Aquarium Plants

Aquarium plants are an amazing way to make a truly beautiful showcase aquarium.  There are even Marine Plants that can liven up and add extra dimension to a saltwater aquarium that we will dedicate it’s own page to.

The best part about aquarium plants is they are affordable, readily available both locally and online, and extremely easy to care for.  Generally, if you have a neutral pH tank with halfway decent lighting (about 1.5-2 watts of fluorescent light per gallon or 0.75-1 watts of LED light per gallon) and around an average tank Bioload then you will have no problems growing a great planted tank!  Lights made for plants or in the color temperature of 5000 to 7000 Kelvin are best suited for aquarium plants.

We do have some tips for you.  While not absolutely necessary, a good aquarium soil in the areas you want planted will ensure the plants have plenty of trace elements for years and years of growth without any need for additional fertilization.  Also, and this is a pro-tip, don’t put aquarium soil throughout the entire tank.  Instead, divide the tank at least to some extent into the areas you want planted and put only aquarium gravel in other areas to inhibit the excessive growth of the plants throughout the tank.  We will indicate which plants can be adapted for cold water aquariums, hard water aquariums, are easier for beginners or more challenging and recommended for the more experienced, and are more suitable for fish that might eat or try to dig up roots (such as cichlids.)

aquarium plants preparation

If you plan it beforehand it will be much easier to have the plants grow as you would like and keep it trimmed and beautiful.  If the plants are an afterthought, then it’s really not a problem, you can still use the same aquascaping principals.

You do want to make sure you add plants most suitable for your water conditions.  Some plants are extremely easy to grow and others are a little more demanding.  For one reason or another you might find that for some reason a particular plant doesn’t do well in your system … well the good news is that chances are most of them will or you can select a similar plant of a different species and it will be a non-issue.  When a plant does do well they are generally extremely easy to propagate and spread it wherever you want in your aquarium.  We will go over most of the commonly available plants one by one and dedicate several pages to go over some of those in even more detail.

Plants are generally divided into Foreground Plants, Midground Plants, and Background plants.  You don’t have to have all three and you don’t necessarily have to put them where their category indicates, but the categories and indicative of how tall they will get in the aquarium and therefore how appropriate they will be in a given area.

Foreground Aquarium Plants

Most of the shorter foreground aquarium plants will need a rich substrate and direct lighting on the brighter range of the spectrum, 2 watts per gallon or more fluorescent or 1 watt per gallon or more LED to do well.

Dwarf Hairgrass- Cool water ok, Brackish ok

Dwarf Hairgrass aquarium plants
Dwarf Hairgrass

The popular aquarium plant, Dwarf Hairgrass, does typically well in cool water, unheated aquariums and can be acclimated to brackish water aquariums but prefers a pH of less than 7.5 and a little stronger than average lighting.

Dwarf Hairgrass is a great aquarium plant for beginners and seasoned aquarium keepers alike. It is an attractive bottom covering plant with long light green grass-like leaves. This species uses runners to propagate and will spread out in a thick carpet of grass.

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The Dwarf Hairgrass will make an excellent spawning medium, as well as a great foreground plant, growing to about 4″ tall.

The Dwarf Hairgrass propagates from the many runners that will branch off the root area. It grows exceptionally fast, and will quickly cover the bottom of the aquarium.

Dwarf Baby Tears

Dwarf Baby Tears
Dwarf Baby Tears

Dwarf Baby Tears plant drapes your aquarium with elegant leaf clusters. The smallest of known aquarium plants, Hemianthus callitrichoides is an ideal foreground plant growing to about 6″ tall.  Either way, it creates the ideal location for spawning fish to hide their eggs and active bottom dwellers to forage for food.  It can accommodate very soft to just over neutral pH tanks and will do best in a tank with normal temperatures and stronger than average lighting.

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Native to Cuba, Dwarf Baby Tears will eventually form a dense carpet over your aquarium substrate when planted. Some plants take time to establish themselves; however, once ideal conditions are met, this plant fills in well. For optimal health, H. callitrichoides requires bright, direct lighting and a rich nutrient base.

Provided lighting and nutrient criteria are met, Dwarf Baby Tears is generally not finicky about care. The plant propagates via runners that branch off of the root area. Cuttings from a mature plant can also be repotted and positioned in other areas of your aquarium.

Micro Sword

Micro Sword
Micro Sword

The Micro Sword, sometimes called Copragrass, is a great plant for beginners and seasoned aquarium keepers alike. An attractive bottom covering plant with long light green grass-like leaves, it will spread out in thick carpet of grass. The Micro Sword will make an excellent spawning medium, as well as a great foreground plant. This species will thrive either partially or fully submersed and grows to about 4″ tall.

