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Aquatic plants have adapted to live in water conditions instead of land. This enables them to be submerged partially or completely and yet be able to do photosynthesis. It allows them to produce food for themselves and release oxygen during the process. This is how nature maintains the cycles of carbon and oxygen in the water. There are a lot of species and varieties of aquatic plants that are used for different types of aquariums.

For example, some plants are used for freshwater, while others are used for saltwater or brackish aquariums. Using aquatic plants in your aquarium has many benefits. They provide shelter and a place where your fish can hide from others in the same tank. Aquatic plants also provide much-needed oxygen to your fish inside the aquariums. Apart from all these, the aquatic plants complete the look of your aquariums and make them look more beautiful and natural.

If you have an aquarium, you should put some aquatic plants in that aquarium. Think of it as one of the must-have requirements if you want your fish to stay healthy and live longer. Many people use fake plants, they create the same look like the original aquatic plants, but they do not produce any oxygen, nor provide any other benefits. For that reason, most fish keepers advise that you should only use aquatic plants instead of fake plants. The article below contains complete information about aquatic plants, their types, and why they are important.

Types of Aquatic Plants:

There are a lot of different types of aquatic plants. It depends on the criteria for classification that you are using to differentiate them. Below is a list of a few types of plants based on different criteria.

  • Microphytes or Microalgae: Microphytes are also known as microalgae because these are small algae or single cell-based plants. They are so small that they cannot be seen by the naked eye. You have to use a microscope to see such plants. It is a type of plant that is an important part of every aquatic habitat as they serve as food for fish, and provides oxygen in the water.
  • Macrophytes: Macrophytes are those plants that can be seen using the naked eye. These are multicellular plants with branches, leaves, and roots. These are large and wide. Macrophytes also provide oxygen, food, and shelter to your fish. Also, they help you create a natural-looking habitat for your fish.
  • Emergent Plants: Emergent plants are a type of macrophytes that are planted in aquariums and grow in natural habitats. These plants grow underwater but in the later stages, they emerge out of the water. Their adaptation allows them to do photosynthesis in both underwater and emergent conditions. It is a type of plant that provides shelter, food, oxygen, and a perfect habitat for your fish in aquariums.
  • Submerged Plants: It is a type of plant that is used in aquariums that remains submerged completely underwater. Submerged plants are a major food source for many fish, crustaceans, snails, and shrimp species. These submerged plants provide shelter to your fish when it needs to hide from others in the aquarium. Also, it is one of the most beautiful and most interesting types of aquatic plants. There are three subtypes of this type of plant, these include plants that are rooted in the substrate layer, plants that are not connected to the bottom or seen at the top, and plants that are attached to the substrate layer of your tank without the roots.
  • Floating Leaves Plants: Floating leaves plants are the ones in which most of the plant is underwater. Only the leaves can be seen on the top of the aquarium. They also provide shelter, food, and oxygen to your aquarium, but they cover the top layer which can be a problem if your fish needs more light underwater.
  • Free Floating Plants: Free-floating aquatic plants are also a type of macrophytes that live in the water but are not attached to the bottom layer of your tank. This allows the plants to freely move in the water. This non-detachment habit is very beneficial for these plants in natural habitats as they can keep floating and moving, but in the aquarium, they are only used for their beautiful features.
  • Freshwater Plants: This is a plant classification based on the conditions which these plants need to survive. For example, freshwater plants need freshwater habitats to live and survive. Mostly these plants cannot live in saltwater or marine aquariums. These are considered perfect plants for freshwater aquariums.
  • Brackish Water Plants: Brackish water plants are the ones that grow in more saline water than freshwater and less than marine or seawater. They need different types of growth conditions that are only available in brackish water habitats.
  • Marine/Saltwater Plants: Marine plants are the ones that live in saltwater habitats underwater. These are naturally found in the sea and ocean habitats. If you have any saltwater fish, you can put these plants in that aquarium. It is a difficult type of plant that requires extra care.

