Is Pothos Good for Aquariums? Can You Submerge It?

Pothos (Epipremnum aureum) is a common household plant with many varieties to choose from. It grows into a trailing vine and I’ve seen most people allow it to climb and trail their aquariums. But, can you grow pothos inside your fish tank?

Pothos can grow and thrive in freshwater aquariums but not in saltwater fish tanks as excess salt will dehydrate and kill the plant. The plant will root easily in water but ensure its leaves are not submerged. Pothos tolerates low light conditions and can make a good biological filter for aquariums.

The plant can tolerate saltwater for a short period but will die if you leave it in a saltwater aquarium for extended periods.

Scientific NameEpipremnum aureum
Other namesDevil’s ivy; golden pothos, satin pothos
pH6.1 to 6.8
LightLow light to bright indirect light
Temperature70- 90°F
Water changeEvery 2–3 weeks
Size20–40 ft. long
ToxicityNot toxic to fish

Keep in mind that when selecting aquarium plants, you want to consider whether they are carpet, foreground, or midground plants. Also, whether or not the plant will need CO2 is quite key. Pothos in particular can help act as a biological filter that removes nitrates and other harmful compounds from your aquarium.

Pothos in Aquarium
Pothos roots submerged in aquarium water while the vines grow above water.

Can pothos be submerged in water?

Pothos plants can grow in water when partially submerged. Only the roots of the plant should be submerged in water. Although the plant is hardy, it will die if left immersed in water.

If you intend to add pothos to your aquarium, you want to make sure you hang it after rooting to prevent it from being submerged.

Inside a fish tank, humidity is not a major concern for golden pothos. The plant prefers a humidity range of 50-70%, which is quite normal for aquariums.

Pro tip: Pothos must not be completely immersed in water for an extended period. The plant is highly susceptible to chlorine and seawater, and for this reason, it will die fast if kept submerged for a long period. This is a common phenomenon that’s also referred to as aquarium plant melting. It can, however, be easily prevented.

Furthermore, water has no nutrients for the plant thus making stagnant water difficult to thrive in. Allow the roots to grow 4 to 5 inches before placing them into your aquarium. Pothos plants must have some of their tendrils protruding out of the water for this to happen. If the leaves become too dry, they will wilt and fall off.

Is pothos safe for aquariums?

Pothos plants are safe for aquariums and different types of aquarium fish. Goldfish, guppies, platies, and other fish can live in aquariums with pothos growing in them.

However, before adding one to an established tank, it’s crucial to know that some varieties contain more calcium oxalate than others. Pothos is toxic to other house pets like cats and dogs. It’s also toxic to some pet fish such as betta fish.


How to Add Pothos to Your Aquarium

Pothos plant care is simple. They’re low-maintenance houseplants that you may easily add to home aquariums. Here’s a step-by-step approach to assist you in introducing pothos plants to your aquarium and keeping them submerged.

Propagating

Pothos plants may be propagated using both leaves and vines. Cutting the tip of a vine will produce a new plant while cutting a leaf into parts or fragments will grow new pothos plants.

You may accomplish propagation in three ways:

  • Cuttings from the side shoots

You may take cuttings from the side shoots, which will grow roots and leaves in less than two weeks. This can only happen if submerged and secured with weed clamps or peat moss.

  • 4-inch piece of vine

You can propagate new plants by taking out a 4-inch piece of the vine and wrapping it around wet twigs for ten days. Turn it daily so that all surfaces come in contact with water. Fix it securely together at joints with twist ties or string, cut ends off, and plant as you would any plant. By doing this, you will establish an even watering cycle before fully submerging underwater within one week using fertilizer.

  • Stem cuttings

You can also propagate Pothos using stem cuttings or by layering its vines on the top of the tank’s substrate (gravel). 

Pothos plants are quite simple to cultivate and it doesn’t matter which technique you use. They don’t do well in salty water and thus salty aquariums arent for this plant. It can also be planted in the aquarium sump or the filter.

Adding a Rooted Pothos

Adding a rooted Pothos to an aquarium is very easy and has little chance for disaster, but there are some key things to note:

  1. First, purchase a rooted and healthy Pothos and plant it on the substrate of your aquarium.
  2. For vegetation, replace the light source with strong tubes. It’s ideal for keeping lights on for 8 hours and then turning them off for 12 hours.
  3. Watch for fresh shoots to develop approximately every 10 days. When picking, cut above the leaf joint intersection to help prevent shedding before the new growth develops. Cut only one stalk at a time so that other stalks continue to grow until they are ready to be harvested again in another 10-14-day period.

These aspects will ensure the plant starts off well and thrives as it grows. 

Hanging the Pothos in the Aquarium/Floating It in the Water

If you want to keep your Pothos alive and vibrant, the plant must adapt slowly. One way of doing this is by hanging them on driftwood or rocks to adjust gradually in an underwater environment over time. 

The steps to hanging your pothos plant in the aquarium are as follows:

  1. First, tie a knot near where the Fishing Line meets with another monofilament line.
  2. Secondly, wind the fishing line with the monofilament line at once making sure not to do it tightly as  damage may occur.
  3. Once done, hang Pothos on driftwood or rocks by its knotted end and allow vine ends to trail in the water. 
  4. After the Pothos plant has adjusted and grown new roots, you can then plant them in the substrate by removing the fishing line and carefully separating Pothos from driftwood or rocks to allow for planting.

