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How Long Can Aquarium Plants Live in a Bag | The Answer

Just last week I went to my local fish store and the aquarium plants were on sale that day. I went ahead and bought some, but I could not add them to my tank on the same day, so I wondered if that would be fine. I quickly jumped online and this is what I found.

Quick Answer

Aquarium plants can stay alive in a bag for around 3 to 4 days. However, it depends on the type of plant, your climate and the way the plants are stored. Wrap the plants in wet paper towels and keep the temperature stable to help them survive longer.

If you buy plants in the morning and need to wait until the evening to get them out of their bag, you do not have to worry. In the rest of the article I will briefly go over some ways for you to make sure your plants survive until you have time to put them into your aquarium.

How to store your plants when they are in a bag

If you need to keep your freshly bought aquarium plants in their bags for a couple of hours, you want to make sure they come out as alive as possible. Live plants aren’t cheap and it would be a shame if they were to die before reaching your tank.

When you are in a store and you know you need to wait over 12 hours, ask the store employee to double bag the plants and add more water than usual. It is important that the leaves of the plants do not dry out as this kills them. Fragile stem-plants last shorter in a bag compared to more sturdy plants like anubias or java ferns.

If your store is unable to assist you properly, try to add some wet paper towels yourself. Especially for more fragile plants the paper towels will really help prevent the leaves from drying out.

How long can aquarium plants live without light?

Nowadays it is increasingly more common to order aquarium plants by mail, and they can be in transit for multiple days. If you’ve ever ordered plants you know that they can be weakened by shipping, and this is because they have not have any light.

Aquarium plants can live up to 3 days without light, but for more fragile plants I would definitely recommend keeping it under 2 days. Leaves will turn pale quickly, and can in turn weaken the plan. Shipping plants generally is fine because they will arrive at their destination in time.

If you want to store bagged plants, try to give them light. Just natural light will be enough, even for plants that need high (intense) lighting in your aquarium.

However, do not put them in direct sunlight!

How does temperature affect bagged plants?

Direct sunlight can heat up your plants to high temperatures and can dry out the leaves quickly. It therefore is important you keep your plants in the shade when they are in plastic bags.

While plants are definitely more hardy than fish (as I would never leave a fish in its bag for nearly as long), it still is important to keep all the parameters as stable as possible. Fluctuation in temperature will stress out the plants quicker and will therefore reduce the time they will be able to survive in a bag.

How to ship aquarium plants

If you want to ship aquarium plants, make sure to bag each plant carefully with a little bit of water to prevent drying out completely. Next to this, you can wrap the plants in wet paper towels, also to prevent drying out.

Next, make sure to dry off all the bagged plants and but them in a fitting container box. If it’s cardboard make sure there is no water leaking that can turn the cardboard to a mushy soup.

When aquarium fish are shipped, there often is a heat pack that keeps the temperature of the water up to more or less the desired temperature. While a lot of plants that we add to our aquariums are indeed tropical plants, the lower temperature are not the limiting factor that predict the plant’s survival: it’s the light.