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    Plant Profile: Water Hawthorn

    By Josh Spece

    Common Name: Water Hawthorn or Cape Pondweed

    Latin Name: Aponogeton distachyus

    Hardiness: Hardy to at least zone 5. Probably colder as long as the tubers do not freeze.

    Light: Sun to part shade.

    Size: Can cover an area 2 to 3 feet across.

    Notes: Water Hawthorn is a wonderful addition to the water garden and deserves to be used more often. It grows from a small bulb and the floating leaves are long and narrow. This deep-water marginal is native to South Africa and will grow in water 6 inches to 2 feet deep.

    The real value in the water hawthorn is its growth cycle. This plant thrives in cool weather and goes completely dormant in the hot summer months. Water hawthorn will show off its small, white, vanilla scented flowers in late winter or early spring, take a rest during summer, and then pick up where it left off in the fall and bloom until the pond freezes over. It is a great companion for water lilies since they perform best during warm weather.

    Water hawthorn is very easy to care for. Plant the bulbs an inch or so deep in heavy clay top soil. Fertilize monthly when in active growth. Once the plant begins to slow down as the weather gets warmer, stop fertilizing until you see new growth in the fall.

    Water hawthorn is a prolific seeder and you may find baby plants springing up in your other water plants.

    It is a good idea to make sure your pots are well labeled so you don’t accidentally mistake a dormant water hawthorn for a dead plant and throw it out!

    Water hawthorn will tolerate slowly moving water.

    Winter Care: Winterize water hawthorn the same as you would a hardy water lily. Once the plant is killed by frost, drop the pot to the deepest part of the pond so the tubers do not freeze.

    Propagation: Division or seed

    Water Hawthorn plants

    Water Hawthorn (Aponogeton distachyos) are available for sale again now.

    We apologise for the false alerts on this product this year from the new website but we now have the plants rooted and ready to go out to you. Please use this button to go and Buy now.

    These plants grow from approx a 60cm(2ft) depth of water and send their leaves and flowers up to the water surface in Spring just like a waterlily would do in the Summer months.

    They complement the waterlilies very well in a pond as they both occupy the same area of water but at different times of the year. They help to give you an extended spread of cover over the top of the pond.

    • Water Hawthorn can flower between March and May and are sending up leaf stalks and flower buds already
    • Even if the top growth gets caught in the ice of a cold snap and dies back these plants will come back again from the deep water basket
    • They will flower until May then the warmth will send them dormant.
    • They will last longer in leaf and flower if you can place them in a shadier spot, in cooler water
    • In Summer – they are like a daffodil bulb. Once flowering is over they disappear from view, but they are not dead – ‘just resting’.
    • Don’t throw the basket away!
    • If you already have a Water Hawthorn in your pond – feed it now when it is actively growing and it will respond well.

    We only have Water Hawthorn for sale online for a limited time in the year because of their dormancy period.

    Water Starwort Facts, Care, Benefits, & Hardiness (Callitriche palustris)

    Help Spread Pond Keeping Knowledge!


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    Water starwort, also known as vernal water starwort or common waterwort, belongs to Callitrichaceae, the water starwort family. Its Latin name is derived from the Greek words carlos and trichos, which translate to “beautiful hair,” as this plant’s stems and leaves have a soft, hair-like appearance. The majority of the leaves float in small clusters atop the water’s surface, with the entire plant growing up to a foot in height, roots relatively firmly planted in the soil.

    It’s native to North America, Europe, and the majority of Asia, typically growing in and around the slow-moving, shallow waters of creeks, small lakes, and vernal ponds where it helps provide valuable habitat to frogs, turtles, and other reptiles and amphibians that depend upon vernal pools for survival. While not technically a native species in Australia, palustris has been there long enough that it’s become naturalized and is not considered an invasive issue.

    Benefits & Uses of Water Starwort (Common Waterwort)

    The small, ample leaves hold fish eggs and young quite well while also disguising them from potential predators. It can be confused for the very similar-looking pond water starwort (Callitriche stagnalis), which is invasive in many parts of the United States. Though not particularly palatable to humans, waterfowl such as ducks enjoy eating the leaves and berries, the latter of which ripen in the autumn.

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    Water Starwort Fact Sheet: PLANT TYPE Evergreen Aquatic Perennial HARDINESS ZONES USDA 5-9 LIGHT REQUIREMENTS Full Sun to Partial Shade BLOOM COLOR Green/Brown BLOOM PERIOD June – August (Summer) MAXIMUM GROWTH Up To 30 cm (12 in) PLANTING DEPTH 15-45 cm (6 to 18 in) water depth WATER QUALITY pH 6-8

    Water Starwort Growth, Hardiness & Climate

    Photo by Andrey Zharkikh. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.

    As a vernal plant, water starwort grows very quickly once spring hits, reaching its maximum height often in only a couple of weeks, before most other plants have fully leafed out. Native to a variety of regions around the world, water starwort is considered to be relatively hardy. It stops growing vertically once it reaches the surface of the water, focusing on producing small rosettes of floating leaves and tiny green flowers that are pollinated primarily by water or wind rather than by insects or birds.

    The small leaf clusters only spread to approximately 1.5 centimeters across, Full sun works best for this plant, but it can tolerate partial shade for a couple of hours a day. Full shade will kill most water starworts. Temperature climates are best, but they can persist most anywhere so long as temperatures don’t fall below 20° F (-6° C) for longer than a week or two, or exceed around 80° F (26° C) for too long.

    How to Plant Water Starwort In Ponds

    Photo by Show_ryu. , via Wikimedia Commons

    If purchased from a store or transplanted as an adult plant, you can plant water starwort directly into the silt at the bottom of the pond in as deep as 18 inches of water, though around 6 to 12 inches is best. For younger or less established plants, an aquatic basket can be used until the roots become more robust and are able to hold the plant into the soil.

    Another method is to weight the plant to the bottom of the pond utilizing small planting weights or gently placing a portion of the roots beneath a small rock that’s just large enough to hold the plant down. If using planting weights, please avoid lead-based weights, as these are toxic and inevitably the lead will leach into the water where it can bioaccumulate in fish, birds, and even plants, causing a host of potential health issues. A very adaptable plant, sand, clay, loam, and silt all work well for palustris.

    How to Care For & Maintain Water Starwort

    Photo by Sdjurovic. , via Wikimedia Commons

    A plant that requires minimum maintenance, palustris shouldn’t require much care at all beyond planting it in full to partial sun in fairly shallow water. It’s not particularly prolific and shouldn’t spread out of control, but if it’s growing a bit too much you can trim the leaves, pull up a few plants, or simply allow herbivorous fish to feed on the leaves. Once the plant(s) die back in the fall, you’ll need to remove any dead matter from the pond to maintain healthy water quality. Seeds can be allowed to drop to the pond bottom or harvested and planted later.

    How to Winter Water Starwort

    Water starworts will die off in the autumn, typically dropping seeds that will sink into the sediment at the water’s bottom. These seeds will remain dormant over winter and germinate on their own once the water thaws out. If you would like to, you can also transfer the plant to an indoor tank before it dies off in the autumn, though this is not necessary as it should drop self-germinating seeds.

    Is Water Starwort Toxic, Poisonous or Invasive?

    Water starwort is not toxic to fish or wildlife, nor is it considered invasive in any portion of North America, Europe, or Asia. Since it doesn’t occur naturally in South America, you likely should not try to acquire or propagate this plant if you live in that region. As mentioned above, palustris is not technically a native species in Australia but has become naturalized as it’s not a plant that easily overtakes areas.

    Is Water Starwort Edible? Will Fish Eat it?

    Your fish, koi in particular, are likely to munch on it as the leaves are soft and easy to consume. If they’re eating the plants too much, you can move the starwort to a shallow shelf that the fish can’t easily swim to. Also make certain that you’re feeding your fish quality food that is tasty and provides all the nutrition that they need so that they’re less likely to feed on your plants.

    Where to Buy Water Starwort? (UK & US)

    Not an uncommon plant, water starwort can be purchased from most aquarium and pond retailers, either in store or online. You should never remove a plant from the wild, as ecosystems are delicate and could be disturbed if any species are removed. Palustris in particular is an excellent oxygenator that also provides habitat for a variety of fish and semi-aquatic species such as salamanders, and thus is valuable to water ecosystems and should not be removed from natural areas.