Best Freshwater Aquarium Plants For beginners

Below is a list of the best aquarium freshwater aquarium plants for beginners.

1.   Leptochilus pteropus – Java Fern

The Java Fern is one of the most used freshwater aquarium plants that you can buy for your freshwater tanks. It is a beautiful plant that provides shelter, food, and oxygen to your plants. It is a leafy plant that grows multiple large, thin, and wide leaves that spread in the water. Hence creating a thick cover for your fish to hide. Some fish species also ovulate in the Java ferns, so having them in your aquarium will increase your chances of success at breeding that fish species.

This plant is native to Java Island in Indonesia, and that is why it is known as the Java fern, but it is also found in many other areas such as India, Malaysia, and Singapore. It is a type of plant that can survive harsh conditions and still survive, and that is why it is loved by many fish keepers. It is easy to plant and care for. You just need to put Java ferns in your aquarium and maintain the right conditions for their growth and they will survive. Java Fern can be paired with a variety of fish species from different parts of the world.

2.   Anubias barteri var. nana – Anubius Nana

Anubis Nana is an aquatic plant that is commonly used in freshwater aquariums around the world. It is a popular species of aquatic plant that has a leafy appearance. All leaves emerge from the same point which is in the middle of the plant structure. It is one of those aquatic plants that can live outside the aquarium, but their lifespan increases if they are kept underwater. Leaves of this plant provide a thick cover to your fish, where it can lay eggs and find shelter if it needs a hiding place.

It is a small plant which means it would not occupy much space in your aquarium. But it is important to make sure that you can accommodate the plant in your tank or not. It is a quick-growing aquatic plant species that may need cutting leaves every once in a while. If you are putting them in your tank, you will need to put something in your aquarium to hold them underwater and prevent them from reaching the surface. They need fresh water, moderately warm conditions, and a neutral pH to grow. You can pair them with a variety of fish species that need similar living conditions.

3.   Aegagropila linnaei – Marimo Moss ball

Marimo Moss Ball is a beautiful type of aquatic plant that is very famous for its appearance. This is an algae-based plant that grows into large ball shapes. That is why it is known as the Marimo Moss Ball plant. It can be found in large aquariums. Fish use them for shelter when they need to hide. The large ball contains many small leafy structures that provide the cover needed. This plant lives underwater and produces a large amount of oxygen for your fish.

It looks very beautiful when kept inside the crystal clear water. It can grow in different conditions but thrives in freshwater habitats. You can pair them with fish that need stones, or pebbles as the substrate. Also, you can pair it with fish species that need slightly cold water, neutral pH, higher salinity. It would act as a natural filter in your water and will absorb the carbon, but it would need a bright environment to live and thrive. It can not grow if there is no access to light in your water. For that purpose, a lot of fish keepers advise using the standard aquarium lights.

4.   Aponogeton Crispus – Wavy-edged Aponogeton

Aponogenton Crispus or wavy-edged Apnongenton is a beautiful aquatic plant that you can put in your aquariums. They are commonly known as the Betta Bulbs. It is a freshwater species of plants that can survive a variety of conditions. This makes them a suitable choice for different types of aquariums. You can pair them with your aquarium fish. It would not only add beauty to your tank but will also help your fish hide when it needs shelter.

This plant needs low conditions to grow, which makes it an ideal choice for many freshwater aquariums that are kept indoors. The main characteristic of this plant is its leaves that are wavy and edged. The Betta Bulb plant rarely requires extensive care, most of the time, it just needs suitable conditions to grow. You can buy them for your aquarium from local aquarium shops.  When inside your aquarium, you just need to make sure that your plant gets a slightly warm temperature, neutral pH, less salinity, and hardness. It will thrive in these conditions.

