Top 10 Easy Aquarium Plants for Beginners
Planted aquariums are very popular nowadays because of their natural beauty and amazing ability to consume the toxic nitrogen compounds produced by fish waste. Many novices fail to preserve their green leaves from turning brown, despite trying hard. After more than a decade of keeping, propagating, and now selling aquarium plants, we’ve thoroughly vetted out our list of top 10 easy aquarium plants that can stand up to a beating and won’t break the bank.
1. Marimo Moss Ball
Known as the world’s easiest aquarium “plant,” this velvety green orb is neither a moss nor plant but rather a naturally occurring ball of cladophora algae. You should gently roll the marimo balls in your hands after every water change. This will help to maintain its round shape, and ensure that all parts of it get sunlight. Because they are inexpensive and unique, people often purchase a large number of them to stock up on goldfish or betta tank supplies. They can be rolled and wrapped around driftwood to make a miniature tree. For more information, read our complete care guide here.
2. Amazon Sword
This aquarium plant is well-known for its ability grow big and fill your tank with lush greenery. Lighting and substate are important, but so is making sure your fish tank gets lots and lots root tabs. The sword’s first purchase will have large, round leaves. These are usually emersed grown, or grown without water. These large leaves will eventually fall off once they are placed in water. The plant will reabsorb nutrients and make shorter, more narrower leaves that can be submerged grown (or even grown underwater).
If your new leaves are yellowing, you should give them more root tabs. The sword can eventually grow large enough to be a mother plant. This will create long spikes which turn into baby sword plants that you can plant in other aquariums.
3. Cryptocoryne Wendtii
Because it doesn’t require liquid fertilizers, or carbon dioxide (CO2) injections, this crypt is one our favorite. This slow-growing, low-maintenance plant is tolerant to almost all light conditions and can be grown in almost any substrate. It does prefer to feed from its roots, so if you use an inert substrate that doesn’t have many nutrients, make sure to regularly add root tabs every three months or so for optimal health. There are many types of Crypt Wendtii, including red, brown, tropicala and tropica. You can enhance the redness by adding iron supplements to your aquarium water.
Similar to Amazon swords, crypts leafs are notorious for melting back after being added to a new tank. If you see this happen, don’t throw away your “dead” plant! It can be left in the substrate and will quickly recover and grow new leaves once it adjusts to your water chemistry.
4. Aponogeton crispus
This low light plant grows from a bulb and creates long, wavy-edged leaves that flow beautifully in an aquarium. Because they are so easy care for, this species is often sold as a “betta” bulb at chain pet shops. Just place the bulb on top of the substrate, and watch it rapidly sprout leaves and roots. Sometimes the bulb goes dormant for a few months. The larger leaves will then die back. You can leave the plant in the aquarium and new growth will emerge. For only a few dollars, try out this great-looking plant that grows very fast, gets fairly tall, and can even produce flowers for you.
5. Bacopa caroliniana
Bacopa is a great choice for beginners if you are interested in growing stem plants. The native to the south of the United States, this plant has a straight vertical stem and small roundish leaves. Although it doesn’t need CO2 injection, it can take liquid fertilizers such as Easy Green. It can grow in low light conditions, but the leaf tips will turn coppery-red when there is high light and iron dosing.
Bacopa, as with many aquarium plants, is often grown in water at farms. The top of the plant will begin producing submerse-grown foliage once it is planted underwater. Meanwhile, the emersed-grown lower leaves begin to fall off. The bottom half of your stem will eventually look like a thin, bare trunk. To make it fuller, just trim the tops off and replant them. You can also propagate bacopa by doing the same thing. As the plant grows taller, cut off the tops to plant them in a different location.
6. Christmas Moss
If you’re setting up a breeding tank, get yourself some Christmas moss! Their fluffy fronds look like little Christmas trees and provide excellent cover for baby fish and shrimp. Aquascapers attach them to rocks or driftwood to create the appearance of a moss-covered forest. To keep slow-growing, slow-growing Moss in its best condition, you can invest in small algae eaters, such as amano shrimps and give it some liquid fertilizer.
You can make your aquarium appear like an underwater jungle by using very little effort. One plant is all you need – vallisneria. This tall grass-like species can be grown if you give it plenty of root tabs. Once it’s well-established in your aquarium, you can even add fish that are traditionally known for digging up or eating plants (such as goldfish or African cichlids). See our care sheet on vallisneria here.
8. Java Fern
Java moss and Java fern both get their names from Java Island in Indonesia. Both are easy to maintain, but they have very different appearances. There are several varieties of java fern – such as narrow leaf, Windelov (or lace), and trident – but the most popular type has long, pointed leaves with deeply ridged veins. Its roots and leaves sprout from the Rhizome, which is a thick horizontal stem or stalk. However, it is important to not plant the Rhizome in the substrate. Instead, most people wedge the plant into the crevices of rocks and wood, and the roots eventually grow tightly around it. You can also use sewing thread or super glue gel to make sure the plant stays in place, so follow this article for step-by-step instructions.
Windelov java fern
Since the roots do not need to be planted into substrate, it mostly absorbs nutrients from liquid fertilizers in the water column. It is possible to propagate it by either cutting the rhizome into two pieces or letting one of its leaves float on top. Soon the rows of black spots (known as sporangia) on the leaf will develop into baby plantlets with their own tiny leaves and roots. These plantlets can be removed and planted in another aquarium. Learn more about Java Fern Care here.
9. Cryptocoryne lutea
Cryptocorynes are so undemanding and beginner-friendly that we had to add another one to our list. Unlike crypt wendtii, this species has slender, green leaves that add variety in texture to your aquarium. You can put almost any substrate or light in your aquarium to make them happy. No CO2 injection is required. Although crypts tend to grow slowly, they will become a favorite in no time. Crypts are more difficult to grow and require regular pruning. However, they look great for many years with no special care except the occasional root tab. Check out this dedicated article for more information.
10. Dwarf Sagittaria
You need an easy, carpeting-like plant to add color and texture to your aquascape. The dwarf sagittaria, a grass-like, hardy plant that looks almost like a miniature vallisneria, is very hardy. It grows taller and smaller if it has high light. However, if it has low light it can stay short and compact. It is a good scavenger for both liquid fertilizers and root tabs. Dwarf dwarf sag spreads easily by sending out runners across the substrate. If it spreads to an unwanted area of the tank, just pull out the new shoots and replant them elsewhere.
Fill your tank with this curated collection of beginner-friendly plants, and you’ll have the best chance of success for your new planted aquarium.
For any reason you don’t see healthy growth, please consult our free guide on plant nutrient deficiencies.