Top 10 Easy Plants for Your Freshwater Planted Aquarium
1. Java Fern
Java Fern is one of the most popular freshwater aquarium plants because it will thrive in a variety of water conditions making it very hardy. It's important to provide Java Fern with moderate to low lighting, a nutrient-rich substrate, and fertilization as needed for long-term health. Take care not to bury the plant's rhizome which is the semi-rigid horizontal stem as it can rot when placed in the substrate. Instead, use the rhizome to gently anchor the plant to a piece of driftwood or rock. As with most aquatic plants, Java Fern benefits from occasional pruning and the removal of any dead or dying leaves to promote the growth of new leaves.
2. Java Moss and Christmas Moss
Java Moss and Christmas Moss require relatively similar care and are a staple in freshwater-planted aquaria because they attach to the surfaces of rocks, logs, and substrates without roots. They will thrive in low to medium light and prefer a temperature range of 68-82°F. Moss should be anchored to rocks, driftwood, or mesh pads and be trimmed as needed to maintain their shape and prevent overgrowth. The network of growth creates prime habitat for small shrimp and baby fish but also creates excellent contrast with plants that grow vertically.
3. Amazon Sword
Amazon Sword is a popular tropical aquarium plant that is not quite bullet-proof but still fairly hardy. There are a few different types sold under the common name "Amazon Sword" but they all grow a brilliant green color with broad, sometimes elongated leaves that grow vertically. A healthy plant can obtain heights of 12" to 20" or more when given space. It needs a nutrient-rich substrate to anchor its roots, and the addition of CO2 can help promote faster growth. It also requires moderate to high lighting levels and a pH between 6.5 and 7.5. Regular fertilization and pruning of damaged leaves will help maintain the plant's health and appearance and it will send out runners to establish satellite plants.
Anubias is a freshwater aquarium plant that is known for its hardy nature, slow growth rate, and easy care requirements. Provide adequate lighting, nutrient-rich substrate, and clean water with a temperature range of 72-82°F (22-28°C). Like Java Fern, Anubius should be attached to driftwood or rocks via the rhizome instead of being planted in the substrate. Anubias can be propagated by division or cutting the rhizome into smaller pieces, making it an excellent plant to spread around the aquarium.
Ludwigia is a popular freshwater aquarium plant that will add a pop of color to your tank because of its red coloration that can form under ideal growing conditions. It's a great mid-ground or background plant and will grow vertically to heights of 12" or more when given the space. Provide it with high-output lighting, CO2 supplementation, and iron-rich substrate with regular fertilization. The ideal water parameters for Ludwigia include a pH range of 6.0 to 7.5 and a water temperature of 72°F to 82°F. Regular pruning and water changes are also important for maintaining the plant's health and promoting optimal growth.
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Bacopa, sometimes called Moneywort, is a very hardy and popular freshwater aquarium plant that is great for beginners. When allowed to break the water's surface it will bloom small pink flowers adding a touch of elegance to your tank. It needs a nutrient-rich substrate to anchor its roots and promote healthy growth but does not require CO2 injection. High lighting conditions are preferred so place it near the aquarium's light source. Bacopa prefers a pH range of 6.0 to 8.0 and a water hardness level of 4 to 8 dKH for ideal growth. Prune Bacopa regularly and you can easily propagate using cuttings that will quickly root into the substrate.
7. Buce Plants (Bucephalandra sp.)
Bucephalandra plants are a popular choice for freshwater aquariums due to their unique appearance, ease of care, and generally slow growth. There are a wide variety of different "Buce" species available, each with its own unique appearance. These plants thrive in low to moderate light and prefer soft, slightly acidic water with a pH between 6.0 and 7.5. It is important to avoid burying the rhizome of the plant when planting, as this can cause rotting. Regular fertilization and pruning can also help keep Bucephalandra plants healthy and looking their best.
8. Crypts (Cryptocoryne sp.)
The cool thing about Crypts (cryptocoryne sp.) is the range of coloration, leaf shapes, and growth patterns you can get among the different species. While they are generally easy to maintain, take care to provide ideal growing conditions as crypts can be delicate. They prefer low to moderate lighting and too much light can cause algae and damage the fragile leaves. Use a fine gravel or sand substrate with some clay to provide the necessary nutrients for the plant. Maintain a slightly acidic pH of 6.0 - 7.5 with good water quality via regular water changes. Crypts will grow without CO2 injection but you will experience much faster growth when CO2 is added regularly.
Vallisneria is known for its long, slender leaves that create a seagrass vibe in your planted tank. It is important to provide it with plenty of light and ensure that the substrate is rich in nutrients. Consider supplementing with root tabs and CO2 injection for promoting lush growth. Regular water changes and pruning dead leaves can help prevent nutrient imbalances and will keep the plant looking its best.
10. Dwarf Hairgrass
Dwarf Hairgrass (Eleocharis sp.) is a popular freshwater aquarium plant because of its short grass-like growth pattern that serves as an excellent ground cover. It should be planted in a nutrient-rich substrate and provided with moderate to high lighting and carbon dioxide supplementation for the best growth. The water should be kept at a temperature between 70-80°F and a pH level of 6.5-7.5. It will spread out and cover the substrate and should be pruned regularly to maintain its appearance.