Floating Aquarium Plants for Beginners


Floating Aquarium Plants for Beginners

Dive into the immersive world of aquatic plants with a touch of wit and charm. Whether youโ€™re a newbie or a seasoned aquarist, thereโ€™s always something new to learn, especially about the Best Floating Aquarium Plants.

Problem? while your fish might be the Brad Pitts and Angelina Jolie's of the underwater world, theyโ€™re swimming around in a setting thatโ€™s more like an empty movie set. It lacks depth, drama, and most importantly, those vibrant greens that give an aquarium its real charm.

What your fish are silently yearning for is the emerald lushness of floating plants, twirling overhead, as they enjoy their underwater shenanigans. It's not just about aesthetics; we're talking about:

  • Improved water quality
  • A natural playground
  • A shield from prying eyes (yes, fish can be shy too)

From the dainty elegance of the Duckweed to the majestic Java Moss, this guide is your ticket to turning that fishbowl into a flourishing aquatic Eden. Whether you're new to this or you've been around the fish block a few times, there's something for every aquarist.

Prepare to be schooled (pun totally intended) on the top aquatic greens of 2024. Your fish are about to go from living in a basic studio apartment to a penthouse suite. And you? You'll be the proud owner, watching your aquatic family thrive.

Hold onto your snorkels; itโ€™s about to get leafy in here! ๐ŸŒฟ


Introduction to Floating Aquarium Plants

So you've gotten yourself a fish tank. Now what? Aquatic plants, my friend...

These arenโ€™t your grandmaโ€™s houseplants; they create a haven for your finned friends. Floating plant species offer both aesthetics and functionality. They prevent excess nutrients, limit algae growth, and give your fish a sense of comfort.

Quick Rundown:

  1. Duckweed (Lemna minor)
  2. Water Lettuce (Pistia stratiotes)
  3. Frogbit (Limnobium laevigatum)
  4. Red Root Floater (Phyllanthus fluitans)
  5. Water Spangle (Salvinia minima)
  6. Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes)
  7. Giant Duckweed (Spirodela polyrhiza)
  8. Java Moss
  9. Salvinia Natans
  10. Marimo Moss Ball

In a fish tank, the right plants are like a luxury hotel with an all-you-can-eat buffet for fish. Speaking of which, has anyone else suddenly become hungry?

Moving on!~

Top-Rated Aquatic Plants of 2024

To help you narrow down your choices, we have compiled a list of Top 10 Floating Aquarium Plants based on customer reviews, ratings, and expert opinions;

In a hurry? I recommend Duckweed (Lemna minor)

Top 10 Floating Aquarium Plants

Duckweed (Lemna minor)


Found in almost every corner of the globe, Duckweed stands as one of the simplest yet most enchanting floaters. Its rapid growth and tiny, verdant leaves serve as nature's blanket over the water's surface. Perfect for hobbyists who appreciate the calm allure of nature, Duckweed effortlessly graces any water body.

This tiny wonder excels in various lighting conditions. It's a natural water cleanser and acts as a sanctuary for tiny aquatic life. For those looking for a serene, green canopy in their aquatic realm, Duckweed effortlessly fits the bill.

  • Origin: Worldwide
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Growth Rate: Rapid
  • Lighting: Low to Medium light
  • CO2 Requirement: Not necessary
  • Why to Buy: Duckweed acts as a natural filter, absorbing excess nutrients from the water and providing shelter for smaller aquatic creatures.
  • Facts: Itโ€™s one of the smallest flowering plants and can be an indicator of water quality.


"Bought this to add a natural touch to my tank. Within weeks, Duckweed created a beautiful green layer on the water surface! Not only is it calming to look at, but my fish seem to love it too. Highly recommended for a serene touch."

Water Lettuce (Pistia stratiotes)


The Water Lettuce, a native to Africa's tranquil waters, showcases nature's finesse through its velvety rosette leaves. As if painted with a delicate brush, this floating gem is the very epitome of elegance for water gardens and aquariums alike.

Its larger leaves offer shade and refuge, contributing both aesthetic charm and biological balance. While Water Lettuce can adapt across diverse habitats, it loves a sunny spotlight. It's a floating oasis that promises an exotic touch to any water space.

