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Best Live Plants for Fish Tanks 2020

Live plants are a great alternative to artificial ones since they increase oxygen levels in the water and reduce harmful nitrates in your aquarium helping to reduce algae and prevent fish diseases. They’re also perfect in creating an authentic environment for the fish with their natural sway.

Whether you’re aiming to keep your fish tank as earthy looking as possible or you’re looking to create a tropical paradise, you’ll want a range of plants that will be low maintenance and full of benefits for your underwater ecosystem.

So we’ve compiled a list of aquarium plants, ranging in all shapes and sizes, that are easy to look after and full of wonderful qualities to give you and your finned friends a great looking tank with minimal effort.

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    Our Top Picks

    Image Product Details
    Anubias
    • Ideal for planting on wood
    • Considered easy to grow
    Check Price
    Amazon Sword Plant
    • Nitrate Absorption - better environment, less maintenance
    • Goldfish friendly - a plant they don't tend to eat
    Check Price
    Cladophora Aegagropila (Moss Balls)
    • Absorbing Pollutants
    • Prevents Growth of Other Algae
    Check Price

    The Top 10 Live Plants for Fish Tanks Reviewed

    1.
    Tropica Eleocharis Acicularis 'Mini'

    You wouldn’t have a room without a floor, so why leave the bottom of your fish tank bare? And while you can keep the gravel plain, carpeting your tank with a foreground plant will create an underground garden that will add authenticity and natural brightness to the tank.

    Once planted, this plant will simply spread across the bottom of your tank and will continue to release oxygen and nutrients into the water maintaining your fish’s health.

    Tropica Eleocharis Acicularis ‘Mini’ makes for the perfect rug since it’s known for being one of the most secure species for creating a carpet. And if you buy the mini version, it remains small growing to no more than 3-5cm meaning minimum maintenance is required.

    Features

    • Minimum maintenance since leaves stays small (3-5 cm)
    • One of the most secure species for creating a carpet

    Specifications

    • Suitable for nano-aquariums
    • Dimensions: 3 x 7 x 7cm

    2.
    Oxygenated Plants

    It’s vital that there is enough oxygen in the water for your fish’s health and while all plants give out oxygen, some are better suited to the job.

    Egeria Densa Dense waterweed is an excellent oxygenator since it grows rapidly and therefore releases oxygen through photosynthesis more often. It’s actually so good that it’s currently used within education for photosynthesis experiments.

    It also absorbs nutrients from the water which will stifle algae and is incredibly easy to take care of, you’ll just have to be sure to cut it down often since it grows so quickly. In your aquarium, it’s usually better suited as a corner plant since it grows upwards.

    Features

    • Reduces Blanket Weed and green water
    • Thrives in cooler temperatures

    Specifications

    • Light/Temperature: high-medium / 1-28 degrees C
    • Dimensions: H 60-80cm

    3.
    Anubias

    Anubis is an extremely popular plant as it’s a challenge to kill being hardy and forgiving to harsh changes in the tank. It’s brilliant in low light tanks that don’t receive additional fertilizer.

    However, if you have a brighter tank you can still have an Anubias plant, but you would have to maintain it quite regularly as it will grow quickly and become very condensed. If it grows too dense, it becomes a new favourite place for algae to grow.

    Features

    • Ideal for planting on wood
    • Considered easy to grow

    Specifications

    • Light: Low light demand of 0.5W/L
    • Dimensions: H 5-15cm

    4.
    Tropical Echinodorus 'Reni' Aquarium Plant

    This colourful little plant is a great foreground plant and with its deep red colour, it adds a nice natural break in the greenery. It’s considered an easy grower that’s great for beginners and since it’s the smallest of its family, it’s ideal for adding a more varied height range to your aquarium.

    While it is considered low maintenance, the plant requires a lot of light and nourishment to achieve that optimal red colour development.

    Features

    • Easy to grow
    • Medium growth rate

    Specifications

    • Light: High demand
    • Dimensions: H 15-40, W15-25 cm

    5.
    Tropica Salvinia Auriculata 1-2 Grow! Aquarium Plant

    Floating plants look beautiful in a fish tank and create a peacefulness as they float calmly in the water like jellyfish. They’re also more authentic and wild since they resemble the way a fish’s natural habitat would be with loose plants and floating branches that they would weave in and out of for shelter from the sun.

    Not only are floating plants great for adding some shade to the fish, but they’re also handy in filtering the tank since they’re great at absorbing both chemical and biological waste.

    Features

    • Helps prevent algae by shading parts of the aquarium and using nutrients in the water
    • Small hairs on their leaves, making them water resistant

    Specifications

    • Light: Medium - grows quickly if there is sufficient nutrition and light
    • Dimensions: 3 x 7 x 7cm

    6.
    Tropica Cryptocoryne Beckettii

    Cryptocoryne Beckettii is a low maintenance plant that doesn’t need any special care and is extremely tolerant with differing water parameters. A low to medium light is best as strong light may burn the leaves and could promote algae growth.

    With its red stems and maroon under leaves, the Tropica Cryptocoryne Beckettii is great for adding some natural colour to the tank and as well as being pretty,  they make a great midground plant since they usually reach between 4-6 inches in height and 3-6 inches wide.