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    Callitriche stagnalis/NJ

    Taxonomy Kingdom: Plantae Phylum: Magnoliophyta Class: Magnoliopsida Order: Callitrichales Family: Callitrichaceae Genus: Callitriche Species: C. stagnalis Subspecies: C. stagnalis Scientific Name Callitriche stagnalis
    Scop. Common Names European waterstarwort, pond water-starwort

    Common Name: European starwort, pond water-starwort
    Family Name: Callitrichaceae – Water Starwort family
    Native Range: Europe
    NJ Status: Emerging Stage 0 – Absent or very rare. It is highly threatening to native communities.

    General Description

    • Aquatic perennial with elongate stems
    • Branched stem rising to surface
    • Vary slightly in different habitats


    • Arranged oppositely
    • Submersed leaves are narrow
    • Floating leaves are oval shaped
    • Leaf tips have two lobes forming a U-shape


    • Tiny flowers without sepals and petals
    • Located at leaf bases on minute stalks
    • Can have 0 – 4 whitish bracts at flower base
    • Can be emergent, floating at surface or submerged


    • Dried fruits; small and located at leaf base
    • Nearly round; very thin wing extending from base to head of fruit
    • Four compartments each containing one seed; does not split when ripe


    • Freshwater: shallow water of lakes, ponds, rivers and streams
    • Brackish or salt marshes and flats

    Commercially Available

    Yes, was once a commonly used aquarium plant


    other water-starworts (Callitriche spp.)

    • Mature fruits are not round in shape and lack the wing
    • Easily confused when not in fruit

    Control Recommendations

    • Treatment options may include hand-pulling and cutting
    • Requires special permitting for herbicide application
    • Use wetland appropriate herbicide applied by professional lake managers

    List of Resources

    • Go Botany. 2013. Callitriche stagnalis.
    • IPANE. Invasive Plant Atlas of New England. Pond water-starwort.
    • State of Washington. Department of Ecology. Submersed plants.
    • USDA. 2013. PLANTS profile: Pond water-starwort.

    Everyone has their favorite collection of pond plants, but there might be some varieties that you haven’t yet added to your water garden. We invite you to consider the following list of popular aquatic pond plants that make a welcome addition to any pond!

    1. Creeping Jenny Pond Plants

    Often used as a ground cover in terrestrial gardens, Creeping Jenny fares excellently when used in water gardening applications. Growing approximately 2 inches in height, it’s a great filler to soften edges of rocks with its bright leaves creating a vivid contrast against the cool gray of wet stone. Tiny yellow flowers appear on the plant throughout summer, giving it added appeal. Creeping Jenny is a perennial and best used in Zones 3-10.

    2. Pickerel Pond Plants

    Available in blue, white, and pink lavender spiked flowers, Pickerel is a great choice for ponds with its shiny, green heart-shaped foliage. The blooms are long lasting and create a beautiful display when planted in masses. It grows about 24-30″ in height and performs well in Zones 4-10.

    3. Horsetail Pond Plants

    Horsetail Reed provides a striking architectural presence in your pond with its segmented reeds, growing to 24″in height, while the dwarf version grows to 8″. Hardy to Zone 4, it’s a fast spreader and you’ll want to thin the plant in the summer. In the fall, cut the plant all the way down to the ground to keep the spores from spreading.

    4. Taro Pond Plants

    Several varieties of Taro are available for your pond and do well in full to part sun. This is a tropical plant suited for Zones 8-11, but colder climes can bring the plant inside during the winter months. This impressive, leafy water lover grows to about 48″ and always makes a striking appearance in the water garden.

    5. Cardinal Flower

    Plant this pretty flower along the shallow edges of your pond and watch the birds flock to it. Deep burgundy foliage sets off the vibrant red flowers. The leaves are up to 8″ long and the plant can grow as tall as three feet. Cardinal Flower performs best in Zones 5-9.

    6. Water Lettuce

    Water Lettuce produces fuzzy, lime-green rosettes of leaves that look like little floating heads of lettuce. Super easy to grow, you simply let this plant float on the surface of the water with its roots dangling below. They produce babies throughout the summer and can be shared with friends or moved to container water gardens. Hardy in Zones 9-11.

    7. Mosaic Plant

    The beautiful Mosaic Plant consists of red and green diamond-shaped leaves in 3-6″ wide rosettes. In the summer, this floating plant produces sunny yellow cup-shaped flowers. Easy to grow, the plant provides a place for your finned friends to hide underneath. A tropical plant, Mosaic is hardy in Zones 11-12.

    8. Blue Iris

    Many water gardeners enjoy the elegant splendor of the aquatic iris, which is among the first plants to bloom in the spring. Aquatic irises comprise such a large and diverse group – there are literally hundreds, if not thousands of cultivated and natural hybrids. The Blue Flag Iris is a native plant that can grow up to four feet tall! A wetland lover, the Blue Flag’s large flowers are breathtaking, ranging in shades from pale blue to purple.

    9. Sweet Flag

    Also known as golden Japanese sweetflag (Acorus gramineus ‘Ogon’), this plant is ideal for containers and water gardens alike. It’s extremely flexible, as it can be grown with its toes in the water or partially submerged. The beautiful foliage is light green and highlighted with bright yellow stripes, remaining beautiful all season and sometimes through the winter. An all-around great plant that adds a bright, cheerful spot to any water feature!

    10. Waterlilies

    Waterlilies are stunning creatures in the water garden and often the reason why many gardeners add a pond to their landscape. These beautiful pond plants are characterized by amazing flowers representing all colors in the light spectrum … red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet (including the collective white), and a number of shades in between.

    The flowers range from a mere 2″ in diameter to some blooms measuring 12″ or more. Their leaves typically float unless they’re crowded, and are more or less round, ranging from 2″ across to over 6 feet for the giant Victoria. Waterlilies are perennial and can be broken down into 2 basic groups; hardy and tropical.

    Clear Water Pond Plants

    We feel that the best way to maintain clear healthy water is to incorporate a large number of plants in the pond in addition to proper filtration. Some plants are better than others at removing nutrients from the pond – we call these plants ‘Clear Water Plants‘

    While it is true that an effective biological filter maintains good water quality by breaking harmful ammonia from fish waste and decaying plants into nitrite, and then into nitrate, it does not remove the nitrate from the water. In fact you can think of a good biological filter as a ‘nitrate factory’. Nitrates are not as toxic as ammonia or nitrites but at high levels they can be harmful to fish health. In addition, high nitrate levels are one of the main causes of excessive algae growth which results in either the murky green pea soup colour water, or long strands of string algae or blanketweed that grow on the rocks, waterfalls pond. How can you safely and effectively remove nitrates from the pond?

    This is where plants are very useful. Not only do plants add texture and beauty to the pond, they also feed on the same nutrients as algae. They remove nitrates and phosphates from the water leaving lees for the algae to consume. Any aquatic plant that you add to your pond is going to have a beneficial effect on the water quality and clarity. But there are certain plants that are much more effective at removing the nutrients from the water.

    We call these plants “clear water plants’ because they will out-compete the algae for the nutrients in the water. These plants are generally either fast growing with high metabolic rates, have extensive root systems to absorb nutrients, or are just very effective at removing nitrates and phosphates.

    Pond Plants to Control Algae & Balance Your Water Garden

    Selecting the right pond plants will help you balance your water garden and maintain a healthier pond environment with less nuisance algae.

    Learn how to use aquatic plants and natural pond care techniques from water garden expert, Kelly Billing. With her knowledge and insights, you will learn how to create a balanced pond that doesn’t rely on toxic chemicals or expensive mechanical filters by using natural solutions.

    In this guide, we will explain the preferred types of aquatic plants, how to use plants for oxygenation / filtration, the difference between cool / warm season plants, and when to choose floating, submerged, shallow water, and other plants for your pond that will naturally improve water quality.

    Table of Contents – Pond Plants for Your Water Garden

    • Why Should I Add Water Plants To My Pond?
    • Types Of Aquatic Plants For Your Water Garden
    • How To Add Plants To Your Water Garden
    • Should I Use A Container For My Pond Plants?
    • Choosing the Right Water Plants For Your Pond
    • Maintaining A Natural Water Garden

    Plant Tips from A Water Gardening Pro:
    From our interview with Kelly Billing, we learned these helpful tips about maintaining pond plants to keep in mind while reading this article. If you have any experiences to add, please leave them in the comments section at the end. Please read this other article to learn specific tips for Spring start-up and debris clean up in your pond.

