Top 12 Best Freshwater Aquarium Plants of 2018

The use of aquatic plants in an aquarium will provide the fish with some additional dissolved oxygen while adding beauty to the aquarium and providing cover for the fish. A few unscrupulous dealers may try to sell submerged terrestrial plants as aquarium plants, but you should stick to aquatic plants. The Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum) is an example of a terrestrial house-plant that is sometimes sold as an aquarium plant. Submerged terrestrial houseplants will quickly begin to rot and will foul the water, producing additional ammonia.Best Freshwater Aquarium Plants

In the presence of light, plants will take up carbon dioxide, which is expelled by the fish, and give off oxygen through the process of photosynthesis. By removing some of the carbon dioxides, the plants can elevate the pH of the aquarium water. After the lights are off. The plants reverse their process and use oxygen while giving off carbon dioxide in a process called respiration. During the night, the pH of the aquarium may lower due to the release of carbon dioxide into the water, which produces carbonic acid.

The following is a list of a few hardy plants that can be used in the aquarium.

1. Egeria

To a lot of us hobbyists, this plant has always been referred to as Anachahs. It is similar in shape to Myriophyllum, but in place of the fine feathery leaves, this plant has flattened leaves in whorls. It is an extremely rapid-growing plant — an inch per day growth in the stem is not uncommon. It prefers cool water in the range of 48 to 70°F (8.9 to 21°C). Aside from the low-temperature requirements. Egeria is extremely tolerant of water conditions and will thrive in hard water. It is best if planted in the background of a tank in bunches due to its rate of growth. Egeria requires strong light to prevent it from becoming long and stringy.

2. Vallisneria

Vallisneria spp. Is better known as eelgrass, Val, or tape grass? If exposed to strong light, it will form a dense screen that is useful for camouflaging items within the tank. Though these plants prefer medium hard water, they will grow acceptably in hard water. The greatest factor in growing these plants is to provide a good strong light source.

Grown in proper conditions, these plants will grow to their maximum height, so the selection of the correct species for your tank is important. Some species such as American eel-grass (Vallisneria Americana var. biwaensis) grow to 12 inches (30 cm), whereas Jungle Val (Vallisneria Americana “gigantea”) may grow to 3 to 4 feet (91-122 cm) with an average leaf width of 1 inch (2.5 cm).

Some interesting Vallisneria types will have spiral leaves or variegated leaves. Vallisneria will grow so long that it will bend at the surface and shade out other plants growing beneath it. These plants are considered among the best oxygenators. This group of plants will tolerate a wide range of temperatures. It can be used in both heated and unheated aquariums. Though both male and female plants exist, the majority are female. The female plant will occasionally send up small, floating white flowers on the ends of long thin spirals. The most common way of propagation is by runners.

3. Sagittaria

Sagittaria or Arrowhead is another genus of well-known aquarium plants. These plants are bog plants. There are a variety of Sagittaria species to chose from and they range from dwarf species that grow only a few inches tall and are perfect for foreground plants to giant varieties that may reach over a foot in total length and sport thick, wide leaves. As a whole, they are hardy, slow-growing group of plants that is very tolerant of temperature extremes but grows best between 50 and 72°F (10 to 22°C). Curiously, there is anecdotal evidence that Sagittaria and Vallisneria will not grow well in the same aquarium.

4. Aponogeton

The most striking of this particular group is the Madagascar lace plant (Aponogeton fenestralis). As stated by Innes around 1966, this plant was among the earliest of all aquarium plants that have been used in the hobby. It is a relatively high-priced plant when it can be found for sale. It is slow to propagate and grows rather slowly. The distinctive lacework appearance of the leaves is what gives this plant its common name. Unfortunately, these spaces are easily choked by algae, which will kill the plant.

The Madagascar lace plant, as with the other Aponogeton species, experience rapid seasonal fluctuations in the native habitat and continue that cycle in the aquarium. In nature, a period of dormancy is followed by a period of rapid growth and propagation. In the aquarium, it still demands this dormant period. Stalked flowers accomplish propagation of this plant and the rest of the Aponogeton species that when fertilized produce naked seeds that germinate quickly into miniature plants. The dormant bulbs of the Aponogeton species will frequently be seen for sale at aquarium stores. Plant these bulbs in a separate pot with a mixture of laterite and topsoil as the medium, with gravel placed on top. This will aid in the removal of the plants during dormant periods when the bulbs can be removed, kept cool, and allowed to dry for one to two months before being replaced in the aquarium. Some aquarists rotate the bulbs that they have so that the aquarium is never without these plants in some form of their life cycle.

