How to Use Pothos Plants in a Shrimp Tank

Pothos plant in a shrimp tank

Pothos plants are a widely popular household plant that holds great benefits for the air quality of your home. As many fish keepers already know, Pothos plants also make an attractive and practical addition to fish tanks of all kinds. Perhaps one of the most effective and underutilized uses for the Pothos plants is in shrimp tanks (read my guide).

Using Pothos plants in shrimp tanks allows owners to reap the same benefits as keeping Pothos plants in fish tanks and more. In this article, I will explore how to use Pothos plants in a shrimp tank. I will also detail the many benefits that Pothos plants can hold for your shrimp and the minor risks that you should be aware of when using Pothos plants in your tank. 

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What is a Pothos Plant?

The Pothos plant, also known as devil’s ivy or golden Pothos, is a leafy vine plant native to Southeastern Asia. These hardy plants have green, waxy leaves with yellow spots and can reach lengths of up to forty feet in their native habitats. Pothos plants make very popular indoor plants because of their ability to thrive in an indoor environment as well as their air-purifying powers.

The Pothos is an extremely resilient plant and makes a great choice for people that lack experience with growing plants as they require minimal care to maintain. They do not require much light or water to survive and are famously difficult to kill, so amateur plant growers should not be intimidated by the Pothos. Unlike floating plants that can grow out of control and overcrowd your tank, the growth of the Pothos plant is very easy to control.

Pothos plants are very common in all parts of the world and can generally be found for a very modest price. Most garden stores offer potted plants. American consumers will even be able to find these plants at major home improvement chains, like Lowe’s or Home Depot. These plants are also very use to take clippings from and replant, giving you a nearly endless supply of Pothos plants to nourish the aquarium environment. 

How to Use a Pothos Plant in Your Aquarium

First of all, this plant is not tropical. Therefore, it will do well even in a tank with cool water. Second, do not submerge Pothos plant under the water (or it will grow extremely slowly). It does best if you keep the top above water. Pothos plants are not fully aquatic plants.  


How to Use a Pothos Plant in Your AquariumThere are two primary methods for growing Pothos plants in a home aquarium:

  1. By using clippings of the plant from the stem or
  2. By pulling off a section of the plant with roots included.

To use the first method (cutting the stem of the plant), you will want to cut off a section of the plant at the base of the stem. It is best to do this only with healthy plants and only periodically to allow the plant time to replenish the lost appendages.

The second method takes a bit more labor, but it has the added benefit of keeping the roots of the Pothos plant intact, allowing you to see results in your aquarium more quickly. To begin, you will need to carefully remove the Pothos plant from its pot and separate a small section of the plant from the rest- roots and stem included. Once you have an adequate section, be sure to rinse off the plants thoroughly to avoid releasing any harmful chemicals or fertilizers into your tank. 

Where to Put Pothos Plants in Aquarium

The stems can be placed on the hang on the back filter of the tank, directly in the tank or in a basket suspended on the side of the tank. They will begin growing roots and produce results rather quickly.

Note: If you place them in the hang on the back filter, make sure that there is enough room for the roots. 

Benefits of Pothos Plants for a Shrimp Tank

Pothos plant in a shrimp tankPothos plants have a wide variety of benefits for your shrimp tank. Using Pothos plants is perhaps the most cost-efficient and environmentally friendly way to provide extra filtration for your shrimp’s water. Pothos plants are also a great natural way to aerate the water in your shrimp tanks. As the Pothos plant undergoes photosynthesis, it converts the carbon dioxide used by your shrimp back into oxygen, which in turn aids in the development of your shrimp.

One of the most significant benefits of Pothos plants is their ability to reduce nitrate levels in your tank. As with any other plant, Pothos plants need nitrates and other nutrients to survive. Pothos plants will absorb harmful nitrates from your tank water at extremely high rates, resulting in a decrease of up to 20-40 ppm nitrates. This is especially important because an excess of nitrates can trigger a phenomenon known as nitrate shock, in which shrimp become lethargic and lose their appetite. This can result in death if not addressed quickly.

Pothos plants are also very effective at reducing algae levels in your shrimp tank. Algae growth is a natural occurrence in any fish tank, but an excess of algae can have a negative impact on your fish as well as being an unattractive nuisance in your tank. The algae reducing properties of Pothos plants are directly linked to their reduction of nitrate levels. Since algae feed on nitrates, incorporating Pothos plants into your tank will stifle the growth of algae as well.

The roots of Pothos plants are especially beneficial to your shrimp population. They allow the shrimp a shady hiding spot to retreat into when stressed. These long roots are especially useful for baby shrimp who can find a safe space to rest and grow in their long strands. These root systems have the added benefit of mimicking the natural habitat of the shrimp and making them more comfortable in their homes.

Finally, the long root system of the Pothos plants provides surface area for beneficial bacteria to thrive in your shrimp tank. Good bacteria are a key element in any aquarium environment and Pothos plants are a great way to encourage their growth. They also synergize extremely well with powdered shrimp food. With all these benefits, there is no reason not to try out Pothos plants in your fish tank. 

Additional Considerations when Using Pothos Plants

One word of caution when using Pothos plants is that they can have a potentially detrimental effect on a planted aquarium. This is because the Pothos plants is extremely good at absorbing nutrients from the water. In most circumstances, this is a benefit as it helps to balance your aquarium and prevent excess algae growth. When it comes to other plants, however, this can lead to them being starved of nutrients, so it is important to do careful research is you choose to incorporate Pothos plants into a planted tank.

Additionally, it should be noted that including Pothos plants in your home aquarium has the potential to drastically increase evaporation in your tanks. This should be monitored closely to avoid negative effects on your shrimp population.

Finally, Pothos plants can be toxic to other household pets- most notably cats- so it is a good idea to keep them out of reach of other animals. Simply keeping these minor considerations in mind will ensure that Pothos plants can be an effective and safe addition to your shrimp tank. 

Can Pothos Plants Kill Shrimp or Fish?

No, Pothos plants will not kill your shrimp, fish, snail, crab or crayfish. They are absolutely safe to keep in tanks. 

In Conclusion

Pothos plants are an excellent option for fish tanks of nearly any kind but hold special benefits for shrimp that will make shrimp keeping enthusiasts really want to consider incorporating these plants into their tanks.

Not only are Pothos plants more effective than most other filtration methods, but they are also more cost-efficient. They are also an attractive plant that can add a splash of color to your shrimp tank. All in all, the Pothos plant is perfectly suited to the shrimp keeping hobby. 

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Related articles:

Top 5 Pros and Cons of having Plants in Shrimp Aquarium
Top 5 Plants for Your Shrimp Tank
Nitrates in Shrimp Tank. How to Lower them
How to Remove Algae with Plants

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