9 Best Freshwater Aquarium Plants – Detailed Caring Guide

Freshwater Aquarium Plants

Plants can be a mesmerizing addition to your aquarium. Moreover, these are a great source of food and safety for the fishes. They provide natural habitat to the fishes as well.

The best freshwater aquarium plants help in establishing natural ecosystem by absorbing the carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. This way, aquarium stays clean and sanitized.  

However, just like any other plants, these also require a lot of care and maintenance. If you are new to the aquarium plants then keep going and discover some of the best choices and how to take best care of these plants.

9 Best Freshwater Aquarium Plants

Here in this freshwater aquarium plant review, we will recommend some of the greatest aquatic plants:

1. Java Moss

Java Moss
  • Water Temperature: 70° – 75° F 
  • Lighting: Moderate

Java Moss is most popular among novices that want to install aquarium plant. One of the best things is that this can grow in all kind of surfaces such as driftwood, rock and other surfaces.

Plus, it grows close to the glass and create a striking look. You can attach it to the ornament presents in the aquarium tanks. Also, this plant is best known to float. Thus, you have to append it to an element that can prevent it from floating.

The light requirement of this plant is moderate. In case of intense lighting, adverse effects can appear on the plant. This can also expose the foliage to green algae.

It appears great in the aquarium due to the fuzzy look and can best survive in 70° – 75° F. However, it can also endure the temperature up to 90° F.


  • Great for aquarium appeal
  • Suitable for beginners
  • Require low to moderate light thus saving money on high-density bulbs
  • Grows in different kind of surfaces


  • Lightweight and floats if not attached to something solid

Buy on Amazon: Aquatic Arts Java Moss

2. Amazon Sword 

Amazon Sword
  • Water Temperature: 72° – 82° F 
  • Lighting: Low

The beginners usually aim for low priced aquarium plants because they don’t know a lot about the foliage. Well, Amazon sword is the best freshwater aquarium plant for beginners due to its less cost and meagre maintenance requirement.

It has been rightly suggested from its name as this grows like a sword and usually surpasses the water level of the aquarium.

The lighting requirement here is quite low and so is the nutrition requirement of the plant. The growth is rapid. The plant is grown in the regions of South and Central America. However, it is widely available throughout the nation.

Right temperature for the plant is 72° – 82° F. The only drawback is that it can grow tall up to 20 inches. So, some people don’t prefer it because of the large height. This is especially not suggested for small aquariums.


  • Available at an affordable price
  • Does not require a lot of maintenance
  • Easily available in the market
  • Can survive best in low light


  • Grows quite tall up to the height of 20 inches
  • Not recommended for small aquariums

3. Java Fern

Java Fern
  • Water Temperature: 68° – 82° F 
  • Lighting: Low

There is quite vivid selection of plants for the beginners, Java Fern being yet another incredible choice to make.

The plant can thrive in low light and you can easily conceal the roots with ornaments or rocks. However, you have to be extra cautious while covering the roots and ensure that rhizomes are not buried.

This serves as one of the best hiding spots for the fish and the view of this plant is spectacular. It can thrive in water temperature of 68° – 82° F and does not call for a lot of maintenance.

The leaves of the plant releases spores that further helps in propagating. The spores float freely in the water and finally attach themselves to something and then they grow even faster.

Another great thing is that these plants are not too expensive and available in varied sizes. Also, they don’t need any specific substrate or liquid fertilizer for likely growth.


  • Not too expensive
  • Does not require a lot of maintenance
  • Grows in any kind of substrate
  • Available in different sizes for all kind of aquariums


  • Covering the roots should be done very carefully or it will ruin the plant growth

Buy on Amazon: Aquatic Arts Java Fern

4. Anubias Nana

Anubias Nana
  • Water Temperature: 72° – 78° F 
  • Lighting: Moderate

The Anubias Nana is also one of the least demanding plants in our list. These can grow in moderate lighting and requires 72° – 78° F temperature.

