distributor at a trade show in Germany,
the distributor told the company that his
customers would never buy plastic plants
because they only wanted real ones. Try as
they might, they could not persuade the
distributor that plastic plants would be a
A few months passed and this same
German distributor happened to be visiting
the pet product company’s New York
office, where there was a large show tank
aquascaped with plastic plants. This tank
had been set up for quite some time, and
there was some algae growth on the plants,
so the tank had a very natural appearance.
While they were walking through the
office, they walked by this show tank full
of plastic plants. Without any solicitation,
the German distributor stopped in front
of the tank and said, “Now that’s what my
customers want, real plants. The day you
can make plastic plants that look like that is
the day that I place my first order.” Imagine
this man’s shock when a salesperson told
him that he was going to get his order book
to take the man’s first order!
All the decor in this aquarium is artificial, including the driftwood—only the fish are real.
This happened more than 30 years ago,
and artificial plants look even better today.
Improvements include new designs and
varieties, color enhancements (whether
you like natural colors, or some of the
wild ones now available, such as neon or
fluorescents), and different types of bases,
including resin ones. There are even silk
versions that will gently sway naturally
with the water movement. Who knows
what else the future will bring?
A lot of time and effort goes into
establishing a well-planted tank, not to
mention a lot of money, not only for the
equipment associated with heavily planted
tanks, but also for the plants themselves.
Once a tank is planted with live plants, your
work has only begun. Pruning, fertilizing,
removing dead leaves, and relocating plants
are only some of the tasks you will need
to be on top of if your tank is to succeed.
Whether that is enjoyable or takes away
from the hobby is up to each individual
hobbyist to decide. The results of such a
tank can be breathtaking, as one can see in
the pages of this magazine.
With plastic plants, however, simply
rinse them off and place them in the tank
wherever you like, and you have an instant
aquascape. It can be as easy as that. If
you decide later that you don’t like the
Courtesy of Penn Plax, Inc.
Plastic plants are available in a variety of fore-, mid-, and background types, so a natural-looking aquascape is possible by creatively combining them—and one plant won’t grow to
positioning of one or all of your plants, no
problem, just move them again.
Plastic plants are also available in many
different sizes, so there’s no waiting for them
to grow to the size you would like. They are
available in foreground, mid-ground, and
background sizes. You can group different
sizes of the same plant together to make
a very natural-looking layout. One of my
favorite setups uses plastic val plants that
are taller than the intended tank, with the
leaves kind of floating on the surface, really
making a great natural look, in addition to
providing shelter for your fish. Plus you
don’t have to worry about them shading
any of your other plants, because lighting
is irrelevant. With artificial plants, you are
only limited by your imagination.
There are many other advantages of
plastic plants besides cost, time and effort,
and lighting. Maintenance—or should I
say the lack of maintenance—is definitely
one big advantage of such plants. The
most you may have to do is clean them
of some excessive algae, which can be
easily accomplished with hot water. You