If you’re looking to brighten up your home or office with a tank full of aquatic plants, there are plenty of colorful aquarium plants available to choose from!
Are you in the market to spruce up your boring old fish tank with new and exciting colorful aquarium plants, or maybe you want to know the best colorful aquarium plants that will fit perfectly into your tank? No matter what your reason may be, there are plenty of colorful aquarium plants out there that will make your tank into an eye-catching spectacle that won’t disappoint!
Plants are an excellent addition to any aquarium, whether you’re setting up a freshwater tank or saltwater tank, whether you have just one fish or several dozen, and whether your goal is to care for fish or to maintain an ecosystem. Plants add vital nutrients to the water, provide cover and protection from predators, and allow your fish to more easily find food.
But they also just add beauty to your tank that fish alone can’t provide, and with so many different species of colorful aquarium plants to choose from, how do you know which ones will work best in your tank?
Here’s an overview of the 12 most colorful aquarium plants that will look great in any home or office aquarium, from beginner to advanced aquarists.
Popular colorful aquarium plants
Ludwigia Repens (Creeping Primrose-Willow)
Many people who are just getting started in the hobby of aquarium keeping will often find themselves at a loss when it comes to selecting plants for their tank. One plant that is incredibly easy to take care of and thrives in most aquarium environments is Ludwigia repens, or Creeping Primrose-Willow.
This hardy plant can grow up to four inches per day but grows much slower in colder temperatures. They should be planted with their roots submerged and growing towards the surface of your substrate. They prefer low light levels, so place them near the bottom of your tank if possible.
It may take a few weeks for these plants to show any coloration after being planted, but once they do you’ll notice how brightly colored they become.
Echinodorus cordifolius (Creeping Burhead)
Echinodorus cordifolius is a resilient, low-maintenance plant with a beautiful variegated leaf pattern. It’s one of the most popular plants for aquariums because it grows quickly and can grow in just about any type of water. This hardy plant prefers to be kept moist and will thrive in your tank if you give it enough light and space.
It likes to grow outwards so make sure that you have enough room for this plant to spread its roots out. If you want to transplant them into a new spot, do so by removing them from the substrate they are growing in gently before replanting them elsewhere. Be careful when handling this plant; their leaves are quite delicate and could tear easily if handled roughly.
Rotala rotundifolia (Dwarf Rotala)
One of the most well-known plants in the aquarium industry is Rotala rotundifolia. This plant is known for its low-growing rosette shape and bright red leaves that are typically a few inches long.
Rotala rotundifolia grows best in water that ranges from 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit, which makes it a great choice for beginners looking to add some live plants to their tanks. A rule of thumb with this particular type of plant is the less light exposure it gets, the better it will grow.
It can be found as a foreground or midground cover, but can also work as an under-gravel filter area or as décor on top of driftwood. In order to maintain your Dwarf Rotala’s vibrant color, you’ll want to change about 10% of the water every week.
For example: if your tank has 100 gallons of water, you’ll need to replace 10 gallons each week. It’s important not to overfeed your fish because too much waste can cause poor plant growth and discoloration.
Finally, you’ll want to trim back any dead foliage at least once a month so that new growth can emerge unimpeded.
Ammania senegalensis (Copper Leaf Ammania)
Ammania senegalensis, or Copper Leaf Ammania, is one of the most popular aquarium plants. It has a rich green color and leaves with a copper-like sheen to them. The leaves are pinnately compound and have a bright red color when they first grow in. This plant can be found in both the wild and as an aquarium plant.
It’s often planted in freshwater tanks because it prefers lower water temperatures than other plants. Another reason why this is such a popular aquarium plant is that it does not grow too large for smaller tanks. Although it grows fairly quickly, it will only reach about two feet tall. Some people might want to trim its roots periodically so that they do not grow all over the substrate in your tank.
Alternanthera reineckii (Scarlet Temple)
This plant has a compact growth habit and green leaves that can grow up to 10 inches in height. The flowers are small, red-purple, and spiky. It is a hearty plant and is suitable for most aquariums. This plant should be planted in the substrate so that it doesn’t float around the tank.
Keep an eye on this plant as it can spread rapidly if not pruned regularly. Alternanthera reineckii needs medium light and low levels of CO2 with high water flow. The leaves will turn black if there isn’t enough light or CO2 levels are too high.
Alternanthera reineckii also prefers cooler temperatures between 68°F-78°F (20°C-26°C). You may have success using Anubias barteri var. nana or Riccia fluitans instead of Alternanthera reineckii if you live in a warm area, since they do better at higher temperatures than alternanthera reineckii does.
Ludwigia palustris (Marsh Seedbox, Water Purslane)
Ludwigia palustris, also known as Marsh Seedbox or Water Purslane, is one of the few plants that can grow in both freshwater and saltwater environments. It has a reddish stem with green leaves and red-brown flowers.
