Having houseplants in our home provides us with so many benefits. We feel calmer, and our house looks great. Why should our fish friends be left out of the fun? Did you know you could put plants in your aquarium?
You can make the environment for your fish more enriching with plants. If you’re ready to dive into the world of aquascaping, read on to find our houseplants you can put in aquarium.
Why Use Real Plants Instead of Fake Ones?
You must wonder why you should put so much effort into caring for plants when you can buy fake plants. While they might look okay, they do not give you the benefits natural plants do.
First of all, your fish will interact with natural plants more. Some fish might even eat them sometimes. They work hard to clean your tank water for you. Plants consume ammonia and nitrates in the water keeping the nitrogen level in check. That allows you to change less water every week, giving your fish less of a shock. They also produce oxygen in the tank.
Do You Need Special Equipment for Aquatic Plants
You may have heard that you need fancy lights and equipment for keeping aquatic plants in your fish tank. While that is true for certain plants, many beginner-friendly plants don’t need any special setup. For beginner aquascaping, you will need:
- Regular tank lights
- Liquid aquarium fertilizer
- Root tabs
- Long tweezers
If you want to go all out for your tank, you can invest in a CO2 injection system and superior aquatic plant lights. Doing this will open your options for adding more plants to your aquascape.
However, if you want some mosses, Anubias, and Jungle Val in your tank, you don’t need anything fancy.
Types of Aquarium Plants
Aquatic plants can be classified by their position in the tank, whether they float, and their hardiness. They are also classified biologically into different genera and families. Here are the basic types of plants
Floating plants stay on the surface of the water in your tank. Their roots grow downwards. They are an excellent source of cover for shy fishes and provide a fun textural element to the top of your tank.
They also reduce the light for low-light plants in the middle or foreground of the tank. They propagate very fast, so you will need to remove extra plant matter, or it will block too much light, prevent airflow, and make feeding your fish difficult.
These plants don’t float on top of the water or need to be planted in the substrate. They are great for the midground of your tank. You can tie or even superglue them to rocks or driftwood in your tank. The attached plants and floating plants get their nutrients from the water.
These plants form long root runners in the substrate. They need root tab fertilizers placed near them in the substrate.
List of Aquatic Plants
Riccia fluitans, also known as crystalwort moss, is a floating plant that grows green mats of thin stems and leaves. It originated in Europe and Asia and can tolerate low CO2 and moderate light. Floating on the surface, it will grow faster in full light and gets the CO2 it needs from the air.
It can be submerged in the water and treated like an attached plant, but then it requires CO2 injections in the water.
In optimal conditions, it will form oxygen bubbles on the leaves, a beautiful effect known as pearling. It has a wide temperature range of 59 – 86°F but will thrive in the 70s°F. The pH requirement is between 6 and 8, making it great for many fish. It is the favorite hiding place for small fry.
Amazon frogbit or Limnobium laevigatum is a floating plant native to Central and South America but found as an invasive species in California. It has round green leaves with invisible hairs, grows aggressively, and needs constant trimming.
It forms pretty white flowers that look great on the tank’s surface when it matures. A hardy aquatic plant like this can survive without special lighting and CO2 injections. It needs a water pH of 6 to 7.5 and tolerates temperatures between 68-86°F.
Dwarf Water Lettuce
Dwarf water lettuce of the Nile plant is an herbaceous perennial plant found worldwide. This is also another floating plant. Its leaves form florets similar to the cabbage and lettuce we eat, and its roots grow fairly long down into the tank. Fishes enjoy swimming in between its long roots.
The required temperature is between 72°F to 86°F, and the pH range is 6 to 7.5. Remember to quarantine your new dwarf water lettuce before adding it to the main tank. It might shed its roots, but that is normal, and will grow right back.
Red Root Floaters
Red root floaters or Phyllanthus Fluitans are native to the Amazon river basin and are extremely easy-to-grow floating plants perfect for low-tech tanks. They have round red leaves, and they look like young water lettuce.
To plant them, you simply need to place them on the surface of your aquarium, and viola, they start propagating. Remember to remove some of them, or else they will block light in the entire tank.
Anubius is an aquatic or semi-aquatic plant native to tropical Africa. It is a staple in beginner aquascaping since it is hardy, low-tech, and resilient.
It has triangular or spear-shaped leaves, which can be wider, thinner, or wavy depending on the variety. The color ranges from light green to deep dark green leaves.
You can plant it in the nutrient-rich substrate or attach it to the tank’s driftwood, rocks, or other decorations. We recommend keeping the rhizome above the substrate. The roots can be in the substrate.
They come in very large, medium, and petite varieties. Small plants could be large baby plants, so be careful while buying them.
They grow fine without CO2 injection and need a water temperature between 72°F – 78°F. They need the average slightly alkaline water pH and can survive lighting conditions.
