Live plants are a fantastic choice for your freshwater or saltwater aquarium. Plants create a more natural environment for fish, which helps them to feel safe and happy. Visually, plants can make an aquarium more attractive by adding color and texture. While you could opt for plastic plants, they don't offer as many benefits. Live plants naturally absorb nitrates and ammonia from the water and convert it into oxygen, keeping your tank clean and healthy for the fish. There are many varieties of aquatic plants that you can choose from, including floating plants, mosses, ferns, and more.
Best Floating Plants
These plants float atop the water's surface, creating visual interest at the top of the aquarium.
- Frogbit is a fast-growing plant with round leaves.
- Dwarf Water Lettuce has rosette-shaped leaves and trailing roots.
- Duckweed quickly covers the surface with small green leaves.
Best Aquatic Mosses
Clumps of aquatic moss naturally float, but are often tied to rocks or driftwood in the aquarium.
- Java Moss is a classic beginner plant that's also great for fish.
- Marimo Moss Balls are unique and loved by shrimp.
- Flame Moss has an upright shape which adds texture to the tank.
Best Foreground Plants
These are small to medium-sized plants that look best in the front or middle of an aquarium.
- Java Fern is easy to care for, and has long, green leaves.
- Anubias Nana has dark green leaves and will grow well under most light conditions.
- Alternanthera Reineckii "Mini" adds color with its red leaves.
Best Background Plants
These are tall plants that add height and should be placed near the back of the tank.
- Water Wisteria is a low-maintenance plant that grows quickly.
- Hornwort is a resilient plant with a soft, fluffy appearance.
- Ludwigia Repens is a popular and colorful plant.
Best Carpet Plants
These are low-growing plants that spread to form a mat, or carpet, over the substrate.
- Dwarf Hair Grass resembles lawn grass and provides shelter for small fish and invertebrates.
- Dwarf Baby Tears is one of the shortest plants and requires bright lighting.
- Dwarf Four-Leaf Clover forms a thick carpet of clover-shaped leaves.
To start growing live plants in your aquarium, you'll need a few supplies such as substrate, proper lighting, and fertilizer. While some plants may grow in regular gravel or sand, consider a specialized substrate that provides nutrients directly to the roots. Aquarium lighting can seem intimidating, but it is actually quite simple to set up. Whether you prefer fitted hood lighting, clip-on lights, or fully customizable LED pods, there are plenty of options to choose from. Even with the best substrate and lighting, plants still require nutrients from the water column. Liquid fertilizers and carbon dioxide diffusers ensure that your plants are getting everything they need to thrive. If you're interested in establishing a healthy planted aquarium, contact us today to get started.