5.   Vallisneria – Eelgrass or Tape Grass

The Eelgrass or Tape Glass is a species of aquatic plant that you can buy for your aquariums. It requires bright conditions to grow, but you can grow it indoors using the standard aquarium lights. This plant has beautiful thin leaves that are very long. Because of the thin and long appearance of the leaves of this plant, it is known as the eelgrass, and tape grass. You will need to buy them in large numbers for your aquarium, as one plant only covers a very small space.

It is a great choice in those conditions where you need a cover on the substrate of your aquarium. The eelgrass or tape grass will cover the entire substrate or the places that you want to cover. Its leaves wave in the water because they are very thin and any type of motion in the tank makes them move. It creates a beautiful scenario for those who like watching fish move in the aquariums, they would enjoy it as well. This is a plant that requires extra nutrients that you may have to add to the substrate over time.

6.   Echinodorus grisebachii – Amazon Sword

The Amazon Sword is a very popular, and beautiful choice for freshwater aquariums. It is a plant that can live in various conditions including saltwater habitat conditions and freshwater conditions. It allows the fishkeepers to use them in different tanks. It is native to Amazon but is found in other parts of the world as well. The Amazon Sword needs low light conditions to grow, which makes it a perfect choice for indoor ponds and aquariums.

The Amazon Sword attaches itself to your substrate and extracts nutrients from there. For that reason, if you are planting the Amazon Sword in your tank, you should use a nutrient-rich substrate. These plants are used for a variety of fish tanks including the tanks of danios, rasboras, catfish, and tetras. But you cannot use this plant for the large fish species such as goldfish because they eat the leaves of this plant and that can kill the plant. You may have to replace the nutrient layer of your aquarium more often to support their growth.

7.   Cryptocoryne wendtii – Wendt’s Water Trumpet

Wendt’s water trumpet is also a beautiful aquatic plant that you can buy and use for your aquariums. It is a small plant species that grows underwater and provides oxygen, shelter, and a place for your fish to lay eggs. Many fish species lay eggs under the leaves of this plant, so having it in your aquarium will increase your chances of breeding them. Also, this plant is very easy to grow and care for inside an aquarium. All you need to do is to provide them with the optimal conditions.

It is very important to make sure that the optimal conditions for this plant are also optimal for your fish otherwise, you may end up losing your fish. This plant is native to Sri Lanka, which is a tropical region. So, you need to create tropical conditions inside your tank such as moderate temperature, neutral pH, and low salinity. Also, you will need to put nutrients in the bottom layer of your tank to make sure that your plants have everything that they need to grow and thrive.

8.   Cryptocoryne walkeri – Cryptocoryne lutea

It is one of the easiest plants to grow inside a tank. This plant is known by many names including the crypt lutea, which is one of the most common names among fish keepers. It is good for small fish species, crabs, snails, and shrimps inside your tank. Many fish species lay their eggs on the leaves of this plant. It needs to be attached to the bottom layer of your tank. It has roots that spread in the bottom layer and hold the plant in place. Also, these roots help in the extraction of nutrients from the bottom layer.

The Crypt Lutea is a fast-growing plant, that is why you will have to maintain it more often. It would need frequent pruning. Some fish keepers advise plucking their leaves to maintain their size. This plant has thin, wavy, and edged leaves that spread from the base towards the upside. This plant needs standard aquarium lighting to grow and thrive underwater. It is also a suitable choice for outdoor fish ponds.

9.   Sagittaria subulata – Dwarf Sagittaria

For those who are looking for more famous, and beautiful looking plants, the Dwarf Sagittaria is a perfect choice. It is a small, submerged species of plant that thrives in different water conditions. This makes it easy to pair with a large number of fish species. This plant grows quickly and produces multiple leaves. But it would not be able to create a cluster of leaves or a proper shelter if you do not plant a large number of these plants.

They would make your aquarium look natural and authentic. Also, it would provide cover to your fish. The large leaves of this plant would help your fish hide when it needs to. Apart from that, it would also protect eggs and fry in your tank. It is an excellent choice for the breeding aquarium if you are looking forward to breeding fish in your tank.

