Interested in adding some live plants to your aquarium? Here are 14 great floating plant options to add to your pre-existing fish tank. Keep in mind that any plants coming from other fish systems need to be quarantined.
As with all aquatic plants, make sure your tank can support plant growth through fish-producing ammonia, converted by your biological filtration to nitrate, or fish-safe plant fertilizer. If you can't get any plants to thrive or have lots of yellow or brown plants, you may need additional supplementation for your plants to survive. Make sure that anything you add to your tank is safe for fish.
Will My Fish Eat My Plants?
Probably. Even if you feed your fish to satiation, fish are curious and will likely nibble on your plants regardless of how "full" they feel. (Not really "full," since most pet fish species don't have a true stomach). Your plants may also contain tasty invertebrates that are delicious to fish.
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Anacharis (Egeria densa)
Anacharis is one of the most common and easiest to grow aquatic plants. It is recommended as a good choice for any beginner aquatic plant tanks. It grows quickly and can handle a variety of water temperatures, making it a good fit for different aquariums.
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Duckweed (Lemna minor)
This is a very common plant that likes to hitch a ride on other aquatic plants. It only takes one cell to start reproducing and is VERY hard to eliminate once it is in your system. Best way to avoid it? Quarantine your aquatic plants and if it appears and you don't want it around, remove it before it gets out of control.
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Although typically associated with cultivation on driftwood and rocks, java moss can float freely throughout your aquarium. Compared to other aquatic plants, java moss does not grow very quickly and can be planted if you desire. It does not grow very high, and often creates a mat covering substrate and décor items.
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Hornwort (Ceratophyllum demersum)
Hornwort is another popular choice for its aesthetic and ease to cultivate. They can be planted, if desired, or allowed to float freely. It can grow very fast, so be ready to trim as necessary so it does not overwhelm your fish.Continue to 5 of 14 below.
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Amazon Frogbit (Limnobium laevigatum)
Think of Amazon Frogbit like aquatic clover. These plants form rosettes and with relatively short roots, do not compete for your fish's swimming space. They can provide considerable shade cover, so take care if you have other submerged plants. The deeper plants might not be able to get enough sunlight to survive.
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Dwarf Water Lettuce (Pistia stratiotes)
"Dwarf" water lettuce and regular water lettuce are usually sold interchangeably and are not related to real lettuce. These plants get their name from their lettuce-like leaves and "head" shape.
Please bear in mind that water lettuce is an invasive species, so you may not be able to get it in your state. If you choose to keep it, NEVER allow it to reach natural water sources. It easily overwhelms native systems and is a pain to remove.
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Water Sprite (Ceratopteris thalicotoides)
One of the most well-known aquatic plants is the water sprite, also known as water fern or Indian Fern. It is highly recommended for providing hiding space for smaller or shy fish and is very tolerant of beginners.
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Cabomba (Cobomba caroliniana)
A wild weed, Cabomba, also commonly known as Carolina fanwort, can grow very quickly and provides bushy cover for shy fish. It can be planted or float freely, depending on your tank plan. It is a hardy floating plant and will do better than some more delicate aquarium plants.Continue to 9 of 14 below.
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Water Spangles (Salvinia minima)
Water spangles prefer still water compared to fast-moving surface water. Like Amazon frogbit, water spangles have surface clusters of textured leaves, but they also have very long roots. Depending on your aquarium depth, these may interfere with fish swimming. These plants also provide a lot of surface coverage, so deeper plants may not have enough light access.
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Water Wisteria (Hygrophila difformis)
Water wisteria can grow very large and potentially overwhelm some aquariums. It is another plant that does well floating or being planted in a plant-friendly substrate. Unlike many other aquatic plants, water wisteria will grow sideways as well as lengthwise, which may crowd other plants in the same area.
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Pennywort (Centella asiatica)
Pennywort, also known as centella or gotukola, is native to Asian wetlands. In addition to resembling tiny lily pads, this aquatic plant is used in cooking and herbal medicine.
Brazilian pennywort is also a popular floating plant option.
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Although this delicate plant does better when planted, Rotala indica can certainly be kept free-floating. As it grows, the leaves may transition from green to pink with yellow/orange in between.Continue to 13 of 14 below.
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Mosquito Fern (Azolla filiculoides)
This plant gets its name by deterring mosquitoes from laying their eggs on water surfaces. Similar to mosquitos, this plant prefers still or slow-moving water to grow.
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Also known as Water Primrose, Ludwigia repens may start to grow above the water surface if allowed to grow free-floating. In contrast to mostly green aquatic plants, Ludwigia contains darker reds and browns to provide contrast in your aquascape.
No matter what your tank aesthetic, there is a floating plant that will fit perfectly! Remember to test your water chemistry levels to ensure enough nitrate for your plant to survive or consider supplementation. And if your new plant is coming from an environment with fish, it will require a 2-week quarantine before being added to your tank. Use this time to beef up your new addition with some aquatic plant fertilizer.