Top 10 Aquarium Plants for Breeding Fish and Raising Fry
If you plan on breeding fish and want to increase the survival rate and growth of the babies, we love using live aquarium plants. They are beautiful and can be used as spawning grounds for parents to lay eggs. They need to be fed daily once the babies hatch. The plants also help grow microfauna so the fry can graze. They also purify the water by absorbing the toxic waste chemicals produced by the fish, and the thick jungle of leaves are perfect hiding spots for the young to escape from hungry adults. We have listed the top 10 dense, fluffy plants that fish breeders love to raise their fry.
1. Java Moss
A pair of pygmy Corydoras, resting on Java moss (Taxiphyllum Barbieri).
The best mosses are java and christmas moss. This is because they provide a good cover for baby fish, shrimp and other small animals. Mosses are great for fish that have a tendency to scatter their eggs. The eggs can stick to the little tendrils of the mosses and the branches of their stems hide them from predators. Java moss is a must-try for beginners because it’s so easy to grow, has low light demands, and does not require substrate. You can attach it to a wire grid to make it look like a deep, fuzzy green carpet. Or wrap it around driftwood to give it a natural aged look. Just add a little Easy Green all-in-one fertilizer to keep it growing well.
2. Pogostemon stellatus ‘octopus’
Pogostemon stellatus ‘octopus’ is a fast-growing stem plant that can easily fill up your tank if given enough nutrients and low to medium lighting. Because of its wispy, long leaves and bright green branches, the name “octopus”, is a variation. Tentacle-like leaves can become dense over time, blocking out larger predators and creating small spaces between them.
This plant was originally grown in water (or emersed) at a farm to speed up production. It may have wider leaves than usual when it first arrives. These emersed-grown plants will eventually turn brown and will produce new, thinner leaves that can be submerged underwater. Once plants arrive at our facility we begin the process for converting them back to their submerged state. If your Pogostemon stellatus is still half-converted when you get it, you can speed up the conversion process by floating the plant up at the surface at first to give it greater access to light and carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air.
3. Water Sprite
Water sprite, another fast-growing stem plants, is great at absorbing excess nutrients to clean the water for fish. It also helps prevent algae growth. When planted in the ground, it forms a tall, bushy mound with fine, lacy leaves for small fish and shrimp to seek shelter. As a floating plant, its leaves grow wider and have rounded tips. It also grows thick roots to provide shelter for their babies and eggs. Like most stem plants, it prefers feeding from the water column and enjoys liquid fertilizers like Easy Green.
4. Guppy Grass
This species comes from North and South America. While it can be planted in the substrate, many hobbyists grow it as a giant, floating mass of plant matter. Because the stems produce tightly spaced, short, narrow leaves interlocking with each other, guppy grass is almost impossible to penetrate by adult fish. The branches break apart and propagate quite easily, but that also makes the plant harder to ship and not as suitable for high flow tanks.
5. Mayaca fluviatilis
If you’re looking for a unique plant that will provide interesting textures in your planted aquarium, you have to try Mayaca fluviatilis. This South American species looks almost like a pipe cleaner. It has small, fine leaves that grow all along the stem. In fact, its fuzzy-looking leaves are reminiscent of mosses, which is why it has the common name “stream bogmoss.” While it is easy to care for, it does prefer medium lighting and liquid fertilizer to grow well. Once established, the stream bogmoss grows fairly quickly and will provide a lush hiding spot for both baby fish and shrimp.
Vallisneria or val is an easy way to cover your entire aquarium in greenery. This background plant looks like a tall field of grass and can grow so high that it drapes over the top of the water, making a protective covering for fish to feel secure. This plant is easy to care for, requires little light, and can spread quickly. Vallisneria propagates by sending out runners that each produce a baby plant at the end, and the plantlets eventually grow large enough to send out their own runners. Once the val has spread all over the world and is well-established it is strong enough to withstand the nibbling by fish like African goldfish and cichlids.
7. Tripartita Hydrocotyle ‘Japan’
This unusual plant is loved for its small, clover-shaped, and its ability to spread its stringy stems along substrate and hardscape, much in the same way as creeping ivy. It has the versatility to be used either in the foreground as ground cover or draped across driftwood. This species, unlike others on the list, thrives in moderate to high levels of light and would benefit from CO2 injection. Hydrocotyle tripartite “Japan” has a compact and bushier growth pattern that is ideal for hiding tiny shrimp and baby fish in a high-tech planted aquarium. Replant the plants in the ground and trim any branches that grow too high for propagation.
8. Bolbitis Fern
The bolbitis, or the African waterfern, is one of the most popular epiphyte species in the aquarium hobby. Its large, textured, fronds make it one of the denser plants. While it is slower growing than most stem plants, a mature bolbitis can develop into a massive, emerald green shrub that easily conceals many small fish from view. This resilient plant does fine in waters with higher pH and GH and can be used in African cichlid, goldfish, and even monster fish tanks. Bolbitis has a horizontal, branch-like rhizome that should not be covered up, so do not bury it in the ground. Attach it to driftwood or rocks with super glue gel, or use sewing thread. Our quick guide to planting epiphytes and other types of plants provides more information.
9. Pearl Weed
The bright green stem plant pearl weed looks similar to baby tears. However, its longer, more oval-shaped leaves make it stand out. Its small leaves and unkempt growth can serve to form a thick jungle for little creatures to reside within. We recommend that you leave the delicate stems of the pearl weed in its rock wool and dig a hole large enough to accommodate the entire pot in the substrate. The delicate roots of the pearlweed can be left intact, while the plant transforms into its submerged underwater form. This species thrives under moderate to high lighting. It can grow all the way up to the surface so it can be used as a background or midground plant.
Floating plants with long, shaggy roots are excellent for concealing eggs, newborn fish, and other small creatures. Amazon frogbits are a favourite because of their small, round green leaves that look almost like miniature lily pad. Their roots can reach down to the substrate, creating an upside-down forest look. The frogbit propagates through runners and can easily be removed in large clumps.
As an alternative, dwarf water lettuce is another similar floating plant that is often used by breeders because of its extensive root system. Floating plants are fast growing and can absorb harmful nitrogen chemicals from water. However, make sure not to let them cover the entire water surface or else they may out-shade the plants below and reduce the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water.
All of these plants are great at increasing the survival rate of fry and will help you be more successful with your next breeding project. For more tips and tricks on spawning fish and raising fry, browse our collection of breeding articles.