I was compelled to do this post because I have been shopping for live plants for Squirt's tank. So far he has one live plant in there. It is a "marimo moss ball" He LOVES it. It is like the easiest aquarium plant to care for. It is literally a ball of moss and all you really have to do is put it in the tank and enjoy it. It just looks like a fuzzy green ball. I'll have to put a picture up of it later.
Anyway, Squirt loves his moss ball. He likes how soft it is, and he likes to take naps up against it. It is so cute!
Live plants are great for aquariums because the fish love them, they are softer than plastic plants, more real looking, and they help keep the water clean. Plants use the ammonia and nitrites which are toxic to the fish and turn them into nitrates.
So yes, I do have a warning about buying live plants. I learned this the hard way. You have to check to make sure that the plant really is AQUATIC. For some bizarre reason, pet stores like Petsmart and Petco apparently sell plants that are not aquatic and label them for use in fish tanks. However they will die quickly because they aren't meant to be submerged in water.
I bought a cool plant called a "white ribbon plant". It didn't have any instructions with it, so I looked up on the internet about how to care for it and found out that it is not aquatic! So fortunately I hadn't put it in the tank yet, so I will be returning it tomorrow and getting a plant that really is aquatic.
So the moral of this is, it pays to do your research first, make sure the plant is aquatic, and (this may become my new motto!): not everything a Pet store sells is safe pets, or in this case not all plants that they sell are meant for fish tanks!