I love glass ware, and I love aquatic plants, so the planted vase is definitely the best of both worlds. I like to make these mini habitats with a lot of the extra aquarium supplies and water that I have from my large aquarium. I will take small cuttings from my plants and propagate them, add some baby snails, and recycle the water from my water changes, as I hate to just toss out any water. Here’s my step-to-step guide on how to maintain your own aquatic plant vivarium and keep it looking its best. Check out the shop for some inspirational glassware.

You will need:

A paint brush, tweezers, turkey baster, 2 bowls

Optional items: aquatic plant fertilizers like Sea Chem brand Trace/Flourish/ root tabs


Placement: Placement of your vase can determine the amount of maintenance you will have to do. Your vivarium needs light but it also needs warmth, so sometimes a common sense placement like a window sill may not be the best place for it if you have thin glass. Large temperature changes may also distress your snail. The best place would be a warm place in your house where it can receive some direct and some indirect sunlight. A lot of sunlight may cause an algae bloom so you may need to experiment with conditions if you have yours near a very sunny window.

Weekly water change:

While your mini habitat may not get so dirty in the course of a week, the water will evaporate  and will concentrate the compounds inside. As plant matter breaks down, it creates bi-products like ammonia and nitrites which can be harmful to your plants. This can result in brown or dying leaves. Once a week simply use your turkey baster to suck out approximately 1/5th of the remaining water. Make sure to suck up any debris or dead leaves too. Always replace the water with de-chlorinated water so you don’t harm the bacteria living in your vase. These bacteria help convert the waste from the plants into nutrients. You can buy a bottle of liquid dechlorinator from my online shop or simply leave it to evaporate for four+ hours. If the plants become uprooted, use tweezers to place them back in. You can use the paint brush to clean off any algae from the plants and any dirt that has been stirred up. And that’s it that’s all you need to maintain an aquatic plant vase!


Monthly/ as needed clean:


If your vivarium contains premium aquatic soil, like those sold in our shops, which as a result of movement can become stirred and disturbed within your vase. Once the water is settled you can use a paintbrush to lightly dust the soil from leaves / the walls of the container. This can work for algae too as you can expect some to build on the leaves and glass over time. Algae is a healthy part of a diverse habitat and does not need to be extensively cleaned and provides a source of food for your snail. Regular trimming can be a fun way to ‘bonsai’ your plants and bush/ lengthen them to your liking.

Caring for a snail in an aquatic vase:

When snails are not in the aquarium with fish, they will probably miss having a large food source. The snail will still likely grow much larger though over time. In order to keep it happy it’s a good idea to supplement it’s diet. Fish flakes, or even blanched vegetables like cucumber, zucchini and spinach may be of interest to your snail.  Research online for other fun vegetables and other ways to feed your snail. Remove any uneaten food after a couple days.


Neglected Vivarium care:

Your vase is bound to become neglected at some time, whether your busy or on vacation it does happen so don’t panic. What is important is to maintain the soil and not disturb it too much, so dont go dumping out your whole vase! Your substrate actually holds a lot of beneficial bacteria that maintains a life cycle of waste removal within the vase. You can however clean the plants and trim away all the dead leaves. Simply dechlorinate some water and gently wash the plants in it using your hands or paintbrush to remove the algae. Chlorine destroys beneficial bacteria so not using water straight from the tap is a crucial step in cleaning your plants and getting them back to healthy. With most of the water removed you can use a toothbrush to clean the sides and rinse it in your dechlorinated water as you go. This may be a good time to use some fertilizers to help your plants regain balanced nutrients. Algae creates competition for nutrients which is why it can be damaging to plant health. If you have to trim all the leaves and stem down to practically nothing, as long as the roots are not black and rotten it will most likely grow back as good as new!


And that’s it! In as little as three minutes a week enjoy a flawless planted vase with none of the guesswork of traditional soil plants !