    • Have a good mix of warm season, cool season, and perennial plants.
    • Remove any foliage that is leaning or deteriorating into pond, this is fuel for algae.
    • Keep things neat, orderly, and fresh so you can naturally maintain the pond over depending on chemicals.
    • Use a pump or filter to circulate water in your pond for oxygenation. Movement in water will enhance your plants’ natural ability to uptake nutrients and trap more sediments.

    Kelly Billing, Water Gardening Expert And Lotus Enthusiast

    Kelly Billing

    Career: Owner of Water Becomes A Garden

    Location: Forest Hill, MD

    Mantra: “I am determined to change the way water becomes a garden!”

    Water Gardening Background: A longtime member of the commercial water gardening community with 30+ years in the industry. Passionately involved in educating and inspiring water gardeners everywhere. Most recently involved in making unique art from Lotus leaves.

    Why Should I Add Water Plants to My Pond?

    By adding pond plants you will provide competition to opportunistic algae.

    There are many ways to maintain a balanced pond, but using plants is the best long term solution to combat nuisance algae and provide a healthy habitat that your fish will love!

    If your pond is 100 gallons or 100,000 gallons the addition of pond plants will decrease the amount of maintenance to keep your pond water clean and is a great alternative to expensive products that kill algae by chemical or mechanical means.

    How Does a Plant Filter Naturally Filter My Pond?

    Pond plants filter sediments and pollution from your pond, just like trees filter carbon from the air we breathe to produce oxygen.

    Water plants consume nitrates from pond water. Algae require sunlight, water and nutrients (nitrates & phosphates) to prosper. By incorporating sufficient plantings into the pond the higher order of plants will work to out compete the nuisance algae. Algae has no competition in their absence. Aquatic plants that have high nutrient uptake will be extremely helpful to clear up your pond.

    Using plants in combination to maximize their respective benefits will further their ability to outcompete algae.
    Floating plants provide shade and cover; limiting the sunlight. Submerged plants primarily consume their nutrients from the water column rather than from their roots, limiting the development of algae. It is important to understand that all plants have the ability to improve water quality and that each has different strengths.

    How Do Aquatic Plants for Ponds Combat Algae Growth?

    Plants combat algae growth by filtering out excess nitrate & phosphate nutrients, producing oxygen, and providing shade for your pond. One of the leading causes of algae growth are from waste and decaying plants. So remember to always remove decaying plant matter before it builds up!

    By providing lots of shade, floating pond plants, waterlilies and creeping plants block excess sunlight limiting photosynthesis of algae in the water and keeping the water temperature cooler. (Algae love warmer temperatures which is why we see some algae blooms become toxic in the Summer.)

    Although pond plants are not going to be able to help you remove all algae from your pond, a good mix of aquatic pond plants can really help prevent and control algae in your pond during peak algae season. Some algae on surfaces and in streams is normal and necessary. Limiting abundant and toxic algae is the key.

    “It is best to have established water plants prior to the peak of algae seasons, early spring and late summer, so the purifying benefits can be optimized.”

    – Kelly Billing

    How Are Water Plants Good for Fish and Wildlife?

    Water plants are extremely beneficial for fish and other wildlife because they contribute to balanced ecosystem producing more oxygen, providing the necessary habitat for all levels of life forms to thrive. They are the foundation of a naturally balanced pond.

    It is important to include plants that thrive in cooler seasons, so roots are active and absorbing nutrients before warm weather arrives.

    In warmer seasons, floating plants can keep the water temperature down by providing shade during the hot summer days.

    Plants have added benefits for wildlife too. Bog Beans is a good shallow water plant for frogs because their buoyancy allows frogs to hang onto the plant and provides valuable protection from pond predators. Turtles love Water Poppy and Frog Bit as a food source.

    Spatterdock, is a good waterlily alternative because the koi and other fish like it.

    Submerged plants are vital in providing oxygen for your fish while also acting as a good place for them to hide from predators. This type of plant also acts as a critical area for fry (babies) to hide. However, when koi are present it is a good idea to create protective boundaries around them to prevent them from getting eaten.

    “Consider your goals prior to selecting plants to accommodate the needs of the pond inhabitants along with algae control.”

    – Kelly Billing

    Types of Aquatic Plants for Your Water Garden

    Click the tabs below to learn about the different varieties of plants to choose from and which to avoid. There are of course hundreds of varieties and we are focusing on why to choose each type of pond plant for your pond.

    It doesn’t matter which style pond you have, adding plants will greatly help you to maintain a healthier ecosystem.

    • Floating Plants
    • Bog & Shallow Water Plants
    • Submerged Plants
    • Prohibited Plants

    Floating leaf plants, like the Water Lilies pictured here, are characterized by the bloom floating on the surface with roots anchored in soil on the bottom.

    These underwater growing areas act as a hiding place for fish to raise their fry (babies).

    Floating leaf plants are beautiful, the jewels of the pond and are vital in keeping a healthy water garden.

    Bog plants, like the Rush shown in this photo, thrive in shallow water (5-10 in. deep) along the pond’s edge. These grow best in saturated soil on the rim of the pond.

    Bog plants, also known as Shallow Water or Marginal plants, are heavy root feeders and can improve water quality primarily by absorbing excess nutrients in the pond soil.

    Submerged plants, like the Eelgrass in this photo, are meant to be grown in pots placed at the bottom of the pond and completely underwater.

    They are also known as oxygenating plants because they remove excess nutrients via their foliage and have a reputation for producing more oxygen than other plants.

    Prohibited plants like water lettuce are dangerous because they can quickly take over other species after just a single piece has been introduced. Always be careful not to discard your pond plants in rivers, lakes, or streams because this can lead to aquatic nuisance species effecting the natural habitat.

    Some plants are prohibited in certain areas of the country because they can quickly take over other species after getting established. Always be careful not to discard your pond plants in rivers, lakes, or streams because this can lead to aquatic nuisance species effecting the natural habitat.

    In the United States, each State has different rules on which plants are prohibited. Check to browse a list of prohibited plants Browse a list of prohibited plants.

    Will My Climate and Location Affect Plants?

    You will find that different plants will be more appropriate for your pond depending on what climate zone you are in and what time of year it is. It is best to plant a combination of cool and warm season plants so that you have algae control from pond plants year-round.

    Plants will rapidly grow in the early spring for cool season and during summer for warm season plants. Algae blooms most often occur in early spring before the plants bloom and late summer when the plants start to rest. Effectively planning ahead to include plants during these seasonal changes will greatly increase your chances of avoiding nuisance algae.

    Cool Season Water Plants

    Cool season plants start growing in the winter so they can be active during early spring to combat early spring algae blooms. Some rest through the summer and fall before waking up again in the following late winter.

    Warm Season Water Plants

    Warm season plants start growing in the late spring so they are active through the summer to battle late summer algae blooms. They rest during cooler seasons from late fall until late spring.

    You have to factor seasonal and temperature differences when building and maintaining your pond. For instance, northern areas require a pond depth of 24 to 36 inches to ensure that the pond won’t freeze solid during winter. Meanwhile in warmer and tropical areas, it is important for additional depth due to excessive warm temperatures.

    For example – Giant Sensitive Plants, Mermaid Plants, and Water Wisteria will do very well in Southern tropical weather whereas Forget-Me-Nots and Water Hawthorns will do well in the north as cool season plants.

    How to Add Plants to Your Water Garden

    Build your pond with sloped sides for planting terraces or shelves, stepping down toward the pond area to allow for plant and habitat diversity for critters. Introduce your plants onto each plant shelf along the edge or into a container where necessary.

    An alternative to planting directly into the pond is a vegetative filter, which is a heavily planted area adjacent to the pond that has water recirculated through it to flush nutrient laden water over the roots. It is of considerable importance to help keep Koi from ravaging the plants because they don’t have access to them.

    How Many Plants Should I Add?

    The following table offers a rough guide to how many plants you should plant according to your pond’s approximate surface area. A good rule of thumb is to plant one bunch per square foot of water surface.


