“ Algarde / # ASIN: B005GEYCP4 / Silk aquarium Lobelia plant „
I've been through my fair share of artificial aquarium plants over the years, and have found that for the most part plastic is better! I bought this silk lobelia though after seeing it at half price in a local aquatics shop since it's really attractive and was a bargain for what it is.
It is a multi leaf design so it has quite a bushy look to it; it consists of three main stems, each with multiple leaves on, glued into a weighted base which can be buried under gravel or similar, or not. Since it is weighted it will stay sitting on the bottom of your tank without needing to be being buried. I actually used it in a turtle tank and since I don't use gravel for turtles this was very handy. I set in in a pile of large pebbles but it did invariably get moved by inquisitive little critters, but it stayed upright and on the bottom of the tank! The leaves themselves are a dark green with purpley highlights and they look really natural. I was very pleased with how this looked in my tank and was pretty happy with my bargain.
Only thing is, being silk it can't take much scrubbing. I like to scrub algae off decor every so often, just to stop it building up too much. Algae is harmless for the most part, so long as you don't get over run by it (it can then interfere with water parameters) and is a natural by product of having water and light. But it can look unsightly. I keep a selection of dish brushes and scrubby sponges that I use for cleaning tanks and associated equipment, and this plant unfortunately started to show real damage from cleaning very quickly - the edges of the leaves went a bit 'hairy' and there were fibres and threads coming loose. Now, being a thorough re-user (some call me tight!) I simply trimmed these off to keep it neat and managed to get more use out of it. However, a little down the line the colours of the plant started to fade significantly, and the loose threads got so bad that I couldn't do anything to neaten it up again and it had to go in the bin as it just kept unravelling.
Worth noting though that the stems themselves and where they attached to the base were very strong, and still in one secure piece when the leaves died! For this reason I think they would be a nice addition to a terrestrial animal enclosure where serious cleaning will not be required. I have used similar artificial plants in these environments successfully.
To be fair, silk plants are probably not made to stand up to being scrubbed with a brush or an abrasive sponge, but the truth is that at some point or another they are going to need cleaned in this way. I have tried soaking in hot water and wiping with a softer cloth, and I have tried leaving to dry and simply brushing any algae off. Neither of these work to remove all the grime that has built up though. The only really effective way to clean is to scrub in my opinion, especially since you should not use anything other than plain water unless you want a lot more faffing and rinsing before putting it back in your tank.
As I said I got this half price which was £3.49. This is a good price for the larger sized (approx 7" tall) silk plants and they are of a decent quality. It's just unfortunate that they can hardly be cleaned after a while. For this reason, I certainly won't be buying any again unless they are seriously reduced, and similarly I wouldn't recommend them to anyone else either at full price. If I am going to part with the best part of a tenner for a fake plant, I certainly don't want to have to throw it away and replace it often in order to keep my tank looking the way I want it! I have rated it 3/5 as it is beautiful and the overall build quality is great. However, I am not giving it my full recommendation, as I think aquarium decor should be able to take a scrubbing!