Pothos In Aquariums: Your Ultimate Guide

Pothos In Aquariums: Your Ultimate Guide

If you love fish and have an aquarium in your home, then you definitely want to liven it up by taking the time to decorate it. This is something fun to do, and there are many products out there that can help you spice up your aquarium. 

One of the best items you can put in your fish aquarium is the Pothos plant. It will not only make your aquarium look pretty, but it also offers a lot of benefits, which will be good not only for your fishes but their environment as well. 

So, let’s learn all about this Pothos plant. 

Pothos In Aquariums: Your Ultimate Guide

What is Pothos? 

Pothos is a popular houseplant that is very easy to grow. It is an extremely hardy plant, which earned it the nickname “devil’s ivy.” 

Pothos is a trailing vine that can grow up to 40 feet. The leaves of the Pothos plant are thick and have a waxy texture. It comes in different shades of green, with some species offering variegated colors. 

Pothos plants thrive in a wide range of conditions, even in very low light or nearly dark conditions. You can grow them in both soil and water, and this is why they are ideal for decorating aquariums. 

One of the reasons for its popularity is its ability to purify toxic air. They can remove harmful chemicals from indoor air. Another reason is that it is also easy to propagate. 

Benefits of Pothos in Aquariums  

Removes Nitrates 

Nitrates are common waste products found in aquariums. These come from fish waste, old food, and plants in the water. 

Too much nitrate in the aquarium can affect your fish. They can have nitrate shock or poisoning, which can eventually kill them. 

One of the ways to remove nitrate from the water is by partial water changes. You can also remove them with aquarium plants. Plants use nitrates to grow. 

But the best plant to use in your aquarium to remove nitrates is the Pothos plant. Why so? Compared to other plants, Pothos absorbs nitrates at a much faster rate than other plants can. 

Leaves of the Pothos plant grow above water, and only its roots are in the water. Thus, it grows at a much faster pace. This means that it can remove much more nitrates and nutrients in the water than other aquarium plants can. 

So, if you want to lower nitrates in your aquarium, Pothos is the best choice for you. With Pothos, you can extend the days between water changes, which saves you time.  

Eliminates Algae 

Most fish tanks have algae. Minimal algae growth is normal and healthy. 

If your aquarium has too much light or has high nitrate levels, the amount of algae in it will increase. This makes your tank unsightly and can become harmful to your fish and plants. 

Introduce pothos to your aquarium, and you can address the problem of algae naturally. Since Pothos plants use nitrates, which algae need to grow, they will soon lack vital nutrients and eventually die off. 

Over a longer period of time, Pothos plants can eliminate algae from your aquarium.  

Provides Shade 

Many types of freshwater fish need shade to thrive. 

Your fish will be happy if you add shade to your aquarium. And the best way to do this is by adding the Pothos plant into your fish tank. Plus, the stems and the roots system give your fish a place to hide. 

Since Pothos grows at a fast rate, its roots and leaves will soon be strong and thick. This will make an ideal cover for fish and fry. 

Fish instinctively hide to rest, avoid predators, or escape the bright light. Pothos gives them this hideaway. It is ideal for harboring eggs and fry until they mature.  

Mimics Natural Habitat 

The natural habitat of most freshwater fish is in rivers and rice paddies. For fish to survive in an aquarium, your tank has to mimic this kind of environment. 

The best way to achieve this is by planting the Pothos plant in your aquarium. The shade that it provides help to mimic the natural environment of the fish. 

However, not all fish are compatible with the Pothos plant. You need to research to find the right kind of fish that will love this environment.  


Fish need oxygen to survive and thrive. 

Pothos plants help aerate the water. They use up the carbon dioxide expelled by the fish during photosynthesis, and then they release oxygen back into the water. 

Some think that Pothos is not good for aquariums because they expel carbon dioxide during the night time hours. While this is true when the plant respires, the amount of carbon dioxide they release is very minimal compared to what they consume during the day.  

Aesthetically Pleasing 

An aquarium with Pothos plants growing in it looks beautiful. Your aquarium will have a more natural look with it. 