10.                Vesicularia montagnei – Christmas Moss

It is a type of moss plant that you can put in your aquarium. These are completely submerged plants that need a little care and provide a lot of benefits. The Christmas Moss has a beautiful appearance, with bright green-yellow leaves. Its leaves are soft and edgy, perfect for a breeding tank. The small leaves of this plant allow the fish to hide eggs under them during the breeding cycle. It protects the eggs from being eaten, also it provides cover for the small fry in your aquariums.

This plant only needs a small number of nutrients that you can provide easily. Its roots can attach to anything in your tank including driftwood, substrate, or decorations in your tank. It extracts nutrients from the water and uses light for photosynthesis. This plant also serves as food for many aquarium species of fish and shrimps that feed on algae and plants.

Best Saltwater Aquarium Plants For Beginners

Below is a list of the saltwater aquarium plants for beginners.

1.   Codium Spongiosum- Green Finger Plant

Green Finger Plant is the best choice for beginners because it requires minimal care and can be used with a large number of saltwater fish species. Most of the saltwater fish species are medium to large species. They need more oxygen in the water and the Green Finger Plant provides them with the extra oxygen that they need. It is known as the Green Finger plant because it has highly branching leafless structures that are shaped like fingers and the color of this whole plant is green. You need saltwater fish tanks to keep them alive in your tank.

it will make your tank look unique and beautiful. It has very thin and small roots that can attach to a variety of surfaces including stones, substrate, and decorations in your tank. This plant grows into a ball of green fingers that are highly branched. It offers shelter to smaller fish when they need an escape from large marine fish in your aquariums. The small fingers prevent any large fish from entering, hence protecting smaller members of the tank.

2.   Rhizophora Mangle – Red Mangrove Propagule

It is also one of the best saltwater aquarium plants that are easy to care for. Unlike other plants on this list, this plant can live underwater and also above the water. Also, this plant has a large size. So, you cannot keep them in your tank for a long time without pruning them. This is a fast-growing plant that has branches and roots underwater, meanwhile the rest of the plant is above the water. The wild mangroves are cultivated in captivity, this reduces their size and prevents them from growing into large mangroves trees.

These cultivated plants are used in aquariums and fish tanks. In natural habitats, this plant provides shelter, food, and oxygen to your fish. It would look very unique in your aquariums as it has a very long trunk that extends out of the water in most cases. The only downside of using this plant is that you cannot keep it in the smaller tanks, you need a very large tank or a fish pond. This plant needs saltwater, warm, and neutral pH conditions to grow and thrive. It also needs multiple nutrients that you can provide to your plant using the substrate.

3.   Chaetomorpha Linum – Spaghetti Algae

This is another algae plant that you can buy and use for your aquariums. It has very thin leaves and branches, and they are delicate. It grows on the reefs naturally, but you can also grow it inside the tank if you use stones pebbles in the bottom layer of your tank. It quickly grows into a large and thick plant that offers shelter to many fish species. Some fish, shrimps, and crustaceans use them as a food source.

Also, this plant does photosynthesis and produces oxygen for the fish inside your tank. Also, it absorbs a large amount of carbon from your tank. It needs nutrients that you can put into the bottom layer of your tank. Try to avoid putting their nutrients in the water as it can change the water chemistry and affect the health of your fish.

4.   Thalassia testudinum – Turtle Grass Shoots

The Turtle Grass Shoots is also a beautiful, small, leafy plant that can be used in aquariums. It grows from a single base that divides into multiple thin leaf-like branches. It is a beautiful plant that is used in aquariums for oxygen and also for the beautification of your tanks. You can buy small bulbs that can be planted in the tank. These small plants grow large thin leaves. If you want a thick cover of these plants, you will need to plant multiple Turtle Grass Shoots in your aquarium.

