Colorful Aquarium Plants for Your Tank’s Color Variety

Adding live plants is a great way to add a natural look to your aquarium that will make the tank come to life. Plants serve multiple purposes in an aquarium. 

Having plants in your aquarium helps clean the water as plants absorb CO2, ammonia, and nitrate. Plants provide safety, restrict algae production, and liven up your aquarium.

If you know nothing about live aquarium plants for your tank, we’ve got the perfect guide on growth rate, light, and more.

10 Best Colorful Aquarium Plants (Our Picks)

1. Ludwigia Palustris

Innovative Marine ChaetoMax Refugium LED Light    

Ludwigia Palustris is our first pick because, in addition to being beautifully colored, it is also one of the easiest aquarium plants to source and grow. It is commonly referred to as a water or marsh purslane plant. 

This particular plant is usually green when you buy it, but it turns a more intense shade of red as time passes. It needs an iron-rich substrate; otherwise, it will not turn red. Ludwigia Palustris is the perfect addition to your planted tank. It absorbs excess carbon dioxide while adding aesthetic appeal to the aquarium. 

Pay attention to these care requirements: 

  • Growth rate: medium 
  • Max height: 4 to 12 inches
  • Light demands: It needs medium to high levels of lighting
  • Temperature: 59° to 79° F
  • CO2 required: Not essential, but the plant will thrive better if given extra CO2. 


  • The plant’s rustic red leaves are beautiful and aesthetically appealing. 
  • It absorbs CO2. 


  • These plants are high maintenance as they require bright light and grow rapidly. Their fast growth rate requires careful monitoring to ensure they don’t annex all the tank space.  

2. Echinodorus Cordifolius

Innovative Marine ChaetoMax Refugium LED Light    

Our next pick is Echinodorus Cordifolius. This lovely plant is also often called the Radican Sword, Creeping Burhead, or Spade-left Sword. It has heart-shaped leaves, so you’ll love how it looks in your aquarium! In addition to the plant being cultivated in America, one can find these plants in parts of the West Indies, South America, and Mexico. 

We wouldn’t recommend this plant for short and small aquariums because it proliferates. Suppose you choose to buy this plant. If you do, we suggest you avoid crowding it near the Echinodorus Cordifolius because it grows large leaves and its roots spread widely. It thrives when fed plant foods that are rich in iron and nitrogen. 

Consider the following care requirements: 

  • Growth rate: Its growth rate is medium or average. 
  • Max height: It can grow up to 24 inches. 
  • Light demands: It needs medium to high levels of lighting.
  • Temperature: 72° to 82° F. 
  • CO2 required: It is not required. 


  • These plants are ideal for bigger and taller aquariums. 
  • They grow quickly. This means that you can prune or grow more plants and sell them. 


  • You must keep pruning these plants if you grow them in a smaller aquarium, which can be weekly maintenance. 
  • Their fast growth rate could soon outgrow your other aquarium plants.

3. Nymphaea Lotus

Nymphaea Lotus    

Add structure to your tank with the Tiger Lotus Lily or Nymphaea Lotus. The round or arrow-shaped leaves are a striking visual element in any aquarium. The leaves are either red or green and may be spotted with a deep wine-red or purple color. 

With brighter light, the leaves become lighter and brighter in color, and once the leaves surface, they produce a small, white flower. In the wilds of Southeast Asia and East Africa, the lily proliferates in dams and slow-moving streams.

The Tiger Lotus Lily is beneficial for tanks as it absorbs loads of CO2, iron, and nitrates, helping to clarify water. The large leaves also make a perfect hiding place for fish; some fish even spawn under the broad leaves.

Note the following care requirements: 

  • Growth rate: Fast growing. 
  • Max height: The plant can grow as high as 31 inches but can be maintained as small as 7 inches. 
  • Light demands: Prefers low to medium light but can handle stronger light. 
  • Temperature: 71ºF to 82ºF. 
  • CO2 required: Can grow without in a community tank where fish produce CO2, but it thrives with CO2 supplementation. 


  • Easy to grow and maintain.
  • It helps filter tank water and clarify cloudy water.


  • Some pruning is needed, but you can maintain it at the desired size.

4. Red Cryptocoryne Wendtii

Red Cryptocoryne Wendtii    

Red-leaved plants are some of the most popular in the aquarium industry! Many refer to the Red Cryptocoryne Wendtii as Wendt’s Water Trumpet in honor of the botanist Albert Wendt, whose specialty was aquatic plants. 

If you want to take care of schools of little fish and a few of these low-maintenance plants, then the Red Cryptocoryne Wendtii is the perfect choice. These plants are native to Sri Lanka and belong to the Cryptocoryne species. Remember that plants from the Cryptocoryne species are sensitive to different types of environmental change, including temperature, the quality of water, and lighting—so don’t disturb them with frequent tank water changes. 

