Easy Aquarium Plants for Beginners


Easy Aquarium Plants for Beginners

Ever glance over at your freshwater fish tank, noticing it looks as barren as my sense of regret after devouring an entire pizza? Yep, that's because your aquatic pad lacks some green dazzle. It’s like watching a movie without popcorn. Good, but could be so much better.

Without beginner or aquarium water and plants, your fish tank's missing:

  • Natural playgrounds for those finned buddies.
  • Oxygen boosts that plants magically whip up.
  • That cool, underwater jungle vibe that gets all the "oohs" and "aahs."
  • Floating plants that let your fish feel comfortable and take cover! 

Now, imagine your fish giving you that sarcastic slow clap because their home's as thrilling as toast without butter. They’re practically flapping Morse code for "More plants, please!"

Fear not... We’re about to dive deep into the world of beginner aquarium plants, bringing life, vibrance, and the envy of every fish owner on the block. From the lush elegance of Java Moss to the timeless charm of Amazon Swords.

We've curated the perfect list to green up your game.

So, hold onto your snorkels, folks. It's time to give your fish the underwater wonderland they've been dreaming of. Because trust me, happy fish make for a splashingly good time 🌿🐠


Introduction to Freshwater Aquarium Plants

There's nothing quite like the natural serenity of an aquatic world inside your living room. At the heart of this world? Freshwater aquarium plants. The importance of aquatic plants live aquarium in is manifold – from oxygenating water to creating cozy hiding spots for baby fish.

Quick Rundown:

  1. Java Fern
  2. Vallisneria
  3. Amazon Sword
  4. Java Moss
  5. Monte Carlo
  6. Dwarf Sagittaria
  7. Christmas Moss
  8. Micro Amazon Swords
  9. Dwarf Baby Tears
  10. Anubias Nana
  11. Dwarf Hairgrass

NOTE: aquarium plants enhance the overall health of the fish tank environment, making it a win-win for your fish and the aesthetics of your aquarium.


Top-Rated Aquarium Plants of 2024

To help you narrow down your choices, we have compiled a list of Top 11 Aquarium Plants for Beginners based on customer reviews, ratings, and expert opinions;

In a hurry? I recommend Java Fern


Top 11 Freshwater Aquarium Plants

Java Fern – Ideal for low-tech tanks


Hailing from the serene freshwater streams of Southeast Asia, the Java Fern is a staple in many planted tanks, mainly because of its hard-to-kill nature. The verdant green leaves of the Java Fern create a serene backdrop, offering a visual feast for aquarists and a haven for small critters.

No need to bury this gem in the substrate; it prefers to attach itself to driftwood and rocks. Since it draws nutrients directly from the water via its leaves, the Java Fern is quite the independent aquatic feature. For those stepping into the aquascaping world, Java Fern is a welcoming and forgiving start.

It thrives in a temperature range of 68°F to 82°F.

  • Scientific Name: Microsorum pteropus
  • Origin: Southeast Asia
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Growth Rate: Slow to Moderate
  • Lighting: Low to Medium light
  • CO2 Requirement: Not necessary
  • Why to Buy: Nearly indestructible and adaptable, Java Fern is perfect for hobbyists who are just starting out or those with low-tech tanks.
  • Facts: They propagate by producing baby plants on the edges of older leaves.

Review -⭐⭐⭐⭐

"I was skeptical about introducing plants to my tank, but the Java Fern was a game-changer! Its low maintenance nature and lush green appeal have turned my plain aquarium into an aquatic paradise. My fish seem to love it too!"

Vallisneria – Perfect as a background


Like the tall grasses that sway on a breezy meadow, Vallisneria brings a unique and dynamic beauty to any fish tank. Native to tropical and subtropical regions, it's known to create a dense underwater forest, sheltering many aquarium inhabitants.

This plant is versatile, and while it revels in medium light and a nutrient-rich substrate, it's not overly picky. Vallisneria can transform your aquarium into an evergreen marine meadow, especially when nurtured in temperatures between 68°F to 82°F.

