Which Plants are Right for Your Aquarium?

Natural living plants are the best way to decorate your aquarium. Live plants will help the natural balance of the aquarium and fish will enjoy hiding in and swimming around plants.

For beginners, hardy plants are recommended because they are easy to maintain. Most freshwater aquarium plants don’t require much daylight, preventing your tank from having algae accumulation.

However, there is a vast selection of plants to choose from so which are the right ones for your tank?

The Most Popular Aquarium Plants

Carpet Plants

If you would like lush green carpet on the bottom of the tank, carpet plants are ideal. Water Wisteria, Java Moss, and Lilaeopsis are suitable species for covering the bottom of the aquarium.

Water Wisteria

Water Wisteria requires very low-maintenance. Optimum temperature is between 73-80° Fahrenheit (23-270 C) and medium lighting will be enough for this plant to grow.

Java Moss

Unlike Water Wisteria, Java Moss grows on rocks and pieces of wood.

Lilaeopsis looks like grass and grows quickly. This plant requires medium lighting with an optimal temperature between 75-84° Fahrenheit (24-290 C).

Background Plants

Background plants are practical to cover your aquarium’s equipment while also providing enough hiding places for your fishes. The Amazon Sword, African Water Fern, Java Fern, Green Tiger Lotus, Anubias Nana, and Cryptocoryne Beckettii are suitable for mid-ground and background decoration.

Amazon Sword

Leaves of Amazon Sword look like swords; the plant is tall ands ideal for background covering. Medium lighting and temperatures between 71-80° Fahrenheit (22-270 C) are ideal for plant growth.

African Water Fern

The African Water Fern, though suitable for background and foreground, is a very hard plant to keep, as it requires very low lighting and a wide temperature range of 68-78° Fahrenheit (20-260 C).

Java Ferns

Java Ferns are suitable in any place of the aquarium. Similar to the Africa Water Fern, the Java Fern’s leaves look like swords. A temperature range between 68-78° Fahrenheit (20-260 C) and low-medium lighting is optimal for the Java Ferns.

Green Tiger Lotus

The Green Tiger Lotus has wide leaves and is short, allowing it to be placed toward the front of the tank. They thrive medium lighting and a temperature of 75° Fahrenheit (24° C).

Anubias Nana

The Anubias Nana, with its oval, dark green leaves, is easy to maintain. Moderate lighting helps with development and water temperatures of 71-80° Fahrenheit (22-270 C).


Cryptocoryne is unique with its greenish-red leaves that adapt to every condition. Keep the water between 68-86° Fahrenheit (20-300 C) and low to high lighting for growth.

Planning a Planted Tank

Substrate, lighting, filters, fish, fertilizers, and plant maintenance are the main factors to have a healthy planted tank. The majority of the substrate, 85-90%, should be covered with plants that are fast growing; after the tank is productive, other plants can be added.

The filter should have adequate flow and good circulation for all the nutrition to reach every plant in the aquarium. The fish are the main focal point of the aquarium. Plants exist for their welfare and for an attractive decoration.

Allow time for plants to settle

Allow one week for the plants to settle and grow after planting. Water parameters should be checked daily during this period. Herbivore fish can be added if the tank is heavily planted; however, fish should be added after three weeks from planting if all the water parameters are fine.

Fertilizer is essential

Fertilizers should include all the necessary minerals and vitamins for plants. Commercial fertilizers are available or you can opt for potassium nitrate or potassium mono phosphate dry fertilizers instead of commercial fertilizers. Fertilizers should be added once every two weeks.

Regular Maintenance

Regular pruning and gentle gravel vacuuming is necessary to provide good circulation and a clean tank. For low-maintenance plants, keep the lighting low to reduce algae accumulation.

Frequent water changes are not suitable for aquariums with high plant density. It is recommended to remove all the plants from the substrate and change 60-70% of the water for 3 to 6 months.

If there are few plants in the tank, weekly 25% water changes are suitable for plant maintenance.

Lastly, choose your freshwater aquarium plants wisely

When deciding on plants for your aquarium, also be sure to choose ones that are suitable for the fish in your tank and vice versa.  If you choose unsuitable fish and plants, your aquarium and its inhabitants will suffer. Choosing the proper plantings will lead to a beautiful, lush tank.

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