If you’re familiar with aquariums, then you’ve probably heard of the term floating aquarium plants before, but maybe you were never sure what they are or how they work. Let me explain!
Floating aquarium plants for beginners are those that grow on top of the water and do not require any substrates to be anchored to the bottom of the tank. Floating plants can be used in any type of aquarium or pond because they don’t require a substrate to remain in place.
Finding the right floating aquarium plants for beginners can be tough, especially if you’re new to the hobby or don’t know exactly what you need. There are dozens of different varieties to choose from and each has its own benefits and drawbacks, so choosing the right plants may seem more stressful than it’s worth.
Freshwater aquarium plants are essential in maintaining the overall ecosystem of your tank, and they’re also attractive to the eye. There are plenty of floating aquarium plants on the market, which you can use to decorate your tank and make it look more natural and appealing while adding oxygen-producing greenery to your water supply. But how do you know which plants are right for you?
Luckily, we’ve done all the research and put together this list of the top 22 floating aquarium plants that can help you build up your healthy aquarium quickly.
What are floating aquarium plants?
The term floating aquarium plants is often used to describe any plant that is commonly kept in a water-filled container. These plants do not need to be anchored in a place like traditional aquarium plants because they are able to float freely.
This makes them easier and less time-consuming to care for, which is why they are popular among beginning aquarists. They also have the added benefit of being safe from hungry fish that would otherwise eat their roots.
Floating aquarium plants, or surface plants, are often easier to maintain than submersed plants, and they provide a natural environment for fish to thrive.
Floating aquarium plants can vary greatly in size, shape, and color as well as light requirements, so it’s important to research what you’re looking for before purchasing one. With all of this information, it’s no wonder these plants have been becoming more and more popular over the years!
Top 22 floating aquarium plants
Anacharis (Egeria densa)
Anacharis can be a beautiful addition to any aquarium and is often kept by beginner aquarists. It grows well in low light, under gravel filtration systems, and can tolerate a wide variety of water conditions. Anacharis should not be planted on a substrate because it will eventually rot and release toxic substances into the water.
Instead, use an underwater plant clip to attach it to rocks or driftwood. Plant clips are available at most pet stores. If you’re attaching your anacharis to live plants, be sure that they are large enough so that they won’t get tangled with each other while also allowing them to have space to grow.
In some cases, you might find that your live plants may need additional light if their leaves start turning yellow or brown.
Duckweed (Lemna minor)
Duckweed is one of the most popular types of floating aquarium plants because it is both affordable and easy to grow. Duckweed thrives in wet environments, so make sure that your water level stays high enough for the duckweed to be submerged.
It grows very quickly, so you will need to prune the plant regularly or it will overtake the tank. You should also keep an eye out for any snails or fish eating the roots, which will slow growth down significantly.
Java Moss (Vesicularia dubyana)
Java Moss is one of the most popular plants for use in a saltwater aquarium because it’s very easy to care for. Java moss grows quickly and thrives when placed in bright, indirect light. It needs very little maintenance and will not require pruning to maintain a healthy appearance.
Just be sure not to place the plant in direct sunlight because it can burn easily. Additionally, Java moss should be given plenty of water so that it doesn’t dry out as this will cause algae problems on your tank floor.
Hornwort (Ceratophyllum demersum)
Hornwort is a great floating plant for aquariums because it provides shade and cover for fish. It’s also an excellent plant to promote the growth of nitrates in your tank, which can help with the water clarity. Hornwort is fast-growing, making it a low-maintenance choice for anyone looking to spruce up their tank.
If you want something that will grow quickly, you can use hornwort as a substrate cover, so be sure to trim any overgrown plants before they reach the surface of your tank.
Another reason hornwort makes such a good floating aquarium plant is that it doesn’t require any special lighting or CO2 supplementation, so if you’re starting out as an aquarist with limited knowledge about what aquatic plants need, this is one option that won’t complicate things further.
Amazon Frogbit (Limnobium laevigatum)
Amazon frogbit, also known as Limnobium laevigatum, is an aquatic plant native to South America. It’s grown mostly in Amazonian areas and along the Atlantic coast of North America.
It has a deep root system that helps it grow in low-oxygen environments, making it perfect for murky waters and ponds with slow-moving water. Amazon frogbits can grow up to three feet tall. These plants are perennial and do not need replanting every year.
When buying these plants, be aware that they will reproduce by themselves if left in the same container for too long; so choose one plant per pot or take cuttings from existing plants instead of planting new ones.
Dwarf Water Lettuce (Pistia stratiotes)
Pistia stratiotes is an aquatic plant that is commonly found in freshwater lakes, ponds, and slow-moving streams. It grows to be around 2 feet tall and has a broad, flat leaf that floats on the surface of the water. The Dwarf Water Lettuce often has a bluish hue to it because of its high concentration of dissolved organic compounds.
The Dwarf Water Lettuce is one of the best floating aquarium plants for providing shade. If you are looking for a plant that will help keep your fish cool then this is one you should consider. It does not grow very quickly so you don’t have to worry about overstocking your tank with this type of plant.