  • Origin: Africa
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Growth Rate: Moderate to Fast
  • Lighting: Medium light
  • CO2 Requirement: Not necessary
  • Why to Buy: The plant provides a good shelter and spawning site for fish. It also helps reduce the growth of undesirable algae by shading and absorbing nutrients.
  • Facts: This plant has velvety leaves that prevent water from settling on them.


"Stunning! Water Lettuce has transformed my pond into an exotic oasis. Its velvety leaves and rosette appearance are just breathtaking. A must-have for any water garden lover."

Frogbit (Limnobium laevigatum)


Originating from Central and South America's freshwater bodies, Frogbit has risen to prominence in the aquatic hobby world, reminiscent of lily pads but on a petite scale. It brings forth a harmonious blend of nature's simplicity and aesthetics.

Its roots dangle delicately, providing refuge for fish and invertebrates. Though not particularly demanding, under optimum conditions, Frogbit's glossy leaves exhibit a vivid charm thatโ€™s truly enchanting. It's an ode to nature's gentle embrace on the water's surface.

  • Origin: Central and South America
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Lighting: Medium to High light
  • CO2 Requirement: Not necessary
  • Why to Buy: It's a great plant for providing shade, and its roots offer shelter for aquatic life.
  • Facts: Despite its name, frogbit is not specifically for frogs. It's appreciated for its decorative lily-pad-like appearance.


"In love with Frogbit! It adds a charming lily-pad aesthetic to my tank. Plus, the dangling roots have become a favorite hiding spot for my smaller fish. A wonderful addition."

Red Root Floater (Phyllanthus fluitans)


The Red Root Floater, with its South American origins, carries a captivating tale of beauty, transforming any aquatic setup into a mesmerizing dance of red and green hues. As the name suggests, its red roots and leaves, particularly under high light, are sights to behold.

Not just beauty, it aids in creating a healthy ecosystem by absorbing excess nutrients. Itโ€™s a mesmerizing choice for those seeking a dash of color and drama atop their aquatic canvas.

  • Origin: South America
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Lighting: Medium to High light
  • CO2 Requirement: Beneficial but not mandatory
  • Why to Buy: Its unique red roots and the ability of the leaves to turn red under high light make it an attractive choice.
  • Facts: The plant's red hue intensifies with stronger lighting.


"The Red Root Floater is simply magical. Under the right lighting, the red hues are just mesmerizing. This plant has added depth and vibrancy to my setup. Couldn't be happier!"

Water Spangle (Salvinia minima)


Hailing from the pristine waters of South America, Water Spangle graces any water surface with its delicate, fern-like appearance. A favorite among aquatic enthusiasts for its elegance, it effortlessly cloaks the water in a green embrace.

Despite its delicate looks, it's a tough nut, thriving in diverse conditions. As it sways gently with the waterโ€™s rhythm, Water Spangle stands as a testament to nature's gentle yet resilient spirit.

  • Origin: South America
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • Lighting: Low to Medium light
  • CO2 Requirement: Not necessary
  • Why to Buy: Its delicate appearance adds beauty to aquariums, and it's also efficient at nutrient uptake.
  • Facts: It's an invasive species in some parts of the world.


"A delightful little plant! Water Spangle has brought a delicate touch to my aquarium. It's easy to care for and has been a great natural filter. Docked a star only because it grows super fast!"

Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes)


South America's Water Hyacinth dazzles with its floating rosettes and beautiful lavender flowers. An embodiment of nature's grandeur, it stands tall in the world of aquatic plants. Beyond beauty, it serves as a haven for aquatic life and an excellent water purifier.

However, its rapid growth is a double-edged swordโ€”mesmerizing to look at but demands attention. A perfect choice for those seeking a blend of floral brilliance and functional efficiency.

  • Origin: South America
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • Lighting: High light
  • CO2 Requirement: Not necessary
  • Why to Buy: Provides excellent habitat for aquatic life and is efficient in removing toxins and nitrates from water.
  • Facts: Considered a pest in many waterways due to its rapid growth rate.


"Water Hyacinth is an absolute showstopper in my outdoor pond. The lavender flowers are a treat for the eyes. Just be careful; it grows rapidly and can take over if unchecked!"

Giant Duckweed (Spirodela polyrhiza)


This larger cousin of the Duckweed, found in almost every continent, showcases nature's simplicity in a slightly grander scale. Its heart-shaped leaves float gracefully, promising both aesthetic pleasure and a natural habitat for aquatic dwellers.