    2m² 4m² 6m² 8m² 10m² 12m²
    Water Lilies 1 2 3 3 4 5
    Marginal Plants 8 14 18 24 30 36
    Oxygenating Plants (bunches) 15 30 45 60 75 90
    Floating Plants 2 3 4 6 8 12

    Should I Use a Container for My Pond Plants?

    To begin planting, you must decide whether your pond plants will be directly planted or kept in containers. It is best to have a combination of both naturally planted and potted plants in your pond. Plants such as Lotus, Cattails and Reeds should be kept in shallow containers with no holes for easy maintenance and to set boundaries.

    Marginal or shallow water plants like Hibiscus, Iris and Pickerel, are good filter plants because of their massive root systems. These plants should be kept in baskets or geo-textile bags of soil, pea gravel or calcined clay so their roots can penetrate to spread and grab nutrients from the water column. Combine tall and spreading plants in the same container to disguise the pots. .

    Will a Liner Affect My Pond Plants?

    Whether your pond is lines, covered with stone or gravel or naturally earth bottom will dictate what type of plants are acceptable.

    Plants to Avoid:

    Earth Bottom Parrot’s Feather Water Hawthorn Clover Horsetail
    Rock Lined Water Willow Clover Horsetail Cat Tails

    Some plants like Cattails, Reeds and Thalia have sharp growth tips that can penetrate liner even if covered in gravel or stone. They shold be confined to a container to prevent puncture and leaks.

    Choosing the Right Water Plants for Your Pond

    It’s time to select the perfect water plants for your pond!

    While there are many options for pond plants, we’ve compiled a list of popular aquatic plants to help you establish your water garden. Based on the expertise from pond experts and pond owners, if you are new to the hobby we recommend water lilies due to their resilience to any region or season and their iconic image in backyard ponds.

    Plant Name: Water Lily
    Plant Type: Floating
    Season: Warm
    Critter-Friendly: Yes
    Benefits: Water lilies are a top choice among pond owners. This popular water plant does well in any region and season.

    They provide a lot of surface cover against heat during the warmer weather and shelter fish from predators.

    Plant Name: Water Lotus
    Plant Type: Floating
    Season: Warm
    Critter-Friendly: Yes
    Benefits: This pond plant is one of the oldest cultivated aquatic plants out there for your water garden.

    Lotuses are known for high nutrient uptake particularly stunning foliage and flowers. They have a substantial growth rate and are characterized by their upright habit as opposed to waterlilies that have floating leaves.

    Plant Name: Water Hawthorn
    Plant Type: Floating Leaf
    Season: Cool
    Critter-Friendly: Yes
    Benefits: This plant has a unique characteristic of only growing and blooming when pond water is below 65 degrees in temperature.

    These are a good season extender since they are active when waterlilies are not and the blooms are fragrant as well as edible.

    Plant Name: Anacharis, Coontail & Vallisneria
    Plant Type: Submerged
    Season: Warm
    Critter-Friendly: Yes
    Benefits: This plant is a good filter for trapping sediments to improve water clarity. They also provide a lot of oxygen during the daylight hours and are often referred to as oxygenators.

    Set groups of them near waterfalls or where water moves by for the best effect.

    Remember to reinforce boundaries with this plant because the koi love to eat them.

    Plant Name: Water Celery
    Plant Type: Bog/Shallow Water
    Season: Cool
    Critter-Friendly: Yes
    Benefits: This plant is ideal for ponds without rocks because they get embedded problematically.

    Edible leafy parts, growth begins early when there is still ice in the pond: an excellent early season plant.

    Plant Name: Iris
    Plant Type: Bog/Shallow Water
    Season: Warm
    Critter-Friendly: Yes
    Benefits: This is another popular plant among pond owners. Irises are typically planted in pots before being submerged. They thrive best in direct sunlight or partial shade.

    These plants will begin growing in early Spring. Divide in fall for best bloom the following year.

    Plant Name: Giant Sensitive Plant
    Plant Type: Floating
    Season: Warm
    Critter-Friendly: Yes
    Benefits: This intriguing plant folds its leaves after you touch it and appears “sensitive”. They will thrive in warmer seasons and provide good surface cover during hot summers to reduce algae while also providing shade for your pond inhabitants.

    Maintaining A Natural Water Garden

    There are a number of ways to minimize maintenance and provide a healthy and balanced pond for maximum enjoyment. I must emphasize that natural is key. Try to use the natural elements already existing in your pond to promote the ideal situation before resorting to mechanical and chemical vices.

    I recommend natural products like barley, beneficial bacteria, and Nualgi Ponds which promotes diatom growth to absorb excess nutrients, similarly to plants, and starve off algae.

    Products like Algaecides, UV Clarifiers and Ion Generators, although effective can mask the problem of excess nutrients rather than solve it. If there is algae in your pond, this may be indicative of an existing natural imbalance. Natural products should be considered a good practice to implement as opposed to trying to take corrective action after imbalances have noticeable consequences.

    Remember – be patient when starting your water garden, for nature will always set a pace for the best outcome.

    Balance Your Pond with A Natural Solution

    Safe for Fish, Plants, Amphibians, Birds & Pets!

    Nualgi Ponds significantly improves water quality as well as the health of fish and plants. For many eutrophic ponds, results may be visible by afternoon.

    By restoring missing nutrients this brings balance to the natural marine food chain from the bottom up, by promoting the growth of diatoms and zooplankton.

    Try Nualgi in Your Pond!

    “Natural products should be considered a good practice to implement as opposed to trying to take corrective action after imbalances have noticeable consequences.” – Kelly Billing

    Floating plants for freshwater aquarium are a stunning feature to include in any tank.

    These plants aren’t attached to the base of the tank and they arrive in various shapes and sizes from little to over one foot in length.

    Some of these floating aquarium plants are safe for betta and they have roots that suspend in the tank water from the live plants floating above them.

    If you own a fish tank, chances are that you most likely have a few plants in there.

    In this article, we have reviewed 10 best floating plants that we feel should be talked about and why we consider them to be good for aquarium.

    But first, let’s check out the benefits of floating aquarium plants.

    Benefits of Floating Plants in Aquarium

    With such a large number of various kinds of species of floating plants for aquarium, you can definitely look for the one that meets the requirements of your aquarium.

    However, you may be asking for what reason would you need floating aquarium plants?

    Well, today we will let you know some of the advantages of putting such plants in your fish tank.

    1. Shades

    Supplying the perfect shading to your other aquarium plants and also cover to your betta from lights penetrating the aquarium is an essential feature. Making a shade for the aquarium fish will really reveal their potential and their diverse colors.

    Just keep in mind, if you decide to cover the entire surface of your fish tank, it will perhaps lessen the rate at which your other plants grow, so it is wise not to try too hard.

    2. Aeration

    Floating aquatic plants are a good method of adding oxygen to your fish tank. These plants act as an air circulation system as ordinary vegetation does normally outside the aquariums.

    This gives additional oxygen to your tank water that will be of great benefit to your fish over the long haul. A properly aerated and high amount of oxygen helps to safeguard the tank against toxins.

    The air circulation in a planted fish tank is usually controlled by live plants just in the same way it would have been in nature. Some of the floating aquatic plants regulate O2 so that the fish and other inhabitants can breathe.

    3. Prevention, Protection, and Filtration

    Floating plants for freshwater aquariums can serve as filters to evacuate all fish waste in the tank. The bacterium developing on the plant is utilized as a filter element and it can handle chemical and biological filtration pretty well.

    Retaining the chemicals that harm the fish can be an extremely overwhelming time for the floating plants, so it is always ideal but not compulsory to have a reinforcement filtration system close by.

    The floating plants will be perfect protection for your aquarium fish by safeguarding them against diseases and finding an incredible place for fish to play or hide.

    4. Wilderness Appearance

    Floating plants for aquarium give you the sentiment a wilderness with a few of them having roots freely hang down. Creating a natural-looking condition won’t just add to the beauty of the fish tank, yet it will likewise enable your fish to feel comfortable.

    These floating aquarium plants are exceptionally intriguing and will add some incredible stylish features to your fish tank. Including these plants creates an exceptionally nature-like appearance and feeling to your aquarium.

    The choice of plants that comes with hanging roots will definitely give your aquarium a more natural feeling condition.

