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Best Freshwater Aquarium Plants For Beginners

Choosing live plants for aquariums is easy. It’s easy once you know about the different types of plants, how to care for aquarium plants, and where to put them.

Best Aquarium Plants

Live aquarium plants help filter water and keep it clean. They also provide oxygen and hiding places for fish. These are the best live plants for aquariums:

Java Moss

Java moss thrives in clean and well-lit water. It’s a carpet plant and grows on the substrate in the fish tank. It’s easy to care for and maintain.

Java Moss.
Java Moss.

Java Fern

Java fern is also a natural plant to grow in fish tanks and does well in lit fish tanks.

Java Fern.
Java Fern

Aquarium Banana Plant

The Aquarium Banana Plant is known for its toughness, as it will grow in low-light setups and can flourish either fully or partially submerged.

A banana plant in an aquarium buried in the substrate.
A banana plant in an aquarium buried in the substrate.

Dwarf Aquarium Lily

Dwarf aquarium lilies are beautiful plants. The unique shape of the leaves adds to the aesthetics of the tank. They are easy to care for, but, you must plant the bulb halfway out of the substrate, or the plant will die.

Dwarf Aquarium Lily
Dwarf Aquarium Lily

Anubias

Anubias and Anubias Nana are easy-to-keep aquatic plants for freshwater aquariums. These come on rocks or driftwood when bought in the fish store. This freshwater plant is slow-growing. So, you have to get one that is the right size for your aquarium.

Anubias
Anubias

Brazilian Pennywort

Brazilian Pennywort grows fast and has vibrant and colorful green leaves. It is a very fast-growing and low-maintenance plant with large lily-pad-like leaves.

Brazilian Pennyworth growing in a fish tank.
Brazilian Pennyworth growing in a fish tank.

Anacharis

Anacharis is a popular aquarium plant with a very lush appearance. It is a perennial plant that’s usually found in ponds, lakes and streams, and canals.

Amazon Sword

Amazon sword is an ideal plant for beginner aquarists. It grows large, broad leaves that provide adequate cover for small fish. It is easy to care for and thrives when planted in a loose substrate.

Amazon Sword
Amazon Sword

Aponogeton Ulvaceus Bulb

Aponogeton Ulvaceus Bulb is a background aquarium plant that has green flowing, rippled leaves. A single bulb can produce about 40 leaves.

Aponogeton Ulvaceus Bulb
Aponogeton Ulvaceus Bulb

Water Sprite

Water sprite plants are easy to grow freshwater aquarium plants that can survive floating in the water or planted in the substrate.

Planted water sprite growing out of an aquarium.
water sprite growing out of an aquarium.

Water Wisteria

Water Wisteria is a freshwater plant with green leaves that are tall, lace-like and grow broad.

Water Wisteria
Water Wisteria

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How To Choose The Right Plants For Aquarium?

There are many types of aquarium plants, and they all need proper care to thrive and give benefits to your tank. Here’s how to choose aquarium plants for a fish tank:

Benefits of Live Plants

Live plants provide the following benefits for an aquarium:

  • They convert carbon dioxide into oxygen for your fish.
  • Live plants remove harmful chemical waste products like nitrates from the water column.
  • Oxygen produced by live aquatic plants helps aerate the tank.
  • Adds a natural look to the aquarium.
  • They act as shelter and protection for fish.
  • They break up sight lines—a benefit for territorial fish.
  • When you add live plants to your fish tank, you are improving the quality of the tank water and the health of your fish.

Types of Aquarium Plants

The three main types of aquarium plants are:

  • Foreground plants
  • Mid-ground plants
  • Background plants

Foreground Plants

Foreground plants placed at the front of your aquarium. They are small and slow-growing plants. Many foreground plants grow outward instead of upward. Usually, they cover the bottom of the tank like a carpet. Hence, they are also called carpet plants.

Examples of foreground aquarium plants are:

Mid-ground Plants

You place these types of aquarium plants along the sides of the tank. Mid-ground plants are taller than foreground plants and generally take up less space.

Examples of mid-ground aquarium plants are:

Background Plants

Background plants occupy the back of your aquarium. These kinds of aquarium plants are taller than both foreground and mid-ground plants.

Examples of background aquarium plants are:

When choosing the right type of plant for your aquarium, you have to consider where in the tank you are going to place the plant. The size of the aquarium also influences the type and number of plants. For example, nano fish tanks need smaller plants.

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How To Care For Aquarium Plants

Substrate

Live plants need certain nutrients to flourish. Aquatic plants absorb some nutrients from the water column but absorb most of the nutrition through their roots. Thus, they need a proper substrate.

The substrate is the stuff that lines the bottom of your tank—for example, sand, soil, or gravel. For planted tanks with rooted plants, soil is best as sand and gravel provide no nutrients.

Other plants, for example, floating aquarium plants, don’t depend on the substrate for nutrients. Instead, they get most of their nutrients via the water column.

Lighting

Plants also need adequate light to thrive. They need light to carry out photosynthesis, which converts carbon dioxide into energy for the plants.

Some aquatic plants need little light, others need moderate lighting, and others need lots of light.
There are many different options for aquarium lighting, but not all are ideal for live plants.

An LED aquarium light is a good investment for your fish tanks. You can also depend on natural light, but do not expose your aquarium to too much natural light as it can lead to increased algae growth. Although, if you have any of these algae-eating fish, shrimp, or snails, it might not be such a bad thing.

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Algae Prevention

Algae can hinder aquatic plant growth as they compete for light and nutrients. But, there are algae-eater fishsnails that eat algae, and algae-eating shrimp that you can add to your tank to help combat algae growth.

To further prevent the growth of different types of algae that grow in aquariums, try not to overfeed fish as leftovers can lead to algae growth.

If you don’t keep snails and other algae-eating animals, scrub away the algae on your tank’s glass using an algae scraper on a weekly basis.

Fertilizer

Like plants in a garden, you can boost the development of aquatic plants using fertilizer. But, you have to use a fertilizer that’s safe for fish and other marine life. An iron-based slow-release fertilizer is best. Avoid phosphate-based fertilizers as they promote algae growth.

Maintenance

Be sure to trim or clip leaves that grow so tall or large that they cover the top of the aquarium. It is to prevent them from blocking light needed by other plants. Always make sure to remove dead and decaying leaves. Follow these tips on how to care for aquarium plants and your aquarium should be bustling with life.

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