The Best Plants for Harlequin Rasboras
Harlequins look great in a planted tank. Their bright colours against the foliage can make for some of the best display tanks.
Plants however, have more benefits than just looking nice, and can make your life as a fishkeeper much easier. With so much choice, it can be hard to know what plants work with Harlequin Rasboras.
Which plant species can you put in your Harlequin tank and what plants are suitable for newcomers to plant keeping?
Do Harlequin Rasboras like real plants in their tank?
Harlequin Rasboras are from within the heavily forested swamps, scrapes and bogs of Malaysia, which are densely foliated and filled with leaf litter.
Harlequins have evolved in an environment surrounded with plant life. They are used to taking cover amongst reeds and bushes, so it is safe to say; yes, they do like plants in the aquarium and will very much appreciate having plenty of leaves and plant stems to hide within.
How do you know which plants are suitable for Harlequin Rasboras?
Harlequin Rasboras do well with nearly all aquarium plants, as they do not harm leaves and like to live in neutral to slightly acidic pH levels which is well enjoyed by aquatic plant life.
It is hard to find an aquarium plant that doesn’t go well with Harlequin Rasboras, unless of course you search in the pond section at your local fish store.
Harlequin Rasboras are tropical, and like to stay in warmer temperatures, so they do not go well with cold water plants, which are suited for outdoor ponds.
What plants do Harlequin Rasboras eat?
Harlequin Rasboras will not eat healthy live plants, they will however, pick at and feed on decaying plant matter or rotting leaves if your plant is dying back.
This behaviour is highly beneficial to your tank, as they consume and recycle decomposing plant matter, converting it to faeces which is easier for bacteria and plants to absorb.
Decomposing plant matter would otherwise break apart, leaving rotting debris everywhere which would produce waste ammonia, or could clog up filtration.
How to choose plants for a Harlequin Rasbora tank
Since Harlequins are very plant friendly, there isn’t much issue when it comes to choosing the right plants for them, but you still need to keep in mind the temperature and tank size.
Tank size will vary depending on the setup, but choosing plants which are slow growing and are easy to manage is a good starting point.
As for temperature, your tank should be sitting at around 24C / 75F for Harlequin Rasboras, so you need to choose plants which can withstand this temperature.
Cold water plants better suited for ponds will not always be able to adjust to this high temp and can melt due to the stress that the warm water causes them.
The best plants for Harlequin Rasboras
Most tropical aquarium plants are good for Harlequin Rasboras, as they are well suited for planted tanks. However, there are some plants which they seem to prefer over others and will utilise more often.
Vallisneria is a grass like plant, which grows tall and spreads through the gravel/sand, firmly rooting itself throughout the tank.
Jungle Val is great for Harlequins as it grows tall, much like the reeds in the bogs of Malaysia and allows the Rasboras to dark in amongst it.
Harlequins like to swim in the middle and upper levels of the tank, so having some height to the plants is highly beneficial for them.
This plant produces lots of dense foliage in a shrub like format, providing lots of cover for the Harlequins to hide in.
Repens is also great for removing waste nitrates as it leaches nutrients from the substrate and the water column.
It is easy to prune and control and is a hardy plant that goes well with the acidic soft waters that Harlequins prefer.
Another tall plant which grows from the substrate and up above the water line, Bacopa is a very hardy plant that works well in most aquarium setups. It can even grow outside in cold ponds for most of the year.
Its tall stems provide good hiding for Harlequin Rasboras, and the plant looks amazing when there is good lighting and iron in the water, as it turns slightly red.
What plants should you avoid putting in a Harlequin Rasbora tank?
Plants not to add to your Harlequin tank are those which can only survive in cold water – temperate pond plants, marginals and weeds struggle to withstand constant high temperatures.
Plants are living things too and when they are kept in the wrong conditions, they become stressed. Over time, an over stressed plant will die, its leaves will melt and its roots will become inactive.
Selecting tropical plants which are used to living in warm conditions is key if you want to have a healthy planted tank.
Coldwater Aponogetons, Lily Pads and Water Hyacinths do not always fare well in a tropical tank, and often struggle to get a foothold in the warmer temperatures.
There are tropical variants of these plants, such as the Dwarf Aquarium Lily and Aponogeton boivinianus, which would work great in a Harlequin tank, but your typical, temperate pond plants will struggle to grow.
Do Harlequin Rasboras need live plants?
Rasboras don’t necessarily need live plants to stay alive, but if you really want them to thrive, show their full colours and exhibit natural behaviours, then it is highly recommended to add live plants to your Harlequin tank.
Harlequins highly benefit from living in a planted tank, as it mimics their natural habitat and makes them feel more comfortable, along with the added benefits plants bring.
While you don’t have to keep your fish with plants, you should definitely consider it.