Water Sprite (Ceratopteris thalicotoides)
Water Sprite, or Ceratopteris thalicotoides, is a freshwater plant native to Asia. It has long, branching stems and thin leaves that grow in whorls of three. This variety of aquarium plants floats on the surface of the water and can thrive in both still and turbulent waters.
Water Sprite is an excellent choice for fish tanks with low light levels because it grows even without much sunlight. Its unique shape makes this type of aquarium plant ideal for hiding in corners where other plants might not be able to grow.
Aquariums decorated with this variety of floating aquatic flora tend to have lots of oxygen bubbles due to their ability to photosynthesize quickly. A full-grown Water Sprite will need at least four hours per day under artificial lighting.
Cabomba (Cobomba caroliniana)
Cabomba is one of the most popular and common types of floating aquarium plants. It’s a stem plant that grows in an upright position and can reach up to five feet tall. It has long leaves that are usually around four to six inches wide and at least twelve inches long. This plant is a slow grower, which means it requires less light than other plants do.
However, its roots will get brown if they’re not kept moist enough. One thing you need to know about this type of plant is that it needs more CO2 than other plants because it thrives on higher levels of carbon dioxide. If you want your cabomba to survive for as long as possible, be sure not to cut off any leaves!
Water Spangles (Salvinia minima)
In order to take care of this plant, you need to make sure that it has plenty of light. It does not require much fertilizing, but if you do fertilize, use liquid fertilizer or nitrate fertilizer at half strength. In the wild, they grow in tropical wetlands where the water is low in nutrients and high in organic matter from decaying plants.
They are slow-growing plants and propagate vegetatively through their rhizomes (underground stems). If a small piece breaks off and falls on the soil, it will start a new plant there. This plant can be grown as an annual. The leaves are roundish and thread-like, with edges that curl downward. There are tiny bristles on the leaf margins.
The flowers of Salvinia minima range from white to pink or purple with five petals. Flowering usually occurs during late summer to early autumn with pollination occurring by means of insects and other pollinating agents such as wind, birds, and bats which help distribute pollen for cross-pollination among different flowering individuals.
Water Wisteria (Hygrophila difformis)
Water wisteria is a popular plant choice for aquariums and ponds because it can grow in both aquatic and non-aquatic environments. This makes it a versatile option that can be used in any type of water garden or pond.
It also has the added benefit of being available at most nurseries, making it easy to find if you are looking for something to create your own water garden. They are also very hardy, so they will work well in any environment you put them in.
Finally, this variety doesn’t need too much light so it won’t be an issue no matter what conditions your plants are exposed to.
Pennywort (Centella asiatica)
Pennywort is one of the most popular floating aquarium plants. It is also a fast-growing plant that can be propagated by stem cuttings. This plant does well in low light levels and has a lot of air bubbles on its leaves.
Pennywort is also great for removing chemicals like nitrates from aquarium water because it absorbs them through its leaves and roots. Therefore, pennywort makes a good choice for newly planted tanks with an unestablished biological filter.
In addition to being used as an aquarium decoration, pennywort is also used as a medicinal herb in Southeast Asia. It has been used to treat high blood pressure, muscle spasms, depression, anxiety, infections, and gastrointestinal issues.
Rotala indica (Indian Toothcup)
Rotala indica is a great floating aquarium plant due to its ability to survive in low-light environments. It is also one of the best plants for aquariums with heavy fish traffic.
Due to its low-light tolerance, this plant can be used as a substitute for lower-light plants such as Anubias, Java Fern, and Cryptocoryne species.
Rotala indica can be planted individually or in bunches that are tied together at the base of their stems. When planting them individually, you will want to place them at intervals of 2 inches (5 cm) so they have enough space to grow. When tying them into bunches, you should allow 4 inches (10 cm) between each bunch so they don’t grow too close together.
Mosquito Fern (Azolla filiculoides)
Mosquito fern, also known as Azolla filiculoides, is a small, lightweight fern that floats on the surface of the water. It has delicate fronds that can be distinguished by its triangular shape.
Mosquito ferns are great for adding oxygen to your tank and may help keep mosquito populations down in ponds or other water features. This plant is easy to grow and care for. It should be planted in at least three inches of soil before you place it into your tank. Once this plant is established, it will quickly spread across the top of the water and produce vibrant green leaves.
Ludwigia repens (Creeping Primrose-Willow)
Ludwigia repens, also known as Creeping Primrose-Willow, is a low-maintenance plant that grows slowly in both hard and soft water. It has small yellow flowers that grow near the base of the leaves and can be propagated by dividing the clump or taking cuttings.
It does not do well with high levels of light so it is best to place it in an area away from the light source such as under some floating plants that do not need much light like Anubias barteri var. nana or Riccia fluitans.
Remember that this plant will spread quickly in your aquarium so trimming and cutting the stems will help to keep its growth controlled. A layer of gravel on top of your soil should help prevent this problem because it will take longer for these roots to penetrate through the gravel into your soil. With these care tips, you should have no problem keeping a thriving population of creeping primrose-willow plants.
