10 Best Plants for a Freshwater Aquirium 2019 [Beginner Friendly]

10 Best Plants for a Freshwater Aquirium 2019 [Beginner Friendly]

We all have heard the rumors, that keeping freshwater plants in your aquarium is a herculean task to achieve. Do not fear it is actually rather easy, well, once you get your head around it.

Freshwater aquatic plants can be split into three different types, depending on the position they best grow in, and where they look good too. These are…

  • The foreground plants
  • The Midground plants
  •  The background plants

For a beautiful aquascape, the plants you choose should fit the aquarium like a nice designer suit. For example, you could have a lush green carpet in the foreground, for the midground add a bit more height and color and then for the background, add some bushy foliage.

The background is the part where the big plants should grow.

Let’s jump into the tank and look at my top 10 best plants for a freshwater aquarium. These are all low maintenance and great for beginners…

Beautiful Aquarium Fish With Freshwater Plants

#1 Java Moss

If you are looking for the best foreground for your first planted aquarium then look no further than Jave Moss. It will fit snuggly into most aquariums and will thrive in almost any sort of environment.

At first glance, you might think… that’s a weed!

Even though it does grow like one, it really is the perfect addition to any tank. To keep the moss thriving all you need is a consistent temperature, decent water quality, and frequent water changes.

If you have fish you will be doing this anyway.

As it starts to grow you will need to keep a close watch. If you take your eyes off it for too long it will become overgrown in no time. So remember to trim back occasionally.

Java moss might not look much but it is resilient and can survive nearly anywhere. If this is your first time with live plants moss will be very forgiving while you learn the ropes.

#2 Dwarf baby tears

Dwarf Baby Tears is a beautiful addition to any planted aquarium. Before I knew what these were I had seen videos and images of this beautiful green leafy carpet in some tanks.

It looks stunning!

After a little research, I realized that this was Baby Dwarf Tears. They are so flexible and give you infinite aquascaping possibilities. From having a leafy green carpet or just covering a little portion of the tank.

If you are wanting to grow that carpet effect then high light is key. These plants can survive in lower light conditions but they will not give you the carpet effect.

Co2 is another thing to consider.

You need to add this using a Co2 Injection system. Again the plant will survive but it will take longer to grow. Dwarf baby tears are already slow growing, without Co2 it’s even longer.

When it comes to substrate you need a nutrient dense soil for best results. If you are using something that doesn’t provide nutrients you will need to add these yourself.

Read More: What Is The Best Substrate For Planted Tanks

Before you rush out to get yourself some lush carpeting you need to consider the temperature of your tank. For this plant to thrive you need to keep your tank at a consistent temperature around 75 degrees Fahrenheit or below.

Dwarf Baby Tears are hardy but Goldfish and Cichlids will destroy it. If you keep these fish I would steer clear from this one.

#3 Water Wisteria

If you are looking for a plant that will grow fast then look no further than water wisteria. It is by far the fastest growing plant, it is also easy to look after and care for too.

It will thrive in the most simple setups. If you do have high light and a CO2 injection system then you are going to speed up the growth. Even without this Water Wisteria is still going to grow pretty quickly.

If you are keeping fish then your tank temperature will probably suit this plant. You should aim to keep your temperature around 75-82 degrees Fahrenheit to help it thrive.

For pH aim around 6.5 to 7.5 and make sure it’s consistent.

One thing to note with this one is that it is going to consume a lot of nitrogen because it grows so fast. If you notice any yellowing in leaves then consider supplementing magnesium and iron.

#4 Anubias

Anubias is an extremely popular plant in the aquarium hobby and is great for the mid-ground or the foreground of your aquascape. If you want a low maintenance plant then this one is great.

It doesn’t require any fancy lights, it doesn’t need a lot of nutrients and it doesn’t need any fancy substrate. Just make sure you have the basics and Anubias will do well.

For tanks with fish, this is the all-rounder. Anubias is a really hardy plant, it is the Godzilla of the aquatic plant world. Fish like goldfish and cichlids have met there match with this one. They can destroy a lot of plants but Anubias will stay strong.

The only fish that will cause concern are the ones with sharp teeth like puffers.

#4 Amazon Sword Plant

Next is a great broadleaf midground plant that is super easy to keep. It’s the Amazon sword plant. Just be warned it can get pretty big but if you want to fill out say a 20-gallon tank add this and watch it fill it out.

When it comes to light you do not need any fancy bright lights. This plant will do great in low light. Remember that if you do have a bright light it will speed up the growth of your Sword Plant.

If you do have a plant in your tank that needs bright light you need to pay close attention. Sword plants grow big and it may block the light to smaller plants. If you see this happening just trim it back.

This luscious green plant will thrive in temperatures between 72 and 82 degrees Farenhight.

#5 Ludwigia

Do you want to add some color to your fish tank, then Ludwigia is the perfect plant to do so. Not to mention it is super easy to look after and beautiful to watch it thrive.

So to add color you want to go with something like the Ludwigia Repens which adds a beautiful red texture to your aquarium. If your wanting to add greenery then other plants on this list will look heaps better.

If you want pure red no green then the Ludwigia Palustris.

One thing that comes with adding Ludwig palustris is the need for Iron. Make sure that you can provide this either by choosing an iron-rich substrate or dose it with an iron fertilizer.

SeaChem Flourite is rich in iron and a really good choice when it comes to substrate.

Ludwigia is a plant that responds well to moderate lighting. If you have a low light tank it will survive but growth will be a lot slower and you will have to be patient with it.