    There is a wide range of floating plants and you need to pick them based on the feel and look of your aquatic habitat. You will need to pick the plants that fit your tank without overwhelming other components in your tank.

    5. Alternative Food

    It is highly impossible for the fish to be starved or exposed to infections due to irregular feeding in a planted aquarium. Typically, the only source of food will be the food substance you supply to them.

    However, with floating plants, your fish will have another thing to nibble on or eat as they are brimming with nutrition and add to a great diet, exactly what each healthy little fish as well as big ones requires!

    10 Best Floating Aquarium Plants for Beginners

    While a lot of aquarium plants must be grounded in the substrate so that they can grow, this isn’t true when it comes to floating aquarium plants.

    These aquatic plants don’t gather supplements from the substrate utilizing their roots, but they draw supplements from the aquarium water and would thus be able to be left unplanted.

    Discussed below are some of the best floating plants for freshwater aquarium.

    1. Duckweed

    You may likely know the duckweed plant as the small floating aquatic plant that can grow over a whole lake in some weeks. Be that as it may, it can likewise be used in fish tanks; just don’t move closer to it unless you are certain that you need it, since it is difficult to dispose of!

    You can make use of duckweed plant to give cover to the fish in the water layer on top, but as mentioned before, it is also a good choice if you plan on using plants as food for your betta. Duckweed plant requires little or no care and will make due in relatively every kind of fish tank setup.

    2. Amazon frogbit

    In case you are searching for the exemplary floating aquatic plant with beautiful long roots and large rosettes, then you are in the right place!

    Amazon frogbit is quite easy to grow and nurture, can withstand a huge range of temperature and will provide your betta with lots of covers.

    It blocks a considerable amount of light, but in dull water biotopes it is usually kept in this isn’t an issue due to the fact that other plants and also the fish prefer light environments.

    In case you are experiencing difficulty with the roots stalling out in your filter, then try binding the frogbit to one side of the tank. You can perform this by attaching angling wire to suction containers and placing the aquarium plants in this “assigned” space; with this, they won’t have the capacity to float to the direction of your filter.

    3. Water lettuce

    Similar to the Amazon frogbit plant, water lettuce grows attractive and long roots.

    The plant’s rosettes are on the bigger side which makes the plant less appropriate for the littlest fish tank setups; in a bigger tank, however, it can be extremely decorative. Just remember that it is a quick grower which obstructs a considerable measure of light.

    In case you do not want your other aquarium plants to be outcompeted for nutrients and lights or have issues with the roots penetrating your filter, then make use of the angling wire strategy to keep it bound to one side or one corner of the tank.

    Always remove dead/yellowing leaves and overabundance plants to make your water lettuce stay green and healthy.

    4. Water Spangles

    The water spangles are also another lovely floating plant choice to consider for your aquarium, and this specific order comes with twelve spangles, with each of them having up to six leaves.

    These plants are really strong and can deal with a wide range of water conditions, but what needs to be said is that in case you want them to be inside, you will need to get a special aquatic aquarium light.

    These plants are a good cover for betta who don’t really enjoy sunlight. Also, they serve as a great source of food for both omnivores and herbivores.

    These things usually feed off of the supplements in the tank water, so they do stop the growth of algae. Obviously, one of the main advantages of water spangle plants is that they don’t require any substrate.

    The Common or Normal Salvinia is a little plant that grows in bunches and floats at the water surface. It grows well in still water that isn’t troubled by waves.

    It isn’t recommended to be included in your aquarium in case you have hold tight back power filter. The plant can quickly and easily cover the top of your aquarium in no time.

    Consistent care is required in order for it not to outgrow and shield out more than enough light for the base plants. The Normal Salvinia plant is part of the fern group and doesn’t bring forth flowers.

    6. Hornwort

    This floating plant species is one of the hardest aquarium plants of all. It will thrive well in environments that could destroy weaker plants such as algae, and it is still a really appealing choice for most fish tanks.

    Hornwort can be grounded in the substrate, yet it can likewise be floated in the water segment.

    This aquarium plant has one major drawback. In some occasions, it sheds needles and which can cause a slight wreck in the aquarium.

    It likewise becomes somewhat less alluring under high lighting environment, since it becomes stringy and long in appearance.

    7. Java Moss

    This floating plant is among the most popular plants in aquarium. It grows very fast, difficult to kill and is pretty low maintenance. If you connect it to a huge stone on the floor, it will extend over the tank’s surface.

    Due to the well-known floating nature of the plant, we would suggest that you cling it to something that will at any rate partially grapple it, so it will not roam about too freely around the fish tank.

    It has a carpet-like, low pattern of growth and shows up nearly ‘fluffy’. This plant endures anything between 72 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, yet the plant has been found to develop speediest around 73 degrees. It likewise grows best in any lighting condition, making it simple to accommodate.

    However, Java Moss growth has been estimated as speediest in medium-high lighting environments. It can be utilized as embellishment, or stabilization and substrate covering, even protection, carpeting, and rearing of specific kinds of fish.

    8. Riccia Fluitans

    This is another kind of floating plant that comprises of short strand such as pieces that interlace together creating a freely fitting mat. These plants have no leaves or roots. It isn’t usually adversely influenced by lights near the surface of the water since it is below the surface or level with it.

    It’s a common floating aquarium plant with betta breeders for its simplicity of growing and shade it provides for fry and surface breeders.

    This floating plant is likewise utilized by aquascapers to recreate moss. Bunches of it are attached to wood and rock with thread or nylon netting. It grows across the netting and appears like a splendid yellow-green moss.

    The plant should be kept trimmed near the netting or clusters of it will sever and float to the water surface. When the plant is grown this way, it requires much more concentrated light.

    Also usually referred to as the Mosquito Fern, this floating aquarium plant has a place in the fern group and will freely float at your tank surface delightfully.

    It has a stitched look which hides the single root that protrudes out of each stem. They arrive in various colors, red hues to form green.

    Like other floating plants for fish tank, the Azolla will give shelter and shade to your little fish, but it should be trimmed and tended in order for it not to assume control over the surface of your fish tank.

    10. Floating Bladderwort

    This floating aquarium plant emanates from the carnivorous group but is fine for your inverts and fish community. It floats in groups at the water surface and will develop bright yellow blooms.

    The aquarium plant will destroy microorganisms inside the water, yet is harmless to inverts and fish. The base submerged area of the plant contains an array of traps that look like bladders. Organisms are usually pulled in to the traps where most of them are devoured and digested.

    How to Grow for Floating Aquarium Plants?

    As discussed before, a lot of floating aquarium plants grow very quickly. This makes the plants a great nibble for herbivorous fish other than their normal diet of vegetables and pellets.

    You can simply grow the plants independently if you are trying to handle some very dangerous fish like vegan African rift lake cichlid fish species or some fancier kinds of goldfish.

    One technique would be to choose only the rapidly growing floating aquatic plants so you won’t run out and just consistently hurl a modest bunch in the aquarium for some assortment in their eating routine. Duckweed plant is a great choice for this kind of diet.

    It shouldn’t be extremely difficult to find a floating aquatic plant that will grow plentifully and quickly. Most species of floating plants are quick growers, thus making them be great at reducing dangerous waste, for example, nitrate in your fish tank all as an element of their natural capacities. These kinds of nitrates may harm other inhabitants in the aquarium, but are utilized by the plants as supplements.

    Another way to decrease the levels of nitrate is by carrying out a water change. Although this technique will surely be important eventually, but it is still good to have some small “assistants” that will naturally diminish the levels of nitrate in the middle of water changes.

    Floating plants are utilized by the aquarium fish they share their tank with for a wide variety of things such as reproduction, nourishment, comfort, and safety, so they are quite important to any balanced and healthy aquarium condition.

    It is ideal to remember all the essential roles they can play when looking for the right floating aquatic plants for your fish tank.


    Just like every other embellishment to your fish tank, preparation and research should be carried out before including any kind of living organism to your tank. Your fish community and invert need to stay harmonious, healthy and happy.

    Adding floating aquarium plants will surely give your aquarium a very wild and natural appearance. This is a low-maintenance and very easy way to make your fish tank look great in no time.

    When first buying an aquarium and looking to set up a diverse and attractive ecosystem, there are several questions most people ask themselves. Many of these have to do with what in the world they should actually put in their aquarium.