Pothos not only provides a good filtration system for your aquarium, but you will also have a pretty vine growing outside the tank. And your fish will be happy swimming around and hiding in its long roots. 

Since the Pothos plant is a trailing vine, you can have it crawl up your wall by attaching a transparent fishing line to the ceiling. It can climb up to about 40 feet and have numerous branches. In a matter of days, you will have a small forest above your aquarium. 

Compatible with Omnivore Fish 

Omnivore fish eats anything you put in the tank; plants included. If you have African cichlids or goldfish, they will eat most of your aquatic plants. 

Besides that, these omnivores also produce a lot of waste, and so the level of nitrates will increase fast. The best solution is Pothos. 

Pothos roots are extremely strong. Since these fish will not eat the roots, the plant can develop very well. This can help remove the high-level nitrates in your tank and make your tank pleasing to look at. 

How to Grow Pothos in Your Aquarium 

Growing pothos in your aquarium can be acquired in two ways. You can have a mature plant where you can take a cutting from. Or, you can buy a very young Pothos plant. 

Pothos plants are readily available at your local hardware store or plant nursery. You don’t need to buy a big plant since it is easy to grow Pothos, especially in aquariums. 

Using Pothos Cuttings

If you wish to grow Pothos using cuttings, you will first need to have your tools ready, namely a sharp scissors and a glass of water. Since you will be planting your Pothos in water, no pot is needed. 

The cuttings you will take should be from individual stems. Cut at an angle to the left of the leaf stem. Make sure that you keep a tiny piece of vine connected to the bottom of the leaf stem. 

You will see a small bump on the leaf stem’s other side. This is a node from where the roots will be forming. 

Once you have your cuttings, either put them in a glass of dechlorinated water, or you can already hang them on your aquarium’s back filter. 

If you are putting your cuttings in a glass of water, be sure to place them in a spot where there is enough light. Remember to change the water several times to maintain oxygen levels. 

Cuttings that you add to your aquarium should be started in water since it is hard for the plant to switch its growing medium from soil to water. 

When the plant already has roots formed, you can then transfer your cuttings to your fish tank, where they will grow slowly. 

Roots will form on the plant in about 15 to 20 days. If you have long cuttings, it will take them longer to form roots. Your pothos plant will fully mature in 2 months.

Using Established Pothos Plants

You can also grow your pothos using little plantlets that already have established roots. It is important to thoroughly wash off all the dirt and fertilizer on the roots. Otherwise, it can adversely affect the water chemistry in your aquarium. 

Separate your Pothos into individual plantlets. If there are plant-eating or omnivore fish in your aquarium, you can place your Pothos in a hand-on-back filter to protect it from them. Make sure that it is away from the filter’s motor compartment. Otherwise, it may grow into the motor and clog it up. 

However, if your fish will not eat the Pothos, then you can put the plant’s root directly into the tank with its leaves outside. Don’t allow the leaves to be underwater. To prevent the plant from falling, make the aquarium lid hold the plant in place. 

Pothos Plant Care

You should trim roots if they get too dense. 

Pothos can grow in a wide range of conditions. But there are optimum conditions for it to thrive. 

Don’t plant your pothos in a fish tank under direct sunlight. Pothos plants can survive even with low to moderate indoor light. However, if you keep your aquarium under low light, you can lose the colors of a highly variegated Pothos. It is best to place your aquarium in a spot with moderate or strong indirect light. 

The ideal temperature for pothos plants is between 12 to 30 degrees Celsius. But since they are tropical plants, the optimum temperature is between 25 and 30 degrees Celsius. 

For the plant to grow, the water should be rich in nitrates. If there are not enough nitrates produced by the fish, then using liquid fertilizers can help supplement the water. 

Humidity is not an issue with Pothos. You can put them in environments that are very humid or very dry. The most important thing is that their roots are kept moist all the time. 

Frequently Asked Questions about Pothos Plants in Aquariums

Is the Pothos plant toxic to aquarium fish? 

