The right timing for trimming aquatic plants
When should I cut back my plants?

Every aquarium keeper enthuses about the beautiful final shots of lush planted tanks with ideally positioned plants. Here we'll give you hints and tips for getting your aquascape ready for this shot, or rather, for enabling you to enjoy your aquarium in this perfect state as often as possible.

The be-all and end-all of aquascaping is in fact not so much setting up the layout but maintaining it in the long run, and in this respect, the right method for trimming the plants. Especially aquascapes in which fast-growing stem plants or ground-covering plants are used need to be trimmed on a regular basis to maintain their shape. However, as we often have different plant species in our tanks, we need to take into account their different growing speeds when planning maintenance work. The right timing is thus really important.

Almost everybody probably knows the following thoughts: "Well, I trimmed the ground-covering plants last week. They have not yet fully recovered from the cutback, however, the stem plants in the background have grown out far too long. However, when I cut back those stem plants now, the ground-coverers will look good next week, but the stem plants will still be too sparse."

Given that your tank provides the plants with the optimum conditions for growth and you fertilize correspondingly, it is very helpful to write some kind of log about plant maintenance. Here you can write down when you trimmed each plant group last and when it has regained an optically good condition. This is especially necessary for fast-growing plants. This gives you the basis for an individual maintenance schedule.

For example:

Foreground Glossostigma elatinoides 7 days
Background Rotala rotundifolia 10 days
Midground Staurogyne repens 20 days

From these data you can create a time schedule for trimming the individual plant species. The plant that has the longest interval (here: Staurogyne repens 20 days) gives you the maximum time frame. From this, you count backwards to get the most perfect condition at day 0 for all plant groups. Cut back all the other plants on the day that is given by their individual schedule.

For example:

The plant group with the longest time frame is Staurogyne repens, with 20 days. 20 days are thus our maximum time frame.

By counting back, you will get the following schedule:
Day 20: trimming Staurogyne repens
Day 10: trimming Rotala rotundifolia
Day 7: trimming Glossostigma elatinoides
Day 0: all plant species are in perfect condition.

If you keep to this schedule, your aquascape will feature harmoniously growing plants and look its best as often as possible.