  • Scientific Name: Vallisneria americana
  • Origin: Worldwide
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • Lighting: Low to High light
  • CO2 Requirement: Not necessary
  • Why to Buy: Its fast growth helps in combatting algae and providing a natural curtain in your tank.
  • Facts: Also known as “eelgrass,” Vallisneria can produce runners that help it spread quickly in your tank.

Review - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

"I'm in awe of how tall and majestic the Vallisneria grows, creating a beautiful backdrop for my own tank water well. They sway gently with the filter current, creating a soothing visual. Lost a star because they spread a bit too fast for my liking."

Amazon Sword – Rooted foliage made simple


From the Amazon River basin, the Amazon Sword is a showstopper. Its large, broad leaves stretch wide and tall, making a statement in any fish tank. For aquascapers looking to replicate the feel of a freshwater basin or pond, this plant is indispensable.

Though it's a centerpiece, it's not high-maintenance; the Amazon Sword is comfortable in a wide range of water parameters. However, a nutrient-rich substrate can make it truly flourish.

It enjoys temperatures from 72°F to 82°F.

  • Scientific Name: Echinodorus grisebachii
  • Origin: South America
  • Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Lighting: Medium light
  • CO2 Requirement: Beneficial but not mandatory
  • Why to Buy: Amazon Swords are great for filling up space and creating a focal point in larger tanks.
  • Facts: They can grow up to 20 inches or more, making them one of the larger aquatic plants available.

Review - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

"Bought the Amazon Sword for my mid-sized tank, and it's been an absolute centerpiece! Its bold, broad leaves are a favorite hiding spot for my baby fish. Highly recommend for an instant natural look."

Java Moss – Easy moss cover for tanks


The Java Moss, much like its fern namesake, is an Asian treasure. Perfect for creating lush green carpets or wall tapestries, its versatility is unmatched. Java Moss doesn't fuss about its substrate. Instead, it drapes over surfaces, feeding directly from the water column. It's the best friend of beginner aquarists, shrimp breeders, and baby fish seeking refuge.

This moss revels in a variety of lighting conditions and water temperatures ranging from 59°F to 86°F.

  • Scientific Name: Vesicularia dubyana
  • Origin: Southeast Asia
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Lighting: Low to Medium light
  • CO2 Requirement: Not necessary
  • Why to Buy: This moss acts as a great hideout for baby fish and shrimps, making it ideal for breeding tanks.
  • Facts: Java Moss doesn’t have roots. Instead, they have rhizoids which latch onto various surfaces.

Review - ⭐⭐⭐⭐

"I’ve always struggled with planting, but Java Moss was a breeze to add to my setup. It's super versatile and has given my driftwood a charming, aged look. Just be prepared for some trimming now and then."

Monte Carlo – Ground cover for aquascapers


Taking its name from the posh district in Monaco, the Monte Carlo plant offers a lush green carpet reminiscent of a well-maintained golf course. Native to Argentina's waterways, this plant is a favorite among aquascapers for its stunning carpeting effect.

While it can adapt to various conditions, it truly shines in medium light. Ensure it's planted in a rich substrate, and watch it transform your aquarium floor. Best kept in temperatures from 68°F to 78°F.

  • Scientific Name: Micranthemum tweediei
  • Origin: South America
  • Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Lighting: Medium light
  • CO2 Requirement: Beneficial but not mandatory
  • Why to Buy: If you're aiming for a lush green carpet look without the high maintenance of some other carpeting plants, Monte Carlo is for you.
  • Facts: Monte Carlo thrives with good lighting and can even grow in low-tech tanks without CO2, although slower.

Review - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

"Monte Carlo transformed my aquarium floor! It's like having a mini underwater lawn. My shrimp can't get enough of it. A must-have for any serious aquascaper!"

