I spend my free time (and spare cash) working on my freshwater aquariums.
So, you've set up a new fish tank and stocked it with a few fish to get it started. Standing back, you admire your work before frowning and moving that one decoration just an inch to the right. But something seems like it's missing: Earlier in the day, when you picked up your new fish, there was a tank of plants in the store. Adding plants to your aquarium is a great move as they have many different benefits beyond just improving the look of your aquarium.
Plants offer these benefits:
The real plants at the store did look pretty neat, better than some of the plastic ones, but you're still not sure you want to invest in something that complicated. Aren't plants hard to keep? Needy? Don't they rot and cloud up your tank? Couldn't they hurt the fish?
The answers to those questions are yes and no. Just like there are beginner fish that are hardy and undemanding, there are also beginner plants. Or, perhaps, a better term for them would be aquatic weeds, since beginner plants tend to grow quickly and are very hard to kill once they are settled into a tank.
Beginner plants are low-maintenance and grow well under less-than-ideal circumstances. These plants do well with low light and low Co2 levels and use your fish's waste as fertilizer. Because plants use Co2 to photosynthesize, they release oxygen into the water as a by-product. Oxygen is what fish breathe. Plants also use the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate from fish waste, purifying the water and making it safe for fish.
Plants also have the added benefit of making your tank look more natural, giving shelter to your fish, and even providing a little snack for some fish, such as mollies and silver dollars. Plants also compete with algae for nutrients and light, making it harder for algae to grow in your tank. Plus, they are fairly cheap, and a little goes a long way.
Floater plants do not leave the surface of the water. These plants have roots that dangle down into the water but do not bury in the substrate. They are extremely easy to grow and sometimes flower on top of the water.
Frogbit and duckweed are from the same family and look similar to aquatic clovers (little, clustered leaves). Duckweed plants are very small and multiple quickly. Most people do not want duckweed in their tank and acquire it as a hitchhiker. Duckweed is almost impossible to remove once introduced, but it does an excellent job of providing cover for fry, providing food, and sucking up nutrients. Frogbit is very similar, but it is much larger and easier to remove.
Non-rooted plants have roots, but the roots should not be buried in the substrate. For most of these plants, if you bury them, the plant will die because it cannot access the water column for nutrients and oxygen. These plants do best either wedged in place, weighted down, or tied to a decoration.
Rooting plants do best buried in the substrate. These plants have a variety of appearances, but most look similar to non-aquatic plants. Some even flower above water. These plants do best with 2–3 inches of substrate and lots of room to spread their roots.
The plants in this list do not really need a lot of special care. I have grown all of these plants in either low light or indirect sunlight without adding fertilizer or Co2. That being said, if you would like to get faster results, there are a few things you can do to give your plants a helping hand.
Hopefully, this article is a step towards some experimentation. There are many plants that do well in a beginner tank, and after a few successes with these, you may want to try your hand at a low-tech planted tank. Or maybe a more challenging high-tech tank.
Please look below for some videos with nice examples of what you can do with beginner plants!
© 2010 eveliens
the fish on February 18, 2017:
do aqatic plants need c02 and fertiliser
naveen on April 08, 2013:
nice...it seem to be goood
Power Ball Pythons from Mobile, AL on September 07, 2012:
Really great hub. I was looking for some easy plants to add to a 10 gallon tank to highlight a beta fish. I voted up. I love all the photos and videos.
Golden Fins from California on November 29, 2010:
I really like the planted tank in the second video. That tank looks so natural, and the blue betta looks healthy too. Lots of great info on plants here. Thanks
eveliens on October 28, 2010:
Aquatic plants are tricky, but once you get the hang of them you'll have a wonderful underwater garden ;)You might try frill, which is a light green, or there is a red version of cabomba (sp?) that may do okay in low light. Unfortunately, color directly corrolates to how much of the light spectrum a plant can absorb, so dark green does better in low light than light green or red. You might also try the dwarf sags; I've had good luck with those and they look like grass, so it gives you a little bit of texture difference and fills your foreground!
