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. The babies need to be fed regularly once they hatch. Microfauna helps the plants grow so that the young can eat. They purify water by absorption of toxic waste chemicals made by fish. The thick jungle of leaves is a great hiding place for young people to escape hungry adults. We’ve compiled a list of the top 10 dense and fluffy plants fish breeders use to raise fry.
1. Java Moss
A pair of pygmy corydoras resting on java moss (Taxiphyllum barbieri)
Because they are dense enough to cover baby fish and shrimp, java moss as well as Christmas moss, mosses such is their popularity. They also attract microorganisms and mulm for them to eat. 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, which is easy to grow and requires little substrate, is a great choice for beginners. 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. You can also add Easy Green all in one fertilizer to help it grow.
2. Pogostemon stellatus ‘octopus’
Pogostemon Stellatus “octopus” is a fast-growing stem plants that can fill up your tank with enough nutrients and low to moderate 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. The emersed-grown foliage will eventually swell and the plant will grow new, more skinny leaves, which are used to being submerged under water. When plants arrive at our facility, we begin the process of converting them to their submerged form. You can speed up the process if your Pogostemon Stellatus plant is not fully converted when you receive it.
3. Water Sprite
Water sprite is another fast-growing stem plant that is excellent at consuming excess nutrients to purify the water for fish and help prevent algae growth. It can be planted in the ground to form a tall, bushy mound of fine, lacy plants for small shrimp and fish to shelter in. The floating leaves are much more wide with rounded tips and grow thick roots that fish can use to lay eggs or graze on. It is similar to other stem plants and prefers to be fed from the water column. Easy Green liquid fertilizers are a good choice.
4. Guppy Grass
This species comes from North and South America. It can be grown in the substrate but many hobbyists prefer to grow it as a floating mass of plant matter. Guppy grass is nearly impenetrable by adult fish because the stems produce closely spaced tufts of short, narrow leaves that interlock with each other. 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
Mayaca fluviatilis, a unique species that provides interesting textures to your planted aquarium, is the best choice. 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. The stream bogmoss will quickly grow and provide a great hiding spot for shrimp and baby fish once it is established.
Vallisneria or val is an easy way to cover your entire aquarium in greenery. The background plant is a tall, grassy field that can reach up to the top of the aquarium. It provides fish with a secure cover and a safe place to rest their heads. Because of its low light requirements and easy maintenance, this plant is a favorite among beginners. It also spreads quickly. Vallisneria spreads by sending out runners, which each produce a baby flower at the end. The plantlets eventually become large enough to start their own runners. Once the val is established and spreads widely, it can withstand the nibbling of fish such as goldfish and African 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 can be used as groundcover or draped on driftwood in the foreground. This species, unlike others on the list, thrives in moderate to high levels of light and would benefit from CO2 injection. Hydrocotyle tripartite Japan’s compact and bushier growth patterns are ideal for hiding baby fish and dwarf shrimp in high-tech aquariums. Trim off any areas that get too tall and replant them in the ground for propagation.
8. Bolbitis Fern
Bolbitis, also known as the African water fern, is the most common epiphyte plant sold in aquarium hobby. This is due to its thick, texture fronds. Although it takes longer to grow than other stem plants, mature bolbitis can become a large, emerald-green shrub that conceals small fish. This robust plant can tolerate higher pH and GH waters and can be used to grow goldfish, African cichlids, and monster fish tanks. Bolbitis’ horizontal, branch-like Rhizome should not be covered. You can attach it to driftwood, rock or with super glue gel or sewing thread. For more details on how to plant epiphytes (and other types of plants), check out our quick guide on planting methods.
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. Due to its delicate stems we recommend leaving it in the rock wool that came with the plant and digging a hole large enough for the entire plastic container to be in the substrate. This leaves the fragile roots of the pearl weed intact while the plant converts to its underwater, submerged form. This species grows best in medium to high light and can reach the surface. You can trim it to be a background or midground planting.
Floating plants with long, shaggy roots are excellent for concealing eggs, newborn fish, and other small creatures. Amazon frogbit is one of our favorites because of their round, green leaves that look like miniature lily pads. The roots can reach the substrate all the way and give the appearance of a upside-down forest. 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. They should not be allowed to cover the entire surface of the water. This could cause them to shade the plants below and decrease the level of dissolved oxygen.
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.