How Long Can Aquarium Plants Live In Bag?

Growers can ship aquarium plants that survive three or four days in the mail.

If you can’t plant them immediately when you receive them, you can help them live in a bag.

You can keep an aquarium plant in a bag for a few days, but make sure you’re keeping the bags in relatively decent condition.

How Long Can Aquarium Plants Live In A Bag?

Aquarium plants can live in a bag for two to four days if you store the bag at the right temperature. It also helps to add food to the bag. Hardy plants will last longer, even with less care.

You can add fertilizer to the bag to feed them and help them grow before planting. If you just put plants in a bag with no food or water, they won’t last.

There are some ways you can ensure your plant will stay healthy while it’s in a bag.


Adding a small amount of water to the bottom of the bag will ensure the plant’s roots will have accessible water. With a spray bottle, give the leaves water that won’t pull from the roots’ supply.

Check the water regularly and add more when it’s needed. You don’t want to leave the plant sitting in so much water that it rots, but you want to make sure it has enough to survive.

Since aquarium plants need so much water to thrive, it’s best to only keep them in a bag for two or three days if possible. They need a water source, and they won’t get what they need when they are living restricted in a bag.

Sometimes it’s possible to keep plants alive in a bag for up to six days if you add wet towels so the plants can stay damp. 

The towels keep the water from pooling at the plants’ roots. They’re able to get water continuously without becoming soaked.

Cut towels to best fit the size of the plant’s bag. Don’t twist the towels around the plant or its roots because you might restrict the water intake and kill the plant.

Light Exposure

If you ordered a plant by mail, the grower most likely packaged it without light exposure during shipment.

Hardy plants can live for three days without light, while more sensitive plants might last two days.

Open the top of the storage bag so the plan can get sunlight. Some plants might need hours of shade as well, so move the bag when it’s had enough light in one location.

Natural light should be enough, even for plants that require a lot of light once they’re in the aquarium.


Consider how direct sunlight will affect the temperature of the plant as well. Since it’s in a plastic bag, it won’t be able to regulate temperature as it would naturally. 

The plastic can trap the heat and damage the plant. If you put water in the bag, the heat will create humidity. This can keep the plant’s leaves moist while it’s packaged.

On the other hand, you don’t want the plant to get too cold. You also don’t want the plant to go through extreme temperature changes. Going from a hot car to an air-conditioned building can harm the plant.

Asking the shop to double bag the plant will ensure that two layers of plastic will keep the temperature balanced. 

How to Keep Aquarium Plants Healthy Before Planting

When you buy a new plant, you’re probably eager to put it in the tank and see how it looks.

Before jumping to this step, make sure you’re prioritizing the health of the organisms already living in your aquarium.

Quarantining Plants

Before you add new plants to your aquarium, it’s advisable to quarantine them for at least three weeks. This will ensure they’re free of diseases. 

Immediately integrating new specimens into your tank can throw off the entire balance of the water. Such a drastic change can harm the organisms living there.

Plants change the water chemistry in a good way by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. But adding a foreign plant can also introduce unknown bacteria and fungi.

While you’re quarantining new plants, make sure you’re providing liquid fertilizer so they’ll grow in the process. 

Before you plant them, rinse them with fresh water. This will ensure that they won’t transport anything harmful from the quarantine tank to your aquarium.

Acclimating Plants

Many people keep aquarium plants in bags to acclimate them before adding them to the tank. Your plant might look like it’s dying in the bag, but carefully acclimating it can revive it.

You won’t need to acclimate all aquatic plants. However, some plants are just as sensitive to water salinity and temperature as fish, so adapting them slowly gives them a good chance of surviving in the tank.

You can acclimate aquatic plants as you would a new fish, with one of two methods: the floating method or the drip method.

For the floating method, place the container bag in the tank. Allow the temperature inside the bag to adjust to the temperature of the tank’s water. This can take up to 15 minutes.

Open the bag and roll down the top, so there is a lip that keeps it floating. Add half a cup of tank water to the bag every five minutes. 

When the bag is full, carefully pour out half of it and continue adding a half cup of water at a time. Pour water down the drain when you remove it; don’t add it back into the tank.

When you do this over several hours, the plant will adjust to the chemical makeup of your aquarium water. You can remove it from the bag and plant it in the tank.

For the drip method, you also start by putting the bag in the tank for the temperatures to level out. Instead of opening the bag in the water, remove it and put it, with any included water, in a bucket.

Run a drip line, which you can purchase at an aquarium shop, from the tank to the bucket beside it. Adjust the drip rate to two to four drips per second, so the plant isn’t overwhelmed with tank water at once.

When the bucket is twice as full as when you started, pour half of the water down the drain. Then add the drip line back to the bucket and allow it to fill again. This process should take about an hour.

Once you have acclimated to the plant, you can leave some water in the bag and seal it back up. Transport it to the tank, take it from the bag, and place it where you want it to grow.

Also read: How Long Does it Take to Acclimate Fish to an Aquarium?

How to Keep Aquarium Plants Healthy In the Tank

Various plant species will have different requirements for planting and maintenance once they’re in your tank. 

Make sure you take care of them according to their directions so they’ll help filter and balance the quality of your water.

Growers package rooted plants in mineral wool for shipping and storage. Remove the mineral wool to expose the roots before planting.

Trim the roots to stimulate new growth. Hollow a spot in the tank’s substrate and place the plant into it. Cover the roots with the substrate, so they are entirely hidden.

You will plant bulbs in a similar manner. You’ll dig a shallow hole in the tank’s substrate. Place the bulb, keeping about half of it visible from the surface.

You need to anchor rootless plants with decorative wood or stones. Use a monofilament line to tie the plant to the decoration in the way you want it situated, then place it in the tank.

Stem plants come in groups to give your aquarium a bushy look. However, each stem needs to have its own hole in the substrate. This will keep a decaying stem from ruining the rest of the bunch.

After planting, ensure that you keep aquarium water levels ideal for the plants. Most plants need a pH between 6.5 and 7.8 and a temperature between 74 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Aquatic plants don’t need too much light because the light can leech necessary nutrients from the water. Most plants only need eight hours of light a day.

If your tank is in an area that gets a lot of light, you’ll have to replace nutrients in the water. Too much light can also cause algae to grow in the aquarium, so you’ll have to clean it more often.

Final Notes

You can keep plants in a bag for several days, including when you receive them through the mail.

Try to make the conditions as favorable as possible so they won’t only survive in the bag but can even grow.

All of the fish and plants you have in the same tank should be able to live in the same conditions.

If they can all thrive in one environment, they will be mutually beneficial for each other, and you’ll have a harmonious ecosystem.

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