20 Best Aquarium Plants That Grow in Gravel (With Pictures)

Aquarium plants that grow in gravel

Aquarium plants that grow in gravel are some of the easiest aquarium plants to keep alive and well in aquariums, as they grow on top of the gravel and need little else to thrive.

Choosing the right plants to grow in your aquarium depends on a variety of factors, like how many fish you want to keep in your tank, what kind of fish you want, whether you want live plants or fake plants, and how much time you’re willing to spend maintaining the tank.

They are an easy, low-maintenance addition to your home aquarium setup, and they’re even easier to keep alive. These plants naturally root themselves in the gravel on the bottom of your tank, so they don’t require any special substrate or pots to live in.

Aquarium plants come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and some grow better than others in gravel. Knowing which aquarium plants that grow in gravel are the most effective with your aquarium’s design can help you create an underwater ecosystem that provides both beauty and productivity.

You can choose from lots of different plants that grow in gravel when setting up your tank, but here are 20 of our favorites that you may not have considered before.

Aquarium plants that grow in gravel

Amazon Sword (Echinodorus grisebachii)

aquarium plants that don’t need CO2

Amazon swords are one of the most popular aquarium plants around, due to their low-maintenance requirements and a relatively high tolerance for a variety of different water conditions. If you’re looking for an affordable and easy-to-care-for aquatic plant, Amazon swords are a great option.

They can grow up to two feet long and provide plenty of surface area for fish to feed on while also absorbing excess nutrients that could cause algae problems. They prefer cooler temperatures, so if you live in an area with warm summers, it might be best to only keep them inside during the winter months or consider planting them outside during the summer months when they will receive less light exposure.

Madagascar Lace (aponogeton madagascariensis)

Aquarium plants that grow in gravel

Madagascar Lace is a popular aquarium plant because it is easy to grow and maintain. This low-maintenance aquarium plant has been known to grow up to 8 inches tall. Madagascar Lace prefers that its roots are planted on the surface of the gravel so they can get access to more oxygen.

If planted incorrectly, the roots will rot and die quickly. Madagascar Lace also prefers a lot of sun exposure during the daytime hours, but not too much direct light as this can burn the leaves. When planting, be sure to cover all parts of the root ball with some clean gravel and then wet the soil before adding any water to your tank. Once you have watered your plants, be sure to leave at least 2 inches between them in order for them to thrive.

Cryptocoryne Wendtii (Wendt’s Water Trumpet)

Cryptocoryne wendtii

Cryptocoryne Wendtii, or Wendt’s water trumpet, is a popular aquarium plant that thrives in gravel. It has dark green leaves with red edges and a yellow stripe down the center. This plant can grow up to 18 inches tall and can thrive with less light than other plants because it needs to be submerged for most of its life.

The best part about this plant is that it doesn’t need a substrate! It will do just fine with gravel as the only ground cover. However, some people recommend adding sand if you have soft water so your water flow won’t harm your roots. If you’re an aquatic gardener looking for something different, this is definitely the one for you!

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Java fern (Microsorum pteropus)

aquarium plants that don’t need CO2

Java fern is a type of aquarium plant that grows in gravel and it thrives best when its roots are left to hang over the edge of the pot. Java fern can grow up to two inches tall, which makes it ideal for hiding gaps on the bottom of your tank.

It’s also one of the easiest plants to maintain because it prefers low-to-medium light levels and doesn’t require much maintenance. The java fern will do well in most types of water as long as you change it every week or so. The java fern is a good choice if you want an easy plant to maintain with few requirements.

Red Tiger Lotus (Nypmhaea zenkeri)

aquarium plants that don’t need CO2

One of the most popular types of aquarium plants, the red tiger lotus is a beautiful aquatic plant that can grow up to 8-12 inches tall. One can distinguish the red tiger lotus by its white and pinkish-red stripes along the petals and leaves. As an aquatic plant, it can only be grown in gravel, not soil.

It is best planted with at least three red tiger lotuses together so they can support each other as they grow taller. They will also do well if planted alongside water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes). The stalks should be cut every 2 weeks to keep the water quality high and healthy for the fish.

Jungle Vallisneria (Vallisneria americana)

Aquarium plants that grow in gravel

Also known as eelgrass, water celery, or tape grass, Jungle Vallisneria is a slow-growing, hardy aquatic plant that is perfect for beginners. It has a long, green stem and can grow up to 2 feet tall with the leaves hanging down from it. The leaves are typically blue-green but can also be olive or dark green.

Jungle Vallisneria grows best when planted in gravel that is about 3/4 inch deep and requires medium to high lighting conditions. They do not need much iron which is usually the only type of fertilizer they require. They do not fare well in cold water environments so it’s important to keep their roots warm.