    To help clear up some of that confusion, we have compiled a little list of seven floating aquarium plants that are both easy to maintain and easy on the eyes for first time fish tank owners.

    We recently published a complete, step-by-step guide on setting up and maintaining a planted aquarium. Check it out if you are interested in keeping plants in your new tank!

    11 Best Floating Aquarium Plants

    Let’s take a look at some of our favorite floating plants. These are ranked based on easy of care, required light level, and growth speed:

    1. Hornwort

    Imageby Bernd Haynold

    Hornwort is one of the toughest aquarium plants of them all. It will grow well in conditions that may kill weaker plants, and it’s still a pretty attractive option for most aquariums.

    One thing that I really love about Hornwort is its flexibility of use. While it is usually planted in the substrate, it can also be floated in the water column to provide shade and cover for your fish.

    Many planted aquarium owners panic when their plants uproot, but now you know that there’s no need to worry if you suddenly find you Hornwort taking a ride around you tank!

    The only slight downside to this plant is that it sometimes sheds needles (which can make a bit of a mess in the aquarium). It also becomes a little less attractive under high lighting conditions, since it grows long and stringy in appearance.

    • Light level required: Low/Moderate
    • Level of care: Easy
    • Compatibility: Excellent

    Buy Hornwort

    Imageby bastus917

    Duckweed is a little bitty floating plant that will grow in almost any aquarium. In fact, it is nearly impossible to remove duckweed after it’s become established in its environment.

    For some planted aquarium owners, Duckweed’s resilience is great (since it’s nearly impossible to kill). For others, it can actually become something of a nuisance as it grows extremely fast and can take over the top of a tank.

    As long as you are willing to routinely remove excess duckweed from the aquarium, it is an excellent little plant that can help to grant surface cover for fish that prefer aquariums with dimmer lighting.

    It can also offer shelter for newborn fry, who use it to hide from more aggressive tank mates.

    If you like a natural look and don’t mind how quickly Duckweed grows, this plant can be a great option for those new to the plant game!

    • Light level required: Low
    • Level of care: Easy
    • Compatibility: Moderate (can sometime overgrow tanks and snuff out other plants)

    Buy Duckweed

    3. Dwarf Water Lettuce

    Image Source

    In my opinion, water lettuce is one of the most appealing species of floating plants. It has bigger leaves than most other species but they bunch up slightly to create a nice flowery (but natural) appearance.

    Dwarf Water Lettuce is a rapid grower, so care needs to be taken if you don’t overrun your aquarium. Regardless, water lettuce is relatively easy to just scoop out and throw away -much easier than duckweed listed above.

    One this to keep in mind is that you should never release any plants – especially water lettuce – into local water systems. Doing so can have a detrimental effect on native plants.

    Due to the size and quantity of their leaves, water lettuce tends to block out a good amount of light from reaching the water below.

    This should only be a problem if the aquarium becomes overrun, and it would really take some serious overgrowth before you start to experience any problems.

    The long branching roots of Dwarf Water Lettuce make ideal homes and hiding places for many species of small fish. These roots also aid in the aesthetic and natural look of an aquarium, adding something to that top third of the space that’s often very difficult to make appealing.

    Due to the size of the water lettuce, it is best suited to slightly larger aquariums. Make sure you give it enough space- maybe 100 liters, roughly depending on length and/or height.

    Overall, the Dwarf Water Lettuce is a beautiful plant that, once established in its aquarium, nicely adds to the aesthetics of a tank.

    • Light level required: Moderate
    • Level of care: Moderate (requires a slightly larger tank)
    • Compatibility: Moderate (can sometimes block out light)

    Buy Dwarf Water Lettuce

    4. Amazon Frogbits

    Amazon Frogbits

    The Amazon Frogbit is a beginner friendly, floating aquarium plant that has a long history in the aquaria hobby.

    It has rather broad leaves, large rosettes, lengthy branching roots, and is often used in Amazonian style setups or biotopes.

    Frogbits are a forever in-style classic that has been on the market for a long time. It’s very popular amongst hobbyists, being reliable, easy to grow, and less likely to take over a tank that other species (looking at you, Duckweed….).

    Frogbits will, however, block out a good deal of light.

    If you are creating a biotope, this should not be an issue (especially since most fish and other flora from this area prefer slightly darker, murkier waters anyway). Imagine an isolated pocket on the bed of a tributary of the Amazon river – that’s a typical example of a ‘murky’ biotype set up.

    That being said, Frogbits can sometime block out a bit too much light if you’re also keeping more demanding species. Just make sure you take out a good chuck every now end then and you won’t have to worry.

    If you like the natural look of floating plants (but require a species that won’t take up any of the water column), Amazon Frogbit is great, beginner friendly choice!

    • Light level required: Low/Moderate
    • Level of care: Easy
    • Compatibility: Excellent

    Buy Amazon Frogbits

    5. Java Moss

    Image by mbalazs2

    Java Moss is one of the most common freshwater aquarium plants. It is low-maintenance, easy to keep, and grows fairly quickly.

    In addition, Java Moss is also very flexible in its uses.

    If you attach it to a rock on the floor, it’ll expand over the surface of your tank. It has also been known to float, so I would advise you to attach it to something that will at least partially anchor it, so that it won’t roam too freely around the aquarium.

    Java Moss has a low, carpet-like growth pattern and appears almost ‘fuzzy’. It tolerates anything between 72-90 degrees Fahrenheit, but has been found to grow fastest around 73 degrees.

    Java also grows well in any lighting, making it easy (and affordable) to accommodate. That being said, growth has been measured as fastest in medium-high lighting conditions.

    It can be used as decoration, substrate covering and stabilization, even carpeting, protection, and breeding of particular types of fish.

    • Light level required: Moderate
    • Level of care: Easy
    • Compatibility: Excellent

    Buy Java Moss

    6. Water Wisteria

    Water Wisteria is another very easy to keep aquatic plant that will develop even in poor lighting conditions. That being said though, more than any other plant on this list, it appreciates at least a medium lighting arrangement with florescent or LED bulbs.

    Much like Hornwort, Water Wisteria can be put in the substrate or left floating up in the water column. If you choose to let it float, growth will most likely slow a bit.

    Another great thing about Water Wisteria is that it won’t take over you aquarium. Unlike Frogbits and Duckweed, Water Wisteria grows in a single “stalk” and can be removed in chucks very easily.

    That being said, it does grow pretty fast so be prepared to remove pieces frequently if you don’t want an aquatic forest (but if you do, that’s cool too!)

    • Light level required: Moderate
    • Level of care: Easy
    • Compatibility: Excellent

    Buy Water Wisteria

    7. Green Cabomba

    Photoby Pkuczynski

    Green Cabomba is another plant I’ve seen used before and always to good effect.

    It’s technically a weed in its native country of America, so that alone suggests it can grow quickly in many different types of environments. Its pale green leaves make it a slightly different color from those I’ve listed previously.

    Like a few other species above, Green Cabomba can be planted or left free floating.

    I first came across its use as a suspended plant after it kept getting uprooted from the substrate. I then noticed that it also thrived easily just drifting through the current.

    Fry and shrimp love Green Cabomba more than others, likely due mostly to the fact that it grows quite densely packed yet has openings into the center for a good hiding space in those specific cases. This is effective style, but an acquired look in a home aquarium that might take some maneuvering.

    • Light level required: Moderate
    • Level of care: Easy
    • Compatibility: Excellent

    Buy Green Cabomba

    8. Pennywort

    Lorenzarius Pennywort is a fast growing, beginner friendly plants with a dime size circular leaves. Like a few other species on our list, Pennywort can thrive both when floating or when anchored in substrate.

    One unique thing about Pennywort is that when allowed to float, it will often grow a few centimeters out of the water and sprout small, white flowers.

    This plants is often popular among new plant owners because of their resemblence to “mini Lily Pads”. Luckily, they are easy to grow and flourish in most conditions!

    • Light level required: Moderate
    • Level of care: Easy
    • Compatibility: Excellent

    9. Rotala Indica

    Show_ryu Rotala Indica is a popular freshwater aquarium plant that does well when anchored or allowed to float freely throughout the aquarium.

    It does well in most conditions, but generally prefers an environment with somewhat strong lighting. Under the right lighting, Rotala will grow just as quick as any other species on our list.