Follow these care requirements: 

  • Growth rate: Its growth rate is slow to medium.  
  • Max height: This plant’s average height is six inches or 15 centimeters. 
  • Light demands: It requires low to moderate levels of lighting. 
  • Temperature: It requires 73° to 84° F. 
  • CO2 required: It does not require any additional CO2. 


  • It is the ideal plant for aquarium beginners because it does not require special lighting. Therefore, you don’t need to purchase any extra lighting equipment. 
  • This plant grows quite slowly, so you don’t have to spend much time pruning it. 
  • It is ideal for aquatic landscaping, and you can create an underwater topiary.  


  • It doesn’t react well to harsh lighting. This means that if you have other aquatic plants that require bright light, the Red Cryptocoryne Wendtii will die.

5. Alternanthera Reineckii

Alternanthera Reineckii    

Next up on our list of the best colorful aquarium plants is the Scarlet Temple plant, or, as it’s scientifically known, Alternanthera Reineckii. 

Its slow and steady growth rate is one of this plant’s best features. This means you don’t need to spend much time caring for and monitoring the plants in the aquarium. It also means that if you are an aquatic plant care newbie, the Alternanthera Reineckii offers an excellent starting point. It comes in shades of red, orange, and pink and has many variations. 

Take note of the following care requirements: 

  • Growth Rate: Its growth rate is slow.
  • Max Height: Its height is usually between 10 and 20 inches. 
  • Light Demands: It requires medium-high lighting levels. 
  • Temperature: It typically requires temperatures of 71.6° to 82.4° F. 
  • CO2 required: This plant will thrive with CO2 injections but can survive without them. 


  • This plant doesn’t require as much care as other aquarium species, which is ideal if you don’t have much time. 
  • It is perfect for beginners with no plant-care experience. 


  • The Alternanthera Reineckii is extremely defenseless against algae. This plant will slowly die if you don’t have any algae-eating fish.

6. Ludwigia Repens

Ludwigia Repens    

Ludwigia Repens is arguably one of the most popular and stunning plants for an aquarium tank. It’s also called the creeping-rose willow! 

When submerged, its leaves turn a beautiful shade of red. It can even become orange! In the wild, you’ll find this plant in parts of North America and Mexico. One of the best things about buying this plant is that it requires little to no maintenance. 

The creeping-rose willow is average-sized, but it can grow very tall in favorable conditions. Therefore, we suggest you purchase a medium or large aquarium to fit this plant and other plants without crowding your tank.

Follow these care requirements: 

  • Growth rate: Its growth rate is moderate to fast. 
  • Max height: Its height is usually 10 to 20 inches. 
  • Light demands: It requires medium to high levels of lighting. 
  • Temperature: It requires 74° to 79° F. 
  • CO2 required: It doesn’t require any additional CO2. 


  • This plant is ideal for beginners because it requires little maintenance and care. 
  • It adds a lot of color to the aquarium. 


  • It will not do well in a small aquarium because as it grows over time, this plant will start to overcrowd the other plant species you have. As a result, it could threaten the lives of the aquatic creatures you have.

7. Lobelia Cardinalis

Lobelia Cardinalis    

The Lobelia Cardinalis is a chameleon plant that looks completely different below water. When the plant is immersed in water (not submersed), it will develop dark green leaves with purple tinges, but the sections that rise above the waterline will become hardened and not aquatic-like at all. Bunches of red flowers can form, though this is unlikely to happen in an aquarium.

When fully submerged, the plant will darken to an almost green-purple-colored leaf. However, the unique coloring still makes it an eye-catching addition to your tank. 

The lobelia cardinalis is an excellent plant to add oxygen to your tank, and it collects biofilm, which nourishes fries and small shrimp. When correctly trimmed, the plant thickens and forms a dense brush in which fish and crustaceans can hide. 

A great benefit of this plant is that it’s super easy to care for and prune, grows well, and is beginner-friendly.

Note the following care requirements: 

  • Growth rate: Slow to moderate. 
  • Max height: 4 to 8 inches (when fully submerged). 
  • Light demands: Moderate to high lighting. 
  • Temperature: 61°F to 79 °F. 
  • CO2 required: Recommended when fully submerged. 


  • The plant provides a good nursery area for newly hatched fish. 
  • When correctly trimmed, these plants can thicken into a dense brush without crowding other plants.


  • For large plantations of lobelia cardinalis, adding CO2 fertilizer is needed, which can become quite technical for beginner aquarists.

