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How to Choose the Right Plants for Your Aquarium

How to Choose the Right Plants for Your Aquarium

Posted by Artur Wlazlo on 18 Nov 2019

Easy Freshwater Plants for Your Aquarium

Anubias Nana on Lava Rock

While it might seem as simple as heading to your local fish store to grab a few plant bundles to stock your aquarium, finding plants that will thrive along with your fish requires a little more forethought. Many plants have specific requirements regarding temperature, water type, and lighting to ensure that they flourish in your aquarium. Learn about choosing easy freshwater plants for your aquarium as you read our roundup of the best plants for small aquariums.

What Plants Can Do For You

As you start shopping for easy freshwater plants for your aquarium, keep in mind what you want to achieve. Plants do many things for your aquarium including:

  • Converting carbon dioxide into oxygen
  • Removing nitrates and chemical waste from the water
  • Aerating your tank
  • Creating a natural look
  • Providing shelter and security for fish
  • Concealing aquarium fixtures

Which of these are most important to you?

Different Types of Plants

Chain Sword Narrow Leaf

There are three main types of plants to consider for your aquarium including foreground, mid-ground, and background. There are easy freshwater plants for your aquarium in each category.

Foreground plants should be placed at the front of the tank, as they are short and thus will not obscure the plants or tank decorations placed in the back of your tank. These are sometimes called carpeting plants because they spread outward instead of upward. Mid-ground plants can be used in the middle and along the sides of your tank. These are your aesthetic plants that don’t inhibit your fish from swimming and fill in the middle of your aquarium. Background plants are the largest plants and belong in the back of your aquarium. They provide shelter for fish and create a natural backdrop.

What’s in Your Tank

There are three important things to consider as you start looking for easy freshwater plants for your aquarium:

  • What temperature is your water?
  • What kind of substrate do you have?
  • How much / what kind of light is available?


Aquael Unbreakable One-Touch Aquarium Heater

Most of the plants at Modern Aquarium do best within the 60°F to 80°F range. These are also temperatures suitable for most fish. Using  water heaters, you should have no problems with keeping your water temperature at this range, allowing you to maintain just about all plants you can find in our store.


Any  substrate, including aquarium gravel, will work for plants but formulated, planted aquarium substrates will especially provide the nutrients that easy freshwater plants for your aquarium need to truly thrive. Look for substrates that include nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, iron, boron, and manganese. You can also supplement plain aquarium gravel with plant fertilizer to make it more suitable for aquarium plants.


You could place your aquarium next to a window that provides plenty of natural light, but then you risk algae growth that may overwhelm your tank and plants. Currently, the best solution is an  LED light that you can control and won’t overheat your tank.

Our Favorite Plants

Aquarium Lily Potted

f you have no idea where to start and need some direction in choosing easy freshwater plants for your aquarium, we can help. Here are our top three favorite plant types:


The Anubias plant type is an incredibly hardy freshwater plant and one of the best plants for small aquariums because they’re adaptable to most water conditions. These are foreground and midground plants that can fit anywhere and will provide excellent hiding places for bottom-dwellers and smaller fish. Optimal conditions for these plants include a water temp that ranges between 72°F and 82°F and a tank pH from 6 to 8.


These easy freshwater plants for your aquarium are a favorite among those who like a little color in their tank. They have a floral quality and often come with red and burgundy accents on their green leaves. These plants can be planted in the midground and background of your aquarium and do best in water that’s between 70°F and 85°F and has a pH value of 5 to 8.


corkscrew vallisneria is an easy freshwater plant for aquariums

The ideal background plant, Vallisneria grows tall with undulating leaves in each bunch. There are a number of different species that you can mix and match to create varied scenery in your aquarium. The pH level to keep them happy should range from 6.5 to 8. They do well in water between 70°F and 85°F.

Ready to get started? Start shopping for easy freshwater plants for your aquarium  here or reach out to us today for additional assistance!