    If you’re looking for something a little more challenging that Hornwort or Duckweed (but still on the easier side of things), Rotala Indica is a great choice).

    • Light level required: Moderate/High
    • Level of care: Moderate
    • Compatibility: Excellent

    10. Ludwigia Repens

    Image Source – Ludwigia

    Ludwigia repens is a freshwater aquarium plant prized for its nice red coloration. If you’re looking for something the break up the green in you planted tank, look no further!

    Ludwigia can actually grow both in and out of the water. If left to float, Ludwigia may grow above the surface. As long as you trim regularly, this can contribute to a very unique look.

    Ludwigia repens grows well in most conditions, but colors up best when kept under moderate to high lighting. Although not the easiest-to-keep plant on our list, the unique look of Ludwigia is well worth the extra effort.

    • Light level required: Moderate/High
    • Level of care: Moderate
    • Compatibility: Excellent

    11. Limnophila

    Jerzy Opioła Limnophila probably isn’t the most well-known species on our list, but definitely shouldn’t be ignored. It is attractive, easy to care for, and offers great cover for small fish and shrimp.

    Limnophila does well in low-light conditions (even more so than most of the other species on our list) and can be planted in substrate or allowed to float freely.

    • Light level required: Low
    • Level of care: Easy
    • Compatibility: Excellent

    Benefits of Adding Floating Plants To Your Tank

    It’s easy to look at a planted aquarium and get lost in how amazing it looks. Something about real, natural plants in a home aquarium is impossible to match with fake plants. That being said, aquarium plants serve a much greater purpose that just looks!

    Now that we’ve looked at a few of our favorite floating aquarium plant species, let’s go over why you would add floating plants to you tank.

    1. Plants Provide Shade: Many common fish species such as betas, dwarf puffers, gourami and clown killifish are naturally born into darker waters and prefer a densely planted and shaded aquarium with plenty of places to hide. Floating plants will provide shade and cover and the long roots can help make these fish feel safer, which can help prevent stress among them.

    2. Plants Provide Hiding Spots: Floating plants are also a great place for tiny fry and dwarf shrimp to hide and forage. One of the most popular floating plants with long roots such as these is Limnobium Laevigatum, also known as Amazon Frogbit. You can read more about how easy it is to grow and how low maintenance it is to keep up below.

    3. Plants Remove Toxins: Believe it or not, plants actually help remove nitrite and nitrate, both of which are poisonous to fish. Plants will not only give your fish a more natural environment, but a healthier one too!

    4. Plants Reduce Algae Growth: Aquatic plants and algae both compete for the same nutrients. When your tank is filled with plants, less nutrients are left over for algae to feed on.

    Setting Up A Planted Aquarium

    It can seem like a tempting idea to set up everything in your aquarium on the same day as soon as you get home from buying all your exciting new stuff, but in most cases it’s not a good idea and won’t work very well.

    Your aquarium needs to go through what’s called a cycling process, where the water quality and parameters and vary widely.

    During this time, there are very few fish that can survive as the environment acclimatizes itself. This is why most experienced fish keepers will tell you to wait for a period of time before you put live fish in.

    If you wait for the tank to stabilize before adding fish to it, both you and the little fish will be much happier for it.

    Luckily, however, plants don’t require this precaution. You’re able to start adding plants as soon you get the water into the aquarium! Just be certain you have the correct plant tools to avoid harming them while you’re planting and organizing everything.

    Our Aquarium Cycle Guide is a great reference tool to use for any further questions you might have about setting up an aquarium and the different steps to making your tank the best it can be.

    Additional Reading: 5 Best LED Light Fixtures For Planted Aquariums

    Caring For Floating Plants

    Many fish keepers are also plant enthusiasts, but at the same time (unfortunately) lack the green thumb, the time, or the money that is so often needed to set up a high-tech, more high-maintenance aquascape with plant species that require more rigorous care and upkeep.

    Therefore, easy plants that require no extra lighting, nutrients or Co2 are life savers. Luckily, there are plenty of easy floating plants that will thrive and survive marvelously in a lower-tech aquarium as well!

    They usually grow very quickly and don’t need too much extra care, aside from the occasional removal of a few plants if things should get a bit too overgrown.

    If you’re interested in low-care (floating) aquarium plants, you can find all the information you could possibly want online or in any shops that carry plants and aquarium equipment near you.

    Floating Plant Growth

    As mentioned earlier, many floating plants grow very rapidly. This makes them a wonderful snack for herbivorous fish besides their typical diet of pellets and vegetables.

    You can always grow the plants separately if you’re trying to deal with very destructive fish like vegetarian African rift lake cichlid species or some (fancier) types of goldfish.

    One approach would be to go for only the fastest growing floating plants so you never run out and just regularly toss a handful in the fish tank for some variety in their diet. Duckweed is a great option for this kind of routine.

    It shouldn’t be too hard to locate a floating plant that will grow quickly and plentifully.

    Most floating plant species are very fast growers, which makes them great at reducing harmful wastes such as nitrate in your aquarium, all as a part of their natural functions: these nitrates might hurt other life forms in the tank, but are used by the plants as nutrients.

    The only other way to reduce nitrate levels would be by doing a water change, and, although this step will still definitely be necessary at some point, it’s great to have a few little “helping hands” that reduce nitrate levels in between water changes naturally all by themselves.

    Aquarium plants are used by the fish they share their space with for any number of things, including safety, comfort, nourishment, and reproduction, so they’re essential to any healthy and balanced aquarium environment.

    It’s best to keep all the helpful roles they can play in mind when searching for the perfect floating plants for your aquarium.

    Final Thoughts

    Creating a piece of art that lives in an aquarium and looks perfectly put together can take many years of practice and can cause several headaches, especially with all the holes it can put in your wallet.

    Even a single aquarium can take several hours of planning on paper just to find the right substrate, rocks, plants, fish, and other equipment you might need to construct your dream tank.

    If your plant-keeping journey doesn’t turn out quite right the first time, don’t get discouraged. Give it a little more work, a little more time, and soon you’ll have a tank you’re proud of.

    Hopefully, with a few of these tips and suggestions, you’ll find yourself well on your way!

    Planted aquariums are becoming increasingly popular, especially within the aquaculture scene.

    Not only do plants add color to your aquarium, but they also play vital roles within the tanks ecosystem.

    They provide an important method of filtration by removing excess nutrients and harmful elements and chemicals. They also act as shelter for adult fish and their fry as well as shade which helps to prevent algae growth.

    In this article we will explain the best aquarium plants for different aquariums and how they can be cared for correctly and propagated within the aquariums of beginners and experts alike.

    Aquarium Plants for Beginners

    Plants come in lots of different varieties and species, with some being difficult to care for and others that are easy to keep. In this section we will talk about a couple of species that are on the easy end of the scale.

    These plants are perfect for beginners who are just starting to learn how to keep aquarium plants.

    1. Amazon Sword

    As its name suggests, the Amazon Sword plant is a species which is native to the Amazon Basin of South America. They will thrive in water conditions with temperatures of 60.8-82.4°F and a pH of 6.5-7.5.

    The Amazon Sword plant looks like a bush and has long leaves which resemble swords or spear heads – these leaves extend straight from the roots.

    Roots should be planted in a substrate like gravel, which will provide plenty of space for the roots to grow.

    Mixing in aquarium soil beneath the substrate will provide essential nutrients for the plant, although these nutrients can also be provided by adding liquid fertilizer to the water.

    These plants develop their own plantlets which will eventually grow their own root system and leaves. When this does happen, the plant can be cut from the parent and placed elsewhere within the aquarium.

    Duckweed is a small species of floating plant.

    These plants are often found in large masses in lakes ponds and rivers and each plant can grow to around 1.5 inches in length.

    They are some of the easiest plants to keep in aquariums as the only things they require are nutrients within the water as well as light.

    When they have both of these they can quickly multiply through a process called vegetative reproduction.

    They grow best in water with a pH of 6.5-7.5 and different species can tolerate a wide range of temperatures including tropical and arctic conditions.

    These plants can aid in water filtration by absorbing excess nutrients and harmful elements. The roots of the plants can also provide a safe hiding place for juvenile fry like Guppies.

    A major benefit of keeping Duckweed is that it forms a shaded area that blocks light to the tank which aids in controlling unwanted algae growth. However, do not let it grow too thick as some light is beneficial for underwater plants.

