Our 5 Favorite Aquarium Plants That Everyone Should Try
It can be overwhelming to try to purchase live aquatic plants online. There are so many species and different care requirements. Aquarium Co-Op strives to offer a carefully curated selection that includes the most difficult and hardiest plants. However, it is sometimes nice to talk to someone in person to get some personal recommendations. That’s why we interviewed our CEO Cory McElroy to find out what his current favorite plants are that he thinks everyone should try.
1. Dwarf Sagittaria
Cory loves vallisneria. But, because it can grow to as high as 4-6 feet (1-2m) it is best suited for larger tanks. Another grass-like plant is dwarf sagittaria. It will grow between 3 and 8 cm in high lighting, and 18 to 45 cm in low lighting. Even if one plant is purchased, it can reproduce quickly using underground runners. These will fill in the aquarium’s bottom. The dwarf sagittaria loves to eat from its roots so be sure to give it nutrient-rich substrate for the tank or Easy Root Tabs fertilizer.
Dwarf sagittaria is usually grown emersed (with its leaf out of water) at farm plants. Your order might have large, round leaves that aren’t exactly like the pictures. Don’t worry, just take the plant out of its plastic pot and place the roots in the substrate. Make sure to not cover the base of your plant’s leaves. The long, emersed, leaves will soon fall off and be replaced by shorter, skinnier, and submerged (or underwater) ones. You can also plant dwarf sagittaria by placing the entire container inside an Easy Planter ornament and sticking a root tab in the rock wool. The decoration protects the plant from being uprooted by fish so that it can start growing new leaves and carpeting the ground with little, grassy tufts.
2. Dwarf Aquarium Lily
Looking for an easy-to-grow, centerpiece plant to wow everyone who visits your home? The dwarf aquarium lily is a fast-growing bulb plant with beautiful, red leaves and lily pads that form up top. It can thrive in low light conditions, and it is often used to cover the rear tank wall’s walls with lush foliage.
Aquarium Co-Op will send you a bulb with peat moss if you order your lily. Place the bulb on the ground and rinse off any loose peatmoss. The bulb may float at first, so let it soak in the water until it eventually sinks. In one to three week, the bulb should have a few shoots that form new leaves and roots. If the bulb doesn’t sprout, flip it upside-down. After the plant has become rooted and large, ensure that you provide lots of Easy Root tabs. For detailed instructions, read our full care sheet on dwarf aquarium lilies.
3. Cryptocoryne wendtii
The Cryptocoryne (or “crypt”) genus is very popular for its low light requirements as well as slow, steady growth that doesn’t require much pruning. Crypt wendtii, a variety of color options, is one of our most popular species. These include crinkly, green and even pink leaves. It usually grows to 6-8 inches (15-20cm) tall, so depending on the aquarium size, many people use it for a midground plant. The crown, or base of the leaves, should be buried. To encourage healthy growth, feed it root tabs and enriched substrate. Your crypt might eventually start to produce new plantlets from its rootbase. If your crypt starts melting away, read our article on crypt melt for more help.
4. Pogostemon stellatus ‘octopus’
Pogostemon stellatus ‘octopus’
The spring-green color of this plant is derived from its long, wispy, and elongated leaves. It resembles an octopus whose legs are waving in the water. Although the plant can withstand low light conditions, its uppermost leaves can develop a striking purple color under higher lighting. It grows quickly and tall, just like most stem plants. This makes it a great background plant.
To plant Pogostemon Stellatus, take the rock wool stems out of the pot and place them in the substrate as deep as you can to keep them from being uprooted. Use Easy Green all in one liquid fertilizer to give your Pogostemon stellatus all the nutrients it needs to thrive. Once the tips of the stems reach the water surface, cut off the top 6 inches (15 cm) or more and propagate them by replanting the trimmings in the substrate. Once you have cultivated a dense forest of Pogostemon stellatus, they become the perfect hiding place for nano fish and baby fry.
5. Anubias nangi
Anubias plants are well known in aquarium hobby. Anubias.nangi is a more recent addition to the family. It has long pointed, pointy leaves. This hybrid, which is a cross between A. barteri ‘nana” and A. gilletii ‘nana, typically grows between 6-12 inches (15-30 cm) high and seems to be hardy even compared to other Anubias varieties.
Plant your new anubias by attaching it to driftwood, rock or using super glue gel. Or you can place it in the basket inside an Easy Planter decoration. A. nangi, like most anubias is slow-growing and requires low light. It prefers liquid fertilizers such Easy Green. A healthy anubias plant has a rhizome (or thick horizontal stem) that grows sideways, sprouting bright green leaves that eventually turn a deeper green color over time. A. nangi is a great choice if you have a small aquarium and don’t want it to grow too fast.
Browse our selection of live aquarium plants to get you started on your first or 20th planted aquarium. Check out our reviews and real-life photos of each species. We will take care of your plants if they arrive damaged due to shipping issues.