Dwarf Sagittaria – Ideal for non-CO2 setups


Imagine a sprawling meadow but underwater. That’s the visual treat Dwarf Sagittaria delivers. This North American native is an impeccable foreground plant, known to spread fast, creating a green carpet in no time. While they’re easy-going, they truly pop under medium lighting.

Given their growth pattern, a nutrient-rich substrate encourages them even further. They find solace in temperatures between 68°F and 82°F.

  • Scientific Name: Sagittaria subulata
  • Origin: America
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • Lighting: Medium light
  • CO2 Requirement: Not necessary
  • Why to Buy: Offers a grassy aesthetic to your tank's foreground without the demand of high lighting.
  • Facts: They shoot out runners in all directions which can quickly cover the aquarium floor.

Review - ⭐⭐⭐⭐

"I didn't expect much when I got the Dwarf Sagittaria, but wow, it's such a gem! Grows relatively quickly and looks so natural. A little goes a long way."

Christmas Moss – Shrimp tanks' best friend


Every day can feel like Christmas with this festive plant gracing your aquarium. Unlike many rooted counterparts, Christmas Moss clings onto driftwood, rocks, or mesh, letting aquarists craft captivating moss walls or carpets.

This shallow-rooted marvel absorbs its nutrients straight from the water, saving you the headache of fretting over substrate types. Christmas Moss is quite adaptable, flourishing in a range of lighting conditions and water parameters.

Still, it's happiest in water temperatures between 65°F and 77°F. If you're keen on draping your tank in holiday cheer throughout the year, Christmas Moss won't disappoint!

  • Scientific Name: Vesicularia montagnei
  • Origin: Southeast Asia
  • Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate
  • Growth Rate: Slow to Moderate
  • Lighting: Low to Medium light
  • CO2 Requirement: Beneficial but not mandatory
  • Why to Buy: Its unique, festive appearance is perfect for aquascapers aiming for a tree or bushy aesthetic.
  • Facts: Christmas Moss is more delicate than Java Moss and needs slightly better conditions to thrive.

Review - ⭐⭐⭐⭐

"Christmas Moss was the finishing touch my aquarium needed. It’s like having a piece of the holiday spirit all year round! Very beginner-friendly, too."

Micro Amazon Swords – Quick-spreading mid-ground flora


A mini version of the iconic Amazon Sword, the Micro Amazon Swords offer the same robustness and beauty but in a more compact form. These are an excellent choice for smaller tanks or for those looking to create layered aquascapes.

Feeding mainly through their roots, a nutrient-laden substrate will make them stand out. They thrive in temperatures ranging from 72°F to 82°F.

  • Scientific Name: Echinodorus quadricostatus
  • Origin: Central and South America
  • Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Lighting: Medium light
  • CO2 Requirement: Beneficial but not mandatory
  • Why to Buy: They provide the beauty of Amazon Swords but are suitable for smaller tanks.
  • Facts: Just like their larger counterpart, Micro Amazon Swords produce runners to propagate.

Review - ⭐⭐⭐⭐

"Perfect for filling in those empty mid-ground spots. The Micro Amazon Swords grow at a decent rate and bring a nice texture to my setup. They do need some trimming occasionally."

Dwarf Baby Tears


The smallest of the bunch, Dwarf Baby Tears, add a layer of intricate beauty to any aquarium. Originating from Cuba, these plants form a dense carpet, making your fish feel like they're floating above a mini forest. Under high light and CO2 injection, they exhibit an ethereal underwater beauty.

With their tiny stature, they thrive best in temperatures between 68°F to 82°F.

  • Scientific Name: Hemianthus callitrichoides
  • Origin: Cuba
  • Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced
  • Growth Rate: Slow
  • Lighting: High light
  • CO2 Requirement: Mandatory
  • Why to Buy: For those looking for a vibrant, dense green carpet and willing to put in the effort, Dwarf Baby Tears are ideal.
  • Facts: They're among the smallest aquatic plants, with each leaf being only a few millimeters wide.