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The Micro Sword can be housed in water from 70°-83°F, with a neutral pH. This species appreciates a soft substrate that is rich in fertilizer.  The Micro Sword propagates from the many runners that will branch off the root area. It grows exceptionally fast, and will quickly cover the bottom of the tank.

Chain Sword

The Chain Sword – Narrow Leaf, also known as the Pygmy Chain Sword, is the smallest species of the Alismataceae family. It has very linear leaves, almost without petioles. The Chain Sword – Narrow Leaf requires sandy soil and plenty of light. Under the proper conditions, this Sword Plant will form a thick carpet with its numerous runners. It is amphibious, and will grow either partially or fully submersed, growing to about 6″ tall.

The Chain Sword – Narrow Leaf requires moderate lighting and water temperatures between 68°-84°F for best growth. It prefers water that has a neutral pH, but can be housed in water with a pH of 6.2-7.5 and still flourish. A nutrient rich substrate will promote growth.

The runners that grow off of mature, healthy plants can best propagate the Chain Sword – Narrow Leaf. When the “baby” is approximately half the size of the “parent,” cut the roots apart so they may grow separate from one another. They may occasionally produce seeds that can be used to cultivate new plants, and can also produce adventitious shoots to be used for propagation.

Banana Plant 6″

Banana Plant, also known as the Big Floating Heart, is an interesting and unique looking Rosette Plant. It has banana-shaped roots that remain partially unplanted, and store the nutrients for the rest of the plant. The only member of its genus to be used as an aquarium plant because it is the hardiest, and most tolerant of deep water and low light. It is an amphibious plant and will grow either fully, or partially submerged.

The banana-shaped roots of this plant should be planted no more than 1/4 of their length. Plant them by gently pressing them into the substrate. The Banana Plant should be provided with a minimum of 2 watts per gallon of light within the spectrum of 5000 to 7000K. The ideal water conditions for best results are a temperature of 68°-82°F, an alkalinity of 3 – 6 dKH and a pH of 6.0-7.2.

Propagation occurs when adventitious plants are formed and firmly pressed into damp ground or the aquarium substrate. Fully formed leaves may also be pressed into substrate to form new plants. Use Banana Plants as foreground plants and plant them singly for best results and for the most attractive look.

Moss Ball

The Moss Ball is a spongy velvet-like green algae ball that in the wild is found around Japan and Northern Europe. They were once thought to be extremely slow growing, but recent studies suggest that the growth can be accelerated by providing more nutrients. In its natural habitat, they are moved around by undercurrents and sink or rise in order to receive plenty of light to carry out photosynthesis.

The Moss Ball requires moderate to high lighting. The temperature of the water should be between 72°-82°F, with an alkalinity of 3-8 dKH and a neutral pH.

The Moss Ball propagates by division. It starts with a division line which progresses to the splitting off of a smaller new Moss Ball.

Java Moss

Java moss is one of the easiest plants to grow in an Aquascape, and it’s a great plant for beginners to get their hands wet in the aquascaping world. Let’s talk about some of the common techniques that use Java Moss.

Fast Growth Conditions

Java Moss needs two things to grow quickly in an Aquascape: good water and good light. With those two things, it’ll grow fast enough that you’ll probably get tired of trimming it back.

  • Optimal Temperature: 70-75° Farenheight
  • Optimal Lighting: High and bright
  • Optimal Water: PH 5-8, any salinity (even brackish)

If you can get your tank to these conditions, you’ll have more moss than you know what to do with. Seriously, this stuff grows insanely fast.

Java Moss Carpet

It is especially popular among aquarists raising fry (baby fish) and tadpoles, to protect them from cannibalistic adults. Java moss can also provide food for the newly formed fry, which can be challenging to feed. Some shrimp like to tear the miniature leaves off it to eat.

Carpets are a beautiful addition to any Aquascape. Java Moss is an easily-maintained carpet that lasts forever, and isn’t that hard to start growing. The key is how you anchor it to an object that’s flat, textured, and non-floating.

People use tons of different things to anchor Java Moss. Stones, rocks, driftwood, even other plants—it’s all heavy enough to hold down the plant. (At least until it starts growing at a faster rate. You’d be surprised how much a mat of Java Moss can lift.)

Anchoring The Carpet

Most aquarists use a mesh net to pin it to the substrate. I’ve had success using window mesh to pin it down, and weighing each end of the net down with a stone, driftwood, or another heavy piece in your tank. (This kind works really well.)

Substrate is another option for weighing it down. Mix in the moss with your substrate (making sure not to pack it too tightly, especially if you’re using a fine powder substrate), provide plenty of light for the next few weeks, and you’ll start to see some growth coming up through the substrate.

