Pearling plants: The What, Why, and How-To's

Published on December 4, 2019
Pearling plants: The What, Why, and How-To's

Bubbles are such a delight--blowing them when we were still kids and popping those bubble wraps even as adults. So it’s no wonder why you’d also love some of those in your tank as an aquarist.

That’s what pearling plants are for, but we’re pretty sure you’re still confused about how they come to be. It’s simple, stuff your aquarium with plants.

Okay, of course, we know you’re curious about how it works in terms of its natural process. So read on for a short lecture on how to make aquarium plants pearl under different circumstances.

The Natural Process

Before we get to the hacks on having those bubbles in your tank, you have to understand that pearling plants are a result of natural activity. All plants emit oxygen as they undergo photosynthesis.

Pearling plants are a result of your tank being incapable of holding the amount of oxygen produced within it. When this happens, the leaves of your aquatic plants will start having bubbles forming on them.

You’ll also see bubbles hovering up to the water surface. These could be small bubbles floating together or creating one long-form.

Are Pearling Plants Healthy for Your Aquarium?

As described in the natural process, pearling plants are a mere product of successful photosynthesis. The reaction of your tank water also doesn’t propose any harm to your aquatic environment.

Instead, you get an aesthetically pleasing effect that makes your little display of the ocean seem like a cartoon underwater scene. Just make sure that the bubbles aren’t stuck in one location as that would be leaking or streaming.

Streaming is a sign that something in your plant has some damage. The issue isn't a big deal, though, as it doesn’t allude to any serious overall plant growth problem.

Just remember, as long as the bubbles are all over the tank, you can count on it to be actual pearling.

How to Make Aquarium Plants Pearl

Your tank settings are the key to facilitating the pearling of your plants. You need to speed up the natural process of your plants by putting your artificial photosynthesis-inducing factors at a high rate.


Increase your high light intensity, primarily because it serves as the alternative sunlight for your aquatic plants. Remember that the sun aids mostly in the growth of every plant.

You should have at least 0.7 watts per liter of illumination penetrating your tank for a successful and faster pearling.


The next thing you should level up is your supply of CO2. For rapid pearling results, you should put both components on a high level, although heightening only either makes enough massive difference as well.

A stable CO2 supply that can cause plants to pearl earlier than usual should be around 30ppm. Now, the specific levels you should adjust to still depend on the size of your tank.

The goal is to have oxygen saturate your tank. Smaller aquariums are the most natural space for such in terms of measuring the elements and costs, of course. We all know how CO2 for tanks take too much of the aquarium expenses.

Plants Pearling After Water Change

It is possible for plants to pearl after you’ve already replaced the existing pool.

We know, it’s confusing. Trust us, all aquarists’ forums are full of people like you wondering what’s the real deal with this defiance of the basic principle.

After digging up quite deep into blogs from experts and discussions from pearling plant geeks, we’ve found out that it’s just how oxygen is--it’s gaseous. The pressure from the pipes holding in the new water supply allows the infusion of it with the remaining gas in the tank.

Many hobbyists deem this as fake pearling, though. The bubbles popping up are not ghosts or anything, but water change-triggered pearling is a side effect of the main agenda that is the replacement of tank water.

In our opinion, the adjective “fake” associated with this kind of pearling trick makes this thing such a big deal when it shouldn’t be. The whole idea of producing these pearling plants are just a side-effect as much as this one, too.

That’s what makes our aquarists’ forums interesting as I guess we’ll all never agree on anything. Well, as long as your plants begin pearling from either circumstance, then this entire debate doesn’t matter anymore.

Things that Can Disrupt Pearling

If you want bubbles to appear in your little sea, you probably have an idea for upgrading other lifeforms or ornaments in it. You want to make it authentic, and we relate so well with that.

However, a  couple of these things can impede the pearling process.

Strong Current

Built-in tank waterfalls are a great addition to your aquatic space. However, their currents are a big red flag when trying to get your plants to pearl.

Strong current from water pumps and similar mechanisms can blow up your bubbles even before they make a noticeable presence.

Active Animals

Active aquatic pets are quite a force against pearling plants as well, especially that it’s behavioral. We know you get the picture: animals in your tank, moving around too much, and in a very playful manner leads to disaster!

Just choose modest aquarium pets that are known for ignoring plants or get something like shrimp or snails.

A Few Last Tips

Since photosynthesis is a big part of your aquatic plants’ life, you might want to respect that and not rush it just for tank bubbles. Although we’ve mentioned ways to accelerate the procedure of achieving pearling plants, it’s always better to not push through extremes.

You have to let your plants breathe a little, especially if they’re new in your controlled environment. Photosynthesis enables plants to thrive. So don’t focus on advancing the cycle just for bubbles, or you’ll end up having plenty of streams and a group of exhausted greens.

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