Do you dream of creating a beautiful, lush green aquarium? But you’ve only just started aquascaping and don’t feel like investing in a CO2 system right away? Don’t panic. There are plenty of aquarium plants that are easy to maintain and still great to make a beautiful aquarium!
In this article I give you my top 5 of easy aquarium plants, for beginners and more experienced aquascapers alike!
Easy aquarium plant #1: java moss!
Well, not much to say about this one: java moss really grows in ALL conditions. Whether you use strong or low light, you dose aquarium fertilizers or not … this great aquarium plant will survive. The nice thing about java moss is that your shrimp love to hide in it. You can also attach it to all kinds of decorative materials, after a while it will take hold and you get a very nice, natural effect.
Well, it really does grow in between and on top of everything. If you start pruning this plant and a few pieces float away, guaranteed you’ll find a whole bunch of it some time later. This makes it difficult to get this little plant out of your aquarium completely, so keep that in mind 😉
- Appearance: light to dark green with many branches. Looks a bit like a pine branch. If you prune it a lot, it stays quite low;
- Water parameters: does not attach much importance to water parameters, but good water flow is certainly useful.
- Lighting: low to high light
Beginner aquarium plant #2: Cryptocoryne wendtii
OK, I’m not going to deny it: Cryptocoryne wendtii is one of my favorite plants 😉
Every aquascape I’ve made so far has featured this aquarium plant. No wonder: it is extremely beautiful, does well in all conditions and requires little work beyond occasionally removing the bad leaves. It is possible that the plant will wilt after you plant it. This is normal with most Cryptocorynes. In that case, give them time to adjust to the new environment, prune bad leaves and just be patient. After a week or two there will be new, beautiful leaves and you can enjoy this beautiful beginner aquarium plant.
- Appearance: thin to fairly broad leaves that are green-gray in color, brown here and there as well
- Water conditions: can grow in both CO2 and non-CO2 aquariums, … Good soil fertilization is a plus, for example Crypto capsules
- Lighting: does well with weak and strong light, but since it is a slow grower, weaker lighting is recommended.
Aquarium plant for beginners #3: Anubias!
This little plant is a true survivor. Even if your aquarium is completely covered in algae, Anubias will survive. Anubias, like java fern, has a rhizome. This rhizome can be attached to decorative material or placed on the bottom of your aquarium. Attention: the rhizome must not be buried!
There are many species of Anubia. From very large specimens that can be used as background plants (e.g. Anubias var. barteri) to tiny varieties such as Anubias nana or even Anubias petite. The leaf shape also varies, from nicely rounded to more wavy or lanceolate. So it is a versatile and hardy little plant that should not be missing in any aquarium.
- Appearance: lots of varieties with different leaf shapes, sizes, … so can be used in foreground, middle ground and background.
- Water conditions: hard water, soft water, much or little fertilizer, … it makes no difference for Anubias!
- Lighting: from low to high lighting but since it is a slow grower, weaker light is recommended.
Java ferns: easy aquarium plant #4
Along with Cryptocoryne wendtii, this particularly beautiful plant also appears in just about every aquascape I’ve ever made: java fern! Java ferns are light to dark green in color and have a rhizome, just like Anubias. If conditions are right, it forms a nice, compact “forest” of large, pointed leaves that can be a nice focal point for your aquarium. It can be used just fine in an aquarium with or without CO2, and it’s not too fussy about fertilizer either. Occasionally pruning away the bad leaves and removing the dirt between them does this little plant a tremendous amount of good.
There are several varieties of Java ferns. The “standard” Microsorium pteropus can grow up to 50cm tall and has broad, pointed leaves. In addition, you have varieties such as the “trident” (split leaves), “narrow” (narrower leaves), “needle leaf” (very narrow, needle-like leaves), windelow, …
In short, a plant for every aquascaper.
- Appearance: different varieties that differ in size and leaf shape and can be placed in different places in the aquarium. Can also be attached to decorative material.
- Water conditions: everything 😀
- Lighting: low to medium light, but also fine in stronger light if sufficient CO2 & flow is provided.
A“lawn” for beginners? Try Lilaeopsis novae-zelandiae
I often hear or read “I want a fresh, green lawn in my aquarium”. Looks great indeed, but unfortunately bottom plants like Hemianthus callitrichoides and Glossostigma require good lighting and lots of CO2 to survive and thrive. Don’t want to invest in CO2 and light? Then I recommend Lilaeopsis novae-zelandiae.
This plant grows slightly larger than Hemianthus callitrichoides (about 5cm maximum), but demands much less in terms of CO2, lighting and general water conditions. Lilaeopsis novae-zelandiae forms a lawn in medium to higher light, but in the latter case I do recommend adding CO2.
- Appearance: light green and pointed leaves that can reach about 5cm in size. Under medium to high light, Lilaeopsis novae-zelandiae forms a nice grassy lawn
- Water conditions: CO2 is recommended if you want to grow a lawn and aquarium fertilization certainly helps, otherwise not very demanding
- Lighting: medium to strong light. In low light this plant will survive but will not form a compact lawn or at least very slowly.
Do you know any other beginner aquarium plants?
Do you know of any other good, beautiful beginner aquarium plants? Feel free to let me know below.