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Easy to Grow Freshwater Aquarium Plants

Easy to Grow Freshwater Aquarium Plants

A well-positioned fish tank can really brighten up a room and make it significantly more beautiful.

However, in order to make an aquarium visually appealing, one must go through a decent amount of trouble, especially if they are not as experienced with water life in general.

Consequently, many people simply give up on the idea of having a great asset in the form of a pretty aquarium in their room, office, hallway, and so on.

But, what if we told you that maintaining a tank and water life in it is not as big of a deal as you think it is?

If you’re looking to add some plants to your fish tank, there are some things you need to pay attention to first.

However, there is no need to get demotivated by these rules because they aren’t as complicated as one might expect.

Furthermore, the market is full of low-maintenance weeds that are great for bringing the overall beauty levels up a notch.

Don’t have time to read full article?
Take a quick look at plants we covered below:

  1. Lilaeopsis
  2. Water Wisteria
  3. Dwarf Baby Tears
  4. African Water Fern
  5. Anubias Nana
  6. Dwarf Sagittaria
  7. Java Fern

Things to Care About


Fish use vegetation for a vast array of things like breeding, comfort, food, and so on. Therefore, one must take special care when it comes to the positioning of these plants in the fish tank.

For example, if you buy a plant that is foreseen to offer comfort, put it in the corner and make a cozy place for your pets instead of letting it float all over the tank.

As you can see, the key is in using the full potential of the flora inside the aquarium instead of randomly placing it throughout.

If you ever heard about a thing called “cycling process” then you probably know it’s one of the worst enemies of every devoted enthusiast. The principle is pretty simple – you shouldn’t put fish in a tank if it’s filled with new water, filters, and heating due to the lack of organic equilibrium.

In simpler words, things need to “settle” before you introduce your pets to their new home. While it’s not a big deal per se, it’s usually time-consuming and a nuisance in general.

However, you don’t have to worry about the cycling process when it comes to adding new herbs.

In other words, you can add as many as you want (reasonable amounts) at any moment without thinking about disrupting the fine balance of the micro-ecosystem inside.

Make sure you purchase green plants as they don’t require as much sunlight and maintenance.

Now that we’ve covered the basics let’s take a look at some of the best freshwater aquarium plants for people who are just starting with this amazing hobby.

image of dwarf puffer fish

Types of Plants


There are three categories suitable for fish tanks:

  • Foreground (Carpet)
  • Mid-ground
  • Background

As you can tell, choosing the right category isn’t as complicated as one might think.

Foreground types are used to cover the bottom whereas mid-ground and background ones are used for hiding fixtures and also providing a shelter for the fish.

Best Foreground Plants


If you’re looking for a relatively low-maintenance solution, take a moment and check some of these.

They are easy to handle, and since they tend to proliferate, they are also great for filtering.

Lilaeopsis


If you’re searching for shorter solutions, this particular plant might be the right one.

It grows up to 2 inches tall meaning it resembles regular grass. The biggest advantage of this weed is the fact that it grows fast.

However, while it is a benefit, the rapid growth can sometimes be a burden as well, due to pruning requirements, especially if it’s invading other things in the tank.

On the other hand, Lilaeopsis is known for being one of the easiest to maintain in solid condition.

When it comes to requirements, the water temperature must be between 74F and 85F with medium lighting – and that’s it! As you can see, the only thing you really need to care about is the temperature range and occasional pruning.

Many people see this particular herb as a beginner-friendly asset, and that’s why it’s one of the popular ones in the carpet category.

Furthermore, the price is also quite affordable making the Lilaeopsis a perfect solution for absolute rookies.

  • Temperature range – 74 – 85 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Visual appearance – Grass-like
  • Lighting – Medium
Lilaeopsis - foreground freshwater plant

Image Credit: Aquatic Mag

Water Wisteria


This particular plant is ideal for tropical aquaria because it’s a great fry protector as well as oxygen producer.

It grows fast meaning one can expect a fully formed ecosystem in their fish tank in a matter of few days. It also adds quite a bit of depth to the aquarium thanks to its big green leaves.

When it comes to complexity and maintenance, wisteria is one of the simplest herbs on our list and requires minimal maintenance.

Therefore, it’s a perfect low effort – high reward solution for most devoted hobbyists.

As we already mentioned, this plant is also an oxygen producer thanks to its fast-growing pace, and even though it doesn’t produce a significant amount of O2, the visual aspect of the process is overwhelming.

Wisteria is a pretty straightforward plant, to say the least.

It doesn’t require much maintenance, light, nor pruning.

Consequently, it’s one of the favorite plants of every aquarium owner that doesn’t want to hassle much around with special care.

  • Temperature range – 74 – 83 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Visual appearance – Tall green leaves
  • Lighting – Medium
image of water wisteria plant

Image Credit: thatpetplace.com

Dwarf Baby Tears


Hemianthus Callitrichoides is well-known for being one of the most beautiful low-maintenance plants on the market.

In fact, a vast majority of new aquarium owners opt for this particular weed due to its versatility as well as great functionality. What makes this herb so special is its visual appeal.

Once you set up the tank and put the plants down, it really does resemble a fine green carpet made of hundreds of little flowers. As an added visual bonus, Dwarf Baby Tears produces oxygen and more often than not keeps it in the form of a bubble on its leaves.

In simpler terms, once it starts producing O2 the whole tank floor looks like a collection of tiny air bubbles trapped in water.

As far as the complexity goes, it’s nothing you can’t overcome in a matter of minutes. The key is in positioning the flora just right so that it can function at optimal levels.