    Floating Aquarium Plants

    Unlike most aquatic plants, floating plants do not anchor their roots into the substrate.

    Instead, the roots are free hanging and absorb nutrients from the water. Floating plants are a great addition to any freshwater aquarium and in this section we will discuss the two best floating plants for your tank.

    Hornwort can not only be a floating plant but can also be anchored to the substrate. It depends on the type of look you want within your aquarium.

    Adding it to the tank as a floating plant will not only provide shelter for your fish, but it will also provide shade and effectively combat unwanted algae growth.

    Hornwort has a long green stem with branches which lead into thin but darker colored leaves.

    It is easily propagated through asexual reproduction via side shoots providing it gets enough light and nutrients. You should aim to keep it within an aquarium with a stable pH of 6.0-7.5 and a temperature of 59-86°F.

    Due to its ability to tolerate a wide range of water conditions, it has spread overtime to areas where it is not native, making it an invasive species.

    4. Water Lettuce

    The Water Lettuce, also known as the Water Cabbage, is a green floating plant which looks like a Lettuce. It has thick but soft leaves which give it the look of an opening Lettuce or Cabbage, and even has small flowers hidden within their center.

    It is found in the tropical freshwaters of South America, Africa and South East Asia. They are considered an invasive species due to the fact they can populate almost all tropical freshwater.

    Water Lettuce is a dioecious plant, meaning that they can produce either sperm or eggs but never both. Sexual reproduction is not the only method used by this plant – it can also reproduce asexually with mothers and daughters being connected by runners.

    They are very easy to care for, you just need to make sure they have a good amount of light and access to nutrients (you can add fertilizers to the water every now and then).

    Low Light Aquarium Plants

    Most plants require a lot of light to be able to photosynthesize in order to produce energy for growth.

    However there are some species that are able to grow in low light. In this section we will discuss the perfect low light plants we believe to be ideal additions for beginners and experts alike.

    5. Anubias

    Anubias are root feeders and should be planted in the bottom of the tank within a substrate like gravel. They are native to rivers, streams and marshes of Central and Western Africa.

    Anubias Nana is one species of Anubias that does well in low light conditions. They are very hardy and can survive in a wide range of water conditions. They should be kept in water with a pH of 6.0-7.5 and a temperature of 72-82°F.

    This plant has thick green stems which can be planted in the substrate or attached to driftwood. These green stems contain multiple branches which grow upwards leading in thin green leaves which are covered in a waxy coating.

    They are extremely easy to propagate as they do so via rhizome division. This is where a part of the plant’s stem will break off and fall to the substrate where it will start to develop its own shoots and roots. Cuttings of the stem may be taken but be sure it has plenty of leaves attached so that it can still photosynthesize.

    6. Java Fern

    Java Fern are a hardy species which can tolerate a wide range of parameters and conditions.

    It does best when planted in a gravel substrate or attached to rocks as it absorbs nutrients through its root. It should be kept in tropical aquariums with a temperature range of 62-82°F and at a pH of 6.0-7.5.

    They also require low to moderate lighting, which makes them some of the easiest plants to care for.

    The plant is made up of two parts: the rhizome and the leaves. They can be propagated in two ways:

    1. The first way is through rhizome division where cuttings can be taken from the plant and moved elsewhere within the aquarium.
    2. The second propagation technique is that the plant will actually produce its own small ferns on the underside of its leaves. If you wait for them to develop their own leaves, these can also be cut from the parent and planted in a different location.

    7. Vallisneria

    Vallisneria is also known as Eelgrass because it has long ribbon-like leaves. The roots should be planted in a nutrient rich substrate which is also well aerated allowing the roots to spread. It is a hardy and fast-growing species which makes it great for beginners.

    They prefer temperatures of 68-82°F and a pH of 6.5-8.5. They can grow in both low and moderate lighting.

    Interestingly this plant produces both males and females which both flowers – although this isn’t seen as regularly in aquariums.

    The females have flowers at the surface of the water whereas the males flower below the water.

    These eventually break from the plant and float to the surface where the will encounter female flowers which they will pollinate.

    Red Aquarium Plants

    The vast majority of aquarium plants are green. This is because the primary pigmentation present in these plants is Chlorophyll which is green in color and is vital for photosynthesis.

    However there are a few red plants. They still have Chlorophyll (as it is needed for photosynthesis), however the main pigments within them are Anthocyanins.

    8. Ludwigia Repens

    Ludwigia Repens is a species of plant which is thought to have originated in South America.

    It is an extremely popular plant, especially in Dutch aquascaped aquariums for which the presence of different colors is needed.

    They have a single stem with a root system which should be planted in a substrate with a large particle size. Along the stem and its leaves, the coloration can vary from deep green to dark red.

    It grows best when kept at a temperature of 59-86°F in water with a pH of 5-8. As you can see, these plants can tolerate a wide range of conditions making them extremely hardy.

    The propagation of this species is relatively simple and will occur when the plants are mature and during the warmer months when they will grow surface flowers that produce seeds. These seeds will eventually sink down to the aquarium substrate where they will grow into new plants.

    9. Echinodorus

    The Red Diamond Echinodorus is a variety of Amazon Sword plant which is likely a cross breed between E. hartmanni and E.barthii which has resulted in a plant with deep red sword-like leaves.

    It should be treated exactly the same as the Amazon Sword plant discussed earlier in the article and be kept in water conditions with temperatures of 61-82°F and a pH of 6.5-7.5.

    Planting the roots in aquarium soil beneath a gravel substrate will provide nutrients for the plant, although these may also be absorbed by adding liquid fertilizer to the water.

    These plants develop their own young which will eventually grow their own root system and leaves. When this happens the plant can be cut from the parent and placed elsewhere within the aquarium.

    Aquarium Carpet Plants

    In this section we will provide you with the three best carpet plants for both beginners and experienced aquarists.

    10. Java Moss

    Java Moss is native to Southeast Asia and can tolerate a wide variety of water conditions. These range from low to high lighting in waters of pH 5.0-8.0 and at a temperature of 59-86°F. They are an extremely hardy species making them ideal for any freshwater aquarium.

    This plant is a moss with small branched stems. Each stem has small overlapping oval leaves and these leaves are bright green in color.

    When planting this species, it can be tied down to a rock to keep it from rising to the surface. Eventually it will attach itself to a rocky substrate using rhizoids to keep it in place.

    Propagating Java Moss is as simple as it gets. Cut a piece off of the main clump and it will start growing and can be placed elsewhere in the tank or even in another tank to begin carpeting that one.

    11. Water Wisteria

    Water Wisteria is a species of freshwater plant native to the Indian subcontinent. Stems can reach up to 20 inches in length and have a width of around 10 inches.

    The stems are slightly darker than the bright green leaves which occupy them. These leaves are oddly shaped with narrow protrusions along them.

    It can be planted into the substrate of the aquarium or allowed to grow across the substrate to form a carpet.

    This species requires moderate to high lighting as well as water temperatures of 70-82°F. The pH of the water should be maintained between 6.5 and 7.5.

    12. Pygmy Chain Sword

    This species is the smallest species of sword plants and is native to Central and Northern parts of South America.

    It will grow to around 4 inches long and about 1 inch wide. The stems and leaves are thin and grow upright but slightly curved. The leaves are green to slightly red in color. It should be planted into a large particle sandy/gravel substrate.

    Over time the plant will begin to produce its own runners and form a thick carpet across the aquarium. Once these runners have produced their own leaves, they can be cut from the parent plant and planted in separate aquariums.

    They grow best in high light conditions with around 10-12 hours per day. The water should be 68-84°F in temperature and have a pH of 6.2-7.5 for optimal growth rates.


    Plants come in a all different shapes, colors and sizes and can occupy different areas of the aquarium. They provide essential filtration to the tank as well as providing shelter and shade for the aquarium’s inhabitants.

    Planted aquariums are becoming increasingly popular as they provide the ideal natural environment for fish and shrimp.

    The list of plants we have covered here are all extremely hardy, relatively fast growing and able to tolerate a wide variety of different parameters – making them easy to care for.

    We hope that we have captured your interest in freshwater plants for your tank and that you enjoy the fun that comes with arranging your aquarium with floating, carpeting and water column plants.

    Which is your favorite aquarium plant? Let us know in the comments section below…

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