I’ve ordered many of my plants online, though I try to buy from my LFS (local fish store) when possible. Most reputable online sellers have good quality plants, usually prepared well before being shipped. This means that the plants have been cut, unhealthy parts trimmed, and arranged nicely in packaging. Buying from individual planted tank enthusiasts, such as through Ebay, Aquabid, or forums, results in inconsistent preparation of the plants.
The first time I received an unprepared plant order, my first impulse was to become angry with the seller and document how horrible everything looked. As I picked through the plants more thoroughly to take photos, it became clear that the plants weren’t dead – they were just ugly, overgrown, and tangled. While orders like these definitely take significant time and effort to prepare properly, they can often yield large numbers of plants for a low cost.
Here are some shots from an order I received mid January through Aquabid. I had ordered previously from this seller, offering a large number of plants for quite a low price. The first order was beautiful and, save for a stuffed box of ludwigia I’d gotten for a steal, everything was well trimmed and prepared. The second order, however, contained many tangled masses of unprepared plants.
Each stem had to be pulled apart, with dead leaves or stem portions cut off. Some stems were alive with many roots but without any leaves. In the end, I had a large pile of trimmed, usable ludwigia alongside a pile of salvageable waste.
The cleaned pieces could then easily be bundled and held by anchors. It’s important not to wrap the plant anchors too tightly around or cause breakage in the stems. Then, the bundle can easily be planted.
Here was the tank after cleaning and planting all of the order: