Top 10 Easy Aquarium Plants for Beginners
Planted aquariums are very popular nowadays because of their natural beauty and amazing ability to consume the toxic nitrogen compounds produced by fish waste. Many novices fail to preserve their green leaves from turning brown, despite trying hard. We’ve spent more than a decade growing, propagating and selling aquarium plants. Now we have a list of the top 10 aquarium plants that are easy to keep green and not go bad.
1. Marimo Moss Ball
This velvety green ball of cladophora alga is known as the “world’s easiest aquarium plant”. Its main care requirement is to lightly roll the marimo ball in your hands every time you do a water change so that it maintains its round shape and all parts of the algae get access to light. They’re quite inexpensive and unique looking, so people often buy an army of them to fill their betta tanks or goldfish aquariums. They can be rolled and wrapped around driftwood to make a miniature tree. Our complete care guide is available here.
2. Amazon Sword
This classic aquarium plant is known for its ability to grow huge and take over your fish tank with luscious greenery. Lighting and substate are important, but so is making sure your fish tank gets lots and lots root tabs. The sword’s first purchase will have large, round leaves. These are usually emersed grown, or grown without water. These large leaves become brittle when placed in water. As the plant absorbs its nutrients, they make smaller, longer leaves that are submersed (or underwater) once again.
If these new leaves appear to be yellowing, make sure to give it more root tabs. Eventually, the sword may grow big enough to become a mother plant, creating long spikes that turn into baby sword plants for you to plant in other aquariums.
3. Cryptocoryne Wendtii
This low-maintenance crypt is one of our favorites because it doesn’t require liquid fertilizers or carbon dioxide (CO2) injection. This slow-growing, low-maintenance plant is tolerant to almost all light conditions and can be grown in almost any substrate. The plant likes to be fed from its roots. If you have an inert substrate with few nutrients, ensure that root tabs are added every three months to maintain optimal health. Crypt wendtii comes in many varieties, such as green, brown, tropica, and red. To better enhance the redness of its leaves, consider dosing extra iron supplements to the aquarium water.
Similar to Amazon swords, crypts leafs are notorious for melting back after being added to a new tank. Don’t toss your “dead” plant if you notice this. Leave it planted in the substrate, and once it has adjusted to your water chemistry, it’ll quickly rebound and grow new leaves.
4. Aponogeton crispus
This low light plant grows from a bulb and creates long, wavy-edged leaves that flow beautifully in an aquarium. Because they are so easy care for, this species is often sold as a “betta” bulb at chain pet shops. Just place the bulb on top of the substrate, and watch it rapidly sprout leaves and roots. Sometimes it goes through a dormant period where, for a couple of months, the larger leaves die back. The plant can be left in an aquarium to grow new growth. This plant is only a few bucks and will grow quickly, get tall, and even produce flowers.
5. Bacopa caroliniana
Bacopa is an excellent choice to begin with if you are looking for stem plants. This native from the southern United States has a straight, vertical stem with small, roundish leaves. Although it doesn’t need CO2 injection, it can take liquid fertilizers such as Easy Green. Although it can grow in low lighting, its leaf tips become coppery-red if there is enough iron dosing and high light.
Bacopa, as with many aquarium plants, is often grown in water at farms. The top of the plant will begin producing submerse-grown foliage once it is planted underwater. Meanwhile, the emersed-grown lower leaves begin to fall off. Eventually, the bottom half of the stem looks like a bare, skinny trunk, so just snip off the tops and replant them for a fuller-looking plant. This is also how to propagate bacopa. As the plant gets taller, you can simply cut the tops off and plant them in another location.
6. Christmas Moss
Get some Christmas moss if you are setting up a breeding aquarium. They look just like miniature Christmas trees and are great for covering baby fish and shrimp. Aquascapers attach them to rocks or driftwood to create the appearance of a moss-covered forest. To keep slow-growing, slow-growing Moss in its best condition, you can invest in small algae eaters, such as amano shrimps and give it some liquid fertilizer.
With very little effort, you can transform your aquarium into an underwater jungle. One plant is all you need – vallisneria. When given plenty of root tabs and liquid fertilizers, this tall, grass-like species grows all the way to the top of water surface and readily spreads by making side shoots in the substrate. Once the plant is established in your aquarium, you may add fish such as African cichlids or goldfish to it. Check out our vallisneria care sheet here.
8. Java Fern
Both java moss and java fern get their names from the Indonesian island of Java, and while both are very easy to care for, they are quite different in appearance. There are several varieties of java fern – such as narrow leaf, Windelov (or lace), and trident – but the most popular type has long, pointed leaves with deeply ridged veins. Its roots and leaves sprout from the Rhizome, which is a thick horizontal stem or stalk. However, it is important to not plant the Rhizome in the substrate. Instead, most people wedge the plant into the crevices of rocks and wood, and the roots eventually grow tightly around it. To ensure that the plant remains in place, you can use super glue gel or sewing thread. Please refer to this article for detailed instructions.
Windelov java fern
It does not require roots to be planted into a substrate. The roots absorb nutrients from liquid fertilizers in water columns. It can be propagated by either cutting it in half or letting one leaf float on the surface. Soon the rows of black spots (known as sporangia) on the leaf will develop into baby plantlets with their own tiny leaves and roots. These plantlets can eventually be detached and planted elsewhere in the aquarium. You can read our complete java fern care guide right here.
9. Cryptocoryne lutea
Cryptocorynes can be so beginner-friendly and undemanding that we decided to add them to our existing list. This species, unlike crypt wendtii has slim, green leaves which add texture and variety to your aquarium. You can put almost any substrate or light in your aquarium to make them happy. No CO2 injection is required. Although crypts tend to grow slowly, they will become a favorite in no time. While crypts require more frequent pruning than plants that grow faster, they can last for many years without needing any extra care other than the occasional root tab. Check out this dedicated article for more information.
10. Dwarf Sagittaria
You need an easy, carpeting-like plant to add color and texture to your aquascape. The dwarf sagittaria, a grass-like, hardy plant that looks almost like a miniature vallisneria, is very hardy. It grows taller and smaller if it has high light. However, if it has low light it can stay short and compact. It can take both liquid fertilizers in water column and root tabs. Dwarf sag can easily spread by sending runners through the substrate. If it spreads to an unwanted area of the tank, just pull out the new shoots and replant them elsewhere.
This curated selection of beginner-friendly plants will give you the best chance for success with your new aquarium.
To find out why you aren’t seeing healthy growth, download our free guide to plant nutritional deficiencies.