Freshwater Aquarium Plants

Aquatic vivarium plants can be a maze to wrap your head around if you’re new to the fishkeeping hobby. After all, there are literally thousands of aquatic plants currently traded in the market… With new species continuously being discovered every day. This article will provide an in-depth list of the most common freshwater aquarium plants found around the world.

What Are Aquarium Plants?

Aquarium plants are flora that thrives in fully aquatic enclosures. Commonly referred to as aquatic plants, this foliage is well suited for small, submerged environments. This unique group of plants comes in a wide array of colors and various sizes. Growth rates and care requirements also vary depending on the species and the given conditions of the environment.

Freshwater Aquarium Plants

For sake of simplicity, the easiest way to categorize freshwater aquarium plants is by the location they are most commonly used in an aquatic vivarium. This would include the foreground, the midground, the background, as well as the surface area where many floating plants will reside. With the exception of aquarium moss. Moss is one of the few plant species that could work interchangeably in any of these sections.

Aquarium Moss

Before going into the list for each of the categories discussed earlier, I want to dive a tiny bit further into aquarium mosses. These types are very versatile when it comes to location and arrangement. For this reason, moss can be used interchangeably within any area of the tank. Depending on the type of style an enthusiast is going for, simply pruning this foliage will aid in the desired effect. Here is a list of easy-to-grow aquatic mosses suitable for aquariums:

Puffer Fish With Moss

Foreground Aquarium Plants

Foreground aquarium plants have the most influence on the overall design of a planted tank. This area is usually the first place your eyes are drawn to when viewing an aquascape. These plants are often the shortest in height when compared to the rest of the enclosure.

They can either be grown in mass often exhibiting a carpet-like appearance… Or used sparingly giving off an accent that aids in bridging a connection to the midground plants. Here is a list of typical species recommended as foreground aquarium plants:

Anubias

Anubias is a very hardy aquarium plant that can grow in a variety of conditions. They are considered an aquatic plant but can tolerate immersed settings if humid enough. Anubias are often found in various shades of green and come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

When growing anubias, they prefer nutrient-rich soils but are very capable of growing in a variety of substrates. Furthermore, this flora can be grown as an epiphyte usually attached to a porous rock or driftwood. Anubias make great foreground flora as well as midground depending on your preference. Here are anubias Species commonly used as foreground plants:

  • Anubias Nana
  • Anubias Nana Petite
  • Anubias Nana Super Petite
  • Anubias Nana Petite White
  • Anubias Nana Pinto
  • Anubias Barteri
  • Anubias Broad White
  • Anubias Marble White
  • Anubias ‘Jalapeño’
  • Anubias Nana Golden

Bucephalandra

Commonly known as Buce, bucephalandra is a flowering plant that is hugely popular amongst hobbyists of all levels. Like anubias, these guys generally have the same care requirements and are usually found in rivers as well as streams. Buce is generally found to be dark green but can come in a variety of green, blue, and red shades.

Being a hardy plant, buce can tolerate an array of substrates. It can also attach to hardscapes and be grown epiphytically. Foreground areas as well as midground are suitable areas bucephalandra are often placed. Here is a list of buce species frequently used as an aquarium plant.

  • Bucephalandra Achilles
  • Bucephalandra Alamanda
  • Bucephalandra Antyovani
  • Bucephalandra Aragon
  • Bucephalandra Belindae
  • Bucephalandra Biblis
  • Bucephalandra Brownie
  • Bucephalandra Cascade King
  • Bucephalandra Catherinae Red
  • Bucephalandra Centipede
  • Bucephalandra Dark
  • Bucephalandra Green
  • Bucephalandra Kapuas Hulu
  • Bucephalandra Fino Mimosa Bilblis Blue
  • Bucephalandra Kedagang
  • Bucephalandra Lagoon
  • Bucephalandra Lalina
  • Bucephalandra Melawi
  • Bucephalandra Rainbow Marble
  • Bucephalandra Red Mini
  • Bucephalandra Silver Eagle
  • Bucephalandra Theia
  • Bucephalandra Velvet Leaf Entikong
  • Bucephalandra White Marble
  • Piptospatha Ridleyi

Cryptocoryne

Often referred to as crypts, cryptocoryne is a very hardy aquarium plant once it is established. The lowland forest this flora is native to are mostly slow-flowing streams and rivers. This undemanding plant is extremely easy to care for perfect for beginners looking to add diversity to a tank.

