Photosynthesis in Aquatic Plants



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Photosynthesis or how plants manage to produce Oxygen out of sunlight

This is a process that is powered by the energy of light. In nature the light source is of course the sun. In your aquarium artificial illumination provides the needed energy.

During photosynthesis carbon dioxide is absorbed while oxygen is expelled. These two gases enter and leave the plant through very tiny pores. The green pigment called chlorophyll is the substance that is responsible for this process. Photosynthesis also produces simple sugars like glucose which are the building blocks for the plant. Glucose in fact is the food of the plant. Oxygen is only produced as a byproduct while carbon dioxide is only necessary to keep the photosynthesis process going.

Since photosynthesis is most active in the blue and red portions of light you should choose aquarium lights with that in mind. There can be only photosynthesis when there is light – the process stops when there is no more light available i.e. nighttime.


Knowing that photosynthesis stops in the night raises the question about what is happening during those dark hours. Don’t forget that your aquarium plants usually have originated in the tropics where there is about twelve hours of daylight. During the other twelve hours the main process is respiration. This is in fact the opposite of photosynthesis. During darkness food substances are broken down (with the help of oxygen) and carbon dioxide is produced as a byproduct.

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