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
Known as the world’s easiest aquarium “plant,” this velvety green orb is neither a moss nor plant but rather a naturally occurring ball of cladophora algae. You should gently roll the marimo balls in your hands after every water change. This will help to maintain its round shape, and ensure that all parts of it get sunlight. They’re quite inexpensive and unique looking, so people often buy an army of them to fill their betta tanks or goldfish aquariums. They can be rolled and wrapped around driftwood to make a miniature tree. 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. When you first buy it, the sword usually has big, round leaves that are emersed grown (or grown outside of water). Once placed in water, these large leaves melt back as the plant reabsorbs their nutrients to make longer, narrower leaves that are submersed grown (or grown underwater).
If your new leaves are yellowing, you should give them more root tabs. You can get the sword to grow to the point where it becomes a mother plant. The long spikes will then turn into baby plants which you can 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. This plant prefers to eat from its roots so make sure to add root tabs to inert substrates at least every three months for best 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. Do not throw out your “dead” plants if this happens. It can be left in the substrate and will quickly recover and grow new leaves once it adjusts to your water chemistry.
4. Aponogeton crispus
This low light plant grows from a bulb and creates long, wavy-edged leaves that flow beautifully in an aquarium. In fact, this is one of the main species sold as a “betta bulb” at chain pet stores because they’re so easy to care for. Place the bulb on top of the substrate and watch the roots grow quickly. Sometimes, it will go dormant and the larger leaves may die back for several months. You can leave the plant in the aquarium and new growth will emerge. This plant is only a few bucks and will grow quickly, get tall, and even produce flowers.
5. Bacopa caroliniana
Bacopa is a great choice for beginners if you are interested in growing stem plants. The native to the south of the United States, this plant has a straight vertical stem and small roundish leaves. It doesn’t require CO2 injection, but it does enjoy liquid fertilizers like Easy Green. It can grow in low light conditions, but the leaf tips will turn coppery-red when there is high light and iron dosing.
Bacopa, as with many aquarium plants, is often grown in water at farms. Once you plant it underwater, the top of the plant starts producing submerse-grown leaves, while the emersed-grown leaves down below begin to die off. You will notice the bottom half the stem becomes bare and skinny. If this happens, you can simply snip the tops of the stem to make a larger plant. This is also how to propagate bacopa. As the plant gets taller, you can simply cut the tops off and plant them in another location.
6. Christmas Moss
Christmas moss is a great choice for breeding tanks. They look just like miniature Christmas trees and are great for covering baby fish and shrimp. Aquascapers tie the fronds to rocks and driftwood to mimic a 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.
Want to make your aquarium look like an underwater jungle with very little effort? You only need 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 the plant is established in your aquarium, you may add fish such as African cichlids or goldfish to it. See our care sheet on vallisneria 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. The rhizome, a thick, horizontal stalk or stem that carries the roots and leaves of the plant, is what makes them grow. Most people place the plant in the cracks of wood or rocks, and it eventually grows tight around it. To ensure that the plant remains in place, you can use super glue gel or sewing thread. Please refer to this article for detailed instructions.
Windelov java fern
It does not require roots to be planted into a substrate. The roots absorb nutrients from liquid fertilizers in water columns. You can propagate it either by cutting the rhizome in two or by letting one of the leaves float at 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 may eventually be separated and placed elsewhere in the aquarium. You can read our complete java fern care guide right here.
9. Cryptocoryne lutea
Cryptocorynes can be so beginner-friendly and undemanding that we decided to add them to our existing list. Unlike crypt wendtii, this species has slender, green leaves that add variety in texture to your aquarium. Like most crypts, you can use almost any substrate and any light to make them happy, and no CO2 injection is needed. 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. For more details, check out our dedicated article on them here.
10. Dwarf Sagittaria
Do you need a simple carpeting plant for your aquascape? The dwarf sagittaria, a grass-like, hardy plant that looks almost like a miniature vallisneria, is very hardy. It will grow taller if it is given high levels of light. If it gets low light, it will stay small. It is a good scavenger for both liquid fertilizers and root tabs. Dwarf sag can easily spread by sending runners through the substrate. You can remove the new shoots from any area that is not needed and replant them there.
You’ll be able to fill your aquarium with these beginner-friendly plants.
If you’re not seeing healthy growth for some reason, check out our free guide to plant nutrient deficiencies to troubleshoot the issue.