The flowers bloom during the summer months. The plant grows well in water up to 3 feet deep and thrives best in full sun. Its roots provide shelter for small fish such as guppies and killifish to hide from predators. They are easy to care for, but you must be careful not to over-fertilize them because it will cause algae blooms in your tank.
They have no particular need for substrate and don’t require any special lighting or fertilizer.
Although they are fairly hardy, they do die quickly if the water quality is poor. You’ll want to make sure you have some other plants in your aquarium so that there’s still oxygen available when these eventually die off.
Pogostemon stellatus (Octopus Plant Aquarium)
Pogostemon stellatus, commonly known as the Octopus Plant or the Air Plant, is a species of aquatic flowering plant in the family Lamiaceae. It is native to Southeast Asia and naturalized in many other places including Africa, Australia, India, Sri Lanka, and various islands of the Pacific Ocean.
The common name Octopus Plant arises from its unusual resemblance to an octopus when fully grown with eight long leaves.
Its appearance has led it to be used in aquariums where it can be anchored onto rocks, driftwood ornaments, ceramic pots, or even submerged in gravel for increased stability. It also makes a great addition to any pond that needs more green plants and produces oxygen.
Its leaves come in two different shapes: regular heart-shaped ones (left) and narrower heart-shaped ones (right).
Cryptocoryne wendtii Red (Wendt’s Water Trumpet)
This plant is among the most popular aquarium plants because it’s usually easy to grow and is often inexpensive. Cryptocoryne wendtii Red, also known as Wendt’s Water Trumpet, is a good choice for beginners because it can tolerate lower-quality water and low light levels.
It can grow to be about six inches tall when mature, with a spread of about five inches. The red coloration on this variety comes from the leaves being more reddish than green in color.
Cryptocoryne wendtii Red likes warmer temperatures and should not be kept below 70 degrees Fahrenheit or above 84 degrees Fahrenheit.
One important thing to note is that Wendt’s Water Trumpet does not have any way to attach itself to rocks or driftwood, so if you don’t want the plant floating around your tank, you’ll need to use an adhesive like silicone sealant or thread so it stays rooted down in one spot.
Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal Flower)
The Lobelia cardinalis is a beautiful, tall, red flowering plant that can grow up to 3 feet in height. It prefers a water depth of 24 inches and a pH level of 6-7. In order to keep the Lobelia cardinalis healthy and thriving it should be planted in soil with sand or peat moss.
It needs bright sunlight, so make sure to place it near an east or west window. As for temperature requirements, this plant does best at room temperature. Fertilizing is also important for the health of this plant and feeding it every two weeks will help ensure its vibrancy throughout the growing season.
It is recommended that you change the water once a week when this plant is living in your tank. When your Lobelia cardinalis begins to lose color and starts looking dried out, prune it back and replant it back into your tank after soaking the roots in warm water for about 10 minutes.
Be careful not to trim too much off of one branch as this could kill the whole branch from lack of nutrients.
Rotala indica (Indian toothcup)
This is a great plant for beginners as it is easy to maintain and grows quickly. It can grow to be about two inches tall and spread out over time, so it’s important not to put it in a small container. This plant does best when planted in a substrate with light, fast-draining soil.
Rotala indica also needs an ideal water temperature of 68°F-82°F (20°C-28°C). The leaves are green but the tips are pink. As this plant matures, the edges of the leaves will turn red or purple.
One downside to this plant is that it doesn’t like CO2 injection very much; if you choose to use CO2 then place your aquarium near a window that gets good sunlight so the Rotala indica will get natural CO2 from photosynthesis through the windows.
Red Tiger Lotus (Nypmhaea zenkeri)
The red tiger lotus is a very low-maintenance plant, having the ability to grow in just about any water condition. The downside of this plant is that it can be quite expensive. However, if you are willing to spend some money on your tank, this is the plant for you!
The leaves will start out green and get progressively redder as they mature. As with most plants, it’s best to trim them occasionally to keep them healthy. If left un-trimmed, these plants will eventually produce flowers.
They may not look as attractive without the bright red leaves but they still add color to an aquarium. You also have the option to cut off the flower spikes when they form. Be careful though because when you do this, it can take months before they will bloom again.
Rotala Yao Yai
Known as the red dragon, this plant is bright red on top and green on the bottom. It will grow to a height of about 2 inches, so it’s ideal for growing in pots or areas where it won’t have a lot of room to spread out.
This plant does well with low light, which means that you don’t need to worry about it getting too much light and burning. It prefers water that has a pH balance between 6-7 and temperatures between 68-82 degrees Fahrenheit. If grown in soil, it needs to be fertilized once per week.
The Rotala Yao Yai can be propagated by division. However, make sure that you use sterilized clippers when cutting the stem. One popular way to propagate these plants is called legging.
In this method, a stem from one plant is placed in another pot containing moist sand. When roots form at the end of the stem, they may be replanted into a regular potting mix or soil-based substrate.
The care requirements for this plant are minimal when kept indoors but slightly more difficult when outdoors because if direct sunlight.