These are quite small in size and mostly recommended for smaller aquariums. However, a series of this foliage can give striking appeal to larger aquariums as well.

The plant tends to be a perfect hiding place for smaller fishes. The growth of the plant is rather slow and you need to keep the bottom of the plant above the substrate.  

This one requires less nutrients and fluid fertilizers thus reducing the cost on maintenance. However, the price of the plant is on the high side and it is also not as easily accessible.  

One of the biggest advantages of this plant is that it does not require trimming or pruning at all.


  • Require less nutrients
  • Does not need a lot of maintenance
  • Does not require pruning or trimming


  • Available at high cost
  • Not easily available in the market
  • Slow growth of the plant

5. Cabomba Carolina 

Cabomba Carolina
  • Water Temperature: 72° – 82° F 
  • Lighting: Moderate

The feature-like look of the plant is great to create lush green ambience inside the aquarium. The leaves are divided in narrow segments.

This is a densely growing plant that pretty much covers the entire aquarium while diminishing the need to install any other plant.

The temperature requirement of this plant is quite neutral and it requires moderate lighting. You don’t need to install full-spectrum lights for photosynthesis of Cabomba Carolina.

It requires the water pH level of 6.5 – 7.5 for healthy growth. In case of unlikely water conditions, the leaves release droppings which is a clear sign of poor water.

You can easily propagate the plant by trimming its branches and reinstalling them in the aquarium. It is a decently priced plant however not suitable for smaller aquariums.


  • Suitably priced
  • Easy to propagate
  • Dense growth for appealing look


  • Not suitable for smaller aquariums

Buy on Amazon: Cabomba Caroliniana

6. Micro Sword

Micro Sword
  • Water Temperature: 72° – 83° F 
  • Lighting: Moderate

Well, very clearly from its name, this is yet another plant available in the shape of swords. However, this is smaller in size and suitable for all kind of aquariums.

Because the maintenance of the plant is really less and it is available at a low price, this one is quite popular among the beginners.

It has long grass like leaves which makes a perfect foreground plant. Since it is amphibious species, it can grow either fully submerged or partially.

The water temperature needed is 72° – 83° F and it require moderate lighting conditions for perfect growth.

The plant grows really fast and rapidly cover the tank bottom. It requires neutral pH level of the water and soft substrate with rich amount of fertilizers.


  • The growth is quite fast
  • Suitable with moderate light conditions
  • Less in price
  • Grows in neutral pH level of the water


  • You may have to spend money on fertilizers

7. Hornwort

  • Lighting: Low

Well, if you don’t possess any special knowledge on aquatic plants then this one will be quite suitable for your needs. It is an easy plant that does not need any extreme knowledge or care.

It grows in neutral water temperature and require low light for growth. However, presence of more light will only help in increasing the density of the foliage.

It is a floating plant and does not have roots. But you may have to tie it to the rock or ornament to keep it study and appended to the bottom.

It grows using water pollutants and thus keep the water inside the aquarium clean and sanitized. This is a great purchase for all kind of buyers.

The growth is quite fast which may require pruning and trimming. It can exceed the water surface level quite soon.


  • Easy to maintain
  • Keep the water sanitized
  • Does not require any fertilizers for growth
  • Fancy looking plant


  • Grows really fast and require frequent trimming
  • Not suitable for smaller aquariums

8. Dwarf Lilies

Dwarf Lilies
  • Water Temperature: 70° – 85° F    
  • Lighting: Low

The dwarf lilies are only recommended for the people that are willing to take extra care of the plant. These are relatively delicate and quite liked by the shrimp.

But at the same time, these can be easily damaged so we don’t encourage its purchase if there is a lot of shrimp in the tank.

The stems are easily breakable so growing the young lilies is not recommended. As much as you like having these in the tank, the maintenance required by them can be a deal breaker for many. Also, these don’t have the ability to reproduce.


