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. Cory McElroy is our CEO. We asked him about his favorite plants and why he believes everyone should try them.
1. Dwarf Sagittaria
One of Cory’s favorite plants has always been vallisneria, but because it can grow up to 4-6 feet (1-2 m) long, it is more suitable 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. Dwarf sagittaria enjoys feeding from its roots, so make sure to provide it with nutrient-rich planted tank substrate or Easy Root Tabs as fertilizer.
Usually dwarf sagittaria is grown emersed (with its leaves out of water) at plant farms, so the plant you order may have round, wide leaves that don’t look like the website pictures. Not to worry – just remove the plant from the plastic pot and plant the roots in the substrate, making sure not to cover the base of the plant’s leaves. The long, emersed, leaves will soon fall off and be replaced by shorter, skinnier, and submerged (or underwater) ones. A second way to plant dwarf Sagittaria is to place the entire plastic basket in an Easy Planter decoration. The root tab can be stuck inside 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
You are looking for a stunning centerpiece plant that will wow all who visit your home? The dwarf aquarium villi is a bulb that quickly grows with bright red leaves and lily pads. 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. The bulb should be rinsed off and placed on top of the soil. It may initially float, so let the bulb soak in the water until it 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. Once the plant becomes large and firmly rooted, make sure to provide plenty of Easy Root tabs or nutrient-rich substrate to keep the lily well-fed. Our care guide for dwarf aquarium lilies contains detailed information.
3. Cryptocoryne Wendtii
The Cryptocoryne genus (or “crypt” for short) is very popular because of its low light requirements, as well as its slow and steady growth that doesn’t require much pruning. Crypt wendtii is one of our best-selling species because of the crinkly leaves and many color variations, including reddish-brown, green, and even pink. It usually grows to 6-8 inches (15-20cm) tall, so depending on the aquarium size, many people use it for a midground plant. Bury the roots while leaving the crown (or base of the leaves) above the ground. 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 is a perfect background plant because it grows fast and tall like most stem plants.
To plant your Pogostemon stellatus, remove the stems from the pot of rock wool and insert them as deeply as possible into the substrate to prevent them from getting uprooted. Dose the water with Easy Green all-in-one liquid fertilizer to provide all the nutrients they need to grow well. When the stem tips reach the water surface cut the top 6 inches (15cm) and then propagate them by replanting any 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 the aquarium hobby, but Anubias nangi is a newer addition to the family that features elongated, 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. Like most anubias, A. nangi is a great low light, slow-growing plant that prefers to consume liquid fertilizers such as Easy Green. An anubias plant that is healthy has a thick horizontal stem called a “rhizome” that grows sideways. It eventually sprouts bright green leaves and then turns a darker green color. A. nangi is a great choice if you have a small aquarium and don’t want it to grow too fast.
To get started with your first (or 20th) planted aquarium, browse our selection of live aquarium plants. See real-life images submitted by customers and read reviews about each species. You can also contact us if your plants arrive damaged because of shipping.