Top 10 Aquarium Plants for Breeding Fish and Raising Fry
If you plan on breeding fish and want to increase the survival rate and growth of the babies, we love using live aquarium plants. Not only are they beautiful to look at, but the foliage serves as spawning sites for the parents to lay their eggs. They need to be fed daily once the babies hatch. The plants also help grow microfauna so the fry can graze. The plants also filter the water and absorb the toxic chemicals from the fish. We’ve compiled a list of the top 10 dense and fluffy plants fish breeders use to raise fry.
1. Java Moss
A pair pygmy corydoras laying on java moss. (Taxiphyllum barieri)
Because they are dense enough to cover baby fish and shrimp, java moss as well as Christmas moss, mosses such is their popularity. They also attract microorganisms and mulm for them to eat. For fish that scatter their eggs, mosses have little tendrils that the eggs can easily stick to, and their branching stems help hide them from predation. Java moss is a must-try for beginners because it’s so easy to grow, has low light demands, and does not require substrate. It can be attached to a wire grid and placed on the ground to look like a fuzzy, deep green carpet or wrapped around driftwood for a naturally aged look. To keep it healthy, you can add some Easy Green all-in one fertilizer.
2. Pogostemon stellatus ‘octopus’
Pogostemon.stellatus “octopus” a fast-growing, stem plant that can fill your tank quickly if you provide enough nutrients and low or medium lighting. Because of its wispy, long leaves and bright green branches, the name “octopus”, is a variation. Tentacle-like leaves can become dense over time, blocking out larger predators and creating small spaces between them.
This plant is originally grown out of water (or emersed) at the farm for faster production and therefore may have broader leaves than usual when you first receive it. The emersed-grown foliage will eventually swell and the plant will grow new, more skinny leaves, which are used to being submerged under water. We begin the process to convert plants to submerged form when they arrive at our facility. You can speed up the process if your Pogostemon Stellatus plant is not fully converted when you receive it.
3. Water Sprite
Water sprite, another fast-growing stem plants, is great at absorbing excess nutrients to clean the water for fish. It also helps prevent algae growth. It can be planted in the ground to form a tall, bushy mound of fine, lacy plants for small shrimp and fish to shelter in. As a floating plant, its leaves grow wider and have rounded tips. It also grows thick roots to provide shelter for their babies and eggs. It prefers the water column to feed and can be fertilized with liquid fertilizers such as Easy Green.
4. Guppy grass
This species comes from North and South America. It can be grown in the substrate but many hobbyists prefer to grow it as a floating mass of plant matter. Guppy grass is nearly impenetrable by adult fish because the stems produce closely spaced tufts of short, narrow leaves that interlock with each other. However, the roots can easily be split and propagated. This makes it difficult to ship and less suitable for high flow tanks.
5. Mayaca fluviatilis
If you’re looking for a unique plant that will provide interesting textures in your planted aquarium, you have to try Mayaca fluviatilis. This South and Central American species has very fine, small leaves growing all along its stem, making it look like a yellow-green pipe cleaner. Its fuzzy-looking leaves resemble mosses and are why it is called “stream bogmoss.” Once established, the stream bogmoss grows fairly quickly and will provide a lush hiding spot for both baby fish and shrimp.
Planting vallisneria, or val, is a great way to add greenery to your aquarium. The background plant is a tall, grassy field that can reach up to the top of the aquarium. It provides fish with a secure cover and a safe place to rest their heads. Beginners love this plant because of its easy care, low light requirements, and ability to spread quickly. Vallisneria is propagated by sending out runners. Each plant produces a baby plant at its end. The plantlets eventually reach large enough size to be able to send their own runners. Once the val is established and spreads widely, it can withstand the nibbling of fish such as goldfish and African cichlids.
7. Tripartita Hydrocotyle ‘Japan’
This unusual plant is loved for its small, clover-shaped, and its ability to spread its stringy stems along substrate and hardscape, much in the same way as creeping ivy. This plant can be used in the foreground to cover ground or draped over driftwood. This species, unlike others on the list, thrives in moderate to high levels of light and would benefit from CO2 injection. Hydrocotyle tripartite “Japan” has a compact and bushier growth pattern that is ideal for hiding tiny shrimp and baby fish in a high-tech planted aquarium. Replant the plants in the ground and trim any branches that grow too high for propagation.
8. Bolbitis Fern
Bolbitis, also known as the African water fern, is the most common epiphyte plant sold in aquarium hobby. This is due to its thick, texture fronds. Bolbitis is slower to grow than many stem plants. However, once mature, it can turn into a huge, emerald green shrub which conceals small fish. This robust plant can tolerate higher pH and GH waters and can be used to grow goldfish, African cichlids, and monster fish tanks. Bolbitis’ horizontal, branch-like Rhizome should not be covered. Attach it to driftwood or rocks with super glue gel, or use sewing thread. You can find more information about how to plant epiphytes, and other types of plants, in our quick guide on methods for planting.
9. Pearl Weed
Pearl weed is a bright green stem plant that is similar in appearance to baby tears, but it is differentiated by its slightly longer, oblong-shaped leaves. The unkempt growth and small leaves can create a dense jungle for tiny creatures. We recommend that you leave the delicate stems of the pearl weed in its rock wool and dig a hole large enough to accommodate the entire pot in the substrate. The delicate roots of the pearlweed can be left intact, while the plant transforms into its submerged underwater form. This species thrives under moderate to high lighting. It can grow all the way up to the surface so it can be used as a background or midground plant.
Floating plants with long, shaggy roots are excellent for concealing eggs, newborn fish, and other small creatures. Amazon frogbits are a favourite because of their small, round green leaves that look almost like miniature lily pad. Their roots can reach down to the substrate, creating an upside-down forest look. Since it propagates by sending out runners, the frogbit spreads like a connected web and can be easily removed in large clumps.
As an alternative, dwarf water lettuce is another similar floating plant that is often used by breeders because of its extensive root system. Floating plants are fast growing and can absorb harmful nitrogen chemicals from water. You should keep them from covering the entire water surface as they can shade plants below and reduce the amount dissolved oxygen.
These plants can increase the survival rate for fry, which will make you more successful in your next breeding venture. For more tips and tricks on spawning fish and raising fry, browse our collection of breeding articles.