If you have a brighter tank monitor how long your light is on for. In high light, algae could become a big problem so remember to switch the light off.

The key with Ludwigia is patience.

#6 Jungle Val

We are sticking with the low maintenance plants with this one. Introducing Jungle Val. This is a great plant that will thrive amazingly in most setups. If you are new to keeping plants then it’s perfect.

It doesn’t need any fancy lighting or nutrients. So with a gravel substrate and some fish, you will have a lovely bunch of Jungle Val. It will be satisfied with the nutrients from your fish waste.

Now it is more of a background plant due to its size. Jungle Val will grow pretty big, if you have a small tank this reed-like plant will probably take over.

When you get this plant do not worry if your roots are black. If it appears healthy it probably is. According to Jacobs Aquariums, the roots grow the same color as the substrate they are grown. If you notice roots are falling off and it looks unhealthy then you should be a bit more concerned

Image showing roots of a healthy jungle val

Image courtesy of Jacobs Aquarium – Healthy Jungle Val Roots

When it comes to fish this plant is pretty hardy. If you have a pretty strong fish that likes to dig I would avoid Jungle Val. So I would rule out cichlids. Nippy fish should be ok with Jungle Val, so it may be ok with Goldfish.

#7 Green Cabomba

This is one of my favorites I love the green fan look it provides to any tank. Try planting it around rocks to create a stunning focal point. It’s fairly easy to care for and maintain too.

With most plants, light can help with their growth. Green Cabomba is no different, it will thrive in tanks that provide 2-3 watts of light per gallon. So if you can provide moderate light you should have no problem.

This plant needs light so you will see best results by keeping it in light areas of your tank. Another point to note when it comes to placing is the flow of water around it. Keep out the way of the filter as it needs to be kept in a low flow area of your tank.

As for the water parameters, the main thing is consistency. For your pH it thrives around 6=7.5 and a temperature of 72-82 degrees Fahrenheit.

Green Cabomba will do better if you use a Co2 system but can survive without. If you notice the leaves falling off that can be a sign of a Co2 deficiency.

Choosing a nutrient dense substrate like ADA Aqua Soil Amazonia will supply the nutrients this plant requires. I would also recommend nutrient dosing too.

The last thing to mention is around breeding fish. This plant is awesome for fry protection. So if you like to breed your fish then this is definitely a plant to consider.

#8 Java Fern

This is a staple plant and is recommended to most beginners. It has beautiful long and narrow green leaves that create a stunning focal feature for your tank. Not to mention it is super easy to take care of.

This plant will thrive in so many different conditions which makes it a perfect starter plant. You do not need any fancy lighting or Co2 systems, these may help but are by no means necessary.

Java fern is very similar to Anubis. It has a rhizome which you shouldn’t submerge. This is where the roots sprout from, you should bury the roots but leave the rhizome exposed.

In my opinion, I would much rather attach the rhizome to rocks or driftwood. This plant is great for the midground or foreground so attach to the back of a rock for a lovely aquascape.

If you notice brown leaves it is best to trim them straight away. These leaves are past their best. If you cut them all the nutrients can go straight to the healthy green leaves.

If you want a more exciting design rather than the long narrow finger-like leaves you can try Java Fern Windelov. This variety has little lace-like leaves at the top the narrow leaves.

#9 Cryptocoryne

This plant has been around in the hobby for a very long time and there are so many hybridizations of it. If you want to add more different colors than just green then you have the choice as Crypts (Cryptocoryne) comes in a brown and red color too.

They can grow pretty large so you will need to be vigilant when it comes to trimming it back.

If you don’t it will take over.

For a good growth of this species, you should try and provide low to moderate light. This is what makes it perfect if you haven’t kept a plant before. You don’t need fancy bright lights.

A good nutrient dense soil would help this species to thrive too.

When it comes to planting you need to keep the crown above the substrate. Some beginners try and bury this and then they end up with dead cryptocoryne.

If you have planted correct and you notice your plant melting do not worry. This is common with this one. New plants will sprout you just have to be patient.

#10 Anacharis

Anacharis is next on the list. It is a lovely thin green plant with lush narrow green leaves. If you want a floating plant Anacharis will work but it can also be submerged in the substrate too.

Anacharis looks great when kept to back and sides but you could make it a focal point.

When it comes to lighting you want to try and provide moderate light at about 2 watts per gallon. It will survive lower than this but you will get optimal growth with moderate light.

As for substrate ADA AquaSoil Amazonia would be my choice. This will provide plenty of nutrients if you have submerged it in the substrate. Just remember if you have an established tank you will need to cycle the soil in a separate tank. When you first add water to ADA AquaSoil it leaks ammonia.

This plant can do well in cold water so the temperature range is pretty large. You will get a better growth if you keep the temperature around 59-82 degrees Fahrenheit.

Angelfish in a stunning tank with the best plants for a freshwater aquarium

So What Really Are The Best Plants For A Freshwater Aquarium

So there you have it 10 easy, low maintenance and beginner friendly plants that you can find in most fish stores. Like I have mentioned throughout the post investing in decent lighting and a CO2 system will help growth and speed it up too.

However, in most cases is not required but it may slow things down. Not a bad thing you just need more patience.

If you are just getting into keeping live plants then start with the Java Fern it is super easy to plant and maintain. If you have goldfish it should be safe but be warned they will nibble at it.

The key when it comes to plants is to do your research.

If you have kept any of these I would love to know how you have got on. Tell me about your experience with plants in the comments.






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