Cryptocoryne is a versatile plant to work with. The many shapes, sizes, and colors they range in offers a unique opportunity for placement throughout an aquarium. Smaller species make an excellent ground cover in the foreground area. Larger species can be used interchangeably as a midground or background plant depending on preference. Here is a list of crypts commonly used as foreground plants:

  • Cryptocoryne Albida (Brown)
  • Cryptocoryne Becketii
  • Cryptocoryne Beckettii (Petchii)
  • Cryptocoryne Mioya
  • Cryptocoryne Tonkinensis
  • Cryptocoryne Lucens
  • Cryptocoryne Lutea
  • Cryptocoryne Pygmaea
  • Cryptocoryne Parva
  • Cryptocoryne Wendtii

Echinodorus

Echinodorus, commonly known as sword plants, are plants I’ve seen in just about every pet store. It’s the most typical plant is seen in every kid’s aquarium. And for good reason, it’s very easy to maintain. It just needs a relative amount of light and clean water.

Echinodorus as a species has a pretty common oval shape that varies in size. Most are found to have a bright green color but there are a few species that will produce a red shade when lighting requirements are met. I would normally label Amazon swords as background plants, this select list of echinodorus could fit the foreground range:

  • Echinodorus Magdalenensis
  • Echinodorus Hadi
  • Echinodorus Tenellus
  • Echinodorus Parviflorus
  • Echinodorus Small Bear

Lagenandra

Very similar to cryptocoryne, lagenandra is an aquatic plant that flowers. In fact, these plants are so similar in care requirement, appearance, and natural habitat… The only true distinction between them is the way new leaves unravel. Lagenandra has involute vernation, meaning the leaves unravel from its two sides. Cryptocoryne will unravel from one side with a slight overlap from the other side… Like a burrito.

Lagenandra adds an interesting touch to an enclosure and will usually find its place in the foreground or midground area. Here is a list of species commonly used as a foreground plant:

  • Lagenandra Keralensis
  • Lagenandra Tenkasi
  • Lagenandra Meeboldii Red
  • Lagenandra Thwaitesii

Micro Grasses

Micro grasses are plants frequently used to cover the foreground area. These types of plants usually require a good amount of lighting and a nutrient rich substrate. For that reason, they are exclusively placed in the front of the tank where they don’t have to compete with larger foliage.

I would consider most species of micro grasses not that suitable for beginner hobbyists due to the higher demands for these plants. They don’t require Co2 but will heavily benefit from those types of systems. Here is a list of popular micro grasses:

  • Eleocharis Parvula (Dwarf Hairgrass)
  • Eleocharis sp. ‘Mini’ (Mini Hairgrass)
  • Lilaeopsis Novaezelandiae (Micro Sword)
  • Lilaeopsis Mauritiana (Copragrass)
  • Lilaeopsis Mauritius (Micro Sword Narrow Leaf)
  • Blyxa Japonica (Blyxa)
  • Juncus Repens (Lesser Creeping Rush)
  • Sagittaria Subulata (Dwarf Sag)
  • Utricularia Graminifolia (UG)
  • Lilaeopsis Brasiliensis (Brazilian Micro Sword)

Other Carpeting Plants

Carpeting plants are the true creme of the crop when it comes to foreground flora. Many of the plants we have covered so far could easily be pruned into carpeting plants. Micro grasses are as carpeting plants as it gets… but with the amount of available micro grass species currently circulating within the hobby, I felt like they deserved a section of their own.

But what about the other carpeting plants, the kind exclusively used as flora intended to cover large areas? This list below covers specific species commonly used as aquarium carpeting plants:

  • Hemianthus Callitrichoides (Dwarf Baby Tears)
  • Micranthemum Monte Carlo (MC)
  • Elatine Hydropiper (Waterwort)
  • Glossostigma Elatinoides (Glosso)
  • Proserpinaca Palustris (Mermaid Weed)
  • Cardamine Lyrata (Chinese Ivy)
  • Hydrocotyle Tripartita (Japan)
  • Marsilea Crenata (Dwarf Four Leaf Clover)
  • Marsilea Hirsuta (Underwater Clover)
  • Lobelia Cardinalis (Dwarf)

Midground Aquarium Plants

Midground aquarium plants are used to fill in the main focal point of an enclosure. This foliage is usually medium in height when compared to the rest of the flora. They are often vibrant and colorful bridging the gap between the foreground cover plants and the lengthy background plants.