Red Root Floater (Phyllanthus fluitans)
The Red Root Floater is a beautiful plant that’s great for the aquarium. It has purplish-brown roots that anchor it to the substrate and green, lanceolate leaves that float on top of the water. These plants are often sold as floating plants for aquariums, but can grow up to 18 inches long if planted in soil. They also do well in freshwater or saltwater tanks. They’re an excellent option for any type of fish tank!
A small downside to this variety is that the flowers aren’t very showy and will only appear after many years of growth.
The Red Root Floater prefers bright light with temperatures from 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit. The optimal pH range for this plant ranges from 5.0-8.0, with 6 being best for most plants.
Brazilian Pennywort (Hydrocotyle leucocephala)
Brazilian pennywort is a perennial aquatic plant that can be found in freshwater or brackish environments. It thrives best in full sun, and when grown in proper conditions, it can grow up to 12-24 inches tall. One of the most popular traits of this plant is its ability to help reduce nitrate levels in your aquarium water.
This makes it an excellent addition to any planted tank with high levels of nitrates. In fact, it’s one of the only plants that’s been shown to actually remove nitrates from the water! When it comes to light requirements, Brazilian pennywort does well in both low and high-lighting conditions. Keep in mind though, you may see some yellowing leaves when you provide too much light for this species.
Floating Fern (Salvinia natans)
The floating fern is a plant that floats on the surface of the water and can be used in aquariums or ponds. This plant is also a good choice for those who have fish that enjoy hiding out in plants.
Floating ferns are known to be hardy and easy to care for, making them a popular choice for many hobbyists. As with most aquatic plants, it’s important to know how large your container is before you buy your first one. If you do not want the plant to take over your tank after a while, make sure you choose one that’s smaller than 3 inches in diameter at its widest point.
Salvinia cucullata (Salvinia cucullata)
Salvinia cucullata, also known as Salvinia, is a plant that is native to the Amazon and can grow up to 20 cm in just one day. It has large, round leaves that are about 8 cm in length. This aquatic plant does not need any soil at all to thrive and can work well in most aquariums because it’s not toxic or invasive to other types of plants.
Salvinia is an excellent plant for oxygenation and it can help remove ammonia from the water. If you have low levels of CO2 in your tank, this is an ideal plant to add.
Salvinia will consume nutrients from the water column and release them into the atmosphere as CO2 during photosynthesis, so make sure you maintain high levels of dissolved CO2 when using this type of plant. You can provide more light if needed by adding additional fluorescent lights over the top which will then increase productivity for photosynthesis.
Crystalwort Riccia (Riccia fluitans)
Crystalwort Riccia, also known as Crystalwort or Cladophora, is a type of green algae that can be found in freshwater environments all over the world. This plant has been popular in aquariums for many years because of its lush green coloration and its ability to help control algae growth.
The best part about this aquatic plant is that it is fairly easy to take care of and does not require much maintenance. It requires either direct sunlight or artificial light such as LED bulbs. The temperature range for the crystalwort riccia is 64-72 degrees Fahrenheit, which means you don’t have to worry too much about regulating the temperature.
Additionally, this species needs little oxygen so you’ll only need to make sure that it’s submerged underwater at all times!
Mosaic Plant (Ludwigia sedioides)
The mosaic plant, or Ludwigia sedioides, is a low-growing plant that has been known to grow up to six inches in height. This plant is often used as an aquatic border and provides great coverage for the bottom of your aquarium. It is also a good choice for beginners because it does not require much care and can tolerate changing water conditions.
Mosaic plants are easy to propagate by dividing the rhizomes under water or planting them in your substrate. Planting mosaic plants on top of rocks or driftwood will provide more stability and make them look very natural.
If you want your mosaic plant to grow taller, you can place it next to another one so they will be able to lean on each other. However, if you are just starting out with this type of arrangement then try combining two varieties together for maximum diversity in color and texture.
Subwassertang (Lomariopsis lineata)
Subwassertang is a plant that does well in low-light aquariums, as it doesn’t need much light to thrive. It also does well in nutrient-poor water, meaning it can grow just about anywhere and often gets quite large.
Plus, subwassertang has beautiful purple leaves that contrast beautifully with the green stems and brownish leaf undersides. It will also grow best when planted on top of any gravel substrate, rather than beneath the gravel. Subwassertang provides excellent cover for fry hiding from predators and its bushy appearance creates a nice natural look for any aquarium setting.
Banana Plant (Nymphoides aquatica)
The banana plant is an aquatic plant that has a wide range of uses in the aquarium. It is a very sturdy plant, so it can be used as both a foreground and background plant. This plant has bright green leaves that are paired with pink or yellow flowers.
One downside of this plant is that it does not grow very quickly, so you may have to replace your plants every three months or so to keep up with your tank’s growth.
Another potential issue is that the flowers can release chemicals into the water if they come into contact with some fish (although usually only those who have sensitive skin). In general, this plant is fairly low-maintenance and hardy.