Pothos in Aquariums: Are Pothos Plants Good for Aquariums?


Scientific NameEpipremnum Aureum
Common NamePothos plant, Golden Pothos, Devil’s Ivy, Money Plant, Taro Vine
OriginNative to Southeastern Asia
GrowthUp to 40 feet
Temperature70-85 degrees Fahrenheit

What is a Pothos Plant?

Pothos plants (Epipremnum aureum) are tropical, trailing, leafy, vining plants that can grow up to 40 feet in length in the wild, and nearly that long indoors. They are an evergreen plant with thick, waxy, green, leaves that are heart shaped, and have splashes of yellow color. Some species of this plant have different color variations, but they all grow long, flowy vines. The leaves of the Pothos plant can grow up to 12 inches if kept in optimum conditions.

It is a hardy plant that has attractive foliage, and requires minimal maintenance. As a houseplant, it is grown as a hanging plant so that its long vines can grow. If planted outdoors, it will climb up onto trees and grow by anchoring itself to them. Growing pothos plants in your aquarium will benefit both the fish and the plant.

There are many different varieties of pothos that also come in many different colors.

Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)

Are Pothos Plants Good for Aquariums?

Pothos is a popular plant that many people use in their homes for its toxic air purifying properties. It has also become a common plant that is used in aquarium setups. They are very beneficial, and they are easy to propagate.

The Pothos Plant can provide your aquarium with oxygenation. If you plant your Pothos into your aquarium substrate, it will aerate the water as it uses up the carbon dioxide the fish expel and then it releases the oxygen back into the water. They provide more oxygen and absorb more nitrates than many other plants.

Pothos plants can provide excellent biological filtration for your tank, provide great hiding places for small fish with their long roots, and even provide shade with their huge leaves. They will grow into a beautiful vine that extends outside of your tank. However, keep in mind that pothos plant grown in your aquarium will not flower. Most pothos grown indoors are considered to be in their juvenile phase, and flowering requires the plant to be fully mature. In the wild, pothos plants will eventually produce the flower as they reach maturity.

Another benefit of having pothos plant in your aquarium is that they will help keep algae growth under control. Algae growth can be observed when the level of nitrates gets too high. The pothos plant will help keep the nitrates at a low level, making the environment less suitable for algae growth.

While pothos plants will not provide mechanical filtration for your aquarium, they will assist greatly in the biological filtration. They help in biological filtration in two ways. First the plant will provide a great place for the beneficial bacteria to live on. Second, the roots of the plant will absorb the nitrates in the aquarium water. A well established pothos plant in your aquarium can mean less water changes and better water parameters. This will help keep your fish happy and healthy.

Given enough time, pothos can be establish itself as an emersed plant. It can grow upwards out of the water, and wrap itself around the tank. The long stringy roots of the plant will grow and create a nice jungle for your fish to swim in and out of. You can trim the roots if they get too dense in your tank. These roots are also beneficial for anchoring your substrate in place. The stems of the pothos plant is very strong and they are not affected by normal water flow from the filtration.

An amazing trait of the pothos plant is that they are very easy to propagate. Propagation is possible by cutting off a stem or a leaf and placing it in another aquarium to grow. Cuttings of the plant can be placed directly in the water as long as the roots are submerged, and the leaves are above the water.

Pothos plant can do extremely well in low level light, or indirect sunlight. In fact, too much sunlight will harm your pothos plant. Too much sunlight can stunt its growth, and cause the leaves to turn yellow or brown. Too much light can cause algae to grow on the roots of the pothos in a thin layer. If this happens, just move the plant out of direct sunlight or lower the light levels.

Are Pothos Plants Toxic to Fish?

Some fishkeepers wonder if pothos will harm their fish. This may be due to the fact that pothos can be toxic to cats and dogs. Fortunately, pothos plants are safe for your aquarium fish. There are no reports of them being toxic or harmful towards fish. In fact, they even provide egg spawning fish with places to lay their eggs, and harbor them until they hatch.

Can Pothos Grow Underwater?

Pothos plants can grow in water, but not fully submerged in water. The leaves of the plant cannot take nutrients from the water like true aquatic plants can. Pothos plants need to have some of their vine with leaves hanging out of the water. If the leaves become submerged, they will shrivel up and die.

When planting pothos plants in an aquarium, you have to let the roots grow out 4 to 5 inches, and then transfer it into your tank setup. You will have to anchor the roots until they can settle into the substrate as well. Since pothos plants are a type of ivy, the vine will grow and it can drape over the sides of the aquarium. This provides a beautiful decor.

How to Hang Pothos in the Aquarium

If you are planting a pothos plant in your aquarium, you will need to make sure that your plant has long enough roots to place in the substrate. In addition, it must still have enough vine leftover to hang out of the tank. It is important that the leaves of the plant are not fully submerged in the water. If you have fish in your tank that will not harm the pothos plant, you can let the roots and stem float in your tank until it anchors itself into the substrate. As mentioned, just be sure to let the leaves hang out of the water.

How to put Pothos in an Aquarium Filter

Pothos plants can be placed in the filtration of the aquarium. This may be a good option if the aquarium has fish that may damage the plant. By placing the pothos plant in the filtration chamber, it will be protected from the fish. When placing the pothos plant in the aquarium filter, be careful not to place the plant near the motor. If the roots of the plant grow into the impellers, the motor may seize up, damaging both the aquarium filter and the plant. In general, it is better to place the pothos plant towards the outflow of the aquarium filter, rather than the inflow of the aquarium filter.

Pothos in your Aquarium Turning Yellow

When you first put your pothos plant into your aquarium, the roots may die off, and the leaves may shrivel up, turn yellow, and fall off the plant. This is a common occurrence when plants are introduced to different environments. In most cases, the roots will regrow as they adjust to an aquatic environment. The leaves of the plant will grow back as well.

Pothos in Aquarium Sump

When thinking of placing a pothos plants in your aquarium sump, there are a few things you would need to consider. The first thing you should think about is the lighting for the plant. If placed in a sump, your plant may not grow properly. There may not be enough air flow, and that could cause your pothos plant to mold. The restricted airflow could also cause your plant to have a stunted growth rate. There are reports of people being able to successfully grow their pothos plant in the sump. However, it proper conditions must be provided for the plant. A dedicated lighting system may be required. Keep in mind that an unhealthy plant would not be able to absorb much nitrates from the water. If the sump does not look like a hospitable place for your plant, consider placing the pothos plant directly into the aquarium. This way, the plant is more likely to get the light and air flow that it needs.

Pothos Submerged in an Aquarium

Pothos plants can grow with their vine and roots submerged in your aquarium, but the leaves will not survive being fully submerged under the water.

Can Pothos Survive in a Saltwater Aquarium?

Pothos plants cannot survive in a saltwater aquarium. Most plants will tolerate some saltwater on their leaves and stems, but if the roots are placed in saltwater, it will cause the plant to dehydrate. Since pothos plants are hardy, they may tolerate a small amount of salt in the water. The plant may even tolerate high concentrations of salt in the water for a short period of time. However, if the plant is placed in saltwater for an extended period of time, it will not survive.

Fish Laboratory

With decades of collective fishkeeping experience, we are happy to share the knowledge that we've picked up along the way. Our goal at Fish Laboratory Aquatics is to keep publishing accurate content to help fishkeepers keep their fish healthy.

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