Bucephalandra (Buce plants)

Aquarium plants that grow in gravel

Bucephalandra, also called Buce plants, grow on the surface of gravel and are one of the most popular aquarium plants. They come in a variety of colors that range from white to bright red, green to light blue, and brown to yellow. Bucephalanes can grow up to 1 foot tall and should be trimmed periodically or they may become leggy.

They prefer low lighting conditions and their leaves will fall off if given too much sunlight. These plants do best with an irregular water flow and can be propagated by cutting the rhizome into pieces and sticking them back into your tank after planting them in a moist substrate. The average growth rate is about 10-12 inches per year.

Bucephalandras require low-level lighting, so you’ll want to make sure you give them enough shade. It’s important to trim these plants regularly or they might end up becoming spindly and leggy. To propagate bucephalandras, cut the rhizome into 2-3 inch segments and plant it on a moist substrate. It grows at a pretty steady pace of 10-12 inches per year.

Waterweeds (Anacharis elodea)

aquarium plants that don't need substrate

Waterweeds, also known as Anacharis elodea, are a popular option for aquarium owners because they’re easy to grow and maintain. They can withstand a wide range of water conditions and do not need much light to survive.

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These plants also make excellent background plants because they don’t require much attention from the owner. Along with that, they help filter your tank’s water by removing nitrates and other nutrients that might accumulate over time.

Dwarf Sagittaria (Sagittaria subulata)

aquarium plants that don’t need CO2

Dwarf Sagittaria is a perennial plant that can grow up to 24 inches tall. It has leaves that are wide and sword-shaped and will provide great cover for shy fish. The best way to propagate this aquarium plant is by dividing the root ball with a sharp knife when it starts to get crowded in your tank.

To do this, remove the top layer of gravel from around the roots and divide them in half, making sure each new division has at least one or two healthy roots. After planting, cover with gravel so that only about an inch of the tops of the plants are exposed above the ground.

Anubias plants

aquarium plants that don’t need CO2

Aquarium enthusiasts love these plants because they are easy to care for and can grow into an attractive landscape that will draw the eye of any onlooker. They also offer a level of camouflage for fish, giving them a natural habitat as opposed to one created by man-made materials.

Anubias plants don’t require much light or fussing over, making them perfect for beginners and experienced aquarists alike. A single plant could produce enough offsets to populate your whole aquarium in less than two years!

Java Moss (Vesicularia dubyana)

aquarium plants that don’t need CO2

Java Moss is the perfect plant for any tank. It can be used as a foreground plant or a background plant. Java Moss will not grow out of control and it is easy to trim and maintain. Java moss can also be planted on driftwood, rocks, and other hard surfaces to create a naturalistic look.

This plant prefers medium light, low nutrients, and high levels of CO2. When looking for java moss make sure you find one that has roots that have grown into some type of container. If you have found a java moss with long roots then cut them up into smaller pieces.

The best way to start java moss is by placing the roots inside an open rock, bottle cap, jar lid, or something similar that has holes for air exchange and attaching this piece to something solid like driftwood or aquarium decor with silicone glue.

Marimo Moss Ball (Aegagropila linnaei)

aquarium plants that don’t need CO2

Marimo moss balls are one of the most popular aquarium plants that grow in gravel. They’re super easy to care for and they look great. These unique plants will live happily among your other aquarium decorations, and they help improve water quality as well!

Give them some time to adjust when you first introduce them into a new environment, but then they’ll be happy with just the basics: low light, low CO2 levels, and regular dosing of fertilizer.

Ludwigia Repens (Ludwigia repens)

aquarium plants that don’t need CO2

This plant is an excellent choice for beginners because it requires little maintenance and has an interesting form. It also does not require any special lighting or fertilizing, and can grow in low-light conditions.

Ludwigia repens is one of the most popular aquarium plants that grow in gravel. It features long, lanceolate leaves on red stems which grow vertically. Ludwigia repens should be kept with other slow-growing plants as it grows faster than some other aquatic plants.

Additionally, this plant thrives best when submerged at a level where its leaves are partially out of the water. The best time to transplant this species is during the winter months when it has completed its natural growth cycle.

Water Lettuce Care (Pistia Stratiotes)

Asian Ambulia (Limnophila sessiliflora)

Aquarium plants that grow in gravel

Asian Ambulia is a popular aquarium plant that grows well in gravel. It is native to Southeast Asia and can grow up to 2 feet tall. It has thin, wavy leaves that give it an elegant appearance. The leaves are dark green with light green stripes on them, which makes the plant easy to spot when planted among other plants that have similar colors.

