Floaters and submerged plants

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Though not as flashy as some of the others, floaters and submerged plants are important to a successful water garden. Floaters are welcome because they help fulfill that two-thirds-coverage requirement for the water garden's surface. They also provide shelter for fish and use nutrients that may otherwise feed unwanted amounts of algae. Favorite floaters and submerged plants include eelgrass, fairy moss, parrot's feather, water hyacinth, water lettuce, and hornwort.

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Submerged plants can fill a similar role or just hang out under the water. Occasionally you'll see submerged plants billed as oxygenating plants, though the oxygenation doesn't occur constantly; They generate oxygen underwater only during the daylight hours. If you peer into the water, you may see tiny bubbles percolating from their foliage into the surrounding water.

Many popular floaters and submerged plants are a problem in the wild. They multiply amazingly fast, clogging waterways and upsetting the balance of nature. It's now illegal to sell or transport some. So don't cheat — buy only from a reputable nursery, make sure they go straight into your water garden, and never, ever improperly discard any part of them. That means don't toss or dump them into wild or manmade waterways or even your back forty or compost pile. Play it safe and bag up unwanted plants and plant parts, and send them away with your household garbage.

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