If you want a cheap way to add more light and don't mind DIY, I might recommending looking up 'rain gutter lights aquariums diy' and doing that. Then you can use compact florescents instead of the tubes. I used (3 x16w) CFLs over my 40 and the plants grow very well.
Amanda on October 26, 2010:
Thanks for the info!
I found this site after being sold White Ribbon plants as an aquatic plant at the pet store.
After realizing it's not truly aquatic, I am looking for another kind to replace it.
You see, the two-tone Ribbon plant breaks up all the green in my tank and looks really really nice. However, beginner plants requiring little light like Java Fern and Amazon Swords are just green. Any suggestions on how to break this up?
eveliens (author) from SK on September 12, 2010:
I'm glad this hub was helpful. I have a black thumb, so I didn't have a lot of luck in the beginning. I still have "easy" plants die on me occasionally, but most of the plants on this list are very hard to kill and easy to grow, so hopefully your luck will change!
chardee42 from Orlando, FL on September 12, 2010:
I've had rotten luck with some of my aquarium plants even though I normally pick ones that are supposed to be "easy". After reading your hub, I think I have a better understanding of what I've been doing wrong. Thanks!
eveliens (author) from SK on August 24, 2010:
bayoulady, thank you for the compliment. There seems to be this hobby myth that aquatic plants are advanced and impossible to grow, but plants add a lot to your aquarium and are worth a try.
bayoulady from Northern Louisiana,USA on August 23, 2010:
I am amazed at all of the information and quality of this hub. Definitely rating this up and useful!
Watching sea life in an aquarium is a peaceful pastime for fish owners everywhere. Aquatic plants can enhance the beauty and health of that environment we love to watch so much.
Consider adding live plants to your aquarium. We’ll get you started with a beginner’s list below.
The best plant species for beginners
These plants require low light, and are very hardy in that they thrive in different water conditions (acidic, alkaline, soft, hard, etc.).
For help with choosing the best plants for your aquarium, visit Pet Supermarket and speak with a store associate.
Beside enhance an aquarium’s look, plants in fish tank offer some benefits for your freshwater fish. Some plant gives fish a place to hide and rest. Also, can be used for shelter fry and eggs of fish. The plant is also very useful as a place to provide food and increase the oxygen content of water in an aquarium. Live aquatic plants are very healthier for fauna an aquarium, they can reduce harmful chemicals such as ammonia and Compete with algae.
Aquarium plants are divided into three categories easy, medium and advanced plants. Each of those categories has different and unique characteristics that need different treatment as well. Here are some plants you can add to your aquarium.
Anubias barteri var nana
Low light aquarium plants can grow and thrive very well in low-light tanks and aquariums. If you add this plant to your tank, you will need CO2 supply. It will ensure the plants will grow well as the low does. The other things you should add to this kind of low light tank plants is weekly liquid fertilizer and the right substrate. However, the easy plants for a low light aquarium like Anubias Barteri, Bacopa Caroliniana, Cabomba Caroliniana and more grow very slowly. The time expenditure per week of this plant is less than ½ hour.
One of the easy plants as low light aquarium plants is Anubias Barteri. Anubias has many varieties and o ne of the varieties is Coffefolia. This low cultivar variety of Anubias Barteri is totally beautiful. It can grow 15 to 25 cm for the height. The leaves are arching considerably between the new red-brown leaves and the leaf ribs. It has such an attractive look with the amazing leaf shape and the color combination. Even though the seeds are not produced under water, the flowers are blooming. Herbivorous fish do not eat this one of plants for the low light tank.
The next low light aquarium plants category is the medium plants. You will need to work harder when you are about planting this plant. To keep this plant thriving, you should prepare ½ watt per liter. The medium plant has good density and color. To keep them good, make sure that you have a good CO2 supply. Consider also the plant development and growth. Those things are important are determining weekly maintenance. It is about ½ to an hour. To keep this one of low light aquatic plants growing well, add some liquid fertilizers and the bottom substrate. For some individual cases, you will need special fertilizer.