This plant is native to the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea, but it can be grown in tanks anywhere in the world. You will need to maintain the perfect health conditions that this plant needs. It can grow up to 10 inches and would require regular maintenance to keep it short and underwater. When the water inside your tank moves, this grass will also move and would create a beautiful and peaceful scenery that is worth looking at. Many fishkeepers select this plant because of its beautiful appearance.

5.   Ulva Lactuca – Sea Lettuce

This plant is commonly known as the Sea Lettuce, it grows naturally in saltwater conditions. It is a medium-sized plant that grows large, wide, and thin lettuce-like leaves hence named the sea lettuce. It is an alga of green color that can do photosynthesis. It grows from a small bulb that can be planted in the bottom of the tank. You can also buy small algae and put them in your aquarium.

You may have to provide it with something to hold onto, and nutrients from the bottom of the tank. It has very thin and small branches that can barely capture the stones, pebbles, or any other type of substrate in your tank. This is a great choice for most of the marine fish that you want to keep in your tank because this plant is not just beautiful, but also useful in providing cover, hiding spots, and food for some species.

How To Grow Aquarium Plants?

If you want to grow plants in your aquarium, you will have to use a different type of substrate that can allow the plants to extract nutrients and grow. This type of substrate is available in many places and you can buy it for your aquarium. Spread enough substrate in the bottom layer of your tank that it covers about three inches of your aquarium bottom. After that, select the plants and put them in your aquarium, and fill the aquarium with water. After that, you will have to regularly provide your plants with CO2, and nutrients. In some cases, you may have to use a diffuser to provide CO2 to your plants.

Nutrients should be spread in the bottom layer of the tank. Putting chemical nutrients in your water would endanger the health of your fish and that is why you should avoid it. Once the plants have started to grow in your tank, you will have to maintain their size otherwise, they might overtake your entire tank. You can use pruning to control the spread of your plants. It is very important to match the living conditions of your plant with the fish species. Otherwise, your plants would not grow because of the different living conditions.


Keeping plants in your aquarium has multiple advantages. For example, it makes your tank look more natural, and provides a perfect habitat for your fish to live and explore. Without the plants, your aquarium would not look interesting. Apart from this, keeping plants in the aquariums provides oxygen and filters carbon from the water. It also provides shelter and cover to your fish, snails, and other aquarium pets that you keep in your aquariums. The list given above contains 15 plants that live in different water conditions. Some plants can be used in both saltwater and brackish water conditions, but most of the plants are exclusive and you should only use them in one type of condition. Before putting any plant in the aquarium, it is better to know what type of conditions it needs and if its living conditions match with the living conditions of your fish not. If the conditions are similar, you should put them in the same tank, otherwise, you should select other plants that can live in the same conditions.


Question: How to select the right plants for your aquarium?

Answer: If you want to select the right type of plant for your aquarium, you need to start with the living conditions inside your aquarium. The living conditions in your aquarium would impact the health of your aquatic plant. If the living conditions match, you can select that plant, otherwise, you will have to look for other plants.

Question: Which plant is the best for aquariums?

Answer: Amazon Sword, Java Fern, Anubias Nana, and Sea Lettuce are some of the plants that are considered the best for aquarium usage. These plants are easy to grow and care for inside the closed aquarium conditions. They do not require extra effort, or nutrients from you to thrive. You just need to maintain the water conditions and these plants would grow naturally.

Question: Which plant is easiest to grow in an aquarium?

Answer: Java Fern is one of the easiest freshwater plants to grow in aquarium conditions, while sea lettuce is the easiest to grow in marine or saltwater conditions. These plants rarely require outside input and they grow quickly. You will only have to maintain their size and appearance using pruning. Other than that, there is nothing much that these plants need after being planted in the aquariums.

Question: Do aquarium plants require extra care?

Answer: Some aquatic plants may require extra care in aquariums, but most plants only require proper nutrient supply and the right living conditions such as pH, temperature, hardness, and salinity. If you maintain these conditions, your plants are more likely to grow on their own without much effort.

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