8. Rotala Rotundifolia

Rotala Rotundifolia    

An excellent recommendation is the Rotala Rotundifolia. This glorious plant is colorful, easy to maintain, and ideal for beginners at maintaining an aquarium. Even though they require regular pruning, their pinkish-red leaves compensate for any time spent caring for them. 

Additionally, suppose you have any adult fish or aquatic worms. In that case, you needn’t worry about pruning them as often because those creatures take shelter under this plant and may even maintain some leaf growth. 

A fantastic bonus of Rotala Rotundifolia is that if it grows semi-submerged in your aquarium, it starts to grow purple flowers on the stems exposed to air. 

Take note of the following care requirements: 

  • Growth rate: These plants grow very quickly. 
  • Max height: It can grow anywhere from eight inches to one foot tall. 
  • Light demands: It requires medium to high levels of light. 
  • Temperature: It requires 70° to 86° F. 
  • CO2 required: It does not require any additional CO2. 


  • This plant is ideal for aquarium owners with aquatic worms and adult-aged fish. 
  • They thrive under bright lights. If you purchase several plant species that thrive under bright light, this plant is a beautiful option to add to your collection or planted tank. 


  • They require regular and constant pruning.

Check out the complete guide on ‘Aquarium Cleaning‘.

9. Phyllanthus Fluitans

Phyllanthus Fluitans    

Not all aquatic plants need to be submerged to be beautiful, and the phyllanthus fluitans or red root floater is a stunning addition to any aquarium. This plant hails from South America, specifically from the Amazon Basin. 

It floats on the water surface with a delicate dome-like structure and has long trailing red roots that flow in a gentle current. The plant is relatively small at only an inch per plant, but with its fast-growing leaves, it can soon become a significant element in a small aquarium, so this plant is best for larger aquariums. 

Note the following care requirements: 

  • Growth rate: Fast. 
  • Max height: one inch above the waterline. 
  • Light demands: Prefers bright light (at least 8 hours daily). 
  • Temperature: 72°F to 80°F. 
  • CO2 required: Not needed. 


  • It helps limit algae growth.
  • It provides hiding spots for smaller fish.


  • It may be heavy maintenance due to the fast growth rate, which can cover the surface area in a short time.

10. Ludwigia Sedoides

Ludwigia Sedoides    

Our last choice for a colorful aquatic plant is a versatile plant that grows well in ponds and can be managed successfully in large aquariums. The ludwigia sedoides, or mosaic flower, is a floating plant with a rosette leaf structure with characteristic green leaves trimmed in red. 

When conditions are ideal, it produces a yellow flower on a short stem. Individual rosettes create new rosettes with a trailing stem.

The rosette leaves extend below the waterline, creating an intricate structure that fish can hide in and swim through.

Note the following care requirements: 

  • Growth rate: Fast. 
  • Max height: 2-3 inches above waterline. 
  • Light demands: Bright to medium light. 
  • Temperature: 70°F to 80°F. 
  • CO2 required: Not needed. 


  • Creates an open structure that fish can swim through.
  • It provides hiding places for small fish under the leaves.


  • It’s fast-growing, but frequent pruning helps to maintain the rosettes to a manageable size.  

Choosing The Right Plants

Even though it can seem easy to buy several colorful aquarium plants and place them all inside a fish tank, choosing the right plants is a process that requires serious thought and planning. Thankfully, planning an aquascape doesn’t need to be daunting. 

Here is a quick list of factors to consider when buying new plants: 

1. Keep CO2 Requirements in Mind

While most plant species can survive without CO2, you don’t want to group plants with different needs in the same tank. Therefore, we would suggest buying different types of plants that all need similar amounts of CO2 or none at all, especially if you are a beginner. 

2. Consider Plant Growth 

Aquatic plants grow at different rates. Therefore, you want to consider the growth rates for each plant species so that you don’t overcrowd the tank and suffocate your fish. 

3. Maintenance and Time 

We know life gets busy, so keep your schedule in mind when you purchase plants. Make decisions based on how much time you can spend caring for them. High-maintenance plants will need more time; if you’re often traveling, avoid fast-growing plants.

Lighting To Help Aquarium Plants Grow

Lighting is another essential factor to remember. You should research each plant you want to buy and their specific lighting requirements. Suppose some plants don’t require much lighting but live under harsh lighting conditions. 

In that case, it affects the amount of carbon dioxide the plants consume and can produce excessive amounts of nutrients that increase algae. Overall, please remember to research your plants and fish and their relationship with lighting. If possible, consult an expert!

Wrapping Up 

We hope you enjoyed learning about the best colorful aquarium plants! Our selection includes plants with varied maintenance and care levels. While it can be easy to go out and buy any plant you want for an aquarium, it’s good to remember that plants need love and attention. For a thriving aquarium, buy plants you can care for and maintain. 

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.