The alternative is to simply buy pre-made java moss carpet. Here’s a great source we’ve used from Amazon:

Walls can be made the same way as carpets: using plastic mesh. Moss usually grows a bit faster on walls, since it’s less likely to have its light blocked by other materials and fish. You’ll need some suction cups to anchor the net to the wall, but the Java Moss will quickly grow over the netting and cups, and you won’t see them.

Here’s a great technique for preventing float-away: fold the net in half, and stuff the java moss in between each side. That provides the moss with a solid attachment while still allowing water movement through the net.

Introduction:  You need no gravel or substrate to grow Java moss.  However, it will attach to bits of gravel which keep it from drifting throughout your tank  Java moss attaches even better to rocks and driftwood (and plastic tubing and sponge filters).  It looks like the above in the beginning.

Suggestions:  If you want faster growth, fluff up your moss to let more light get to it.  If you want to colonize a rock or piece of wood, lash your moss to your decor item with fishing line or rubber bands. You can also staple it to your wood.  Not practical on rocks.   Java moss looks best as an inch-thick growth on your wood.  Personal opinion.

Water Flow:  Java moss loves moving water.  Put some in your outdoor pond waterfall spillway.  It grows unbelievably well in spillways — becoming almost a terrestrial plant.  Check the flow of water in your aquarium.  Its love of fast moving water can plug your filter.  When the strands get sucked into a power filter, they tend to wrap around your impellor and impede or even stop it.

Midground Aquarium Plants

Anubias

A large assemblage of African species and cultivars that are very resistant to both salt intrusion and fish predation.

Until recently only available as a rare import from West Africa, Anubias Congensis, Anubias afzelii, is quickly becoming a farm-raised favorite in planted aquariums and cichlid setups. Like other Anubias plant species, this variety is hardy, relatively undemanding, and robust under ideal growing conditions.

Native to the tropical regions of Africa, these flowering plant species are primarily found in rivers, streams, and marshes. Anubias plants are ideal when planted in substrate or placed on harder surfaces, such as rocks or driftwood. They have medium light requirements but need regular fertilization with iron-based supplements for optimal growth. Interestingly, most Anubias plants do not respond to CO2 supplementation.

Considered a slow grower, members of the Anubias genus should not be placed in high light areas of your system to help prevent excessive algae growth on the leaves. Overall, however, Anubias Congensis is very adaptable to a wide range of pH, water hardness, and lighting conditions. Most herbivorous fish also tend to leave Anubias plants alone, which makes them great additions to any freshwater system, especially cichlid and goldfish aquariums.

Propagation is relative easy with cuttings. To ensure optimal growth if planted in substrate, however, make certain the rhizome of divided plants is always above the substrate. Plants can also be grown emersed, which also makes them an ideal plant for paludariums or terrariums.

Brazilian Sword

The Brazilian Sword, also known as Peace Lily, or Madona Lily is from Tropical America. This slow growing Rosette plant can obtain heights of 16 inches. The Spathiphyllum tasson’s petiole is larger than its blade, which is ornamented by well-elevated veins.

A member of the Araceae family, this plant requires water temperatures of 73°-83°F. The Brazilian Sword prefers a neutral pH, with a range of 6.5-7.0 being best. It is not a true aquatic plant but will do extremely well in your terrarium. Provide at least 3 watts per gallon of full spectrum light (5000-7000K).

This plant will add interest to any terrarium. Young plants may be obtained by cutting the rhizome. To keep this plant from overgrowing the terrarium, simply cut back the tall leaves.

Cardinal Plant

Add an easy-to-grow Cardinal Plant favored in Dutch-style freshwater planted aquariums! Native to the eastern and central United States, Lobelia cardinalis, also known as “Cardinal Flower,” is commonly found growing emergent along streams, ponds, and waterways. Kept in its submersed state in the home aquarium, its stems produce bright green leaves with scarlet red undersides.

Provide Lobelia cardinalis “Dwarf” moderate to high lighting to prevent wilting and to promote compact, lush growth. CO2 injection is highly recommended for success, along with plenty of micronutrient dosing. This unique stem plant grows upward at a moderate pace, producing side shoots and numerous white roots at the nodes.

The Cardinal Plant’s slow and dwarf growth makes it ideal for mid- ground placement to add density and interest to planted aquarium displays. Arrange and prune into neat rows for a classic Dutch “street” aquascaping effect.

Cryptocoryne

particularly C. ciliata is well-adapted to brackish water. 4-6″

Cryptocoryne, also known as Wendt’s Cryptocoryne, is available commercially in a variety of color forms, including green, olive green, and reddish brown leaves. The leaves differ considerably in size, shape and color; this is heavily dependent on the amount of light they receive.

