Our 5 Favorite Aquarium Plants That Everyone Should Try
If you have ever tried to buy live aquatic plants online, it can be a bit overwhelming when looking at all the different species, care requirements, and difficulty levels. Aquarium Co-Op aims to provide a well-curated selection of the best, most hardy plants in the hobby. But sometimes it’s nice to speak to someone at the shop and get some recommendations. That’s why we interviewed our CEO Cory McElroy to find out what his current favorite plants are that he thinks everyone should try.
1. Dwarf Sagittaria
Cory has always loved vallisneria. However, as it can grow to 4-6ft (1-2m) in length, it is better suited for larger tanks. Dwarf sagittaria, another grass-like aquarium plant, is suitable for smaller tanks. It can grow to 3 inches (8 cm) under high lighting, and 18 inches (45cm) under low lighting. Even if you only buy one plant, it can quickly reproduce using a string of underground runners that will fill in the bottom of your aquarium. Dwarf sagittaria likes to feed from its roots, so make certain you provide it with Easy Root Tabs or nutrient rich tank substrate.
Usually dwarf sagittaria is grown emersed (with its leaves out of water) at plant farms, so the plant you order may have round, wide leaves that don’t look like the website pictures. You don’t have to panic – simply take the plant out from its pot and put the roots in the substrate. Be sure to not cover the base. Soon enough, the long, emersed leaves will melt back and then submersed (or underwater) leaves that are skinnier and shorter will sprout in their place. A second way to plant dwarf Sagittaria is to place the entire plastic basket in an Easy Planter decoration. The root tab can be stuck inside the rock wool. The decoration protects the plant from being uprooted by fish so that it can start growing new leaves and carpeting the ground with little, grassy tufts.
2. Dwarf Aquarium Lily
You are looking for a stunning centerpiece plant that will wow all who visit your home? The dwarf aquarium villi is a bulb that quickly grows with bright red leaves and lily pads. It is able to thrive even in low light conditions. This plant is commonly used as a background plant to cover rear tank walls with lush foliage.
Aquarium Co-Op will provide a peat moss-covered bulb when you order your lily. Place the bulb on the ground and rinse off any loose peatmoss. The bulb may float at first, so let it soak in the water until it eventually sinks. Within one to three weeks, a cluster of shoots should sprout from the bulb, forming new leaves and roots that will anchor the bulb to the ground. If it does not, flip it over to see if it is upside down. When the plant is established and has grown to a large size, you should provide ample Easy Root tabs and nutrient-rich substrate for it to stay nourished. For detailed instructions, read our full care sheet on dwarf aquarium lilies.
3. Cryptocoryne wendtii
The Cryptocoryne genus (or “crypt” for short) is very popular because of its low light requirements, as well as its slow and steady growth that doesn’t require much pruning. Crypt wendtii is one of our best-selling species because of the crinkly leaves and many color variations, including reddish-brown, green, and even pink. It typically reaches 6-8 inches (15-20 cm) in height, so many people use it as a midground plant, depending on the size of the aquarium. You can bury the roots, but keep the crown, or base of your leaves, above the ground. For healthy growth, give your crypt root tabs or an enriched substrate. Eventually, it may produce new plantlets. If your crypt starts melting away, read our article on crypt melt for more help.
4. Pogostemon stellatus ‘octopus’
Pogostemon stellatus ‘octopus’
This spring green-colored plant gets its variety name from the long, wispy leaves that grow from each node on the stem, resembling an octopus with its legs waving in the water. While the plant can handle low light conditions, the uppermost leaves can produce a stunning purple color in higher lighting. It grows quickly and tall, just like most stem plants. This makes it a great background plant.
To plant Pogostemon. stellatus, remove any rock wool stems and insert them into the substrate as deep to prevent them getting uprooted. To give them the right nutrients, you can add Easy Green all-in one liquid fertilizer to the water. Cut the stems to the water surface. Then, replant the trimmings into the substrate. Once you have cultivated a dense forest of Pogostemon stellatus, they become the perfect hiding place for nano fish and baby fry.
5. Anubias nangi
Anubias are well-known aquarium plants, but Anubias.nangi, a newer addition, features long, pointed leaves. This hybrid is a cross between A. barteri nana and A. gilletii and grows up to 6-12 inches (15-30cm) in height. It seems to be very hardy, even compared with other Anubias species.
To plant your new anubias, either attach it to driftwood or rock using super glue gel or leave it in the plastic basket to place inside an Easy Planter decoration. Like most anubias, A. nangi is a great low light, slow-growing plant that prefers to consume liquid fertilizers such as Easy Green. A healthy anubias plant has a rhizome (or thick horizontal stem) that grows sideways, sprouting bright green leaves that eventually turn a deeper green color over time. A. nangi can be a good choice for smaller aquariums that don’t need to overgrow too quickly.
Browse our selection of live aquarium plants to get you started on your first or 20th planted aquarium. You can check out the reviews for each species and see real-life pictures submitted by our customers. We will take care of your plants if they arrive damaged due to shipping issues.