteria) can live without hosts for a month or more - these might require a dip treatment to rid the plant of it if the plant has come from an infected tank. I don't recommend bleach because it kills most plants as well as algae and bacteria. PP or H2O2 is safer for the plant (might be less effective on bacteria though). Make sure to research proper concentration to use as a dip before going ahead with it - too much will kill the plant.

    It always pays to be safe rather than sorry :)

  2. If you want to plant immediately just soak the plants for 3-5 minutes with a weak solution of potassium permanganate and water. Does the job nicely! :)

  3. Sorry, one caveat; that wont help pesticide removal though.....only kills pests and snails....

  4. I already planted my new plants in a brand new fishless tank and filled it with water... I really really don't want to dig them up and rinse them or dip them in something. Can't I just wait a few weeks before putting fish in? Will the plants survive without fish giving them nitrogen? Can i do a fishless cycle at the same time? If so, how do i do this?

    1. Depend on what plants you planted,some plants have higher demand then you may need to add fertilizer. Fishless cycle can be done, add ammonia source,have good aeration(air pump)....make sure you have sufficient biomedia for BB to grow in your filter. And check for ammonia,no2,no3 levels....