Live aquarium plants have a number of benefits for your aquarium. They naturally filter the water, provide fish shelter, and can even help you breed your fish. And, of course, they make your tank look natural and beautiful. If you’re just beginning your aquascaping adventure and you’re looking for some foolproof plants to add to your tank, check out our top 10 live plants for beautiful and easy aquascapes.
1. Java Fern
This plant is nearly indestructible and very forgiving. It grows well even in moderate lighting and is hardy enough to be in aquariums with some very boisterous fish. Attach it to hard surfaces such as rocks or driftwood. With a unique look that appeals to many aquascapers, Java fern can be placed in nearly every area of the tank. Thick, half-striped leaves grow in bunches and the plant grows well when water hovers between 72-84℉.
2. Amazon Sword
Staple in many aquascapes, for beginners and professionals alike, these plants can grow up to 20” long. Their size makes them perfect for hiding plumbing and other aquarium hardware as well as breaking the line of sight in the aquarium, providing protection to fish along the background of the tank. Many fish such as discus will use the leaves of the Amazon Sword to lay their eggs on. These plants are hardy and will thrive in varied tank conditions.
3. Dwarf Sagittaria
Ideal for low maintenance tanks, dwarf sagittaria actually stops growing when it reaches 2-4” and for this reason is suitable for foreground and midground areas of your tank. As it roots into the substrate and spreads across the bottom of your tank, the vibrant green leaves will decorate your tank and provide protection for fish. It’s happiest between 72-78℉ and is an excellent choice for easy aquascape building.
4. Anubias Nana
A midground plant that’s great for newbies, anubias specimens tolerate nearly any water quality or environment. They grow slowly but are hardy and will do well even in low-light aquariums. The semi-large leaves are perfect for decoration and fish protection.
5. Java Moss
Java moss is the absolute most popular live plant for an aquarium because it’s nearly impossible to kill. Attach it to a rock or other hard surfaces and watch as it grows and covers them with beautiful green carpet. Java Moss grows well in a wide variety of water conditions and can tolerate a range of temperatures between 72-90℉.
Use it as decoration, substrate stabilization, carpeting and protection for smaller fish, and for breeding certain types of fish. It’s our top recommended plant for aquascaping for beginners.
6. Dwarf Hairgrass
Dwarf hairgrass is one of the easier “carpeting” plants to grow and provides tons of versatility in your tank. It looks great next to stones and provides a nice contrast to dark sand or soil. When provided with optimum conditions, including good lighting and fertilization, it will grow fast and you’ll probably be trimming it quite a bit! Also, vacuum it with gravel cleaner regularly to keep it free of debris and looking its best.
Grow it in water that ranges between 72-78℉, and use it to accent your hardscape features such rock or driftwood.
7. Dwarf Baby Tears
One of our favorite carpeting plants, dwarf baby tears provide healthy carpeting for an aquascape for beginners. When provided with good conditions and supplemented with CO2, it will grow well and “pearl” or produce tiny little bubbles of oxygen, adding a unique visual element to your tank. Let it provide your fish with extra protection in tanks that range between 72-85℉.
8. Ludwigia Peruensis
This strikingly beautiful plant comes in colors ranging from red to brown, offering an elegant pop of color in your aquarium. It’s easy to grow in 72-82℉ and looks best planted in groups. With ideal lighting and fertilization, you can cultivate an intense red that will catch the eye.
9. Hornwort (Ceratophyllum Demersum)
This fast-growing plant does not have roots and can be used as either a floating plant or an upright stem plant. It can thrive in temperatures of 59-86℉. Hornwort fulfills numerous functions, including absorbing extra nutrients, preventing algal blooms, and even offering hiding places for young fish.
10. Pygmy Chain Sword
While the pygmy chain sword isn’t the most common aquarium plant, it looks particularly well around hardscape items such as rocks or driftwood. It looks just like lawn grass and grows best in 72-78℉ water. Pygmy Chain Sword will need good lighting and substrate and may be a bit more challenging as a beginner's aquascaping choice than the plants listed above. But, we still recommend it as a suitable plant for aquascaping beginners because, just with a little bit of extra effort and attention to the plant’s needs, even beginners will succeed and will be richly rewarded with beautiful and green lush “lawn” that these plants can create.
Ready to add any of these plants to your tank? Shop the whole Modern Aquarium collection here!