Adaptable and robust, the Giant Duckweed stands as a gentle giant in aquatic realms, turning any water surface into a lively green mosaic.

  • Origin: Worldwide
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • Lighting: Low to Medium light
  • CO2 Requirement: Not necessary
  • Why to Buy: It offers the benefits of regular duckweed but is larger, making it easier to manage.
  • Facts: Each leaf can produce several daughter plants every week.


"A refreshing upgrade from regular duckweed! The heart-shaped leaves of Giant Duckweed are just so picturesque. It provides a lovely natural shade, and maintenance is a breeze."

Java Moss

Java-Moss (1)

Java Moss, a native to Southeast Asia, is the aquascaper's dream. Its unassuming green threads can be woven into various artistic creations, from carpets to walls. Its adaptability makes it a heartwarming choice for beginners and pros alike.

Not fussy about its abode, Java Moss clings onto various surfaces, turning them into green masterpieces. It's not just a plant but a canvas for limitless aquatic creativity.

  • Origin: Southeast Asia
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Lighting: Low to Medium light
  • CO2 Requirement: Not necessary
  • Why to Buy: It's versatile and can be attached to various surfaces, acting as a natural carpet or wall.
  • Facts: Popular among breeders as it provides excellent shelter for fry.


"As a newbie aquascaper, Java Moss has been a godsend. It's super versatile, allowing me to create lush green patches on rocks and driftwood. An absolute joy to work with!"

Salvinia Natans


Embracing the waters of Europe, Asia, and Africa, Salvinia Natans tells a story of nature's intricacy through its folded leaves. It floats gracefully, casting a delicate shadow beneath.

More than just an aesthetic delight, it provides refuge and maintains water quality. It's a blend of beauty, function, and adaptabilityโ€”truly a jewel on the water's surface.

  • Origin: Europe, Asia, and Africa
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Growth Rate: Moderate to Fast
  • Lighting: Medium light
  • CO2 Requirement: Not necessary
  • Why to Buy: Known for its unique folded leaves and is great for providing shade.
  • Facts: The under-surface of its leaves is water repellent.


"Brought Salvinia Natans for its unique leaf texture and wasn't disappointed. It has spruced up my tank and adds great shade. Just need to trim it occasionally to prevent overgrowth."

Marimo Moss Ball


From the cold waters of Japan, Iceland, and Scotland comes the Marimo Moss Ball, an enigmatic green sphere that promises both mystique and charm. Not actually moss but algae, this aquatic gem grows slowly, encapsulating years of nature's patience.

Perfect for those seeking a touch of uniqueness in their aquatic domain, it thrives in tranquil corners, silently narrating tales of time and perseverance. It's not just a plant; it's nature's green pearl.

  • Origin: Japan, Iceland, Scotland, and Estonia
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Growth Rate: Slow
  • Lighting: Low light
  • CO2 Requirement: Not necessary
  • Why to Buy: It's a unique, low-maintenance aquatic plant that adds an attractive touch to any aquarium.
  • Facts: Not actually moss, but a rare form of spherical algae


"These Marimo Balls are captivating! They're a conversation starter and have an almost mystical charm about them. Simple to care for and a great centerpiece for my jar aquarium."


Beginner's Guide to Aquarium Plants

  • Understanding Aquatic Plant Basics
    • Difference Between Submerged and Floating: Think of submerged plants like underwater trees, while floaters are like cloud-like wonders that grace the water's surface.
    • The Role of Lighting: Plants, like humans, need their dose of sunlight (or in some cases, clip on lights). It's crucial for their growth and health.
  • Essential Care Tips for Beginners
    • Water Parameters: Ensure you keep an eye on the water temperatures. Most species thrive in certain conditions. Donโ€™t let your tank turn into a polar vortex or a sauna.
    • Fertilization and Nutrients: Fish waste alone can't sustain a healthy plant. Sometimes, you need a bit of liquid supplement magic to make things flourish.
  • Setting Up Your Floating Plants
    • Placement: Ensure that floaters like the water sprite and the red root floater have enough space to float freely without crowding other plants.
    • Longevity Tips: Proper tank maintenance, from managing water quality to controlling extreme humidity, can ensure your floating fern and other beloved plants live long and prosper.


