Our 5 Favorite Aquarium Plants That Everyone Should Try
If you’ve ever tried to buy aquatic plants online, you know how overwhelming it can be. You have to consider all the species, care requirements, as well as difficulty levels. Aquarium Co-Op is committed to providing a selection of the hardest and most durable plants in the hobby. However, sometimes it is nice to simply talk to someone at the store to get some advice. We interviewed Cory McElroy, our CEO, to learn his top picks and recommend them to everyone.
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. Another grass-like plant is dwarf sagittaria. It will grow between 3 and 8 cm in high lighting, and 18 to 45 cm in 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.
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. Not to worry – just remove the plant from the plastic pot and plant the roots in the substrate, making sure not to cover the base of the plant’s leaves. Soon enough the long, emersed leaf will begin to melt and new, shorter, skinnier leaves will emerge. Another way to plant dwarf sagittaria is to place the whole plastic basket inside of an Easy Planter decoration and stick a root tab 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
Do you want a beautiful centerpiece plant that’s easy to grow? The dwarf aquarium lily, a bulb plant that grows quickly with reddish-colored leaves and lily pads at the top, is a great choice. 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.
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. It may initially float, so let the bulb soak in the water until it sinks. Within one to three months, a cluster should form from the bulb. This will create new roots and leaves, which will anchor the bulb to ground. (If it doesn’t, flip the bulb over in case it is upside-down.) After the plant has become firmly rooted and is large, ensure that you provide lots of Easy Root tabs and nutrients to keep it happy. Our care guide for dwarf aquarium lilies contains detailed information.
3. Cryptocoryne wndtii
The Cryptocoryne Genus, or “crypt”, is very popular due to its low light requirements and slow steady growth that doesn’t need much pruning. Crypt weavetii is one our most-sold species due to its crinkly foliage and many color variations including reddish-brown and green. It usually grows to 6-8 inches (15-20cm) tall, so depending on the aquarium size, many people use it for a midground plant. The crown, or base of the leaves, should be buried. 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. Even though the plant can tolerate low light conditions well, the purple-colored upper leaves can be stunning in brighter lighting. It grows quickly and tall, just like most stem plants. This makes it a great background plant.
To plant Pogostemon.stellatus remove the stems from your pot of rock wool. Then insert them as deeply into the substrate as possible to stop them from becoming rooted. Dose the water with Easy Green all-in-one liquid fertilizer to provide all the nutrients they need to grow well. After the stem tips reach the surface of the water, remove the top 6 to 15 cm and plant the trimmings back in 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 is well-known among aquarium hobbyists, but Anubias. nangi has elongated and pointy 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.
Plant your new anubias by attaching it to driftwood, rock or using super glue gel. Or you can place it in the basket inside an Easy Planter decoration. A. nangi like all anubias prefers low light and slow growth. A healthy anubias plant will have a thick horizontal stem called a “rhizome” that grows sideways. It eventually sprouts bright green leaves and then turns a darker green color. A. nugi is the best choice for small aquariums and those who don’t want their aquarium to grow quickly.
Check out our selection live aquarium plants for ideas on how to start your first (or twentyth) 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.