Shrimp On Top Of Buce

You might find many plants in this section are used as a foreground as well as background foliage. It mainly comes down to the current state of the chosen plant and that particular hobbyist’s preferences. Here is a list of plant species recommended as a midground aquarium plant:

Alternanthera

Alternanthera is probably most known for its vibrant colors. Reineckii is a particular species of red alternanthera frequently used in Dutch aquascapes for this very reason. When considering a plant that really pops under good lighting, beginners will find this plant relatively easier to keep than other species with similar colors.

Since this ornamental plant will grow dense and not too tall, it is preferably suited for the midground area of the tank. This foliage is great for tying in the shallow plants in the foreground area with hardscapes and background plants. Here is a list of alternanthera species I recommend for this location:

  • Alternanthera Bettzickiana Aurea
  • Alternanthera Ocipus
  • Alternanthera Reineckii (Mini)
  • Alternanthera Reineckii (Lila)
  • Alternanthera Bettzickiana Red
  • Alternanthera Reineckii
  • Alternanthera Reineckii (Rosanervig)
  • Alternanthera Reineckii (Rosaefolia)

Anubias

Anubias is a very hardy aquarium plant that can grow in a variety of conditions. They are considered an aquatic plant but can tolerate immersed settings if humid enough. Anubias are often found in various shades of green and come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

When growing anubias, they prefer nutrient-rich soils but are very capable of growing in a variety of substrates. Furthermore, this flora can be grown as an epiphyte usually attached to a porous rock or driftwood. Anubias make great foreground flora as well as midground depending on your preference. Here are anubias Species commonly used as midground plants:

  • Anubias Barteri (Round Leaves) 
  • Anubias Barteri Butterfly
  • Anubias Barteri (Coffeefolia)
  • Anubias Barteri (Angustifolia)
  • Anubias Barteri (Caladiifolia)
  • Anubias Barteri Nana Mother XXL
  • Anubias Congensis Mini
  • Anubias Minima
  • Anubias Marble White
  • Anubias Nana
  • Anubias Nana Golden
  • Anubias Nana Pinto

Bacopa

Bacopa is often referred to as one of the easiest stem plants to care for. Its low requirements and bright colors make it the perfect midground plant for beginners. Furthermore, more experienced hobbyists enjoy mixing this plant into high tech setups because of its suitability. This type of plant will continue to thrive as Co2 levels rise.

The slow growing nature and narrow stems of bacopa put this plant in a category that will range from midground to background. It truly comes down to preference. Here is a complete list of bacopa species frequently used as a midground plant:

  • Bacopa Amplexicaulis (Lemon Bacopa)
  • Bacopa Araguaia (Purple Bacopa)
  • Bacopa Australis
  • Bacopa Caroliniana (Bacopa Red)
  • Bacopa Monnieri (Moneywort)
  • Bacopa Monnieri Variegatus

Bolbitis

Bolbitis is an aquatic fern that grows extremely fast. As a suitable alternative to Java Ferns, this guys are considered to many, a better aquarium fern for beginners. It varies between shades of green and likes to grow with its roots above soil (epiphyte).

Bolbitis is another one of those versatile plants that can be used as a midground or background plant. Since it is native to areas it grows attached to various hardscapes, I find it more fitting as a midground plant. Here are a few varieties of species frequently used in the aquarium trade:

  • Bolbitis Heudelotii Difformis (Mini Bolbitis)

Cryptocoryne

Often referred to as crypts, cryptocoryne is a very hardy aquarium plant once it is established. The lowland forest this flora is native to are mostly slow-flowing streams and rivers. This undemanding plant is extremely easy to care for perfect for beginners looking to add diversity to a tank.