Cryptocoryne requires a substrate that is fertilized with an iron-rich fertilizer. Regular pruning and thinning will keep it looking its best. Cryptocoryne requires stable water conditions to prevent rotting of the stems and leaves. Provide at least 2 watts per gallon using full spectrum bulbs (5000-7000K). Water temperature should be between 75° and 82°F, with a dKH of 3-8 and a pH of 6.5 to 7.5.

For best results, use Cryptocoryne as a solitary plant. They may also be planted in groups with good results. If planted in thick groups, all variations will grow taller and narrower. When planting in this fashion, place the smaller types in the foreground of the aquarium, with the larger ones in the center and back. Cryptocoryne propagate by growing multiple runners.

Dwarf Sagittaria

Tough, waxy leaves help this genus of attractive tall and short plant species to resist salt leaching and consumption by brackish fishes.

The Dwarf Sagittaria, also known as Hudson Sagittaria and Ribbon Wapato, is a great aquatic plant for those just beginning to keep live plants in their aquariums. This fast growing plant resembles grass and can grow above the water level. Its unstemmed leaves will grow to form dense clusters. It is an amphibious plant, and will grow either partially or fully submersed.

The Dwarf Sagittaria is a completely undemanding plant that can withstand hard water as well as water with a surplus of organic substances. Not sensitive to temperature change, it can thrive in very poor planting substrate if given a generous amount of light. This aside, the proper water conditions would have a temperature of 72°-82°F, an alkalinity of 3-8 dKH and a pH of 6.5-7.5. Provide the plant with moderate lighting of 2 or more watts per gallon of full spectrum (5000-7000K) lighting.

The Dwarf Sagittaria will propagate by producing multiple runners, and may need to be replaced with new Dwarf Sagittaria from time to time. It’s best to use this plant as a background plant.

Java Fern

One of the best brackish water plant species. In fact, about the only regularly sold aquarium plant that is “naturally” brackish. Slow, but steady grower, attached to wood.

Java Fern is a beautiful addition to the freshwater, planted aquarium. Growing around 8 inches tall, with creeping, green rhizomes, Java Ferns are well suited for not only planted aquariums, but also those that contain cichlids and other large South American fish.

Java Ferns will do well if planted in moderate light as well as in a shaded area. It is amphibious, meaning that it will grow either partially or fully submersed. Provide at least 2 watts per gallon of light supplied by full spectrum (5000-7000K) bulbs.

Java Ferns will thrive in an aquarium with an alkalinity of 3-8 dKH and a pH of 6.0 to 7.5. They will propagate by adventitious plants on leaves & roots, and rhizome division may also be seen. Java Fern looks great planted singly, or in groups if there is enough room in the aquarium.

Ludwigia – Broad

Ludwigia repens, or Water Primrose, is a beautiful freshwater aquarium plant that originates from the tropical North and Central American waters. It is an amphibious plant that will grow either partially or fully submersed. In its fully submersed form, its spade-shaped leaves range in color from dark green to brownish-red. The top of the leaves are typically olive green in color, whereas the undersides are reddish-brown to deep red. The vibrancy of this plant depends greatly on the amount of light it receives. When poorly illuminated, the colors will fade.

The Ludwigia repens makes a good mid-ground plant in the average aquarium, or even placed as a background in the smaller aquarium. They do require a high light intensity of 3 to 5 watts per gallon of full spectrum (5000-7000K) light. This plant does prefer a nuetral pH and moderately soft water, and will accept a wide temperature range.

Reproduction occurs during the warm season when the plant is fully mature. At this time, it will develop small, vibrant yellow flowers above the water’s surface. Shortly thereafter, seeds will develope and drop to the substrate, where they will begin to grow into a new plant. To propogate the Ludwigia repens, simply cut branches or the top of the plant, and plant the stem into the substrate. Be sure to remove the leaves from the last node on the bottom of the stem to insure proper root growth.

Madagascar Lace

Aponogeton madagascariensis which is known as the Madagascar Lace Plant, is one of the most highly prized plants in the hobby. Its leaves are broad and long with a very delicate lace appearance. Under the right conditions, these plants will flower regularly in the aquarium. This plant is more demanding than most, but is well worth the extra effort.

Plant the Madagascar Lace Plant singly in the mid-ground part of the aquarium as a focal point. Trim any dead tips on these plants, to inhibit the entire leaf from decaying. Do not allow algae or any other debris to settle on or within the leaves. Provide a high amount of light in the range of 3 to 5 watts per gallon, using full spectrum (5000-7000K) bulbs.

Reproduction with this plant occurs through bulb separation, or formation of seeds after flowering. Allow the new plant to develop a root system and immature leaves prior to separating it from the mother plant. At that time, it can then be planted in a different location.

