Exotic Gardening with Rare and Strange Plants

For anyhow who enjoys aquariums and fish I want to recommend the pothos vine as a no effort aquarium plant. I think we’ve all been there, standing in the pet store, dreaming of an underwater garden for our fine gilled friends. Sadly most aquarium plants are ridiculously overpriced, even at garden store rates, a thimble of aquatic moss for $5.00, give me a break!

Now for anyone who hasn’t grown an Epipremnum (Pothos Vine, Devil’s Ivy) This is a great plant for everyone. They’re virtually impossible to kill, grow in full sun, to full shade, and need relatively little care. What makes them even greater is how easy they are to propagate. Cut off any piece of vine with a growing tip, bury in good soil or in this case place it in an aquarium and it will grow roots within a matter of weeks.


Betta fish swimming happily amongst pathos vine roots

Although I’ve heard rumors that this plant is poisonous to people, cats and dogs, my fish seem not be bothered. The verdict online is pretty 50/50 on this one so I say try it at your own risk. I will on the other hand let you know that I’ve had pothos vines (2 different varieties) in my aquariums for over a year now and haven’t seen even the slightest sign of sickness in my little fishies. It was as simple as cutting a piece off the main plant, washing it well in the sink to remove any possible pesticides/dust and dropping it in my fish tank. Within a couple weeks you’ll begin to see water roots, and in months the vine will most likely be thriving. Occasionally a leaf might fall off and begin to rot, remove it from the water and carry on with your life. My plants live almost completely submerged and in time grow out of the tank entirely by their own.


Large Established root system of my aquarium pothos vine (1 year old from cutting)

Benefits to plants in a fish tank.

Aeration – Plants create a lot more air then an air stone or filtration system, think of where your fish originate in the wild. Air comes from plants!

Filtration – As the fish produce waste deadly chemicals can sometimes build up in your aquarium and begin to poison your fish. With a planted aquarium your plants will use your fish’s waste as a natural fertilizer and help clean the water.

Homes and Protection – By making your tank a lot more like their natural environment fish are less stress and in turn much healthier. Last year my white cloud minnows used my pothos vine as a hatchery for breeding and a month later the popular jumped by 300%.

Lounging in the pothosMy fire bellied newts love to lounge in the pothos vine, which mimic a bit of a lily pad effect for them to sit on right underneath the water.

12 Responses to Pothos Vine – Easy Aquarium Plant

  • Wow i had no idea the pothos plants were usable for such a thing. You could easily grow this plant indoors and then just add to the tank when it is growing!

  • Diana Emons says:

    Just wanted to stop by again and give you a follow up to the post I made in January of this year. Here it March 10th and the Pothos cuttings are going strong. No adverse effects have been noted either with the cuttings, the tank or fish with the exception that the floating cuttings at one point extended roots up the intake tube for the filter. A quick reach in and a tuck into a crevice of the log decor has kept this from happening again. Nitrites and Nitrates are down to zero where they should be and I’ve not had to introduce any new chemicals to the tank to combat rising Nitrates, Nitrites or Ammonia. Since the tank has no growing substrate these are strictly floaters with fast growing root systems. Not a single dead leaf, colors of the leaves enhance the beauty of the tank. Again let me say thank you for your article now my next project will be to introduce a diy CO2 system to the tank and begin cycling a new 55 gallon tank. Ahh the joys of being a fishy parent never cease!

  • Diana Emons says:

    A few months ago I read the article on this site and some other sites as well. I have been fearful of buying live plants for my 35 gallon freshwater aquarium due to snails and other pests that would possibly infest my fishy home. I did however have a golden pothos that was over growing it’s planter and after reading the posts here I took some cuttings, rooted them in water taken from the aquarium. This morning after checking the cuttings found they had some pretty hefty roots so decided it was safe to toss them into the aquarium. My fish appear to be enjoying the newly found cover floating at the top of their tank. I will over the next week be checking the nitrate levels and making notes as to changes. But from everything I’ve read and studied I think this may just work to my advantage. Thanks for a great idea!

  • patrick says:

    Wait a minute..is this a common house plant? because I think I have one in the house..i grows so easy..its taking over lol..my mom loves It and she wraps in around the banister on the stairs..is out growing that too lol..is this it? wow I wanna use it in my aquarium

  • The Victoria Gardener says:

    I think it’s safe to say, yes, they make great aquarium plants. I’ve had mine in my aquarium for over a year with little maintenance and no dead fish. Just take a cutting from your plant and plop it in, it’ll do the rest.

  • Kaia says:

    Can pothos be used in my tank? I have a 36 gallon tank with 3 assorted goldfish, a pictus catfish, one betta, a ropefish and a bala shark. I had a planted tank before but most plants died in a tank transfer.

  • The Victoria Gardener says:

    I have two pieces in my 10 g tank and so far no problems. They’re over 2 ft long. Occasionally a leaf dies and it should be removed or it will rot. Best to keep the growing tips above water but it doesn’t matter much, the plant adjusts itself as necessary.

  • aquadude says:

    Can you completely submerge your Pothos or do the leaves have to be out of the water. How many Pothos would be enough to impact water ?

  • Rochelle says:

    I just put a cutting of my Pothos into my aquarium as I saw that it would not harm my Swordtail, Mickey Mouse/ Orange Platy tank. I have a ton of baby Swordtails and wanted to create a nice place for everyone. Thanks for the site and the info on what to do with my overgrown Pothos!

  • Andrew says:

    I think it’s only poisonous if eaten so no problem for a Betta (Yours is about the same colour as one I had back in University).

    Best bet for cheap aquarium plants is to find a local aquarium society and attend the meetings – there will almost always be plants at the auction from cuttings people take while trimming their plants or find someone on a local aquarium society forum who can get you a mix of plants cheap.

    I used to have a lot more aquarium plants but one of my fish in my big tank now will eat or uproot almost anything I try to plant, which can be a bit of a problem.

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Mr Nat. Gardener, Plant Nerd
Tips and tales about gardening in one of the most mild climates in Canada. Specializing in rare and strange plants from far out destinations, this is the story of an obsessed young gardener in Victoria B.C. Let's create more tropical gardens in the garden city on the southern tip of Vancouver Island.
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