One of the medium plants for the low tech aquarium is Alternanthera Reineckii “Pink”. It is originally from South America. The pink color brings a new perspective and a beautiful contrast to the green plant in a tank or aquarium scape, especially if they are in groups. It can grow 25-50 cm tall. You can change its pink leaves into red ones by providing a good lamp. You can easily propagate Alternanthera Reineckii “pink” by nipping the terminal bud off. Then, you can plant the bud in the substrate. The terminal bud propagating makes the mother plant becomes bushier as there will be more shoots are formed.
The advanced plants are the most demanding low light aquarium plants. This plant needs more power of lighting can thrive fully with 1 watt per liter or more. Make sure that the supply of CO2 has a constant amount 15-25 mg per liter. Keeping it on its rate is important. You will need 1 to 2 hours to maintain this one of low light tank plants per a week. Don’t forget to add liquid fertilizer and support substrate. The advanced plant requires special fertilizer to make it grow very well. Didiplis Diandra, Glossostigma Elatinoides, Hemianthus Callitrichoides “Cuba” are some varieties of the advanced plants for simple tech aquarium.
Didiplis Diandra is one of the advanced plants which is originally from North America. It is the best plant that grows in a small group. The stems are 2-5 cm wide and 10-15 cm tall. Some red shoot tips can be developed with good light. It will be a great contrast with a plant with green color. Soft water and a lot of light are required by this plant. Didiplis Diandra can grow better by adding CO2.
Java moss is very famous for freshwater aquariums plants. Java Moss is also perfect for your aquarium. This plant is best as low light aquarium plants for a beginner with simple maintenance that will make you easy to grow. Besides, Java Moss is growing quickly and hard to kill. It can crawl over the rock and reach your tank surface. As this plant likes to float, it would be better to add something to attach this plant.
Therefore, it can prevent float-away. Java Moss is a carpet-like and slow growth pattern. It can grow fast around 73 degrees. Any lighting works for Java Moss. However, the medium-high lighting condition supports its growth. You can use this one as low light plants as substrate stabilization and cover, carpeting, decoration, protection, and breeding of individual fish types.
In this point, you have learned some categories and varieties of low light aquarium plants. There is an important thing that we should keep in our mind. It is the water parameter. By considering the water parameter, we can avoid the problems that may happen. Moreover, the ideal water condition can be maintained in an easier way. Relating to the water parameter, we have three aspects that we should really consider pH, water hardness and water temperature. The ideal pH for the living plant is ranged between 6.5 to 7.5. On the other hand, some sensitive plants cannot live in that range the pH should be narrower. Therefore, we should be very considerate in understanding the plant.
Water hardness is commonly stated in a degree of hardness or dG. The most plant can adapt and live in harder water condition or general hardness. However, some tropical plants for low tech tanks prefer softer water. Thus, it is important to conduct simple research to determine the proper water hardness for our simple light tank plant. Here are some of the research results Cryptocoryne, Chain Swords, and Dwarf Sagittaria require the soft water has 3 DH. The moderately soft water has 3-6 DH. It is good for Anubias Barteri, Cabomba, and Rotala Indica. Micro Swords, Ludwigia, and Java Fern are living in the slightly soft water with 6-12 DH. Meanwhile, Anubias Nana, Anacharis, and Melon Swords are planted that can live in moderately hard water with 12-18 DH.
Besides water hardness, water temperature should also be kept in mind. 70-80 degrees are the ideal temperature for the most aquatic plants. However, the Japanese Dwarf Rush and Anacharis prefer water temperatures which are cooler. You should be really considerate in determining those three aspects of water parameter. Therefore, low light aquarium plants can live and beautify your aquarium and tank.
Regardless of the aquarium size, low light aquarium plants are essential for good water chemistry and healthy fish.
If you only visit local pet stores, you may think that you will be very limited in terms of color, size, and shape of the plants.
In fact, when I first started keeping tropical fish, the dismal displays of live plants led me to choose plastic ones instead. Later on, I found out that freshwater plants are every bit as interesting as their more mobile tank mates.
This freshwater aquarium plants guide will reveal everything you need to know about choosing and growing the best plants for your aquarium.
Later on, I will also reveal the top 15 aquarium plants for beginners and advanced aquarium keepers.