  • Have the most enchanting look
  • Great in neutral water conditions
  • Easily available


  • Require a lot of care
  • Get easily damaged
  • Does not reproduce

9. Cryptocorynes 

  • Water Temperature: 72° – 82° F   
  • Lighting: Moderate

Cryptocorynes is quite commonly available and vary in sizes, colours and shape. These are also very popular with shrimps.

The plant is suitable for advanced aquarists that are willing to take extra care because these have complex roots. The lighting requirement by the plant is low to moderate.

The roots should be inside the bottom at least 2 inches below. You have to be extra careful with this process to ensure best growth of the plant.

These are vulnerable plants so have to be very cautious with these. When there is sudden change in the water temperature or pH level, it tends to shed its leaves. However, its not a lethal plant and won’t harm the fishes.


  • Available in variable sizes and shapes
  • Suitable for all kind of aquariums
  • Friendly with the fishes
  • Quite brilliant and stunning in looks


  • Requires a lot of care
  • Does not entertain change in water and reacts badly

How to Care for Freshwater Aquarium Plant

How to Care for Freshwater Aquarium Plants

Well, aquatic plants require great care. While some plants will need a lot of knowledge about the care and maintenance, others are easy to handle and suitable for the novice aquarists.

Here in this freshwater aquarium plant review, we will share some great care tips that will help in maintaining the plants.  

1. Choose the Right Plants

First and foremost, the mantra of best care is to know all about the plant. You should not indulge yourself with an extremely complicated foliage. Some of the essential tips are shared below:

  • You should also must make sure that the plant you are buying is confirmed as water plant because it will be completely submerged in the water.
  • Most of the best aquatic plants require pH level of 7 or 7.2. there are some that require high alkaline and acidic level. Make sure that the water condition in your aquarium are likely to these plants.
  • Also, make sure that fishes in your aquarium tank are compatible with certain kind of plants. Some fishes dig and eat up the foliage.

2. Substrate

Substrate is the material used at the bottom of the aquarium. It is the base or root material of aquarium plants.

This material is used to anchor the roots of the plants. The foliage grows in most types of substrate. In this there is 2-3 inches of laterite with an inch of gravel.

You can also keep the plants in the pot in which you bought it. However, this will hamper the look of the aquarium. The substrate will give more pleasant appeal to the aquarium. Also, these are more conducive for root development.

3. Light

Plants need proper light to survive. If there is scarcity of light then the growth of the plant is hindered. Light is required for photosynthesis in plants which in result produces oxygen for the aquarium fishes.

For efficient lighting in the aquarium, you need full-spectrum fluorescent lights. You have to ensure that plants are getting at least 10 – 12 hours of constant light.

Since the fluorescent light bulbs require changing, make sure to do so every 12 months. In this course of time, the intensity of light lessens. In case of less light or unavailability of full-spectrum, it will be difficult for the plants to thrive.  

4. Fertilizers

Plant growth can be enhanced by using the right fertilizers. For this, you can add fish-safe fertilizers that are rich in iron.

You should find the slow-release fertilizers that are compatible with certain kind of plant. But, make sure not to buy phosphate-based fertilizers as it will cause algae.  

5. Practice Right Skills

There are some plants that require pruning. They mostly grow above the surface of water if you don’t prune them periodically. This way, they restrict the light as well.

As you follow the right planting skills for best live plant for aquarium, make sure to remove all the dead components and dying plants too. The water quality will be hampered if there is presence of any decomposing substances in the water.


We have mentioned some of the greatest options for the beginners as well as experienced aquarists. The best freshwater aquarium plants are the ones that can grow in all kind of substrate, does not require a lot of maintenance, and are readily available in the market.

From the selection of options given above, you can pick plants as per your choice. We close our article by saying that your aquarium pets require pleasant ambience and sea-like environment to feel fresh and good.

This can be done with a combination of compatible and great aquatic plants. Find the great suggestions above and make your purchases!


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