Cryptocoryne is a versatile plant to work with. The many shapes, sizes, and colors they range in offers a unique opportunity for placement throughout an aquarium. Smaller species make an excellent ground cover in the foreground area. Larger species can be used interchangeably as a midground or background plant depending on preference. Here is a list of crypts commonly used as midground plants:

  • Cryptocoryne Sp. (Flamingo)
  • Cryptocoryne Spiralis
  • Cryptocoryne Costata
  • Cryptocoryne Wendtii
  • Cryptocoryne Walkeri
  • Cryptocoryne Becketii
  • Cryptocoryne Crispulata (Balansae)
  • Cryptocoryne Retrospiralis
  • Cryptocoryne Legroi
  • Cryptocoryne Nevellii
  • Cryptocoryne Willissii

Helanthium

Previously known as echinodorus, helanthium has respectfully grown into a species of its own. This aquatic sword plant has more narrow leaves often making them a great consideration as a medium height grass plant. The typical helanthium exhibits a bright green color and propagates by shooting roots.

Helanthium is very capable of carpeting plants putting them in the realm of opportunities as a foreground plant. Due to the size, this foliage will reach as an adult, I feel they are better suited as midground plants for most tanks. Here are a few common species used in this category:

  • Helanthium Bolivianum (Echinodorus) 
  • Helanthium Quadricostatus (Echinodorus)
  • Helanthium Micranthemoides (Pearlweed)
  • Helanthium Vesuvius (Echinodorus)

Homalomena

Homalomena is a flowering plant that is in the same family as a bucephalandra. This means most of its care requirements and growth patterns will resemble a slow-moving stream or river. This flora is available in a number of unique colors… This includes silver, red, and various shades of green.

Homalomena as a species is a relatively straight forward plant to care for. It does however need special care in order to establish. It can be grown as an epiphyte or buried in a nutrient-rich substrate. Due to the average size and its ability to grow on hardscapes, I would recommend this type of plant for the midground section. Here are popular homalomena species great for this section of the enclosure:

  • Homalomena Humilis
  • Homalomena Silver
  • Homalomena Sungai Panjang
  • Homalomena Insignis
  • Homalomena Sekadau South

Hydrocotyle

Often referred to as water pennywort, hydrocotyle is a perennial aquatic plant that is found in many forms. One of my favorite things about this flora is its resilient ability to grow immersed. Pennyworts will vine their way across other plants, hardscapes and can grow with or without substrate. It is an underestimated plant that should be on the list of any beginner looking for a way to add a natural touch to their aquarium.

Various shades of green is the common color found across all species of hydrocotyle. Leaf sizes will range depending on the species. Even though hydrocotyle can be pruned into a decent carpeting plant for the foreground area, I find it more natural to place pennywort in the midground area. Here are various types of hydrocotyle species traded in the aquarium hobby:

  • Hydrocotyle Leucocephala (Brazilian Pennywort)
  • Hydrocotyle Sibthorpioides (Lawn Marsh Pennywort)
  • Hydrocotyle Tripartita (Japanese Pennywort)
  • Hydrocotyle Verticillata (Pennywort)

Hygrophila

Hygrophila, also known as swamp weeds, is an aquatic plant mostly recognized for its narrow leaves and thick stems. This plant is another epiphyte that can grow with or without substrate. Swampweeds are a good candidate for beginners and require very little maintenance.

This medium height, fast-growing stem plant comes in various shades of green and purple. Its thick, compact growth is great for the midground area aiding in tying in foreground flora with hardscapes. Here is a variety of hygrophila species ideal for midground aquatic plant choices:

  • Hygrophila Angustifolia Rubra
  • Hygrophila Araguaia
  • Hygrophila Difformis (Water Wisteria)
  • Hygrophila Pinnatifida

Microsorum

Microsorum pteropus, commonly known as Java fern, is hands down the most accessible aquarium plant on the market. Its natural Amazonian appearance and easy care requirements make it the go-to plant for hobbyists of all levels.

Many variants of java fern have surfaced over the market in recent years. Offering the traditional plant as we know it in various styles. This medium height flora is typically found in a bright green color. Here’s a list of microsorum pteropus variations currently available in the aquatic plant niche:

  • Microsorum Pteropus (Java Fern)
  • Microsorum Pteropus (Java Fern Thor)
  • Microsorum Pteropus (Broadleaf)
  • Microsorum Pteropus (Black Forest)
  • Microsorum Pteropus (Kiat)
  • Microsorum Pteropus (Narrow)
  • Microsorum Pteropus (Petite)
  • Microsorum Pteropus (Flaming)
  • Microsorum Pteropus (Latifolia)
  • Microsorum Pteropus (Sunrise)
  • Microsorum Pteropus (Trident)
  • Microsorum Pteropus (Windelov)
  • Microsorum Pteropus (Windelov Twisted)

Pogostemon

Pogostemon is an aquatic stem plant most known for its tentacle-like leaves. This vigorous grower has a high demand for lighting and will send shoots in any direction it can find space. It also requires a nutrient-rich substrate making it more of an intermediate level plant.