The Madagascar Lace Plant benefits from regular additions of CO2, iron rich fertilizers, and trace elements. It is shipped in its bulb form and will not have fully developed leaves. Under the right conditions, the leaves will quickly take form.

Variegated Japanese Dwarf Rush

The Variegated Japanese Dwarf Rush, also known as the Variegated Japanese Sweetflag, or Acorus Varigated Midground Plant has stiff, shiny, dark green leaves forming dense clumps. The arching foliage has cream to chartreuse stripes, making them a colorful addition to any aquarium. A grass-like plant that is native to Asia, the Variegated Japanese Dwarf Rush can be grown around ponds in a bog environment, and can be used in terrariums and aquariums as long as it is not fully submersed.

The Variegated Japanese Dwarf Rush is a great plant for the first-time live aquatic plant keeper. It is a slow growing, hardy plant that may be kept in cold water aquariums as well as tropical aquariums. It will also tolerate light ranging from full light to partial shade.

The best way to propagate the Variegated Japanese Dwarf Rush is by dividing the rhizomes. Let the new divisions get started in a pot for a few weeks before adding them back to the aquarium. Sometimes they will grow offshoots, which may also be used for propagation.

Water Sprite

Amongst my favorite aquarium plants period. Beautiful, undemanding, adaptable. Here Ceratopteris cornuta in a floating phase. Brackish

The Water Sprite, also known as the Indian Fern, is a great plant to use as a mid-ground plant and also as a floating plant. The delicate, lacy leaves also make great cover for fry to hide among. Due to its poor root system, the Water Sprite retrieves nutrients from the water.

The Water Sprite will grow profusely under the correct conditions, and for this reason, is excellent at removing unwanted and unhealthy inorganic nutrients from the aquarium water. In smaller aquariums with open tops, the Water Sprite can grow out of the tank and form beautiful surface leaves. The delicately branched leaves are very decorative and provide good contrast to other leaf shapes.

The Water Sprite makes a great starter plant for the aquarist new to plant keeping. Propagation is by adventitious plants from the tips of the leaves. Because of this, they are extremely easy to reproduce.

The Water Sprite is a favorite snack for many species of snails. To protect the plant and to control snail populations, consider adding snail eating loaches, such as clown loaches to the aquarium.

Rotala

Rotala Nanjenshan is an ideal mid-ground plant that will add color to the freshwater planted aquarium. Because of the small leaf size, it will grow rather densely, and may need to be thinned out in time.

The Rotala Nanjenshan is a relatively fragile plant that should not be included in an aquarium with overly active fish that may damage the fragile stems. It prefers a water temperature that is toward the upper end of its acceptable range, and it requires a moderate to high level of light of 3 to 5 watts per gallon provided by full spectrum bulbs (5000-7000°K).

Reproduction within this species is by cuttings. Simply cut the plant at the height that you desire, but leave room for growth, then strip the leaves about an inch off of the stem, and plant into the gravel. In time, roots will form at the last node and will aid in keeping the plant in place. This plant will benefit from regular additions of CO2, iron-rich fertilizers, and trace elements.

Spiralis

Spiralis, also known as Cryptocoryne spiralis, adds both height and visual drama to freshwater planted aquariums. Considered the most “primitive” of Crypocorynes and distinguished by a septum closing the kettle, Spiralis is a common plant found in India’s rice fields. Tall, slender, ruffled leaves sway gracefully under water, while emergent forms grow considerably shorter with broader leaves.

Spiralis require a substrate that is fertilized with an iron-rich fertilizer. Regular pruning and thinning will keep it looking its best. Spiralis requires stable water conditions to prevent rotting of the stems and leaves. Provide at least 2 watts per gallon using full spectrum bulbs (5000-7000K). Water temperature should be between 75° and 82°F, with a dKH of 3-8 and a pH of 6.5 to 7.5.

For best results, use Spiralis as a solitary plant. They may also be planted in groups with good results. If planted in thick groups, all variations will grow taller and narrower. When planting in this fashion, place the smaller types in the foreground of the aquarium, with the larger ones in the center and back. Spiralis propagate by growing multiple runners, and can be also be propagated through rhizome division.

Background Aquarium Plants

Amazon Sword Plant 2′

The Amazon Sword Plant, Echinodorus amazonicus, is a Rosette plant that is very popular with aquarium hobbyists. They are capable of reaching approximately 20 inches in height under proper water conditions. The Amazon Sword Plant has short rhizomes, numerous lance shaped leaves that are pale to dark green with sharply pointed tips, and fairly short stems. It is an amphibious plant that will grow either partially or fully submersed.

