Our 5 Favorite Aquarium Plants That Everyone Should Try
You may have tried buying live aquatic plants online. It can be confusing to compare the care requirements and difficulties of different species. 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. Cory McElroy is our CEO. We asked him about his favorite plants and why he believes everyone should try them.
1. Dwarf Sagittaria
Cory loves vallisneria. But, because it can grow to as high as 4-6 feet (1-2m) it is best 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 buy just one plant, the plant can easily reproduce by using underground runners to fill in your aquarium’s bottom. Dwarf sagittaria enjoys feeding from its roots, so make sure to provide it with nutrient-rich planted tank substrate or Easy Root Tabs as fertilizer.
Dwarf sagittaria is usually grown emersed (with its leaf out of water) at farm plants. Your order might have large, round leaves that aren’t exactly like the pictures. Don’t worry, just take the plant out of its plastic pot and place the roots in the substrate. Make sure to not cover the base of your plant’s leaves. The long, emersed, leaves will soon fall off and be replaced by shorter, skinnier, and submerged (or underwater) ones. You can also plant dwarf sagittaria by placing the entire container inside an Easy Planter ornament and sticking a root tab in 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
Are you looking for a centerpiece plant that is easy to grow and will impress everyone who comes to your home? The dwarf aquarium villi is a bulb that quickly grows with bright red leaves and lily pads. It thrives even in low light conditions and is often used as a background plant to cover the rear tank wall with lush foliage.
If you order your lily from Aquarium Co-Op, you will receive a bulb covered in peat moss. Place the bulb on the ground and rinse off any loose peatmoss. The bulb might initially flounder, but it will eventually sink if it is allowed to soak in the water. In one to three week, the bulb should have a few shoots that form new leaves and roots. If the bulb doesn’t sprout, flip it upside-down. After the plant has become rooted and large, ensure that you provide lots of Easy Root tabs. Our care guide for dwarf aquarium lilies contains detailed information.
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. Because of its crinkly leaves, Crypt Wendtii is a popular species. It comes in many colors, including green, reddish brown, and pink. It usually grows to 6-8 inches (15-20cm) tall, so depending on the aquarium size, many people use it for a midground plant. 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’
The spring-green color of this plant is derived from its long, wispy, and elongated leaves. It resembles an octopus whose legs are 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 is a perfect background plant because it grows fast and tall like most stem plants.
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. As a cross between the smaller A. barteri ‘nana’ and larger A. gilletii, this hybrid typically grows between 6-12 inches (15-30 cm) tall and seems to be quite hardy, even compared to other Anubias species.
You can attach your anubias to driftwood or rocks using super glue gel, or you can leave them in the plastic basket and place it 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. An anubias plant that is healthy has a thick horizontal stem called a “rhizome” that grows sideways. It eventually sprouts bright green leaves and then turns a darker green color. 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. Check out our reviews and real-life photos of each species. We will take care of your plants if they arrive damaged due to shipping issues.