Frequently Asked Questions About Floating Aquarium Plants

What's the ideal water temperature for most floating plants?

Well, for your interesting floating plant collection, most thrive at a cozy 68ยฐF to 82ยฐF.

Remember: just like ordering the right drink for your mood, each plant has its own sweet spot.

How can I prevent my floating plants from covering the entire surface?

Ah, aiming for a mosaic plant design instead of a green canopy?

Smart move! Simply use floating rings to corral them. It's like giving them their own VIP lounge in your freshwater tank. Plus, this ensures that other aquatic plants grow beneath without being overshadowed.

Are there fish that specifically benefit from floating plants?

Absolutely! Small fish and fish fry often use them as hideouts. Think of it as their cozy blanket fort. Plus, fish species like bettas love lounging under the gentle shade of popular floating plants. Who doesnโ€™t like a little shade on a sunny day, right?

How do I propagate and thin out my floating plant colonies?

It's as easy as slicing a banana plant pie! Just pluck out the dense roots and split the parent plant, then let them free float. In no time, you'll see them growing naturally, adding more green leaves to your tankโ€™s skyline.

Why do some of my floating plants have yellowing leaves?

Your plants might be sending you a not-so-subtle hint. Yellowing often points to nutrient deficiencies. It's like when we crave a midnight snack. Feed them well with nutrients from the water column, and those leaves might just turn as green as a freshly mown lawn.

Can Floating Plants Survive Without Light?

Ahoy, captain of the aquatic realm! Just as sailors navigate by stars, plants use light for photosynthesis. Without it, they'd be like partygoers in a blackout โ€” pretty lost. While some species can handle low-light situations, think of it like dim mood lighting in a lounge, they still need some rays to thrive. Ensure you've got a good lighting setup, even if it's just ambient room light, to keep those plants groovin'.

How Often Should I Trim Floating Plants?

Trimming time? Imagine it as giving your plants a spa day or a fancy haircut. Depending on the growth speed, which is like how fast you'd finish your favorite tune, you might want to trim every 2-4 weeks. Overgrown plants could crowd out your aquarium faster than fans at a rock concert, so keep an eye on them and snip when necessary! Your underwater friends will thank you for the extra room to groove.

Do Floating Plants Filter Water?

Yes, and they do a darn good job! Just like a bartender filtering out the unwanted ice cubes, these plants absorb excess nutrients, ensuring your aquarium water is clearer than a cloudless day.

Do Floating Plants Oxygenate The Water?

You bet! Plants, including the excellent floating plant varieties, absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen during the day. Itโ€™s like having an inbuilt, all-natural air purifier for your fish tanks.

Will My Fish Eat My Plants?

Ah, the age-old question. It's a possibility. Some fish see plants, especially tender ones like freshwater seaweed, as a delightful snack. Keep an eye on those munchers and choose plants less appetizing to them.

Do they plants need CO2?

Plants, be it red root floaters with their deep red tones or even the mosaic plants, do love some carbon dioxide. Itโ€™s like their favorite soda. But many species grow perfectly fine with the CO2 naturally present. For an explosive plant growth, though, consider adding some extra. Just don't go overboard; moderation's the key!

Enjoying this Article?

Well, if you're as hooked as a fish on a line, dive deeper with these articles:

Best Freshwater Aquarium Plants For Beginners

Neon Tetra: Youโ€™ll Love These In Your Tank



If thereโ€™s one thing to take away from this aquatic odyssey, it's that a fish tank without plants is like a movie without popcorn. Boring and, well, just wrong. Plants not only beautify but also create a healthier environment for your aquatic pals. From the power filter to the hanging roots, every component plays a part in this intricate ecosystem.

Floating plants, whether it's the popular water wisteria or the lesser-known dwarf water lettuce, offer both aesthetic and functional benefits. Whether you're providing cover for shy fish or combating algae growth, these green wonders do it all. So next time you look at your fish swimming gleefully amidst the lush greenery, know that you've not just decorated a tank but created an underwater haven.

And hey, if you're still thirsty for more aquatic adventures, come join our Facebook group Aquariums For Beginners. Weโ€™re a lively bunch of over 640k+ members, sharing tales, tips, and tank mates!

Remember, every planted tank tells a story. What's yours? ๐Ÿ ๐ŸŒฟ



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