For the most beautiful Amazon Sword Plants, a loose substrate and an iron-rich fertilizer must be used. The Amazon Sword Plant requires at least 2 watts per gallon of full spectrum lighting (5000-7000K). The aquarium temperature should be from 72°-82°F, with an alkalinity of 3 to 8 dKH and a pH of 6.5-7.5. Propagation is by adventitious plants on the covered peduncles.

Best cultivated in large aquariums, Amazon Sword Plants make a great focal point if used singly. When used in groups, they create an interesting

Anacharis 2′ Hard

The Anacharis, also known as the Brazilian Waterweed, is an ideal aquatic plant for beginners. Beautiful light to bright green leaves, with branching stems covered in bunches of linear, whorled leaves. The Anacharis anchors itself in the substrate by its roots, but will also grow when floating freely.

The Anacharis can be housed in tropical or coldwater aquariums. When kept in a tropical aquarium, they require regular additions of fertilizer and a moderate amount of light. With the addition of CO2 fertilization, they will thrive in even hard water. The Anacharis is an excellent nutrient controller and oxygen producer for all types of freshwater aquariums and is also a suitable plant for use in aquariums that house livebearers or American sunfish.

Provide at least 2 watts per gallon of light provided by full spectrum (5000-7000K) bulbs, and keep the aquarium water between 59°-82°F. Anacharis plants grow the best in water with an alkalinity of 3-8 dKH with a neutral pH of 6.5-7.5. Propagate by removing cuttings from mature, healthy plants. The Anacharis looks best when planted in groups along the back and sides of the aquarium.

Balansae Plant        18″

Cryptocoryne crispatula, also known as the Balansae plant, has very long, thin leaves with ruffled edges and relatively short stems. This plant is amphibious, and when grown out of the water, the leaves will shorten, lose the ruffle, and take on a rounded appearance.

The Balansae plant requires a moderate amount of attention to maintain, but is rather flexible in the location of the aquarium where it can be incorporated. Plant the Balansae plant in the background, or sides of the aquarium, or use it as a focal point in the larger aquarium. It can also be used as a mid-ground plant in the smaller aquarium, by removing the mature leaves, in order to keep the plant short. It requires a moderate level of light of 2 to 3 watts per gallon provided by full spectrum (5000-7000K) bulbs.

Reproduction within this species is by adventitious plants, or by seed. Allow the new plant to form its own leaves prior to separating it from the mother plant, and relocating it in the aquarium.

The Balansae plant benefits from regular additions of CO2, iron rich fertilizers, and trace elements.

Cabomba 20″

Beautiful, but easily fall apart when moved, and readily eaten. Take care to cut away rubber bands, remove lead weights, and gently plant individual stems if bought in typical “bunches”.

The Cabomba, also known as the Carolina Fanwort, has feathery green leaves, which are divided into narrow segments. It is a densely growing plant that makes for a wonderfull, natural looking background in a planted aquarium.

Cabomba does best when grown in neutral water under moderate lighting. Provide at least 2 watts per gallon of full spectrum (5000-7000K) lighting. Water temperature between 72°-82°F, an alkalinity of 3-8 dKH and a pH of 6.5-7.5 is ideal for proper growth. These plants do not tolerate frequent trimming and transplanting. Leaves dropping from the plant are usually a sign of poor water conditions or CO2 deficiency.

Propagate the Cabomba by trimming branches from the main plant, and relocating them in another part of the aquarium. It should be placed in the back or sides of your aquarium in groups for the best appearance. You can expect to receive 5 to 7 per Cabomba per bunch

Hornwort 2′

(coontail to pond people). Cool and tropical water species occur. Generally unpalatable to brackish water fishes.

Hornwort, also known as Coontail, has sturdy, layered hair-like foliage that helps oxygenate and clarify the water as well as keep algae growth to a minimum. It is found free-floating worldwide, in moving and still waters, or loosely anchored in muddy bottoms.

Hornwort leaves are dark green and grow from a 1/2 to 1-1/2 inches long on stems that can reach 24 inches in length. They may be potted or just left to float in the aquarium.

Hygrophila

The Hygrophila, Temple Narrow Leaf with its thick stems and broad bright green leaves that can reach a length of 5″ underwater, the Hygrophila corymbosa plant makes a unique addition to a freshwater planted aquarium. This plant is amphibious, and if grown out of the water, the leaves become round and very dark in color. The Hygrophila ‘Kompakt’ takes its name from the compact growing form. The ‘Kompakt’ will remain shorter but will continue to spread make a nice bunch foreground display.

The Hygrophila, Temple Narrow Leaf plant will grow to a maximum size of 24″, and should be pruned regularly to keep it from shading its neighbors. It makes an ideal background plant that will help in hiding the aquarium’s equipment. This plant will not begin to branch until the top has been cut. The Hygrophila ‘Kompakt’ will not grow as tall as the Temple narrow leaf but will continue to spread for a nice cover. Provide a moderate amount of light, of at least 2 to 3 watts per gallon, using full spectrum (5000-7000K) bulbs.

