"oh no! my oscar pulled out all the plants again! i just planted them back two hours ago!"
does this sound like you?
does this sound like you?
Many large cichlids like to uproot plants and dig. They are unpleasant behaviors especially if you have spent hours trying to plant and decorate your tank. I am posting this to help everyone deal with the situation a bit better.
Some cichlids love the secure feeling within the plants, whereas many see them as nothing more than toys and/or toys. Large, destructive cichlids' tanks can be harder to add plants to. There is no guarantee whether they will surely leave them alone or not, but there are ways to prevent the problem as much as possible.
First, of course, is selection of tough plants that can hold themselves against those plant-destroying monsters. No matter how strong the plant is, if you plant them straight to the gravel, a playful cichlid can find its way to root it up. You need to get plants that that root to the caves/wood and secure itself. Java ferns are extremely hardy and tough, and can grow on rocks, which means they cannot be "dug up". They, too, however, can be pulled out, but in that case there is not much to be done. Anubias are beautiful plant that will grow against a rock/driftwood, almost wrapping itself around it. The downside is that they grow quite slowly, so cannot be added directly added to the tank full of large cichlids, waiting for it to grow several inches; guaranteed, it will be uprooted meanwhile.
If you already have large cichlids, showing uprooting behavior, you will not be able to put plants in right away. Java ferns do grow roots and secure itself much quicker, but they will need time to get the roots established. This can be done by putting the java on the spot where you want it to grow, and temporarily holding it in place with something like a rubber band. In my case, I only use small plants with thin roots with no extensive stems, so i just simply wrap the root around the wood, or try to squeeze the root part between the cracks. If you have a spare tank, you can put the plants (on rocks/driftwood) and let it grow. Depending on the lighting and whether you give suppliments, the plant will soon secure itselt against the decor. You can test them by gently tugging on the plant. You should feel the plant somewhat tightly attached to the wood (note: be sure not to pull too hard!). If you think that it is secure enough to put it in with your cichlid, go on ahead, if they are safe, they will only get more attatched by growing more roots.
If you are buying your cichlids as juveniles, it may be ok to put the plants directly in the tank. By the time your fish grows, the plants (depending on growth of fish and growth of plant) might already have grown tightly onto the rocks or woods. Whenever I start up a new tank/setup and add juveniles, I get smaller plants and wrap its roots around the wood and directly place them in the tank.
Some fish just find their secret ways to destroy the plants, and there aren't much you can do. But doesn't hurt to try, right?
Though some of my informations were pretty basic, I hope at least some people found it helpful.