Pothos is a poisonous plant and should be kept away from pets from chewing its leaves and stems. This plant contains a high concentration of calcium oxalates. The mucous membranes can get irritated with this substance. 

But Pothos plants are not toxic to aquarium fish. You don’t need to worry because fish do not nip on the Pothos roots. However, if you have plant-eating fish that will try to nibble on it, like goldfish, it can develop allergies or have gastro problems. 

Is Pothos safe for your aquarium? 

Pothos can be safe for your aquarium despite its being toxic. However, there are some things that you need to consider. 

If you are using cuttings, do not put them immediately in your aquarium. Place it in a separate container and let it develop roots first. 

The place where you made the cutting has to heal first. Otherwise, toxins from the stem can leach into the aquarium water. 

You can only transfer the cuttings into your aquarium once they develop roots, and the cutting is healed. This can help avoid poisoning the fish in your aquarium. 

Can you grow Pothos underwater? 

Although you can grow Pothos underwater, you will not have a healthy plant. For a healthy plant, it will need CO2 and oxygen, which it gets in the air. There is a lack of these essentials underwater. This will result in underdeveloped leaves that will be small and rounded. 

Besides, you will not reap most of the benefits mentioned above if you grow your Pothos plant underwater. 

It will not be able to remove nitrates, which will, in turn, increase the population of algae in your aquarium. These algae can even grow on the leaves, and you will have an ugly tank not only because of algae’s presence, but your Pothos plant will have deformed leaves. 

Sooner or later, your Pothos plant will die. Dead plants increase the level of nitrates in the water instead of the Pothos, reducing it. This is why only the roots of the plant must be in the water. 

Keep the leaves away from the tank by spreading them outside the aquarium opening. If your goldfish can feed on their leaves, it can have grievous complications. 

How long can Pothos live in an aquarium?

If your Pothos plant is being kept with the right conditions and is protected from insects, bacteria, and fungi, which can shorten their lives, this plant can live up to 10 years in an aquarium. 

How do you attach Pothos to an aquarium? 

One of the places where you can attach your Pothos plant is in the aquarium filter. This can give the plant enough support until it develops stronger roots. 

But if you can find a way to keep the Pothos roots down in the top of your tank without the danger of floating away, then you don’t necessarily have to attach it to your filter. 

Another way of attaching your Pothos plant to your aquarium is to use some plastic-coated wire. With several plant stems, wrap the plastic-coated wire around them and hook it over the edge of the aquarium so that it can be kept secure. Or, you can also use the lid of the tank to keep them in place. 

When the roots are underwater, the plant’s leafy part should be draped over the aquarium’s edge. When your Pothos plant starts to grow, trail them along the top edge of your aquarium. This will then give you fish enough shade. 

Other ways of attaching your pothos to your aquarium are placing them on the hand-on-the-back filter of the tank, directly in the tank, or in a basket suspended on the side of the tank. Soon, the roots of the plant will start growing and will produce results. 

Take note that if you put your plant in the hang on the back filter, ensure that the roots will have enough room. 

You can also attach your pothos plant to your aquarium using a suction cup with a clip for airline tubing. With this, you can hold the vine in place inside your aquarium. 

Final Thoughts 

Do you want to keep your fish aquarium lively and clean? Then the best way to do so is to have a Pothos plant in your aquarium. If you purchase or propagate a Pothos plant for your aquarium, you can improve the quality of life for both your fish and plants. 

Pothos plants absorb nitrates in your tank. Nitrates can poison your fish if there are too many of them in the water. Pothos plants can also help mimic your fish’s natural habitat, which can greatly make them happy. 

You should consider this plant for your aquarium. It is easy to care for, is low maintenance, and gives your fish and its environment a lot of benefits. It is cheap and is very attractive. Consider the Pothos plant as nature’s miracle gift to fish owners.

Looking for tips about aquarium maintenance? Head over to our Aquarium Maintenance & Repair section to see more.

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Pothos In Aquariums: Your Ultimate Guide

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