The minerals necessary to plants are termed nutrients. Every species has its own special requirements, although a large number of species will need the same materials in about the same proportions. Natural waters contain certain groups or proportions of mineral elements, and plants have evolved in such a way as to be able to occupy waters containing certain concentrations of minerals. It is possible to classify natural water in several groups, each according to its nutritional value.
1) Waters poor in nutrients (oligotrophic) and containing less than O.Olg dissolved material per liter. In waters like these relatively few plants grow, and all are specialized.
2) Waters rich in organic substances and inhabited largely by amphibious plants with emersed leaves. For submersed plants such
Asian fish dealers utilize water hyacinth [Eichhomia) to protect their fish from too much light. Photo by Lee Chin Eng.
waters are mostly unsuitable. These organically rich waters arise in the aquarium if a planting medium rich in humus, such as horticultural soil or peat, is used. Submersed leaves usually become unkempt and then decay.
3) Waters rich in mineral substance (eutrophic) and having plenty of basic mineral nutrients and a very small quantity of organic substances. This is the most suitable water for the aquarium containing clean, washed sand. Fish feces fall into the sand and decompose into mineral substances. A biological filter which accelerates the decomposition of organic substances into mineral ones helps greatly,
4) Waters with a superabundance of mineral substances (brackish) are found on soils rich in salts and at the mouth of rivers entering the sea. Few species grow here, and they are generally specialized and unsuitable for the aquarium.
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