As an aquarium plant, pogostemon species can work as a midground as well as a background plant. It is currently available on the market in colors that range from bright green to an almost pinkish color. Here are an array of pogostemon variants suitable for the midground section of an aquarium:

  • Pogostemon Erectus
  • Pogostemon Helferi (Dao Noi)
  • Potomageton Gayi (Pondweed)
  • Pogostemon Stellata (Octopus)
  • Pogostemon Sampsonii

Staurogyne

Staurogyne is an aquarium plant mostly known for its low, bushy carpeting capabilities. Even though it is slightly larger than most carpeting plants used in the hobby today, it doesn’t stop this flora from creeping across whatever substrate its placed in.

Staurogyne species are considered relatively moderate when it comes to maintaining them. They can tolerate a broad range of water parameters but do take time to acclimate. Due to their growth habits, it’s easy to use this plant in the foreground/midground section of aquariums. Here is a list of staurogyne species currently found on the market:

  • Staurogyne Bihar
  • Staurogyne Repens
  • Staurogyne Porto Velho
  • Staurogyne Purple

Other Common Midground Plants

There are a number of other common midground plants we haven’t put into this list just yet. Rather it is because we covered them in other sections or there aren’t multiple varieties of that particular species to make its own list.

None the less, these plants still deserve an honorary mention due to the favorability within the aquatic plant keeping hobby. Here are a few of my favorite aquarium plants frequently used in the midground area of an enclosure:

  • Ammania Gracilis (Large Ammania)
  • Ammannia Senegalensis (Copper Leaf Ammania)
  • Barclaya Longifolia
  • Bucephalandra Giant Board Leaf 
  • Bucephalandra Giant Motleyana
  • Micranthemum Umbrosum (Giant Baby Tears)
  • Fenestratarum Mulyadii
  • Heteranthera Zosterifolia (Stargrass)
  • Lindernia Rotundifolia (Baby Tears)

Background Aquarium Plants

Background aquarium plants are used to cover open spaces in the rear of an enclosure. These plants are considered the tallest in the aquarium when compared to other flora. A simple, straightforward approach is taken into consideration often elevating the overall look of an aquascape. Here is a list of plant species frequently used as background aquarium plants:

Angel Fish With Vals & Ferns

Aponogeton

Aponogetons are flowering aquatic plants mostly known for its bulb-shaped base. These guys resemble sword plants with a flair of waves throughout their leaves. They are considered easy to care for and a good beginners choice.

The obvious size most aponogeton species will grow to warrant this foliage perfect as background plants. This flora is adaptive and a fast grower. Here is a list of aponogeton species currently available within the hobby:

  • Aponogeton Longiplumulosus
  • Aponogeton Madagascariensis (Lace Madagascar Plant)
  • Aponogeton Ulvaceus
  • Aponogeton Boivinianus
  • Aponogeton Capuronii
  • Aponogeton Crispus

Cabomba

Cabomba, commonly referred to as fanwort, is an aquatic plant mostly recognized by its fan-shaped leaves. Very similar to hornwort in appearance, cabomba is notably more stringy and will exhibit a number of colors depending on its exact species. Another huge take away with stocking this plant is its ability to produce large amounts of oxygen within a fish tank.

This particular foliage adds an aesthetic to enclosures that are aiming for a pond look. Being a relatively fast grower and large height, the background is a fitting location for fanworts. Furthermore, these plants require a decent amount of light putting them in the medium to high light category. Here are common cabomba species great for background use in aquariums:

  • Cabomba Aquatica (Giant Fanwort)
  • Cabomba Furcata (Red Cabomba)
  • Cabomba Caroliniana (Carolina Fanwort)

Crinum

Another bulb plant great for backgrounds is the crinum species. These plants exhibit long spiny leaves that set it apart from other plants in a very unique way. The narrow leaves can reach up to 120 cm for most species of crinum making it suitable for tall enclosures.