Review - ⭐⭐⭐⭐

"My tank has never looked more lively! Dwarf Baby Tears create a beautiful carpet. They took some time to establish, but the wait was worth it. A favorite among my smaller fish."

Anubias Nana


A West African gem, the Anubias Nana is compact but packed with character. With its thick, dark green leaves, it's a slow grower but incredibly durable. Perfect for shadowy spots or tanks with bigger fish that tend to nibble on more delicate plants. Interestingly, this plant blooms underwater, a rare sight in aquatic setups.

The Anubias Nana is content in a wide range of temperatures but prefers between 72°F and 82°F.

  • Scientific Name: Anubias barteri var. nana
  • Origin: West Africa
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Growth Rate: Slow
  • Lighting: Low to Medium light
  • CO2 Requirement: Not necessary
  • Why to Buy: Great for beginners, they're hardy and can thrive even under suboptimal conditions.
  • Facts: They flower underwater, a rare trait among aquatic plants.

Review - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

"Absolutely in love with Anubias Nana. It's hardy, looks great, and even my notorious plant-eater fish leave it alone. A win-win for all!"

Dwarf Hairgrass


Painting an image of a windswept grassland, Dwarf Hairgrass is the epitome of grace. Native to Europe and North America, when it sways with the water current, it's truly a spectacle. While it's a favorite among aquascapers, it's not finicky.

With medium light and a nutrient-rich substrate, this plant grows lush and dense. It loves temperatures ranging from 50°F to 83°F.

Scientific Name: Eleocharis parvula

Origin: Worldwide

Skill Level: Intermediate

Growth Rate: Moderate

Lighting: Medium to High light

CO2 Requirement: Beneficial but not mandatory

Why to Buy: Perfect for creating a “lawn” in your tank. Their fine, hair-like appearance is captivating when they sway with the water flow.

Facts: They utilize runners to propagate, and with the right conditions, they can cover your tank’s substrate quickly.

Review - ⭐⭐⭐⭐

"Dwarf Hairgrass gave my tank the ‘wild meadow’ look I was going for. It took some time to spread, but it’s absolutely captivating now. My bottom dwellers seem to adore it!"


How to Choose Your Aquarium Plants

Alright, aquatic aficionados, let's chat. Before even thinking about diving into the world of best beginner aquarium plants, you need to become BFFs with your tank environment.

Understanding your tank environment:

Like that perfect pair of jeans, you want plants that fit just right. Do you have a low tech planted tank or a dazzling setup that's more ritzy? Check your light levels: are they akin to a candle-lit dinner (low light tank) or a summer's day (high light)? And don’t forget about the planted tank water's pH and hardness.

Consideration of fish species:

Here’s the deal: your fish and plants have to vibe together. Like that roommate who uses all your shampoo, some fish species love munching on certain plants. You don’t want to introduce a delicacy into a tank full of plant-hungry guppies. Research what’s going to work best for your scaly friends, especially the young fish who are still learning their dining etiquette.

Fish species can be picky dinner guests.

Here’s a shortlist of fish and their plant preferences (or detestations):

1. Guppies – Generally peaceful but might occasionally nibble.

2. Cichlids – A mixed bag. Some species love uprooting other plants too.

3. Goldfish – Love to snack on plants, especially soft ones.

4. Tetras – Peaceful with plants.

5. Betta – Largely indifferent background plants, but enjoy leafy plants to lounge on.

Remember: keep your fish in mind when picking plants, their tastes might surprise you!

Desired aesthetics:

Do you envision a lush, live aquarium plant, or a minimalist zen garden underwater? Your desired aesthetics are the compass guiding your plant choices. Want narrow leaf plants that sway subtly? Or are you more into robust leaf shapes? Dive deep into your inner artist, and let’s get planting!

