Top 10 Easy Aquarium Plants For Beginners

Top 10 Easy Aquarium Plants for Beginners

Planted aquariums are very popular nowadays because of their natural beauty and amazing ability to consume the toxic nitrogen compounds produced by fish waste. Many beginners fail to maintain their green leaves after they have tried and failed. We’ve spent more than a decade growing, propagating and selling aquarium plants. Now we have a list of the top 10 aquarium plants that are easy to keep green and not go bad.


1. Marimo Moss Ball

This is the world’s easiest aquarium orb. It is not a moss or plant, but a naturally occurring ball cladophora (algae) and is well-known. Its main care requirement is to lightly roll the marimo ball in your hands every time you do a water change so that it maintains its round shape and all parts of the algae get access to light. Because they are inexpensive and unique, people often purchase a large number of them to stock up on goldfish or betta tank supplies. You can even unroll them and wrap them around driftwood to create a miniature tree. You can find our complete care guide here.

2. Amazon Sword

This aquarium plant is well-known for its ability grow big and fill your tank with lush greenery. Lighting and substate are important, but so is making sure your fish tank gets lots and lots root tabs. When you first buy it, the sword usually has big, round leaves that are emersed grown (or grown outside of water). Once placed in water, these large leaves melt back as the plant reabsorbs their nutrients to make longer, narrower leaves that are submersed grown (or grown underwater).

If your new leaves are yellowing, you should give them more root tabs. The sword can eventually grow large enough to be a mother plant. This will create long spikes which turn into baby sword plants that you can plant in other aquariums.

3. Cryptocoryne wendtii

This low-maintenance crypt has been a favorite of ours because it doesn’t need liquid fertilizers or CO2 injection. This slow-growing plant can grow in any kind of light and on almost any substrate. This plant prefers to eat from its roots so make sure to add root tabs to inert substrates at least every three months for best health. Crypt wendtii can be found in many colors, such as red, brown and tropica. You can enhance the redness by adding iron supplements to your aquarium water.

Like Amazon swords and crypts leaves, they are known to melt back once they’re added to a fresh tank. Don’t toss your “dead” plant if you notice this. It can be left in the substrate and will quickly recover and grow new leaves once it adjusts to your water chemistry.


4. Aponogeton crispus

This low-light plant can grow from a bulb, and produces long, wavy edges leaves that flow beautifully in an aquarium. In fact, this is one of the main species sold as a “betta bulb” at chain pet stores because they’re so easy to care for. Simply place the bulb on top and it will quickly sprout roots and leaves. Sometimes the bulb goes dormant for a few months. The larger leaves will then die back. You can leave the plant in the aquarium and new growth will emerge. This great looking plant can be yours for a very low price. It grows quickly and can produce flowers.

5. Bacopa caroliniana

Bacopa is a great choice for beginners if you are interested in growing stem plants. This is a native of the southern United States. It has a straight, vertical stem, with small, roundish, green leaves. It does not require CO2 injection but can tolerate liquid fertilizers like Easy Green. It can grow in low light conditions, but the leaf tips will turn coppery-red when there is high light and iron dosing.

As with most aquarium plants, bacopa is usually grown out of water at plant farms. Once you plant it underwater, the top of the plant starts producing submerse-grown leaves, while the emersed-grown leaves down below begin to die off. You will notice the bottom half the stem becomes bare and skinny. If this happens, you can simply snip the tops of the stem to make a larger plant. That’s also how you propagate bacopa – as the plant grows taller and taller, just cut off the tops and plant them in a new location.

6. Christmas Moss

If you’re setting up a breeding tank, get yourself some Christmas moss! Their fluffy fronds look like little Christmas trees and provide excellent cover for baby fish and shrimp. Aquascapers attach them to rocks or driftwood to create the appearance of a moss-covered forest. This slow-growing moss can be kept looking its best by investing in small algae eaters such as amano shrimp, and dousing it with liquid fertilizer.

7. Vallisneria

With very little effort, you can transform your aquarium into an underwater jungle. One plant is all you need – vallisneria. This tall grass-like species can be grown if you give it plenty of root tabs. Once it’s well-established in your aquarium, you can even add fish that are traditionally known for digging up or eating plants (such as goldfish or African cichlids). Check out our vallisneria care sheet here.

8. Java Fern

Java moss, also known as Java Fern, is a plant that grows in the Java island. Although both can be cared for easily, their appearances are quite distinct. There are several varieties of java fern – such as narrow leaf, Windelov (or lace), and trident – but the most popular type has long, pointed leaves with deeply ridged veins. Its roots and leaves sprout from the Rhizome, which is a thick horizontal stem or stalk. However, it is important to not plant the Rhizome in the substrate. Most people place the plant in the cracks of wood or rocks, and it eventually grows tight around it. For a secure plant, you can also use super glue gel or sewing thread. Follow this article to see step-by-step instructions.

Windelov java fern

The roots don’t need to be planted in substrate. Instead, they absorb nutrients from the water column. It can be propagated by either cutting it in half or letting one leaf float on the surface. Soon the rows of black spots (known as sporangia) on the leaf will develop into baby plantlets with their own tiny leaves and roots. These plantlets can eventually be detached and planted elsewhere in the aquarium. Learn more about Java Fern Care here.

9. Cryptocoryne lutea

Cryptocorynes are so undemanding and beginner-friendly that we had to add another one to our list. This species, unlike crypt wendtii has slim, green leaves which add texture and variety to your aquarium. You can use any substrate and any lighting to make crypts happy. There is no need for CO2 injection. Although crypts tend to grow slowly, they will become a favorite in no time. Crypts are more difficult to grow and require regular pruning. However, they look great for many years with no special care except the occasional root tab. You can find more information in our dedicated article about them here.

10. Dwarf Sagittaria

You need an easy, carpeting-like plant to add color and texture to your aquascape. The dwarf sagittaria looks almost exactly like a miniature Vallisneria and is hardy. It grows taller and smaller if it has high light. However, if it has low light it can stay short and compact. It is a good scavenger for both liquid fertilizers and root tabs. Dwarf sag propagates readily by send out runners throughout the substrate. If it spreads to an unwanted area of the tank, just pull out the new shoots and replant them elsewhere.

Fill your tank with this curated collection of beginner-friendly plants, and you’ll have the best chance of success for your new planted aquarium.

To find out why you aren’t seeing healthy growth, download our free guide to plant nutritional deficiencies.