Bucephalandra, more commonly known as Buce, is rare in the US but growing in popularity. These plants need low light and do better when attached to rocks or driftwood than planted in the substrate.
The stressed leaves might undergo some melting when placed in your tank, but as long as the rhizome is undamaged, the plant will grow more leaves. The new leaves will be acclimated to your tank. Buce plants look like anubius, and their care is very similar to theirs.
Buce plants are a genus of plants with about thirty known species ranging in size and colors. You can even find them with red or purple leaves or stems.
Believe it or not, these plants are from the same family as the peace lily and sometimes form white flower bracts and even berries. They are an excellent addition to the midground or, if large enough, the background of your tank.
Leptochilus pteropus is commonly known as the Java Fern after the Indonesian island, where it was discovered. Many regional varieties have different sizes, colors, and leaf shapes. There are popular cultivars such as the narrow leaf or trident leaf varieties.
These robust plants are extremely popular since they are easy to grow without equipment. They do well in tanks full of fish. You must glue or tie these plants to something rigid like driftwood or rock since they do the same in the wild. They do not do great planted into the substrate.
They propagate by pods or growths on leaves that attach to something hard and start growing. These plants are slow growers and need help to fend off algae. Algae-eating fish ensure that it thrives.
Bolbitis is a group of fern plants. A fantastic member of this group for beginners is the Bolbitis Heudelotii Difformis. The plant can be grown above or underwater. It has intricately shaped fern leaves.
Bolbitis is an epiphyte like the java fern, and you plant this similarly by attaching it to the hardscape, not the substrate. These plants get their nutrients from the water, not the substrate.
Like buce plants and the fava fern, they require liquid fertilizer added to the water. They also clean the water of ammonia and nitrates. You still have to change the water regularly, but you can change it a lesser amount than before.
These Bolbitis like a temperature between 70°F – 80°F and a pH of 5.5 – 7.5. This is the standard temperature and pH most low-tech plants require, and many fish thrive in.
Ludwigia Palustris Super Red
As the name suggests, this aquatic perennial herb is bright red and makes your tank look amazing. The vibrant red contrasts the cool shades of greens in your tank. It is a good background plant, but trimming it to the correct size makes it a brilliant midground plant. CO2 injection is unnecessary, but it will help it grow faster.
The red color means that fish will go wild for it. They may eat it all up. So choose it for tanks in which the picky fish won’t care for it.
When you receive the plant, it might be green, but it will get red with more care. They need water rich in iron, nitrates, and phosphates to achieve their bright red color.
Mosses are brilliant, versatile plants that add much greenery to your tank. Most mosses are hardy and don’t need CO2 injection or high-powered lights. While they will, of course, benefit from them, they can grow well without them. They form attachments to the hardscape of your tank.
They can attach themselves with time, but aquascapers are coming up with creative ways to attach them quickly, like using water-safe glue. This method is better than tying them with a string since it could harm the fish.
Mosses can also be shaped into extraordinary objects to decorate your tank. If you aim to create an aquascape that looks like a desert, you can turn mosses into cacti by shaping them. You can also make them resemble grassy hills.
Some mosses look like ferns, so you can also take advantage of that. If you have a moss-dominant tank, remember they prefer the water on the cooler side. They do best in temperatures closer to 69 °F to 75 °F range.
It wouldn’t be an article about aquatic plants without mentioning crypts. The aquascaping staples are readily available in aquarium stores.
Native to tropical Asia, Cryptocoryne, commonly called crypts, is a group of over sixty flowering aquatic plants that come in many varieties. They are planted in the substrate if you keep the rhizome above the substrate.
Eleocharis parvula, commonly known as dwarf spikerush or hair grass, is a popular carpet plant used in aquascaping. It can imitate real grass with it short, thin leaves that closely resemble blades of grass.
These are planted directly in the substrate for the foreground of your tanks. They are the best aquatic groundcover for low-tech tanks without CO2 injection.
Vallisneria Americana, also known as Jungle Val, is a common freshwater aquarium plant that has remained a favorite for fish hobbyists for decades. Its consistent popularity is because it survives all kinds of lighting and water conditions. The impressive pH range of 6 to 9 is a testament to its hardiness. It likes the temperature between 64°F and 82°F.
The long leaves create a perfect playground for fish to play hide and seek. Just remember they do better in larger tanks because they grow quickly.
Now you know enough about aquatic plants to get started. You need to get your toes wet if you are ever going to cross the river. We hope this has helped you choose some plants to start your journey into the beautiful world of aquascaping. We wish you good luck whether you want a better environment for your fish or you want to create breathtaking aquascapes.
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Hi! I’m Sophia, and I love plants – especially an expert in growing house plants. I stay in Chicago, United States of America, and through my blog and social media platforms, provide tips and tricks on how to grow healthy, vibrant plants indoors. Check out more here.