5. Cabomba

Along with Vallisneria, Cabomba species are among the most widely sold aquarium plant. It is also known as fanwort. It is easily recognizable by its light green, treelike pine fronds that are paired on opposite sides along a running stem. It is a member of the water lily family Nymphaeaceae.

One of the numerous species grows wild throughout most of North America. This plant prefers cool, soft water, and is tolerant of temperature extremes (68 to 80°F (20 to 27°C)). This plant is best kept in strong light, or it will rapidly deteriorate. If the water is above the temperature range for this plant, the same result will follow. It is somewhat delicate, and if kept with fish such as goldfish or other rambunctious fish, it will easily be broken into pieces. It is not a highly recommended plant species, but I have grown it in outdoor ponds during the summer.

6. Ludwigia

One of the Ludwigia species that is quite popular has a reddish cast to the undersides of leaves. This color is maintained by a strong light source, much more than is needed by similar plants. These plants do best in shallow aquariums for this reason. As with some aquarium plants, these plants are bog plants that do well in shallow aquariums. Ludwigia will grow above the water surface is provided with the proper light.

7. Amazon Swordplant

Aqua-Plants Amazon Swordplant Aquarium Plant by Penn-Plax Amazon sword plants are among the most easily identified of the aquarium plants. The species of the Echinodorus genus are extremely varied in their requirements for growth and methods of propagation. Some of the group propagates by runners, while others send up small shrunken flowers.

Only one of the species that we see in the hobby (E. latifoitus) is truly a dwarf variety. The majority of the rest of the species can grow to incredible size. They are bog plants that do well submerged. In shallow or medium height tanks, these plants tend to grow out of the water and produce aerial leaves. Be sure to research the particular species(s) of the group that you intend to keep. These plants require moderate to strong light with plenty of available iron in the substrate and the water. Some species can be sensitive to the length of daylight provided. If well taken care of. These plants can be the showstopper of any aquarium.

8. Water Sprite (Ceratopteris Thalictroides)

It was also called Indian Fern for many years because of the difference in the way the plant grows at the surface and when planted in the gravel. There has been a related species identified, C. pteridioides, that is normally found as a floating plant and exhibits wider leaves than C. thalictroides, even when it floats to the surface. A third species, C. cornuta, is also a submerged plant but is more robust looking.

All of these species are true ferns. The plant grows best under moderate light and will provide excellent hiding places for small fry with its long trailing roots. As far as water conditions, it prefers slightly acid water but will adapt to a variety of water conditions. Water sprite propagates from buds that develop on its leaves. When floating, these plants can shade out submerged plants.

9. Hygrophila

Hygrophila corymbosa is a good choice for larger aquariums as it will grow with less light intensity than Ludwigia. It grows quite rapidly. Hygrophila polysporma is a similar species that does not require as large an aquarium. At the onset of evening, it is known to close up its leaves. Hygrophila spp. are an excellent indicator of water conditions, as they will suddenly lose their upper leaves if the tank water has not been changed frequently enough.

10. Java Fern

Java Fern (Microsorium pteropus ) is a true fern. It is commonly found in tropical Southeast Asia. The leaves grow from a thick rhizome that grows over and attaches to logs and rocks. This plant should be anchored to rocks or driftwood instead of planted directly in the gravel. It grows well In a variety of light but prefers subdued light to thrive along with regular water changes. Microsorium Pteropus can tolerate a wide variety of water conditions and is usually left alone by plant-eating fish. Due to these qualifications and the beautiful color and texture of its leaves, Java Fern is a popular aquarium plant.

11. Anubius

This is a genus of very sturdy swamp plants that often sets submerged flowers. They are slow-growing and should be offered low-light regimes to avoid algal growth on the leaves. They are adaptable and accept all kind of fresh water: hard and soft, acid and alkaline. There are many species available ranging from the dwarf to rather large varieties. They are sought after because of the deep green, richly textured leaves that are reminiscent of terrestrial plants.

12. Myriophyllium

Many aquarists know these plants by the common names of foxtail or water milfoil. In appearance, they are denser and more delicate plants. There are two main groups of Myriophyllium. The first are long-leaved and are better as a spawning medium; the second has shorter leaves and is more durable.

