best plants to grow in your aquarium

Creating a lush underwater garden not only contributes to a healthy aquatic ecosystem but also makes your aquarium more visually captivating. Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned aquarist, incorporating the right plants can transform your aquarium into a vibrant, thriving haven for your aquatic friends. This guide will help you discover the best plants to grow in your aquarium, understand their care requirements, and appreciate the beauty and balance they bring.

Best Freshwater Plants for Beginner Aquarists

As a beginner, you might want to start with low-maintenance plants that can tolerate a variety of conditions. Some great beginner-friendly options include:

  • Java Moss (Vesicularia dubyana): This plant is very hardy and can thrive in a wide range of conditions. It’s a fantastic choice for providing shelter for fry and shrimp.
  • Amazon Sword (Echinodorus grisebachii): With its broad leaves and impressive height, this plant adds a lot of greenery and serves as an excellent hiding place for your fish.
  • Anubias (Anubias spp.): These plants are slow-growing and extremely easy to care for, ideal for beginners.

Pros and Cons of Growing Plants in Aquariums


  • Improves Water Quality: Plants absorb waste and produce oxygen, contributing to a healthier tank environment.
  • Provides Shelter: Plants offer hiding and spawning places for your aquatic inhabitants.
  • Enhances Aesthetic Appeal: Plants add color, depth, and a natural element to your aquarium’s design.


  • Requires Maintenance: Like all living things, plants need care, which can include proper lighting, fertilizing, and regular pruning.
  • Potential for Pests: Plants can introduce pests or disease into the aquarium if not properly quarantined.

Caring for Aquarium Plants: A Comprehensive Guide

Caring for aquarium plants primarily involves providing proper lighting, CO2, and nutrients. Most aquarium plants need about 10-12 hours of light per day. Regarding nutrients, a good quality substrate will provide most of what they need, but some plants might require additional fertilization.

Low-Light Plants for Aquariums

If your aquarium doesn’t get a lot of light, consider these options:

  • Java Fern (Microsorum pteropus): This plant is very hardy and grows well even in low light.
  • Cryptocoryne (Cryptocoryne spp.): There are many varieties of ‘crypts’ and they all do well in low light.
  • Moss Balls (Aegagropila linnaei): These spherical algae formations are unique and thrive in low-light conditions.

Fast-Growing Plants for Aquariums

If you want to quickly fill up your tank or help control algae, consider these fast-growing species:

  • Hornwort (Ceratophyllum demersum): This is a floating plant that grows incredibly fast and provides excellent cover for fish.
  • Duckweed (Lemna minor): Be careful with this one – it multiplies rapidly and can cover the entire surface of your aquarium.
  • Water Wisteria (Hygrophila difformis): With adequate light and nutrients, this plant can grow quickly and fill your tank with beautiful greenery.

Aquatic Plants for Betta Fish Tanks

Bettas love having plants in their tank for hiding and resting. Some great options are:

  • Indian Almond Leaves (Terminalia catappa): While not a plant, these leaves provide great resting spots for bettas and release beneficial tannins.
  • Java Fern (Microsorum pteropus): As previously mentioned, Java Fern is a hardy and low-light plant that can provide excellent cover for bettas.
  • Anubias nana (Anubias barteri var. nana): This is a small, slow-growing plant with broad leaves that bettas love to lounge on.

Algae Control Using Aquarium Plants

Certain aquatic plants can help control algae by outcompeting them for nutrients. Fast-growing plants like Hornwort, Duckweed, and Water Wisteria are particularly effective. Floating plants, such as Frogbit (Limnobium laevigatum), also block light, which can help keep algae in check.

Creating a Natural Habitat with Aquarium Plants

Using plants to create a natural-looking habitat can make your fish feel more at home and encourage their natural behavior. Consider incorporating different types of plants, such as foreground, mid-ground, and background plants, to create depth and mimic the layered look of a natural aquatic environment.

Aquarium Plant Table

Here’s a summary of the plants we’ve discussed in this guide:

Common NameScientific NameSize of PlantInteresting InfoEase of Care (⭐=difficult, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐=easy)
Java MossVesicularia dubyana10-20 cmExcellent for providing shelter⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Java FernMicrosorum pteropus20-35 cmThrives in low-light conditions⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Moss BallsAegagropila linnaei5-10 cmUnique spherical algae⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Indian Almond LeavesTerminalia catappaN/AReleases beneficial tannins⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Anubias nanaAnubias barteri var. nana5-15 cmIdeal for betta fish tanks⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
FrogbitLimnobium laevigatum1-5 cmEffective for blocking light to control algae⭐⭐⭐⭐
AnubiasAnubias spp.15-40 cmSlow-growing and hardy⭐⭐⭐⭐
Amazon SwordEchinodorus grisebachii50-60 cmProvides excellent cover⭐⭐⭐⭐
CryptocoryneCryptocoryne spp.10-60 cmMany varieties available⭐⭐⭐⭐
HornwortCeratophyllum demersum1-3 mFast-growing floating plant⭐⭐⭐⭐
Water WisteriaHygrophila difformis20-50 cmRapid growth with adequate nutrients⭐⭐⭐⭐
DuckweedLemna minor1-3 cmGrows incredibly quickly⭐⭐⭐

~~~ Building a thriving underwater garden can be a rewarding experience. With careful selection and proper care, you can enjoy the benefits of a beautiful and balanced aquatic ecosystem.

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