How do you identify an aquarium banana plant?
You will instantly be able to identify a banana plant by its tubers – they resemble an unripened bunch of bananas…
These thick tubers are the part of the plant where the nutrients are stored. Many beginners confuse the tubers for the roots of the plant. However, this is not the case, and if you plant the tubers under your substrate, they will soon rot.
The roots of the aquarium banana plant actually grow from the stem of the plant. And as you would expect, they look more… rooty. The thin roots grow downward, toward the substrate and are either white or light green in color.
Now, the leaves are where things get interesting. While it will produce multiple leaves that stay underwater, the banana plant will shoot a runner toward the surface of your aquarium. Within a week or so, you will have a lily pad sitting at the top of your aquarium.
That’s a long stem, right? I have seen these stems grow as long as 28 inches!
Although they are typically light to dark green, it’s not uncommon for the leaves of a banana plant to have a patchy red color.
How do you plant an aquarium banana plant?
Want to know something cool about the banana plant? It can either be left to float or you can plant it in the substrate of your aquarium.
A healthy floating banana plant takes more effort than one planted in the substrate, and liquid fertilizer is a must.
Curiously, a floating banana plant will eventually produce roots that will grow down into your substrate, anchoring it into place. I have seen these roots grow as long as a foot!
Below, you see an example of a floating banana plant with its roots seeking out the substrate underneath.
For beginners, and those of you just looking for an easy-to-grow plant, I recommend planting the banana plant in the substrate of your aquarium.
If you are planting in soil, no fertilizer is required because the soil will provide all the nutrients your banana plant needs to grow big and healthy.
Sand and gravel, on the other hand, do not provide the same nutrients. If you want to plant your banana plant in either of these substrates, then I recommend using root tabs. Simply push a root tab into the substrate near the root of your plants, and it will release all the nutrients your banana plant needs to grow!
Be mindful, however, that no more than 1/3 of the banana-like tubers should be buried in your substrate. Any more than that and the tubers may begin to rot.
Don’t want your banana plant to float? Keep it in place by using a plant weight, glue or even tying the banana plant to a rock.
Once the banana plant’s roots are established, they will be able to hold the plant down. At this stage, your weight or tethers can be removed.
Note that in some instances, the roots have been known to lift the banana plant up, making the plant look like it’s floating in mid-air. Well, mid-water, anyway!
As for lighting, banana plants grow well under both low or high light. However, if you want to see the banana plant grow its heart-shaped lily leaves on the surface, then medium to high light is best – in low light, the leaves are likely to stay submerged.
In fact, in an aquarium setting, many hobbyists choose to stunt the growth of the plant. The reason? The leaves that surface might look pretty, but they can pose a problem to the other plants in your aquarium by blocking out the light.
By lowering the light and temperature and skipping the CO2, you can simulate winter conditions. The result is smaller leaves and shorter stalks, meaning you don’t have to worry about the banana plant taking over your tank.
Alternatively, a quick snip with a pair of scissors and the lily and stem are removed from your banana plant.
Lighting can also affect the color of your banana plant. In low lighting conditions, the banana plant will have a dark green coloration while medium to high light will see it turn a light-green color.
As for temperature, let’s just say there is a reason that the banana plant prefers to grow in the southern states of the US – the climate.
Banana plants prefer warmer temperatures, making it a great addition to your tropical tank. Even so, the banana plant will tolerate temperatures as low as 50°F (10°C). However, its growth will be stunted.
Finally, there’s water movement. Banana plants typically grow in slow-moving rivers, creeks and ponds. As you might have guessed, this means that they don’t like fast water movement where the current will blow the lily pads around your tank. So, reduce the flow rate of your filter, if necessary.