Any of the varieties require high light levels, or they will fade in color and begin to break apart. Myhophyllium prefers cooler water and does best with temperatures below 68°F (20°C). It is an excellent plant for use in ponds. This plant can be allowed to float just below the surface of the water where it provides excellent cover for juvenile fish, though it is usually seen as a rooted plant.

Aquarium Plant Reproduction

Asexual reproduction is by far the most common means of propagating aquarium plants. Budding off of the parent plant, runners, and cuttings are examples of the more common methods of asexual reproduction. An aquarium plant that relies solely on the formation of adventitious buds off of the adult plant is Water Sprite. At the very ends of the fronds, this plant will form miniature plants that will develop their root system. After this development, the budding plant can be removed from the parent plant and placed in strong light, or it will eventually fall away of its own accord.

A Cryptocoryne plant will at first glance look as though it is only one plant, but upon closer examination, one can see that the plant is made up of numerous rosettes of leaves. Once a rosette has formed some leaves and a root system of its own, it can be separated from the parent plant.

The formation of runners is a very common propagation method employed by aquatic plants. From the base of the parent plant, a rhizoid-like extension develops that end in the formation of a young plant. After the young plant has developed its root system, it can be separated from the parent plant. Vallisneria and Sagittaria are examples of genera that propagate by this method. If left unchecked, a few Vallisneria plants can rapidly take over the entire bottom of an aquarium.

Cuttings may be done of the Cabomba and Myriophyllum, and the cuttings themselves placed in the gravel where they will develop roots. The trimmed plant will become fuller as a result.


Understanding and Managing Algae Growth

Algae are nonflowering plants, which, though primitive, are so well adapted to survive in such an array of environments that it is virtually impossible to find any body of water that does not contain at least some algal cells or spores. Traditionally, algae are regarded as problem plants in aquaria and ponds. Certainly, they can create problems or can indicate that some environmental parameters are unfavorable, notably excessive levels of nitrates. However, to consider all algae as undesirables is wrong.




Aquarium Plant Types

Aquarium plants are grown in vast numbers to supply ever-increasing global demand. Although tropical regions are the prime producers and exporters, some countries in temperate and subtropical regions, including Denmark, Germany, Holland, the United Kingdom, Florida, and Israel, now contribute significantly and increasingly to the plants available to aquarists. As the aquarium plant-growing industry has expanded, and as technology has improved, so has the range of plants types and the various ways in which they are offered for sale.





Plastic Aquarium Plants

The worst thing about plastic plants is that they do not reproduce. You purchase them, they slowly get covered with algae and need cleaning, and after a while, they begin to get brittle and fall apart, but they do have their place in certain situations such as aquaria that contain aggressive, boisterous fish that routinely uproot plants whether they are live or plastic. However, live plants add a certain beauty to a well-balanced aquarium. There are some companies that manufacture plastic plants. The quality ranges from. Wow! “Is that fake?” to “If you squint your eyes from 10 feet away, it might look real”. Plastic plants can also be used in low-light aquaria where live plants would wither away and die.

Maximizing Aquarium Plant Growth and Longevity

Aquascaping with Plants

When planning a planting scheme, it is always better to opt for an asymmetrical layout: a symmetrical design invariably looks unnatural. This term is, of course, relative, since all aquarium planting schemes are by definition unnatural. Nevertheless, the best planting schemes are always those that have asymmetry built into them.


This large genus of Asian plants is more commonly known by the common name of crypts, and are one of the most popular groups of aquarium plants. Within the genus, there are a wide variety of sizes and leaf shapes. The general leaf shape groupings are heart-shaped, lanceolate, and oval.

Since these plants originate in Southeast Asia, they are considered true tropical plants. The majority of the species within the genus thrive in 70 to 80°F (21 to 26.7°C) water. Most do not require high levels of light and grow rapidly. There are some variations in requirements, so it is advisable that you read up on the particular species before attempting to cultivate them in the aquarium. Crypts propagate by sending out runners that need to be planted with their crowns above the gravel line.

These plants do not like to be disturbed and do well in a well-balanced tank. I have seen a group of the plants potted in a small oval butter container containing a mixture of laterite and garden soil. This is then covered with gravel to prevent fouling the tank. This is a technique that works well with a majority of the rooted plants as long as you do not have gravel-shifting fish in the aquarium.

Leave a Reply