Commonly referred to as onion plants, crinum is generally dark green in color. It prefers bright lighting and propagates by shooting off smaller bulbs in all directions. Here is a list of onion plants perfect for the background area of a tank:

  • Crinum Natans (African Onion Plant)
  • Crinum Thaianum (Thai Onion Plant)
  • Crinum Calamistratum (Crinum Aquatica)

Echinodorus

Echinodorus, commonly known as sword plants, are plants I’ve seen in just about every pet store. It’s the most typical plant is seen in every kid’s aquarium. And for good reason, it’s very easy to maintain. It just needs a relative amount of light and clean water.

Echinodorus as a species have a pretty common oval shape that varies in size. Most are found to have a bright green color but there is a few species that will produce a red shade when lighting requirements are met. When grown to their true potential, these amazon swords make excellent background plants:

  • Echinodorus Bleheri (Amazon Sword)
  • Echinodorus Aflame (Aflame Sword)
  • Echinodorus Tenellus (Chain Sword)
  • Echinodorus Xinguensis (Dwarf Amazon Sword)
  • Echinodorus Martii Major (Ruffle Sword Plants)
  • Echinodorus Quadricostatus
  • Echinodorus Reni
  • Echinodorus Rose

Eriocaulon

Commonly referred to as erio or pipewort, eriocaulon is a species of aquatic plant that can also grow immersed. This unique plant thrives in hardwater but is adaptive to softwater. In addition, it can handle various flows of water making it ideal for fast-moving enclosures.

Erio is generally found in shades of green ranging from dark to bright green. Many enthusiasts rank this plant as difficult and not recommended for beginners. It demands high lighting as well as Co2 in most setups. Here are a few species frequently used as background plants for aquariums:

  • Eriocaulon Sp. (Quinquangulare Red)
  • Eriocaulon Sp. (Vietnamese)
  • Eriocaulon Setaceum (Erio)
  • Eriocaulon Sp. (Dong Ha)

Isoetes

Isolates, commonly referred to as quillwort, is a unique aquatic grass-like plant. Originally from Korea, most adult species will reach a height of about 15 inches. These plants are considered easy to care for but do require medium to high lighting.

Variations of quillwort can be found around the world, but don’t look all that much distinctively different. Isoetes will exhibit a dark green color and produces fast-growing leaves that are narrow and look very similar to vallisneria as a species. Here are a few variations commonly found in the aquatic plant hobby:

  • Isoetes Japonica (Japanese Quillwort)
  • Isoetes Velata (Quillwort)
  • Isoetes Lacustris (Lake Quillwort)
  • Isoetes Echinospora (Spiny Quillwort)

Limnophila

Often times called marshweed, limnophila is a bushy stem plant for aquariums. With its fan-shaped leaves, many consider this a good alternative to cabomba due to its undemanding requirements of high lighting. Limnophila can also come in a broader range of colors and shapes.

This fast-growing plant is in the spectrum of beginners but also enjoyed by experts due to its unique influence as an aquascaping tool. Here are a couple of limnophila species commonly used as background plants:

  • Limnophila Aromatica (L. Hippuroides)
  • Limnophila Heterophylla (Ambulia)
  • Limnophila Indica (Indian Marshweed)
  • Limnophila Aquatica (Giant Ambulia)
  • Limnophila Sessiliflora (Asian Marshweed)

Ludwigia

Ludwigia is another hugely popular aquarium plant that comes in an array of styles and colors. This fast-growing plant thrives in freshwater and will reach heights of more than 30 cm.

The dense foliage ludwigia produces, make it a good fit as a midground and a background plant. It mainly comes down to preference and tank size. Here is a complete list of ludwigia species commonly traded throughout the aquarium hobby:

  • Ludwigia Arcuata (Needle Leaf)
  • Ludwigia Atlantis (Dark Orange)
  • Ludwigia Natans (Super Red)
  • Ludwigia Ovalis (Oval)
  • Ludwigia Palustris
  • Ludwigia Pink
  • Ludwigia Sedioides (Mosaic Plant)
  • Ludwigia Senegalensis
  • Ludwigia Inclinata
  • Ludwigia Inclinata (Cuban)
  • Ludwigia Inclinata (Crystal)
  • Ludwigia Inclinata (Twister)
  • Ludwigia Glandulosa (Diamond)
  • Ludwigia Repens
  • Ludwigia Sphaerocarpa