Visions of your dream aquarium dancing in your head:

1. Amazonian Jungle


2. Serene Zen Garden


3. Coral Castle Kingdom


4. Atlantis Alcove


5. Mystic Mountain Meadows


6. Enchanted Forest Lagoon


7. Neon Nightlife Nook


Note: whether you're aiming for a dense Amazonian jungle or a Serene Zen Garden, your plants need to reflect that theme.


Things to Consider Before Getting Aquarium Plants

Just like deciding on whether or not to wear that one flashy pair of socks, picking the best freshwater aquarium plants is vital for setting the right mood for your finned friends.

First off, background plant choices. Think of them as the epic movie backdrops – they set the scene. They're the tall, majestic ones that, well, stay at the back. But, hey, don’t shove them into a forgotten corner like that high school yearbook photo. They need their moment in the spotlight (not too much light though - unless you fancy an algae fest!).

If you're not sure where to start with selecting the perfect background plants, AquariumClass.com offers a course on 'Easy Aquarium Plants for Beginners' that covers everything you need to know, from the tall and majestic to the short and unassuming.

Let's talk about lights... Plants grow, a fact not lost on anyone, right? But here's the scoop: some like the disco flash, while others prefer a smooth jazz vibe. Too much light can be like that paparazzi flare – no plant wants that, trust me. It can lead to more algae and less of the 'wow, this is my serene oasis' feeling.


Now, for the stars of your show: mid ground plants. They're the charismatic charmers of your watery world, grabbing eyeballs without hogging the limelight. Choosing these is like deciding on the right amount of quirkiness for your daily outfit – enough to get noticed, but not enough to overshadow the background.

Rooted plants? They're like those celebs who stay grounded despite their starry status. They've got roots deep down in the substrate, which means they’re in it for the long haul. To give them that extra oomph, liquid fertilizers are your go-to magic potions. But, just like how a pinch of spice can jazz up a meal, a dash too much can, well, scorch the taste buds. So, be measured!

Ever heard how java moss grows? No? Picture that indie artist who starts in a garage and suddenly takes over the airwaves. This plant, given the right conditions, can give you lush green carpets that’ll make your fish feel like they’re walking the red carpet every day.

Lastly, remember that not all plants are super easy-going. There are those divas, the difficult plants that demand precise care, perfect light, and just the right amount of TLC. But, if you’re up for the challenge, they can be the show-stopping headline act in your underwater performance.


Best Plants Based on Tank Position

Foreground Plants:

Java Moss and Dwarf Baby Tears thrive here, setting the stage for everything else. Think of a few plants these as the opening act, preparing the audience for the main event.

Middle (Mid-ground) Plants:

Here's where the magic happens. The likes of Java Fern, Anubias Nana, Micro Amazon Swords, and Monte Carlo offer depth and intricate patterns. They're the vital link connecting the foreground to the background.

Background Plants:

The tall plants, the guardians of your tank's skyline. Vallisneria, Amazon Sword, Dwarf Sagittaria, Christmas Moss, and Dwarf Hairgrass stand tall here, filling the scene with life and color.


Why Should You Plant Your Tank? 🤔

Before we dive in, let's make it clear: Plants are not just tank decorations; they're an essential part of a balanced aquarium ecosystem 🐠🌿 Just like your fish, plants need love, light, and a little bit of science. And guess what? AquariumClass.com is the Hogwarts for aspiring aquatic gardeners! 🧙‍♂️

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We are not just your typical "watch-and-forget" YouTube channel. Our experts have years of hands-on experience and are just a click away to assist you 24/7 🕒 Whether you're wrestling with pH levels at 2 a.m. or are on a quest for the perfect leafy greens for your angelfish, AquariumClass.com has got your back!

What’s in the Course? 📚

  • Lesson 1: Plant Selection 🌱 Learn about plants that won’t just survive but thrive in your tank. From java ferns to water wisteria, we cover it all!
  • Lesson 2: The Right Gear ⚙️ Unearth the secrets of choosing the right substrate and lighting conditions. Get the lowdown on CO2 injection systems, fertilizers, and more.
  • Lesson 3: Planting Techniques 🌱 Master the art of planting without disturbing your fish or creating a cloudy mess. Tips and tricks included!
  • Lesson 4: Troubleshooting 🚨 Turn brown leaves green and fight off algae like a pro. We’ll equip you with the know-how to deal with common plant woes.

