Get inspired with some of the easiest types of aquarium plants you can grow
There are many different types of aquarium plants, and some are more difficult to look after than others. In this article we’ve selected some of the easiest types of aquarium plants you can grow.
These are perfect for beginners and also more advanced aquarium owners, especially if you don’t have lots of time to tend to your plants and want them to look after themselves as much as possible.
Different types of aquarium plants are classed as foreground, midground and background, depending on how tall they get. We’ve included the sizes below so you can see what will work in your aquarium.
It’s a good idea to have a selection of different heights – one plant that creates a lawn, and others that might look like trees in your aquascape. Never heard of aquascaping? It’s like landscaping, only underwater.
Common name: Tape grass, eel grass
Size: Leaves 30cm long, 1-2cm wide
An excellent plant for beginners because it is easy to grow and will be happy in most light and water conditions. Also, the leaves don’t get too long so it’s suitable for small aquariums. Vallisneria’s narrow leaves mean it won’t overshadow other plants.
Common name: Blue waterhyssop
Size: Stems 10-30cm long and 3-4 cm wide
An old favorite, this North American plant is not in the least demanding and makes an attractive addition to your aquarium. It will grow slowly so it doesn’t need much of your attention.
The plant branches out neatly from the base. Shoots can easily be cut off to create new plants. Another great choice for beginners.
Cryptocoryne wendtii ‘Green’
Common name: Wendt’s water trumpet
Size: Leaves 10-15cm, rosette 8-15cm wide
Originally from Sri Lanka, the Cryptocoryne types of aquarium plants like growing in the shade so they are useful to have in your collection.
The leaves are a vibrant green forming around a rosette. They look great in groups. This plant will grow in the shadow of others and doesn’t mind hard water. Easy to grow.
Common name: Amazon sword
Size: 20-50cm tall
A beautiful aquarium plant from South America, Echinodorus bleheri is a hardy plant that is perfect for beginners. It does well in poor light.
Pruning now and again will prevent it from overshadowing some of your other aquarium plants. It is also known as Echinodorus paniculatus.
Common name: Java fern
Size: 15-30cm tall
One of the best types of aquarium plants to choose if you want something that will grow without any fuss.
Grow your java fern by tying it to a rock with fishing line or sticking it on with special aquarium glue (this will not harm fish) — it will gradually gain a hold and grow slowly and happily in all conditions.
Vesicularia dubyana and Vesicularia dubyana ‘Christmas’
Common name: Java moss, Christmas tree moss
Size: 1-3cm tall
Bring a different texture and look to the aquarium with an attractive moss that looks like fir tree branches. The ‘Christmas’ version of java moss grows more slowly but will cling on willingly to roots and stones in the tank. It originally comes from Brazil.
Common name: Dwarf hair grass
Size: 3-10cm tall
This type of aquarium plant will grow into a lush green lawn. It’s ideal as a low-growing plant in the foreground and will do well if you group it in bunches, so they gradually merge to form a solid mass of green.
Common name: Ozelot sword plant
Size: 20-50cm tall, 20-40cm wide rosette
This attractive green and maroon-colored aquarium plant is a hybrid of Echinodorus schulteri ‘Leopard’ and Echinodorus ‘Barthii’.
It’s spotted, like an ocelot – and it will keep its spots, even in low light. A good choice if you are just starting with an aquarium, as it’s not at all demanding to grow.
Anubias barteri, Anubias barteri var. ‘Nana’
Common name: Anubias nana
Size: 5-15cm tall and up to 50cm wide
Of all the different types of aquarium plants, the Anubias plants from tropical West Africa are some of the easiest to grow.
You can even buy them already attached to lava rocks to make things super easy. There are different variations of Anubia barteri available such as ‘Nana’. These plants grow slowly but can get quite large.
Common name: Awl-leaf arrowhead
Size: 3-15cm tall
A great foreground plant, Sagittaria subulata is easy to grow. It can get to varying heights and will sometimes shoot up, but if this happens you can move it to the background of your tank with no problems. You may even get small white flowers on the water’s surface with this plant.
Bucephalandra ‘Wavy Green’
Common name: Buce plant
Size: 5-10cm tall
Similar in needs to the Anubias, this type of aquarium plant is slow-growing and prefers low light. In nature they grow in tropical forests, in rivers and streams.
Easy to grow, and it will look good on wood or rock. Be careful not to cover the rhizome when you plant your Bucephalandra, as it will cause your plant to rot and die.
Common name: Cardinal flower
Size: 10-30cm tall and 5-10cm wide
A striking plant displaying dark green leaves with purple underneath. It grows wild in North America in marshy places – in the aquarium, the leaves will turn a brighter light green. In an open aquarium, it grows above the surface of the water and will wow you with bright red flowers. It can also grow in ponds.
Echinodorus cordifolius fluitans
Common name: Spade-leaf sword, creeping burhead
Size: 20-50cm leaves, 15-30cm wide rosette
Another of the sword plant family, Echinodorus cordifolius fluitans is easy to grow and makes a decorative addition to your aquarium. Its wavy green leaves will grow up to the surface of the water, but unlike other Echinodorus plants, they will not break the surface and sit happily just underneath.
Types of Aquarium Plants You Should Avoid
Sadly, some plants that have escaped from aquaria have become serious pests in many parts of the world, clogging up rivers and choking out native plants. These are known as invasive species.
It’s always worth checking the list of invasive species in your local area, so you know which plants to avoid. It’s also really important never to empty your aquarium plants and water into rivers, lakes or any other natural watercourse.