Before deciding to have a home aquarium, it is crucial to keep in mind that it is not just a decoration. The inland waters of an aquarium will be home to your fish. Therefore, it is important to create a positive environment that recreates, as far as possible, the natural habitat of these animals..
Today, we can find various resources for enrich the fish environment in specialized stores and also on the Internet. But one of the best alternatives is still natural plants for aquariums. In addition to providing beauty, the plants contribute to form a mini-ecosystem within the aquarium and can be combined with rocks, small logs, gravel, etc. To achieve this, you need some knowledge to choose the aquarium plants that best suit the needs and behavior of the species of fish that will live in it. In this AnimalWised article we introduce you 10 plants for freshwater aquariums that will help you beautify it and enrich the environment of your fish.You may also be interested in: Aquarium prawn care Index
- Types of plants for freshwater aquariums
- Easy-Care Freshwater Aquarium Plants
- Other recommendations for the environmental enrichment of the aquarium
Types of plants for freshwater aquariums
Much of our planet is covered in water and it is not surprising that aquatic vegetation is extremely rich and diverse, shaping different ecosystems. Both in salt water and in fresh water, we can find several plants that fulfill essential functions for the balance of aquatic life. However, not all of these species can survive adequately in compact and artificial environments, such as an aquarium. Usually the types of plants for freshwater aquarium they are divided into 7 large groups:
- Bulbs: they are characterized by stems that grow from underground bulbs, in which they store nutrients that they collect from the soil through their roots. They are generally best suited to temperatures of 19 ºC to 28 ºC, require simple care and can be a good choice for beginners. However, some species grow quite large over time and require a medium or large aquarium..
- Floating plants: As the name suggests, the characteristic feature of this type of floating freshwater plants is that they remain on the surface of the water. In many parts of the world, the water lily or water hyacinth is probably the most famous floating plant, being a symbol of Amazonian aquatic vegetation. In addition to their surprising beauty, floating plants are very functional in aquariums, since they absorb a large part of the organic matter available in the water, avoiding imbalances that can favor the multiplication of algae and microorganisms that can harm the health of the fish..
- Upholstery plants- This type of aquatic plant is famous for providing that natural grass mat or mat look at the bottom of the aquarium with very rich green colors. Although they require simple care, they must have a good substrate and care must be taken when cleaning the aquarium to avoid the accumulation of organic debris in the soil..
- Mosses: they are the most loved by aquarium lovers. Easy to care for and maintain, resistant and able to survive with little availability of sunlight. In addition, their growth is moderate and they do not need to receive additional CO2 to survive..
- Rhizomes or rosettesAlso called common aquarium plants, they are small to medium sized species with moderate growth and easy maintenance. One of the advantages of rhizomes is that they offer a good diversity of colors and shapes, which helps to create a natural, beautiful and cheerful environment at affordable prices..
- Stem plants: they are aquarium plants that are characterized by having thin stems from which small leaves that can have various shapes are born. The most famous and common species in aquariums belong to the genus Rotalia, that draws attention for the pink and orange tones that color its stems and leaves. Because they are very resistant and easy to maintain, they are highly recommended for aquarium beginners.
- FernsThey are easy-to-maintain branched plants, which can be planted with logs and rocks to enhance the environmental enrichment of the fish and in turn provide a really beautiful environment. In general, these species of plants for freshwater aquariums do not need large doses of sunlight, which is also an advantage.
Easy-Care Freshwater Aquarium Plants
While they offer many benefits for aquarium enrichment, natural plants require work, dedication, and investment. Each species needs certain environmental conditions to grow properly. In addition to the fertile substrate, it is important to take into account the temperature of the water, the amount of oxygen and CO2, the availability of light (solar or artificial), etc..
Depending on the characteristics and needs of each aquatic plant, its maintenance will require more or less time, effort and money on the part of the aquarium owner. If you are new to the art of aquarium care, or do not have the time and patience for delicate and regular care, you should prefer simple and easy-to-maintain plants. With this in mind, we have selected the best plants for freshwater aquarium, hot and cold, with its basic characteristics.
Java moss (Vesicularia dubyana)
This freshwater aquarium plant is native to Southeast Asia, specifically the Island of Java. Because it adapts so well to aquariums, even in low light, it has become popular all over the world. In general, it shows a great fixation on any type of fertile substrate and presents moderate growth, reaching approximately 8 centimeters in height. Therefore, if you are looking for slow-growing aquarium plants, this is an excellent option. As they grow, they form thick clumps.
Java moss is an aquarium plant that coexists in a balanced way with almost all freshwater aquarium fish. It also often plays a key role in the reproduction of these species, serving as a spawning area and refuge for small aquarium fish or shrimp..Image: péces.com
Slow growing aquarium plants: anubias
Plants of the genus Anubia are mainly associated with the African continent. Like Javanese moss, some species have become very famous for their adaptability to freshwater aquariums. For beginners, it is recommended to start by cultivating Anubias nana, both for its compact size and for its easy care. Another advantage is that fish do not usually eat this plant.
Anubias nana is a rhizome type plant It reaches 5 to 10 cm in height inside aquariums. Its growth is slow and constant, developing optimally at temperatures between 22 ºC and 25 ºC. This type of plant should preferably be grown on rocks to prevent the rhizome from becoming completely covered and rotting..