    Features

    • Considered easy to grow
    • Remains relatively low in the aquarium

    Specifications

    • Light: Low light demand at 0.5 W/L
    • Dimensions: height - 10-15cm

    7.
    Hygrophila

    The spiky leaves of Hygrophila Siamensis make this plant particularly pretty and distinctive amongst other plants. It’s great at absorbing nutrients from the water as well as toxins, making it a good natural filter, and since the plant grows rapidly it’s a good plant to fill up some space in your tank. If your tank is in quite a dark place, this plant is also handy as it’s low in light demand.

    The family of Hygrophila is native to warmer climates, this plant is probably better suited to warmer temperatures and will be at home in a tropical tank. Since it becomes quite bushy, it will be a handy place for fish to explore and hide in, however if you have Goldfish, it may be worth doing some extra research since Goldfish have been known to eat this plant down to the stem.

    Features

    • An undemanding, fast growing plant
    • Packed in a way that allows them to be delivered in the post

    Specifications

    • Light: Low light demand - will grow red leaves in good light
    • Dimensions: 15-40 cm tall and 7-12 cm wide

    8.
    Amazon Sword Plant

    These plants are incredibly beautiful with their tropical style and dramatically pointed leaves (hence the name), but perhaps the most impressive thing about this plant is its ability to absorb harmful nitrates.

    High levels of nitrates are harmful to your fish since nitrate poisoning can lead to weaker immunity and a higher risk of catching diseases, so plants that can absorb nitrates are crucial in maintaining a healthy tank.

    The Amazon Sword Plant is also handy in keeping your substrate stable and will be less affected by digging fish as its roots are difficult to pull up and thus the substrate will remain more grounded.

    Features

    • Nitrate Absorption - better environment, less maintenance
    • Goldfish friendly - a plant they don't tend to eat

    Specifications

    • Light/Temperature: High-medium demand
    • Dimensions: Laves are 3-6cm wide and growth is up to 60cm.

    9.
    Cladophora Aegagropila (Moss Balls)

    While moss may look similar to algae, its properties make it a great companion to have in a fish tank since moss purifies the water releasing oxygen while it grows and absorbing natural waste.

    Not only this, but moss is a firm favourite as a tasty snack for shrimps helping them thrive. And since shrimps are the natural maintenance men of the tank, keeping them healthy will keep your aquarium healthy too.

    Features

    • Absorbing Pollutants
    • Prevents Growth of Other Algae

    Specifications

    • Light: Low demand
    • Dimensions: 4 x 4 x 4cm

    10.
    Alternanthera Reineckii

    Burgundy coloured with soft leaves, the mini Reinckii will add a pop of colour to your aquarium and with its slower growth rate and the fact it grows side shoots  – making the plant grow wider than taller, it’s particularly suitable for small aquariums or as a great foreground plant in larger ones.

    Reinckii also makes for a great place for smaller fish to hide and is a great oxygenator too!

    As with all coloured plants, it’s a little more demanding and will need more light to achieve its full redness and while it can withstand colder temperatures it reaches its optimum in warmer water.

    Features

    • Very Easy to Grow
    • Good oxygenator

    Specifications

    • Light: Moderate to high demand - good light encourages the leaves to turn red
    • Dimensions: 10.16 x 15.24 x 10.16 cm, based on leaf growth

    Buying Guide

    When you’re choosing which plants to have in your tank, you need to consider a few things:

    Maintenance

    You don’t want your tank to become overcrowded with plants taking up too many nutrients and each one competing for light so aims for a range of slow growers and faster ones that need cutting back often.

    Conditions

    Some plants thrive in warmer temperatures and will struggle in cold water so it’s important to know the temperature of your tank and plan accordingly.

    Plant Suitability

    While live plants tend to be very versatile, some aren’t suitable for shrimp while others end up as food for certain fish.

    Other Buyers Ask...

    Where can I buy fish tank plants from?

    You can buy live plants from aquatic centres and pet shops, however, buying online will offer more choice. It’s also important to note that a lot of these plants have different names and therefore it may be a good idea to do some research if you cannot find the one listed in your local shop.

    How do I plant fish tank plants?

    All plants are different. For some on the list above, they’ll benefit from floating or being tied to rock or driftwood. Moss, when planted in rocks or wood, can make for a nice shelter for fish.

    Other plants need to be planted in the substrate gravel. For these plants:

    1. Remove the plastic pot and the protective wool.
    2. Gently break to plant up into smaller sizes.
    3. Plant these into your gravel using a pair of long tweezers and ensure the roots are secure.

    How do I maintain healthy plants?

    There are three main ways to take care of your live plants:

    1. The first thing to do is ensure you invest in some plant growth substrate. It’s a natural concentrate that acts as a long-term nutrition store underneath your aquarium gravel to continue feeding your plants.
    2. Secondly, you can purchase plant fertiliser that contains iron as well as other plant nutrients that will promote healthy plant growth and colour. This should be used weekly.
    3. Plants need Carbon Dioxide to thrive and a lack of it will lead to poor growth and weak plants. And while there is carbon dioxide in the water from the fish, if you’re plants aren’t doing well it may be a good idea to supplement them with some more CO2. However, it’s important to strike the balance to ensure you don’t poison the fish. The recommended amount is under 30ppm and you can measure this through indicators such as a CO2 indicator set.