The flowers of the Asian Ambulia are white and grow at the end of long stems. They often bloom at night and are about 1 inch wide. Flowers only last for about 3 days before wilting away. They release a pleasant fragrance during this time as well, making them one of the most fragrant aquarium plants.

Italian Vallisneria (Vallisneria spiralis)

Aquarium plants that grow in gravel

There are a few different varieties of Vallisneria, but the most common is Italian Vallisneria. This variety has been around for centuries, and it’s one of the more popular aquarium plants that grow in gravel. It does well both when planted on land and submerged underwater.

As long as you don’t let it dry out, this plant can flourish. It is best to keep this plant out of direct sunlight because too much light will turn its leaves brown and crispy. The roots should never be buried, but instead should always be kept near the surface so they have access to plenty of air. Because it does not like being handled or moved, this type of Vallisneria is perfect if you want an easy-to-care-for plant.

Corkscrew Vallisneria (Vallisneria torta)

Aquarium plants that grow in gravel

Corkscrew Vallisneria is an aquatic plant that grows primarily in gravel. The plant may also be called Rabbit’s Foot or Eel Grass. It can grow up to 18 inches long and thrives when kept underwater at all times. Corkscrew Vallisneria is a great choice for beginners because it can be difficult to kill, even when neglected or forgotten.

In fact, the most common problem this type of plant has is growing too quickly. To combat this problem, trim off any leaves near the base of the stem so they don’t take energy away from other areas of the plant. You can also use fast-growing plants like Heteranthera zosterifolia around your Corkscrew Vallisneria so they have more time to grow before overtaking it.

Giant Hygro (Hygrophila Corymbosa)

Aquarium plants that grow in gravel

Giant Hygro is an easy-to-grow aquarium plant that thrives in both fresh and salt water. Its leaves are a light green color and it grows on the surface of the gravel. This plant can grow up to eight inches tall and provides shelter for small fish as well as providing a great environment for algae to thrive.

It does best when planted under moderate lighting conditions. The Giant Hygro will require a lot of maintenance, such as pruning, and you may need to add extra gravel after some time. If cared for properly, this will be one of the most rewarding plants in your tank.

The easiest way to propagate this plant is by cutting off pieces of the stem that have rooted in the gravel. These pieces can be placed into new tanks or they can be left attached to the mother plant and cut off when they reach a certain length.

Water Sprite (Ceratopteris thalictroides)

Water sprite plant

Water Sprite is a fast-growing plant that can be grown easily in gravel. The plants have long, flat green leaves with a white stripe running down the center. They grow best if given lots of light and will not tolerate any standing water for more than a few hours. Furthermore, they are sensitive to fertilizer levels, so they should be fed sparingly.

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Finally, they prefer to stay close to the surface of the water and do not like being buried or submerged at all. Fortunately, this isn’t much of an issue because this is also how they propagate themselves: simply allow one part to hang over the edge of your tank or container so that it comes into contact with the moist air outside. Over time it will break off and drop into the water below where it can grow on its own.

Anacharis plant (Elodea)

anacharis plant

Also known as waterweeds, Anacharis plants, or Elodea, are one of the most popular aquarium plants. They are easy to care for and can be found at most pet stores. They grow submerged in water and require little maintenance.

Anacharis plants should be placed near the top of the gravel bed where they will receive more light. Ensure that the roots do not dry out by placing them next to a pump. Anacharis plants do best with a constant supply of fresh water.

The leaves may turn yellow if it is too hot or too cold so ensure that the temperature is between 68-82 degrees Fahrenheit.
Anacharis plants are also great oxygenators which means they help remove impurities from the water. Be careful when handling these plants because they break easily and have sharp edges.

Hornwort (Anthocerotophyta)


Hornwort is a rootless plant that grows well in gravel. It has small, green leaves and can grow up to four inches tall. The leaves and stems are covered with white scales that give it a prickly texture. Unlike some other plants, hornwort does not require any soil to survive. In fact, it even prefers the hardier gravel as opposed to soil because of its ability to retain water better than soil. Hornwort is also great for beginners because it doesn’t require much maintenance and is relatively easy to care for.

There are only two potential downsides for this plant: 1) It can get too large if you don’t trim back the stem; 2) As mentioned before, it requires no soil so therefore needs no fertilizers or nutrients which may cause algae growth if you neglect to change out your tank’s water regularly. Overall, this is one of the best aquarium plants that grow in gravel.


In conclusion, gravel is a great substrate for plants. However, some plant species prefer a more sandy or loamy soil. No matter what your preference is, the best way to find out what plants will grow in gravel is to experiment with different plants until you find one that works for you. There are a wide variety of aquarium plants available and many of them can be found at any pet store.