Top 10 Easy Aquarium Plants for Beginners
Planted aquariums are very popular nowadays because of their natural beauty and amazing ability to consume the toxic nitrogen compounds produced by fish waste. Many novices fail to preserve their green leaves from turning brown, despite trying hard. After more than a decade of keeping, propagating, and now selling aquarium plants, we’ve thoroughly vetted out our list of top 10 easy aquarium plants that can stand up to a beating and won’t break the bank.
1. Marimo Moss Ball
This is the world’s easiest aquarium orb. It is not a moss or plant, but a naturally occurring ball cladophora (algae) and is well-known. The only care required for this marimo ball is to gently roll it in your hands each time you perform a water change. This will ensure that the ball retains its shape and allows all parts of the algae to get light. These balls are very affordable and distinctive in appearance, so many people buy a lot to fill their goldfish tanks. To make a mini tree, you can roll them up and wrap them around driftwood. For more information, read our complete care guide here.
2. Amazon Sword
This aquarium plant is well-known for its ability grow big and fill your tank with lush greenery. Lighting and substate are not as important as making sure it gets fed lots and lots of root tabs. The first time you buy the sword, it will usually have big, round leaves. They are either emersed or grown in water. These large leaves will eventually fall off once they are placed in water. The plant will reabsorb nutrients and make shorter, more narrower leaves that can be submerged grown (or even grown underwater).
If these new leaves appear to be yellowing, make sure to give it more root tabs. Eventually, the sword may grow big enough to become a mother plant, creating long spikes that turn into baby sword plants for you to plant in other aquariums.
3. Cryptocoryne Wendtii
Because it doesn’t require liquid fertilizers, or carbon dioxide (CO2) injections, this crypt is one our favorite. This slow-growing plant does well under almost any light and in almost any substrate. The plant likes to be fed from its roots. If you have an inert substrate with few nutrients, ensure that root tabs are added every three months to maintain optimal health. Crypt wendtii comes in many varieties, such as green, brown, tropica, and red. You can enhance the redness by adding iron supplements to your aquarium water.
Like Amazon swords and crypts leaves, they are known to melt back once they’re added to a fresh tank. Don’t toss your “dead” plant if you notice this. Leave it planted in the substrate, and once it has adjusted to your water chemistry, it’ll quickly rebound and grow new leaves.
4. Aponogeton crispus
This low-light plant is a bulb-grown one. It produces long, wavy-edged leaves which flow beautifully in an aquarium. This is the most popular species that can be sold at pet shops as a “betta bulbs” because they are so easy to maintain. Simply place the bulb on top and it will quickly sprout roots and leaves. Sometimes the bulb goes dormant for a few months. The larger leaves will then die back. You can leave the plant in the aquarium and new growth will emerge. This great looking plant can be yours for a very low price. It grows quickly and can produce flowers.
5. Bacopa caroliniana
Bacopa is an excellent choice to begin with if you are looking for stem plants. The native to the south of the United States, this plant has a straight vertical stem and small roundish leaves. Although it doesn’t need CO2 injection, it can take liquid fertilizers such as Easy Green. While it can grow in low light, the leaf tips turn coppery-red in the presence of high light and iron dosing.
Bacopa, like most aquarium plants is grown from water at farm farms. When you place it underwater, the top will start producing submerse-grown plants, and the emersed leaves below will die. The bottom half of your stem will eventually look like a thin, bare trunk. To make it fuller, just trim the tops off and replant them. That’s also how you propagate bacopa – as the plant grows taller and taller, just cut off the tops and plant them in a new location.
6. Christmas Moss
Christmas moss is a great choice for breeding tanks. Their fluffy fronds look like little Christmas trees and provide excellent cover for baby fish and shrimp. Aquascapers often tie them to rocks and driftwood in order to imitate the look of an overgrown, moss-covered forest. To keep slow-growing, slow-growing Moss in its best condition, you can invest in small algae eaters, such as amano shrimps and give it some liquid fertilizer.
With very little effort, you can transform your aquarium into an underwater jungle. All you need is one plant – vallisneria. The tall, grass-like vallisneria can grow all the way up to the water surface if it is given enough root tabs and liquid fertilizers. It also spreads easily by creating side shoots in its substrate. Once it’s well-established in your aquarium, you can even add fish that are traditionally known for digging up or eating plants (such as goldfish or African cichlids). You can find our vallisneria care guide here.
8. Java Fern
Java moss and Java fern both get their names from Java Island in Indonesia. Both are easy to maintain, but they have very different appearances. There are many varieties of Java Fern, such as the narrow leaf, Windelov (or lance) and the trident, but the most well-known type has long, pointed, deeply ridged leaves. Its roots and leaves sprout from the Rhizome, which is a thick horizontal stem or stalk. However, it is important to not plant the Rhizome in the substrate. Most people place the plant in the cracks of wood or rocks, and it eventually grows tight around it. For a secure plant, you can also use super glue gel or sewing thread. Follow this article to see step-by-step instructions.
Windelov java fern
Since the roots do not need to be planted into substrate, it mostly absorbs nutrients from liquid fertilizers in the water column. It can be propagated by either cutting it in half or letting one leaf float on the surface. The rows of black spots on the leaf, also known as sporangia, will soon turn into tiny plantlets with tiny roots and leaves. These plantlets can be removed and planted in another aquarium. You can read our complete java fern care guide right here.
9. Cryptocoryne lutea
Cryptocorynes are so easy to use and beginners-friendly, that we added another one to our collection. Unlike crypt wendtii, this species has slender, green leaves that add variety in texture to your aquarium. You can use any substrate and any lighting to make crypts happy. There is no need for CO2 injection. In general, crypts grow slowly, but give it three months from the day you put them in your aquarium and it’ll soon become one of your favorites. Crypts are more difficult to grow and require regular pruning. However, they look great for many years with no special care except the occasional root tab. Check out this dedicated article for more information.
10. Dwarf Sagittaria
Need an easy carpeting plant to complete your aquascape? Dwarf sagittaria is a hardy, grass-like plant that looks like a miniature vallisneria. If you use high light, it stays short and small, but if you use low light, it grows pretty tall to get closer to the light. As for nutrients, it appreciates both root tabs and liquid fertilizers in the water column. Dwarf sag propagates readily by send out runners throughout the substrate. You can remove the new shoots from any area that is not needed and replant them there.
Fill your tank with this curated collection of beginner-friendly plants, and you’ll have the best chance of success for your new planted aquarium.
To find out why you aren’t seeing healthy growth, download our free guide to plant nutritional deficiencies.