Controlling moisture and humidity in an aquascape aquarium can seem like a secondary subject. Even if it can seem a minimal concern next to other things such as choosing a style, the right substrate, rocks, or driftwood, you’re about to discover it’s something that can be even more important than those things.
Bad moisture and humidity control can lead to various problems for your plant, from stunted growth to plain death. More importantly, not managing humidity well enough can have dire consequences for you as well. If not properly controlled, humidity can be the cause of mold development in your home, which can be dangerous for you and your family!
In this article, you will learn in detail why it’s important for your plants and you to properly control moisture and humidity levels. I’m also going to give you the means to control them both inside and outside your planted tank, as you will learn the main factors that influence humidity levels.
Why controlling humidity and moisture is important
Controlling humidity and moisture in an aquarium tank is very important as it will help the plants to grow steadily. Lower humidity is always good even if it averages from 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Depending on the type of plants you’re growing, humidity can be a major concern for you. For example, if you plan on growing plants in an emerged form to later have them be submerged in water, the humidity will need to be controlled heavily.
When plants have to transition to living underwater, growing them in a highly humid environment is essential as it will make the change easier on them. This is due to the skin layer of the plant that will adapt to the current humidity level.
As the skin will control how much humidity the plant will transfer to the outside, it will thicken to prevent humidity loss in dry environments and be thinner in very humid ones.
Following that logic, if the plant is grown in a humid setting, it won’t have to adapt much to live underwater. Be careful though, humid and wet ground are two very different things, if the plant is growing in an environment that is far too humid it can start rotting and dying, so you need to reach the perfect balance!
Finding the right humidity and moisture level for your plants requires both extensive research and observation. Remember that having a lot of different plant types under the same tank can mean very different needs, so always try to go for plants that need the same environment.
Your location is also important, as different countries can have very different humidity levels, so you need to adapt accordingly to raise or lower it as needed. Humidity and moisture needs can also change based on the plant’s maturity.
While controlling humidity and moisture is important for your plants, it’s as important, if not more, for you. If your tank’s humidity is badly controlled, it can spread to your home and cause great damage if left unchecked!
If your tank is raising humidity too much in your house, it can impact your comfort negatively. Too much humidity will cause damage to anything made out of wood in your house; paint and coverings will also start to decay.
In case it gets really bad, even worse situations can start to develop. Mildew will develop on your walls, floors, and even clothes if a certain humidity level is reached, which will bring its lot of bad odors.
Allergens such as mold or dust mites will start developing in your home, and even insects can start to proliferate freely if humidity level continues to worsen.
How to control humidity and moisture
Humidity in the aquarium is based on water. There are many equipment and techniques to keep the humidity level of water on average standards.
What influences humidity and moisture
Humidity and moisture will mainly be controlled by three things: air-conditioning, temperature, presence of water in the environment.
Your tank will be very important for controlling humidity effectively. A fully closed aquarium with small vents will keep moisture and warmth inside the tank. This can be great for certain plant types that would grow in tropical settings and would need high humidity to thrive.
If, on the other hand, you’re growing plants that thrive best in arid environments, opting for a tank with a plexiglass or glass surface as well as a netted top will do wonders as humidity will escape the tank and spread out.
If what you need is high humidity, you should always stay away from wood as it will mold. Even without wood, you will still need to do regular cleaning and ventilation to avoid mold and bacteria development. As high humidity means water in the air, make sure all your electrical devices are insulated.
Proper temperature control is also crucial to controlling humidity levels. You will need a thermometer to monitor the temperature effectively. Keep in mind that the warmer the temperature, the quicker water in your aquarium will evaporate, meaning more humidity.
If you’re looking to reduce humidity, you should try to reduce room temperature first. The reverse is also true for raising the humidity.
You can monitor humidity with a hygrometer. If you wish to change the humidity level, you can play with the water in the room. The more water sources present in the room, the more humid it will be.
Digital Hygrometer & Indoor Thermometer
You don’t need, however, to lay multiple water bowls to raise humidity. You can raise humidity and your design attractiveness together by adding foggers that will create small clouds in the tank. Misters can be programmed to give a quick humidity spike every X hours.
Humidifiers are more standard and will continuously supply the room with fresh air. Low tech ways to raise humidity also exist in the form of spraying bottles.
As too much humidity can become a problem, feel free to get rid of foggers, misters, or stop spraying your tank with water if mold or mildew starts developing in the room.
Controlling humidity and moisture
To reduce humidity, one of the first things you can do is to reduce water in the air. You can do it by getting it of any fogger, mister, or humidifier you have in the room. Using an air conditioner during the whole year is also a good way to lower moisture.
If you’re serious about it, you should invest in an air-conditioner that can operate at different speed levels. Another good addition to your house to fight humidity is a global dehumidifier that will reduce the humidity of your whole house.
Fighting humidity can be counter-intuitive sometimes. You may think that lowering the temperature is a good way to lower humidity, having to touch the thermostat to get rid of humidity might indicate a problem elsewhere as it’s not a stable solution.
High Humidity 50 Pint Capacity Dehumidifier
While air-conditioners are one of the main ways to cut down humidity and moisture, you should know that they can only keep up with so much, and you should take steps to ensure proper humidity control yourself and not rely 100% on air-conditioning.
Installing vents in the room where your aquarium is located will even out humidity between other rooms or the outside, this can be especially useful to make use of your local climate.
Talking about the outside environment, if you live in a particularly wet climate, you should make sure to seal any leaks in the room, so the outside climate does not alter the room humidity.
While you will be growing plants inside your tank, you shouldn’t neglect outside plants as well! Some plants have the ability to absorb humidity. Instead of buying a very expensive air-conditioner, consider planting a few Boston ferns first to see if it helps in any way.
If you still have problems containing humidity, you should consider going for a dry start tank. A dry start tank is simply a tank where you start with very little water.
You would first place the soil, decorations, hardscape, and plants, then spray water regularly and wait. This will, however, require patience has set up a dry start tank that can require up to 8 weeks before it’s full.
Dry start aquariums can be a good way to monitor and adapt to changing humidity levels as the variation will happen over a few weeks you will have more time to prepare and test different ways to increase or decrease moisture depending on your needs.
As you learned, you should do extensive research on your plants, so you know what humidity level is best for them.
You now know about the three levers of humidity: Temperature, Water in the air, air conditioning. You also learned about ways to interact with those levers to raise or lower humidity in your aquarium and in the room where it’s stored.
Daily monitoring of humidity should become one of your top priorities as aquarium tanks tend to generate a lot of it. Having a house or a room with high humidity can bring a lot of negative things like mold or bugs.
If you’re still feeling overwhelmed and unsure about how to control humidity, consider beginning with a dry start tank as it will gradually increase humidity levels and give you time to prepare for it.