How To Quarantine Aquarium Plants In Four Simple Steps

Most aquarists are so eager to establish their aquatic plants in their aquariums that they completely forget to quarantine them. Knowing how crucial it is to quarantine newly received aquatic plants before transferring them into an aquarium could make all the difference, as there could be harmful pests and chemicals that could kill fish.

Quarantining aquarium plants before placing them in your aquarium is a simple process, and it’s all about patience. Let’s look into how to quarantine aquarium plants safely.

The Importance Of Quarantining Your Aquarium Plants

Pests, such as snails, may be a natural part of the aquatic environment, and unless you have bought tissue culture plants, they are seen as hitchhikers and try to make these plants their new home. 

These multiplying pests could not only become an eyesore, but some of them can be harmful to your fauna, creating a mess in your tank and causing you to lose your entire aquarium! Knowing how to quarantine aquarium plants keeps both your plants and fish healthy.

How To Quarantine Aquarium Plants Correctly

Quarantining your aquarium plants is not a complicated process, and by knowing how to perform it correctly, you will surely make a success of your aquarium. Let’s take a more in-depth look at how you should quarantine your plants:

Step 1: Get A Quarantine Tank For Your Aquatic Plants

Similar to how you would quarantine new fish, you would want to keep your new plants in a separate fish-free container or tank. This tank should be different from the one they will be going in after quarantining. 

The quarantine process will last for at least three weeks, and you need to ensure the temperature in the environment is controlled and sufficient light comes into the container. You may also need to add some aquarium fertilizer to ensure that your new plants will receive all the nutrients they need.

Step 2: Sterilize Your Plants Before Quarantine

Before placing your new plants in their quarantine tank, it would be best to sterilize them to make sure there is no threat of them adding anything to your tank that could cause harm to your fish.

Three sterilization methods, known as the bleach, hydrogen peroxide, and potassium permanganate methods, would be best to sterilize your plants. 

Let’s discuss each of them and how you can follow them while doing these steps to make sure you get your new plants ready for your aquarium:

The Bleach Sterilization Method

Bleach is a very effective and strong disinfectant. It’s an active ingredient and is, therefore, most effective in killing any traces of viruses, algae, fungi, parasites, and bacteria. It would be best if you use household bleach, as it is widely available for purchase and is very cost-friendly. 

You must dilute your bleach if you need to disinfect your aquatic plants, as too strong of a solution could harm them. 

When using the bleach method, rinse your plants at room temperature, and dilute your bleach at a ratio of 19:1. 

Place your plants in the bleach solution and leave them to soak for no longer than two minutes. Make sure that all the plants are fully submerged, and be sure to wear gloves. 

Next, you can move the plants into a new bucket of clean room temperature water and treat them with Seachem Prime water conditioner for three minutes. 

Afterward, you should rinse the plants numerous times with clean tap water.

The Hydrogen Peroxide Sterilization Method

For this method, you will need to prepare a hydrogen peroxide solution, which is readily available at a low cost at any drug store. Hydrogen peroxide is a chemical compound, and its purest form is pale blue. 

Hydrogen Peroxide is commonly utilized as a bleaching agent, antiseptic, and oxidizer. Hydrogen peroxide may come off as a vicious oxidizer, and you must remember that it could kill plants if dipped in the solution for long periods. 

However, this makes hydrogen peroxide so effective, as it completely kills off any parasites and algae! 

When using this method, rinse and clean your newly bought aquatic plants using clean tap water. 

Mix about 2-3ml of hydrogen peroxide with 1 gallon of water. Completely submerge the plants in the solution for five minutes, and never exceed this time, as it could cause the leaves to become discolored. 

After five minutes, rinse your plants in tap water to ensure all traces of hydrogen peroxide are rinsed thoroughly. 

Then, treat your plants with water conditioner and rinse them again.

The Potassium Permanganate Sterilization Method

Potassium permanganate is a highly strong oxidizing agent, and it is most often used in the aquarium industry as a disinfectant. Potassium permanganate is readily available in both crystal and liquid forms, varying in concentrations. 

However, be cautious when using this method, as the potassium permanganate will stain your skin if you do not wear suitable gloves. Potassium permanganate is highly effective against parasites, algae, bacteria, fungi, as well as snails. 

When using this particular method, prepare a plant bath solution by filling a sterilized bucket with warm water. Slowly mix in enough of the potassium permanganate crystals until you achieve a solution that is dark purple or pink in color. 

If you want to be exact, you could use roughly 4mg of potassium permanganate crystals per one liter of water. 

If you are happy with your solution, dip all of your plants in your solution for roughly 10 minutes. You can exceed the ten-minute limit, but you should never dip your plants for more than fifteen minutes. 

Using thick gloves, remove all your new plants from the solution and rinse them several times in a neutralizing rinse solution, using a softener, such as Seachem Prime, which should be three times stronger than the recommended aquarium strength.

Step 3: Prepare Your New Aquatic Plants To Be Quarantined

After thoroughly sterilizing your new plants, you need to remove any sponge-like material, including the Rockwool, if it has been shipped with the plant. During this process, be very careful not to hurt the plants, and remove them slowly and gently. 

How To Quarantine Aquarium Plants

Try your best to get down to the bare roots of the plant without leaving any residue stuck to the roots, as it could soak pollutants and other harmful pesticides. 

You can now also use a pair of clean scissors to cut back any roots of the plant that may be overgrown. Leave about 1-2cm left, as the plant will regrow after a while.

Step 4: Check On Your Plants Daily During Quarantine

Remember, by sterilizing and quarantining any new aquatic plants, you will ensure the maximum possible protection against harmful bacteria, fungi, and pests that could ruin your entire aquatic environment. 

It is advised to keep all your new plants in the quarantine tank and under constant observation for anywhere between three and four weeks before adding them to your desired aquarium. Ensure the area your quarantine tank is in has a good light source and enough fertilizers to grow well and active during this time. 

Although a filter is not necessary, you can go the extra mile if you prefer. Additionally, it would be best to implement complete water changes every day until the quarantine period has passed. 

Add Seachem Prime to your plants, as it will bind pesticides as well as other residues. Seachem Prime is an active water conditioner, and it works to detoxify nitrates and ammonia. 

It will also work wonders to eliminate any heavy metals that could be found in some types of tap water and remove chloramine and chlorine, which could harm your new plants.


Whether you’re planting a self-sustaining aquarium or a single pothos, you need to know how to quarantine aquarium plants to keep your tank and its inhabitants healthy. If you quarantine your plants, sterilize them and perform regular health checks you and your fish will enjoy them for years to come.

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