Ready, set, plant! 🌱
Sign up at AquariumClass.com and let your aquatic garden flourish!

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Frequently Asked Questions About Freshwater Aquarium Plants

Why are some of my plants' leaves yellowing?

Ah, the classic "I gave you light, water, and music—why are you sulking?" question. Yellowing often indicates a nutrient deficiency. If you've been skimping on those tasty marimo moss balls treat or forgetting the liquid fertilizer, it's time to revisit your plant-care routine.

And hey, swing by your local fish store for advice—those folks love a good plant mystery.

Do I need to provide CO2?

While some aquatic plant divas demand their own personal carbon dioxide supply, many beginner plants are pretty chill.

That said, if you're aiming for a lush, planted aquarium that rivals the Amazon, a CO2 boost can supercharge plant growth and keep your green buddies ecstatic.

Will my fish nibble on the plants?

Look, some fish have a culinary interest in plants. It's like you with potato chips—you can't have just one. It really depends on the species.

But if you notice your plants looking like they've been part of a fishy feast, consider adding more hardy plants that aren’t as delicious.

Ideal light conditions for popular aquatic plants?

Most of your beloved beginner aquarium plants love medium light. But be warned: too much low light aquarium plants can transform your tank into an algae party, and trust me, nobody wants an invite to that.

For plants like java moss, low light aquariums do the trick.

Can you root them in gravel?


Several plants are totally cool with rooting in gravel. It’s like us preferring sneakers over high heels: comfort first. Still, ensure those roots have access to nutrients—root tabs can be a gravel-planter's best friend.

Benefits of using soil vs. gravel?

Soil is like a gourmet meal for live aquarium plants though. It's rich, loaded with nutrients, and offers the goodies that many aquarium plants crave.

Gravel? It's the fast food of substrates. Still filling but might need a little supplement on the side. Each has its place, depending on the look and health you’re aiming for.

Why Join AquariumClass.com? 🤩

  1. Stellar Faculty 🌟
    Our instructors aren’t just hobbyists; they are certified aquatic botanists who are passionate about what they do.
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    Interact with a lively community of like-minded individuals. Whether you’re a novice or an expert, there’s always something new to learn and share.
  3. One-Stop Resource 📚
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How often should I trim and maintain my plants?

Every plant has its pace. Fast-growing plant species will have you snipping away like an overzealous barber, while slow-growing ones are more "low maintenance, high reward."

Note: just keep an eye out and trim when things start to look a tad wild.

Enjoying this Article?

I bet you are! If you're thirsty for more aquatic wisdom, don't miss these stellar reads from the "Aquariums For Beginners" website:



Navigating the vibrant world of freshwater aquariums can sometimes feel like deciphering an ancient script. Between understanding which stem plants will thrive in low light and which ones are like those little divas craving the spotlight, there's a lot to consider. But when you see your stem plant flourishing next to root feeding plants, the sense of accomplishment is unparalleled.

Your aquarium plant choices are not just decorative; they breathe life into your tank. While some live plants will grow effortlessly, diving deep with their roots into the aquarium substrate, others might require a bit more TLC. Yet, the benefits live plants bring to the ecosystem are manifold. From the mother plant that might surprisingly produce flowers to the slow-growing plant that silently adds charm, each contributes uniquely.

Moreover, it's vital to monitor how each plant propagates. We don't want any invasive species crashing our perfectly balanced aquatic party, do we? Besides, if you're considering setting up a breeding tank, understanding how these plants interact in their environment can make all the difference.

And hey, come splash around with us over at the "Aquariums For Beginners" Facebook group. With 460k+ members, we've got more fishy tales than a seafood buffet. Dive in!


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