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 “plant” is also known as the easiest to maintain in an aquarium. The velvety green, cladophora-algae ball is neither a moss or a plant. Its main care requirement is to lightly roll the marimo ball in your hands every time you do a water change so that it maintains its round shape and all parts of the algae get access to light. Because they are inexpensive and unique, people often purchase a large number of them to stock up on goldfish or betta tank supplies. They can be rolled and wrapped around driftwood to make a miniature tree. Find out more about our care guide.
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 important, but so is making sure your fish tank gets lots and lots root tabs. The blade usually comes with large, round, emersed (or outside water) leaves when it is first purchased. 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
This low-maintenance crypt is one of our favorites because it doesn’t require liquid fertilizers or carbon dioxide (CO2) injection. This slow-growing plant thrives in all types of light and 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. Consider adding extra iron to your aquarium water to enhance the color of the leaves.
The crypts leaves can melt like Amazon swords when they’re first placed in a new tank. Do not throw out your “dead” plants if this happens. Keep it in the substrate. After it has adjusted to your water chemical, it will quickly rebound, and it will grow new leaves.
4. Aponogeton crispus
This low light plant, which grows from a bulb, produces long, wavy-edged leaf that flows beautifully in an aquarium. Because they are so easy care for, this species is often sold as a “betta” bulb at chain pet shops. 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. The plant can be left in an aquarium to grow new growth. This beautiful plant, which grows fast and is quite tall, can even produce flowers.
5. Bacopa caroliniana
If you’re interested in trying stem plants, bacopa is a good beginner option to start with. This is a native of the southern United States. It has a straight, vertical stem, with small, roundish, green leaves. It doesn’t require CO2 injection, but it does enjoy liquid fertilizers like 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. Once the plant is placed underwater, its top produces submerse-grown leaf while the emersed grown leaves below die. When the bottom half looks like a skinny, bare stem, you can snip off the tops to make a larger plant. The same way you propagate bacopa is to cut off the tops as the plant grows taller.
6. Christmas Moss
Get some Christmas moss if you are setting up a breeding aquarium. Their fluffy fronds look almost like Christmas trees, and they provide great cover for small fish and shrimp. Aquascapers tie the fronds to rocks and driftwood to mimic a moss-covered forest. You can keep the slow-growing moss in good shape by purchasing small algae eaters, such as amano shrimp, along with some liquid fertilizer.
You can make your aquarium appear like an underwater jungle by using very little effort. One plant is all you need – vallisneria. When given plenty of root tabs and liquid fertilizers, this tall, grass-like species grows all the way to the top of water surface and readily spreads by making side shoots in the substrate. Once it is established in an aquarium, you can add fish like goldfish and African cichlids to the tank. Check out our vallisneria care sheet here.
8. Java Fern
Both java moss and java fern get their names from the Indonesian island of Java, and while both are very easy to care for, they are quite different in appearance. There are several varieties of java fern – such as narrow leaf, Windelov (or lace), and trident – but the most popular type has long, pointed leaves with deeply ridged veins. All of its leaves and roots sprout from the rhizome (a thick, horizontal stem or stalk), so make sure not to plant the rhizome into the substrate. Instead, most people wedge the plant into the crevices of rocks and wood, and the roots eventually grow tightly around it. To keep the plant in place you can use sewing thread or superglue gel. This article will provide step-by steps.
Windelov java fern
Because the roots do NOT need to be planted into a substrate, they absorb nutrients from liquid fertilizers in water. It can be propagated by either cutting it in half or letting one leaf float on the surface. Soon the rows of black spots (known as sporangia) on the leaf will develop into baby plantlets with their own tiny leaves and roots. 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 are so easy to use and beginners-friendly, that we added another one to our collection. This species, unlike crypt wendtii has slim, green leaves which add texture and variety to your aquarium. You can use almost all substrates and light to make your crypt happy. Crypts are slow to grow, but they’ll become your favorite crypt three months after you place them in your aquarium. Faster-growing plants often require frequent pruning, whereas crypts look great for a very long time without any special maintenance besides the occasional root tab. Check out this dedicated article for more information.
10. Dwarf Sagittaria
Looking for a quick and easy way to make your aquascape a carpeting plant? The dwarf sagittaria, a grass-like, hardy plant that looks almost like a miniature vallisneria, is very hardy. It stays small if there is high light. But if there is low light, it can grow very tall to reach the light. It will accept both liquid fertilizers in its water column and root tabs. Dwarf slime spreads quickly by sending runners all over the substrate. You can pull the shoots out and plant them elsewhere if it spreads.
You’ll be able to fill your aquarium with these beginner-friendly plants.
For any reason you don’t see healthy growth, please consult our free guide on plant nutrient deficiencies.