Myriophyllum

Commonly referred to as watermilfoil, myriophyllum is an aquatic plant that is known for its hardiness and ability to tolerate a variety of environments. This plant ranges in color from red to green and can be placed in soil or left floating. The feather-like leaves give this flora a unique opportunity to stand out as a background plant. Here is my list of myriophyllum species:

  • Myriophyllum Elatinoides (Mini)
  • Myriophyllum Mattogrossense
  • Myriophyllum Tuberculatum (Red Water Milfoil)
  • Myriophyllum Guyana
  • Myriophyllum Propinquum (Water Milfoil)
  • Myriophyllum Tetrandrum

Rotala

Rotala is an aquatic stem plant very commonly used as aquarium plants. This versatile flora comes in a multitude of styles and colors, each with their very own care requirements. For the most part, this plant is relatively simple to care for.

Different setups will lead to different results though. For example, more light will cause many rotala to produce redder leaves… The addition of Co2 will cause a different growth pattern versus not using Co2 at all. Either way, rotala is a plant that grows tall and fast. Here is a list of individual rotala species commonly used as aquarium plants:

  • Rotala Nanjenshan (Mayaca sellowiana)
  • Mayaca Fluviatilis (Stream Bogmoss)
  • Rotala Coin Leaf
  • Rotala Vietnam H’ra
  • Rotala Rotundifolia (Orange Juice)
  • Rotala Small Leaf
  • Rotala Macrandra Green (Giant Rotala)
  • Rotala Macrandra (Butterfly Mini)
  • Rotala Indica (Indian Toothcup)
  • Rotala Indica (Bonsai)
  • Rotala Araguaia (Red Cross)

Vallisneria

Often referred to as eelgrass or simply val, vallisneria is an aquatic plant that resembles grass. As one of the oldest plants used in the aquarium hobby, vals are considered to be the easiest to grow and propagate as well. A chain of shoots continuity runs off parents as the plant establishes itself in an enclosure.

A bright green color is exhibited across the many val species as size and leaf patterns vary. As a background plant, vallisneria can be a really good fit for any enclosure… adding a nice hint of naturalization and professionalism as it takes its form. Here is an extended list of val species commonly traded as an aquarium plant:

  • Vallisneria Americana (Jungle Val)
  • Vallisneria Gigantea (Giant Val)
  • Vallisneria Gigantea (Rubra)
  • Vallisneria Spiralis (Straight Vals)
  • Vallisneria Spiralis (Tiger)
  • Vallisneria Spiralis (Leopard)
  • Vallisneria Nana (Vals Nana)
  • Vallisneria Contortionist (Corkscrew Val)
  • Vallisneria Torta (Torta Val)

Other Common Background Plants

I could probably go on and on with endless possible plant species suitable as background plants. The qualifying characteristics are always height, and the ability to not take too much of the focus of the rest of the enclosure. Here are a few honorary mentions frequently used as background plants:

  • Anacharis Sp. (Brazilian Waterweed)
  • Diandra Didiplis (Peplis Diandra)
  • Roseospatha Schismatoglottis
  • Scrophulariaceae Sp.
  • Armoracia Aquatica (Rorippa Aquatica)
  • Clinopodium Brownei (Creeping Charlie)
  • Gratiola Viscidula
  • Hedyotis Salzmannii
  • Najas Indica (Guppy Grass)
  • Penthorum Sedoides (Ditch Stonecrop)
  • Tonina Fluviatilis
  • Tonina Belem

Floating Aquarium Plants

Floating aquarium plants are a nice, yet not necessary, group of foliage that adds an additional dimension to the aquascape. This section of flora is left to free float throughout the enclosure further enhancing its natural appearance. Here is a list of species commonly used as floating aquarium plants:

Floating Aquarium Plants

In Summary

Freshwater aquarium plants come in all shapes and forms. With hundreds of thousands of plant species currently known, I tried my best to build a list that primarily focuses on aquatic plants that are both accessible as well as aquarium proven. If you are new to the vivarium hobby, I truly hope this guide provides clarity with a good understanding of the aquatic plants currently available on the market!