Reproduction within this species is by cuttings. Simply cut the plant at the height that you desire, but leave room for growth, then strip the leaves off of about an inch of the stem, and plant into the gravel. In time, roots will form at the last node and will aid in keeping the plant in place. The Hygrophila plant benefits from regular additions of CO2, iron rich fertilizers, and trace elements.

Ludwigia Needle Leaf

Incorporate this highly-versatile aquascaping favorite into your planted aquarium design for branching beauty, dense architecture, and eye-catching coloration. Easy to care for and instantly recognizable, this interesting Ludwigia will make any beginner’s aquarium look like a showcase setup.

Delicate in appearance, but hardy in nature, Ludwigia Needle Leaf, or Narrow Leaf Ludwigia is a beautiful amphibious plant that will grow either partially or fully submersed. In its fully submersed form, its narrow leaves range in color from dark green to brownish-red. The top of the leaves are typically olive green in color, whereas the undersides are reddish-brown to deep red.

The Ludwigia Needle Leaf makes a good mid-ground plant in the average aquarium, or even placed as a background in the smaller aquarium. They require a high light intensity of 3 to 5 watts per gallon of full spectrum (5000-7000K) light. The vibrancy of this plant depends greatly on the amount of light it receives. When poorly illuminated, the colors will fade.

To propagate the Ludwigia arcuata, simply cut branches or the top of the plant, and plant the stem into the substrate. Be sure to remove the leaves from the last node on the bottom of the stem to insure proper root growth. Natural reproduction occurs during the warm season when the plant is fully mature. At this time, it will develop small, vibrant yellow flowers above the water’s surface. Shortly thereafter, seeds will develop and drop to the substrate, where they will begin to grow into a new plant.

Moneywort

Moneywort, also known as Brahmi to herbalists, is an excellent plant for aquarists who are new to keeping live plants. The leaves are elliptic and grow alternately along the stem. They are bright green, almost lime colored when hit by the light, and make an attractive addition to any aquarium. They are amphibious and will grow either partially or fully submersed.

Moneywort is a moderately hardy stem plant that will thrive in most aquariums. It will typically grow to 12″ tall, but may grow even taller under high light conditions, even continuing to grow horizontally until it reaches the water’s surface. If left untrimmed, it will extend its branches out of the water.

Provide a minimum of 2 watts per gallon of full spectrum (5000°K-7000°K) lighting for the best results. Moneywort can tolerate water temperatures from 72°-82°F, but for optimum growth, the temperature should be approximately 76°F.

There are two ways to propagate the Moneywort plant. When sufficient vertical growth is observed, white roots should begin appearing at leaf nodes. When these roots are approximately one-half inch long, cut the stem 1″ below the roots and insert into the substrate. The second option is to allow the Moneywort plant to grow until it has reached the surface. It will start to grow horizontally along the surface and put roots out at each leaf node. Allow these roots to grow to approximately 2″ long, then cut each root section and plant in the substrate. This option is best if you wish to grow a large number of plants.

Myrio – Green

Myriophyllum pinnatum is commonly known as Cutleaf Watermilfoil or Green Foxtail, and grows naturally in the lakes and streams of Southern North America, and Central America. This plant has a beautiful green coloration, and with its fine leaves is very delicate looking. These plants will grow very rapidly in the aquarium, and are amphibious, meaning they can grow partially above the water.

The Myriophyllum pinnatum is a rapidly growing plant that is ideal for planting in the background of the aquarium to hide equipment, and for providing refuge for newborn fish. Be carefull that this plant does not shade any of the other plants in the aquarium. It requires a moderate level of light of 2 to 3 watts per gallon provided by full spectrum (5000-7000K) bulbs.

Reproduction within this species is by cuttings. Simply cut the plant at the height that you desire, but leave room for growth, then strip about an inch of the stem and plant into the gravel. If allowed to grow out of the water, this plant will produce a flower.

The Myriophyllum pinnatum benefits from regular additions of CO2, iron rich fertilizers, and trace elements.

Oriental Sword        16″

Echinodorus Oriental, commonly known as the Oriental Sword, is one of the most interesting sword varieties to enter the trade in the past 20 years. The spectacular semi-transparent pink coloration of new leaves add variety and depth to the aquatic gardeners artistic palette. Coloration matures to deep red hues with green veins, eventually developing into deep green leaves with wavy margins.

