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Java Fern

Live plants are the ideal tool for beautifying an aquarium and quelling nitrate levels. Not all of us have the conditions required for a planted aquarium, though. A simple way to utilize live plants is to affix java fern to a piece of driftwood or bogwood (or any hardwood, really). You may even have seen such an ornament in your local fish store, no doubt with a $60 price tag.

You can make your own instead. Here's how I make mine:

First, I select a piece of wood with lots of holes or splits or crevices. I then select a piece of java fern with long roots and multiple stems. One bunch (usually under $5) can often be divided into two or three sections. After rinsing the wood I pick out a spot for the plant and I cut a piece of filter foam (I use pond filter foam but aquarium filter foam will also work) shaped like the hole or crevice but slightly larger. I then lay the plant's roots over the location and gently press the foam against the roots and into the hole. The foam expands to its natural size and grips the wood on all sides. I repeat the process until I have as many plants affixed to as many locations as I desire. Where a piece of wood is split, I sandwich the roots between two slices of foam and slide the assembly into the opening. Eventually the roots will attach to the wood and to the foam and the plant will begin to multiply.

Once submerged, I position the ornament where and how I want it. The great thing about this method is that after examining the ornament I can make any desired changes, by replacing or rotating a plant, easily--unlike the fishing line/thread method of attachment. I feel it encourages better root development, too.