All these steps should be done with care to avoid damaging the plant. Also, don’t submerge the leaves completely in the water while also making sure the marine life in your aquarium won’t damage the plants. Pothos might turn yellow after being transferred to the aquarium although this aquarium plant melting it’s temporary and it’ll recover soon afterward.

Benefits of Putting Pothos in Aquariums

Some of the benefits of having the pothos plant in your aquarium include the following:

Eliminates algae

The addition of a pothos plant to the aquarium will aid in the control of algae. When the amount of nitrates in the water reaches a dangerous level, algae growth can be seen. With regular maintenance, the pothos plant will help keep the nitrates at a low level, making the environment less suitable for algae development.

Provides hiding spots for fish

A pothos plant is an excellent addition to the aquarium environment because it provides shelter and hiding spots for the fish. Fish are social creatures that require plenty of space to live and thrive. However, some fish species, such as bettas or catfish, can become overly aggressive with their tank mates if they do not get enough hiding spots in the aquarium.

In such cases, smaller fish needs hiding spots and places to breed. Since many aquariums don’t offer enough room, that’s where pothos plants come in handy. Like pothos, planting water lilies in aquariums also helps provide more room for the fish to hide.

These tough little plants will sprout and become rooted at the bottom of your tank or hang from rocks just outside its edge, thus providing much-needed cover for fry. Pothos will also provide hiding spots with lots of roots for breeding.

Consumes excess ammonia and nitrates

Pothos is an excellent plant in the aquarium because it easily absorbs nitrogenous wastes such as nitrates, phosphates, and ammonia.

The nitrogen cycle is an important part of keeping your aquarium ecosystem healthy and thriving. One way to remove nitrates from the water is through partial water changes or by adding a pothos plant into your tank to absorb them. 

The plant will then release nutrients back into the environment so that other plants may grow more easily.

Removes toxins from the air in your house

The pothos plant is a popular houseplant due to its hardiness and low maintenance requirements. It can be found in offices, homes, schools – pretty much any indoor environment. Pothos plants are excellent air purifiers because they absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen throughout the day so that you may breathe easily when at home or work. Pothos is also known to remove xylene, formaldehyde, and carbon monoxide from the air.

Adds an aesthetic touch to your aquarium

A Pothos plant can add a wonderful touch to your aquarium if you are looking for something natural. The pothos plant is known for its green leaves and vines that create a unique look to your aquarium environment. Pothos is also an excellent plant for beginners looking for something simple, easy to care for, and beautiful. These flowers will look fantastic in any fish tank.

Pothos, however, is quite big and may not be a good plant when taking care of goldfish in a bowl unless the bowl is a very big one.

Can’t be eaten by fish

Pothos is omnivore fish proof since it develops a strong rooting system which can’t be eaten by fish. The African cichlids fish, for example, eat almost anything placed in the tank. With the Pothos plant, damage from fish won’t happen.

How To Care for a Submerged Pothos Plant

If you have a submerged pothos plant, take care of it as follows:

Temperatures

Pothos plants are cold-sensitive. On the other hand, this plant can withstand a wide variety of temperatures. Pothos, however, thrives best in a temperature range of 70 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Light

Pothos plants, like most other houseplants, prefer medium lighting that is neither too dark nor too bright. If they don’t receive the proper amount of sunlight, they can become leggy or cease growing altogether. For your pothos to grow healthily, make sure there’s just enough indirect natural-artificial lighting.

Water

Pothos is very hardy in both underwater and out-of-water conditions. They are drought-tolerant but still require moist soil for their entire root system to remain healthy and strong. Pothos will do well with a wider range of soils, including those that are silty, sandy, or even clay-like, as long as it’s moist and drains easily. 

Feeding your pothos plant

Pothos can be fed by using a basic liquid fertilizer at half strength. Pothos plants benefit from being fertilized every two weeks during the spring and summer months, once monthly in autumn and winter, or not at all if receiving enough sunlight.

Final thoughts

They can grow up to 40 feet long in their natural environment and have leaves that trail on opposite sides of them like a vine-like plant. They’re evergreen tropical plants with heart-shaped, glossy, green leaves and golden yellow splashes. Different color variants exist in this pothos plant, but all of them have long, flowing vines. 

Pothos plants are great for the aquarium since they oxygenate the water by using up carbon dioxide from marine life and releasing oxygen into the water. They aerate the water while absorbing more nitrates than other plants in the aquarium. The plant has a high adaptability to varying conditions.

The plant grows well in both bright light and low light environments, making them perfect for beginner tank owners who want to try their hand at care with an under-powered lighting system. These plants have been used in the aquarium trade to help reduce algae growth and create a more natural look.

Pothos are easy-to-care-for climbing vines that will not only help increase the amount of oxygen in water, and absorb toxins while improving aesthetics but also provide hiding spots that fish can use as they grow up.

Other great water plants include water lilies.

As long as you don’t let the Pothos plant overgrow (by cutting some roots off), you will have a beautiful aquarium in no time. Keep in mind that Pothos also uses up lots of nutrients and might starve the other plants in the water.

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