A mutation of the Rose Sword, Echinodorus Oriental is a slow-growing variety which demands strong lighting and a nutrient-rich substrate. Ideal water conditions are a temperature between 65°-82°F, an alkalinity of 3 to 8 dKH, and a pH of 6.5-7.5. A good way to achieve the lighting levels is to illuminate the aquarium with approximately 2 watts per gallon or more using full spectrum (5000-7000K) bulbs.

Echinodorus Oriental propagates most often by side shoots coming off the rhizome. They have also been observed with adventitious plants on the peduncle. For the most eye-catching display in the aquarium, plant them singly wherever a pop of color is desired.

Wisteria 20″

The Wisteria, also known as the Water Wisteria, is an undemanding, extremely attractive aquarium plant. The lace-like leaves vary in appearance under different conditions. If the water is colder, they will be small, and lobed in appearance, instead of pinnate. If insufficient light is provided, they will only be slightly pinnate.

The Wisteria is an excellent plant for the new aquarist or for the newly set-up aquarium. It requires a nutrient-rich substrate, with iron-rich fertilizer added regularly. Provide a moderate amount of lighting of at least 2 to 3 watts per gallon of full spectrum (5000-7000K) light. CO2 fertilization is also recommended.

For Wisteria to thrive, the water should be kept between 74°-82°F, with an alkalinity of 3 to 8 dKH and a pH of 6.5-7.5. To propagate, plant cuttings that have been removed from the healthy mature plant. Simply remove any leaves from the bottom 1″ to 2″ of the stem, and new root growth will form from the last node on the stem.

Please Note: As its scientific name suggests (Hygrophila difformis) the shape and form of Wisteria’s leaves differ greatly depending on light and aquarium conditions. When your plant order arrives, it will appear different than its mature form.

Ruffle Plant

Echinodorus martii, also known as the Ruffle plant, has very long, broad leaves with ruffled edges and very short stems. This plant is amphibious, and when grown out of the water, the leaves will shorten, loose the ruffle, and take on a rounded appearance.

The Ruffle plant is a relatively easy plant to maintain, but should not be exposed to copper, because it is copper sensitive. Plant the Ruffle plant in the background, or sides of the aquarium, or use it as a focal point in the larger aquarium. It requires a moderate level of light of 2 to 3 watts per gallon provided by full spectrum (5000-7000K) bulbs.

Reproduction within this species is by adventitious plants, or by rhizome division. Allow the new plant to form its own leaves prior to separating it from the mother plant, and relocating it in the aquarium. The Ruffle plant benefits from regular additions of CO2, iron rich fertilizers, and trace elements.

Red Flame

Requiring little attention while providing tons of color and texture to the home aquarium, the Red Flame is a great sword plant for beginners. Hardy and undemanding, its wide tall leaves add swaying movement and a lush backdrop to planted community tanks.

Echinodorus Red Flame is a hybrid between Echinodorus schlueteri ‘Leopard’ and Echinodorus barthii. Red Flame is very similar in appearance to The Ozelot Sword, but with larger swatches of red running along its leaves compared to the leopard-like spots of the Ozelot.

The Red Flame is a relatively easy plant to maintain, but grows rather large in the aquarium. Use this plant as a background in the smaller aquarium, and as a mid-ground focal point in the larger aquarium. Do not allow the leaves of this plant to shade neighboring plants. It requires a moderate level of light of 2 to 3 watts per gallon provided by full spectrum (5000-7000K) bulbs.

Reproduction within this species is by adventitious plants, side shoots, and rhizome division. Simply allow the plant to reproduce by one of the above methods, and when the new plant forms its own leaves, separate and replant in another location of the aquarium. The Red Flame is sensitive to copper, so this type of medication should not be added to the aquarium where it is contained.

 

 

Water temperature – Though most aquatic plants do well within the temperature range of 70 to 80 degrees, there are several aquatic plants, such as Anacharis and Japanese Dwarf Rush, that prefer cooler water temperatures. Find out the particular temperature requirements of each plant first.

Degree of
hardness (dH)
Description of
water hardness
Examples of plants
3 soft ChainSwords, Cryptocoryne, Dwarf Sagittaria
3-6 moderately soft Anubias Barteri, Rotala Indica, Cabomba
6-12 slightly soft Micro Swords, Java Fern, Ludwigia
12-18 moderately hard Anubias nana, Melon Sword, Anacharis

 

 

There are many ornamental terrestrial or marginal tropical plants sold as aquatic plants. These plants may look good and can do fine completely submerged for awhile, but these plants will eventually drown and should not be used. It is very important to select true aquatic species to prevent unnecessary disappointment and loss. Non-aquatic plants you may find in pet stores, but should avoid, include: Aglaonema, Cherry Hedge, Draceana (Princess Pine), Green Hedge, Mondo Grass, and “palms.”