The main downside of this particular plant is that it may not be suitable for absolute beginners because it does require ideal CO2 levels.

  • Temperature range – 72 – 85 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Visual appearance – Low and thick grass-like appearance
  • Lighting – Amount of light affects grow patterns.

Low light – slow growth, bright light – faster growth

image of freshwater tank plant - dwarf baby tears

Image Credit: aquasabi.com

Best Mid-ground and Background Freshwater Plants


As we said, these are best for hiding fixtures and providing a hiding place for the fish. Consequently, they are taller and thicker than the ones from the carpet category.

However, the involved effort and amount of maintenance stay the same.

African Water Fern


When it comes to sheer versatility, this plant takes the win. You can use it in any way you want, and it will serve its purpose most of the time.

It is often used for background purposes, but it can serve as a good mid-ground barrier. In the end, it all comes down to your personal preferences.

You can expect it to reach a maximum of 22 inches in height and around 8 inches in width under optimal lighting and CO2 conditions.

Planting is quite peculiar in a sense that you can’t just put it in soil and wait for it to grow. Instead, you must attach it to something – usually a piece of wood or a rock. The best way to attach it is to use cotton threads because they are soft and dissolve over time without polluting the sensitive environment.

Maintenance is quite simple even though the plant grows slowly.

This plant thrives under strong lighting (at least 3W per gallon), so make sure you have the necessary conditions before implementing it into the ecosystem of your fish tank.

Furthermore, pay special attention to the appearance of algae as they are preventing the plant from getting the necessary nutrients and light.

  • Temperature range – 68 – 80 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Visual appearance – Feathery leaves
  • Lighting – Requires strong lighting in order to grow
image of african water fern

Image Credit: Gardening Know How

Anubias Nana


A lot of other mid-ground plants require a pretty constant water quality in order to grow. However, Anubias Nana is one of the rare species that can tolerate nearly any environment. Thanks to its extremely high level of tolerance, it’s one of the most often used aesthetic assets in the aquascaping world.

If your aquarium mainly consists of stone structures, this particular plant is a perfect solution in terms of synergy.

Its large semi-round leaves pose as a perfect match for a stone-filled fish tank. The max growing size is about 8 inches meaning it’s not ideal for background solutions, but it’s definitely great for covering mid-ground areas.

The plant itself prefers to be planted in soil on a warm bottom. One may try to surpass these requirements with moderate success, but it’s highly recommended that you follow the rules in order to get the most out of it.

Maintenance isn’t a big deal because all you have to care about is keeping the water clean and moderately warm.

  • Temperature range – 72 – 78 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Visual appearance – Medium-sized semi-round green leaves
  • Lighting – Requires medium lighting for optimal growth
image of anubias nana plant

Image Credit: aquaticmag.com

Dwarf Sagittaria


As far as the low-maintenance mid-ground freshwater aquarium plants go, this particular one is probably your best choice.

You can expect a growth of 6 to 8 inches meaning it’s perfect for mid-ground solutions. It works best with a stone-filled environment, but it’s not a mandatory condition.

The best thing about this plant is that you can set up any environment you want and it will more than likely grow without too many issues.

Furthermore, the growing requirements aren’t hard to meet. Dwarf Sagittaria can grow under moderate lighting, but it achieves the best results under high light.

However, bear in mind that if you keep it exposed to high lighting for too long – red stains can appear on the leaves.

As far as the CO2 levels go, this plant does appreciate moderate levels, but it doesn’t have a problem to thrive without any CO2 whatsoever.

This herb is perfect for people who are looking to enrich their fish tank with a grass-like environment for an affordable price.

While it’s a great piece of decoration, you might want to use something else for protection purposes.

  • Temperature range – 72 – 78 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Visual appearance – Green curved leaves
  • Lighting – Moderate to High
image of Dwarf Sagittaria - plant for fresh water aquarium

Image Credit: liveaquaria.com

Java Fern


Java Fern is definitely one of the most popular plants for aquascaping out there.

However, there is quite a good reason behind this – it’s incredibly versatile. In other words, you can put it in any area of your aquarium, and it will adapt to its surroundings in an instant.

If you’re a fan of long green leaves in bunches, this one will certainly meet your expectations.

Furthermore, it’s almost a hassle-free plant meaning there is little need for maintenance. However, low maintenance requirements can also be quite a burden sometimes because these plants can easily grow out of control due to their great adaptive capabilities.

Therefore, make sure you keep an eye on them to prevent any overgrowth.

Even though it’s a very simple plant, it doesn’t lack any functionality. In fact, it’s a great solution both for a hiding place and background decoration.

It’s recommended that you don’t put too many of these due to excessive growth, but if you’re willing to pay special attention to it – too many shouldn’t be a problem.

  • Temperature range – 68 – 82 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Visual appearance – Long leaves (resembles a bush)
  • Lighting – Low to Moderate
image of java fern plant

Image Credit: aquaticmag.com

The Conclusion


Many people tend to overthink a lot when aquascaping is in question. However, it doesn’t necessarily need to be a complicated thing at all.

All you have to do is pay attention to the state of the environment inside the tank.

In other words, make sure the temperature is right, water clean, and lighting optimal.

One cannot say that keeping an eye on these three factors is too big of a burden for anyone, especially people that are enthusiastic when it comes to decorating their aquariums and implementing freshwater aquarium plants the way they have imagined.

About The Author

Larry Gilliam

I am a proud owner of two wonderful dogs - Ginger and Toby. And they are the main reason I've decided to raise awareness about the importance of proper pet care.

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