Snake plants (Dracaena trifasciata) are among the most sought-after species by growers worldwide. They’re resilient, aesthetically pleasing, easy-to-care-for plants that thrive in almost any environment. However, are they versatile enough to withstand being grown in an aquarium?
You can put a snake plant in your aquarium; however, their overall longevity will suffer. While many growers have been able to cultivate their snake plants in an aquarium for short periods, succulents in general still prefer soil to water, meaning they’re less likely to thrive in an aquarium.
It’s important to note that even though snake plants can be grown in water-based environments, they can be potentially toxic and harmful to any marine life sharing that same habitat, which is something you’ll want to consider throughout the decision-making process. In short, snake plants will keep growing even when in an aquarium; however, the process requires lots of preparation and care, which is why I’ll be covering it more in-depth in the following sections.
When Should You Put a Snake Plant in Your Aquarium?
You should put a snake plant in your aquarium only if there are no fish or other marine life that could be harmed by the plant’s toxicity. Moreover, you shouldn’t put a snake plant in an aquarium if you’re looking for a long-term arrangement.
However, every snake plant and setup is different, which is why the most fool-proof course of action is always to consult with the specialists at your local aquarium store.
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to the question, “Can you put a snake in an aquarium?” The plant is versatile and resilient enough to grow in any environment, including aquatic ecosystems.
However, the practice comes with its own set of drawbacks and limitations. Therefore, if you’re looking to keep your snake plant in an aquarium, there are a few key considerations you’ll want to keep in mind to ensure you’re doing so in the safest and longest-lasting way possible.
Tips on Keeping a Snake Plant in an Aquarium
- Plant a snake plant in an aquarium using leaf cuttings from an existing plant. Growing snake plants in an aquarium is nothing if not convenient. All you have to do is take some (strategically planned) cuttings from an existing plant and place them inside your aquarium (more on this in a moment). After two or three months, the roots will start growing, after which you’ll see progress in the plant’s size as well.
- Be patient. If you’re trying to grow a snake plant in an aquarium for the first time, you may (rightfully) feel anxious to see the results of your hard work as quickly as possible. However, since the plant isn’t being kept in its ideal environment, it will likely take a longer time to grow and thrive.
- Have realistic expectations. While growing a snake plant in an aquarium is technically possible, the practice is far from ideal. Although the plant will still survive and follow a (slowed-down and generally shorter) growth cycle, you can’t expect it to reach its full potential as it would on soil.
If you’ve previously grown succulents at home, you’re well aware of the fact that these types of plants despise being kept too wet. Overwatering any succulent (snake plants included) is the very first no-no you’ll read in the care manual whenever you buy one.
Therefore, you might be wondering how a plant that starts to shrivel at the slightest sign of overwatering can sustain a healthy (albeit shorter) growth cycle when entirely submerged in an aquarium.
While the confusion is completely valid, the assumption that snake plants would react just as badly to being submerged in water as they do to overwatering fails to account for the role that oxygen plays in this process.
Oxygen is a crucial component in any plant’s health and longevity, and luckily, it can be found in abundance in both soil and water. However, due to the soil’s high density, it can be harder for a plant to reach the air pocket found between its granules.
When said soil becomes waterlogged, the number and availability of air pockets will continue to diminish, meaning your succulents simply won’t be able to get enough oxygen. This is the real reason why they’ll start to shrivel and discolor, not the excess water itself.
When put in an aquatic environment, it’s much easier for plants to receive the oxygen they require, which is why they’ll be able to follow a healthy growth cycle even when submerged in water.
How To Grow a Snake Plant in Your Aquarium
If you’ve decided to take on the challenge of growing a snake plant in your aquarium, I have some good news for you. The process is as quick and straightforward as it can be, arguably even easier than planting your greenery in traditional soil, as explained in this section.
Prune an Existing Snake Plant
Propagating your snake plant through cuttings is undoubtedly the easiest approach to help it grow in an aquarium. Therefore you’ll want to cut some of the healthiest leaves using a sharp, clean knife, making sure to remember the trimmings’ direction.
Choose the Right Trimmings
To make sure your plants have the best chance of survival, you’ll want to pick only the sturdiest, healthiest-looking ones of the bunch.
It’s best to discard any cuttings that seem mushy, spotted, or discolored. Any of these signs could indicate some type of disease. After finding the healthiest trimmings, you’ll want to bundle them and keep them in a cool location until you’re ready to use them.
Allow the Cuts To Heal for a Few Days
After safely storing the trimmings in a cool, dark space, you’ll want to leave them undisturbed for a few days until the cuts start to heal. This step, while not the most essential, will still allow you to optimize your chances of success.
Place the Cuttings Inside the Aquarium
This is arguably the easiest step of the process. All you have to do is place as many trimmings as you’d like inside the aquarium, remembering to locate them following their original direction.
This often overlooked tip can help optimize your chances of success. If necessary, use pebbles, toothpicks, or another aquarium accessory for structural support.
Maintain Ideal Water Quality, Light, and Temperature Conditions
As mentioned, you might have to wait a few months before your aquatic snake plant starts developing its roots. However, maintaining the right environmental conditions (more on this in a moment) can help move the process along much quicker.
The Ideal Conditions for an Aquatic Snake Plant
- Water Quality. Considering the plant will be fully submerged inside the aquarium, it’s easy to understand how water quality can significantly affect its health. Generally speaking, you’ll want to steer clear of tap water, or at least leave it to sit overnight before using to allow its chlorine to evaporate.
- Temperature. Snake plants tend to thrive in warmer environments. Ideally, you’ll want to aim for a temperature of 70°F (21.1°C) or higher.
- Light. Snake plants prefer a well-lit environment both when planted in soil and when submerged in water. Therefore, you’ll want to avoid leaving the aquarium in a dimly-lit room or a shadowy location. Ideally, you’ll want to place the setup near an east-facing window to allow the plant to get at least a few hours of morning sunlight.
- Nutrients. After the roots have grown, you’ll be able to treat the plant with a balanced liquid fertilizer. Be careful not to overdo it and fertilize once a month or less (only during warmer months).
- Aquarium Cleanliness. Regardless of how well-balanced the conditions I mentioned earlier are, your snake plant’s chances of survival will severely diminish if the overall environment isn’t clean and well-maintained enough. Make sure to change the water at least once a week or as soon as it becomes discolored.
Growing a snake plant in an aquarium is possible; however, a soil-based environment is still better suited for the plant.
If you’re adamant about growing a snake plant in an aquarium, you’ll want to follow the tips and recommendations mentioned throughout this article to optimize your chances of success.