Melon Sword (Echinodorus Osiris)
Native to Brazil, the melon sword is one of the easiest-to-care freshwater aquarium plants. It usually reaches a maximum height of 50 cm and has an interesting color change during growth. Young leaves show very beautiful reddish tones, while mature leaves are predominantly green.
Despite being very resistant, does not adapt well to excessively warm waters, as it grows abundantly in southern Brazil. The ideal temperatures for its growth are 24 ºC and must not exceed 27 ºC. In addition, it is a solitary plant that does not grow in colonies..Image: acuarioadictos.com
Plants of the genus Hydrocotyle
The nearly 100 species native to South America that make up the botanical genus Hydrocotyle are perfect for beginners because of their easy care. Among them, the Hydrocotyle leucocephala It is very popular in freshwater aquariums for its attractive shape and glossy dark green leaves, just like Hydrocotyle verticillata and Hydrocotyle tripartita.
Unlike other lush plants, Hydrocotyle are freshwater aquarium plants easy to care which are well suited even to brand new aquariums. They are also very versatile and can be grown directly in the substrate or as a floating aquarium plant. They adapt perfectly to temperate or warm waters at temperatures of 20 to 30 ° C. In these optimal conditions, its growth is fast, but the plant barely exceeds 40 cm in height.
Aquatic grass (Lilaeopsis brasiliensis)
As the name suggests, aquatic grass is great for making those natural rugs at the bottom or front of the aquarium. Native to South America and with a strong presence in Brazil, this plant grows rapidly when it has a thin and fertile substrate. As its leaves can have different shades of green, from light green to flag, we enjoy an interesting contrast.
Maintenance is also relatively simple, although care is important to avoid excessive concentration of fish feed residue in the soil. It also requires intense light and the water inside the aquarium should remain at moderate temperatures between 15ºC and 24ºC.Image: acuarioredfish.com
Duckweed (Lemna minor)
This is one of the floating freshwater plants exclusively aquatic, which is striking for its particularly small size. Even under optimal conditions, this species barely exceeds 4 mm in length and has a single root..
Its maintenance is very simple and contributes to the balance of the aquarium's impermeability, since it consumes some dangerous waste, such as ammonia. For this reason, it is considered an oxygenating aquarium plant. One thing to consider before growing duckweed is that a many species of fish and snails like to consume them. However, as this plant reproduces rapidly, imbalances between populations generally do not occur..
Water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes)
Here we find another exclusively aquatic and floating plant, with an interesting shape similar to lettuce and velvety texture. It is a cosmopolitan, rustic and resistant species, capable of surviving in different ecosystems. Therefore, it can be great for beginners in the art of growing natural plants for freshwater aquariums.
Although it does not require a substrate, it is essential to grow it in bright light and in water free of chlorine or other chemicals. A possible disadvantage of growing water lettuce is that it tends to reproduce easily, especially in waters rich in macro and micronutrients. For this reason, it is important to take into account the organic matter available within the aquarium to prevent it from becoming a pest..
Amazonia (Echinodorus bleheri)
Native to South America and mainly from the Amazon, this species is ideal for those looking for practicality. Amazonians are undemanding, grow very well on simple substrates, and adapt well to moderate light availability. However, they grow faster and more lush when they have more abundant light..
To keep this plant healthy, it is essential monitor the multiplication of algae inside the aquarium. An interesting strategy is to combine it with animals that help keep the aquarium clean, such as the Chinese algae-eating fish. In addition to this detail, the development of the Amazon is slow but constant, and requires periodic pruning to control the height.
Aquatic Wisteria (Hygrophila difformis)
Native to India and Southeast Asia, aquatic wisteria might also be on a list of the favorite freshwater aquarium plants for newcomers. This plant is characterized by having well-erect stems that grow as opposite pairs and from which leaves with rounded light green lobes are born..
Because they capture nutrients through floating leaves and roots, they can be grown on simple substrates. Nevertheless, need medium to high lighting, and it is recommended to add a CO2 input to the water to facilitate its development. Optimal growing temperatures range from 24 ºC to 28ºC, always with a pH close to neutral (from 6.2 to 7.2).
Red Amania (Ammannia gracilis)
Few aquarium plants are as conspicuous as the red amania, which originates from the African continent. The reddish-orange or slightly pinkish hue of its leaves and stems creates a fabulous contrast and adds a noble air to the aquarium. However, you should know that this species needs to receive intense light to achieve these coveted shades.
Red amanias also need to have a fertile substrate and temperatures between 20 and 27 ºC to develop properly. In addition, an additional supply of CO2 to the water will also facilitate its growth. Although they do require a bit more care and attention than the other freshwater aquarium plants shared on this list., ¡it will be worth growing them!Image: aquaticworldinfo.com
Other recommendations for the environmental enrichment of the aquarium
Freshwater aquarium plants are important to keep the ecosystem in perfect condition and simulate the natural habitat of the fish that will live in it. However, they are not the only element that you should take into account when setting up the aquarium. Keep in mind that fish also need rocks and logs to carry out their natural behavior, so that you find out well about each of the fish species that you are going to incorporate in the aquarium and offer them everything they need to be happy.
When choosing fish, you should also choose species that can coexist without problems. If you are a beginner, opt for fish that are easier to care for and let yourself be advised. Remember that there are also animals that clean the aquarium and help you maintain proper hygiene.