Are you looking for the perfect way to add life and vibrancy to your mini pond or aquarium? Small pond plants are an ideal choice for creating a lush and colorful aquatic environment while providing natural food and shelter for aquatic life.
With so many different types of small pond plants to choose from, you can have a unique aquatic environment with beautiful visuals and natural benefits. Additionally, they make great riparium plants as well as paludarium plants.
In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of small pond plants, what types to consider, and how to care for these plants in your mini pond or aquarium. Let’s dive in!
What Are Small Pond Plants?
Small pond plants are aquatic plant life that has been cultivated and tailored to perfectly fit smaller bodies of water such as aquariums and mini ponds.
Commonly found in natural bodies of water, these plants are chosen due to their size and ability to thrive in these environments.
Small pond plants can range from a variety of colors and sizes with different amounts of maintenance needed throughout their lifespan.
Benefits Of Using Small Pond Plants
Small pond plants offer a variety of benefits for mini ponds and aquariums. From providing aeration to the water to adding a range of colors.
Furthermore, the addition of small pond plants serves as a natural source of food and shelter for aquatic life and enhances the overall aesthetic.
Small pond plants provide a key benefit to aquatic life in mini ponds and aquatic vivariums by adding aeration to the water.
By anchoring to the bottom aquatic substrate and having their leaves protruding out of the water, small pond plants help to create the movement of water and oxygen within the water.
This improved circulation keeps the water healthy and helps oxygenate the water which is essential for aquatic life.
Come In A Variety Of Looks
Small pond plants come in an array of colors, shapes, and sizes, offering an interesting and naturalistic aesthetic to mini ponds and aquariums.
Whether you opt for brightly colored Coleus or muted greens from the Syngonium podophyllum, these small pond plants create depth, texture, and form in any aquarium or mini pond.
You can also try a combination of different shades, with variegated varieties like Codiaeum variegatum adding visual interest and dimension.
The many sizes of small pond plants available provide a natural experience as if your aquarium or mini pond was taken right out of a pond habitat.
Natural Source Of Food & Shelter
Small pond plants provide a natural food source and shelter for aquatic life. They provide the perfect hiding place for fish and other aquatic wildlife, and their leaves and stems offer a natural source of sustenance.
Not only that, but the presence of these plants also encourages increased water movement. In turn, this brings more oxygen to the water, ultimately increasing its vitality.
Best Types Of Small Pond Plants
When choosing small pond plants for vivariums, it is important to consider the type of plant, its lighting requirements, and its pH levels.
Some of the most popular small pond plants typically have very similar care needs. I’d still recommend using this list below to make sure you pick the right plants for your particular setup.
Acorus calamus (Sweet Flag)
Acorus calamus, or Sweet Flag, is a unique small pond plant that is perfect for mini aquatic ecosystems. It is a perennial grass-like plant that can be identified by its bright green leaves that are sword-shaped and grow in a fan-like arrangement around its upright stem.
Sweet Flag can tolerate a wide range of light and water conditions and will increase the oxygen levels of the water, making it a great choice for mini ponds and aquariums. This plant is very peaceful and especially useful for those ponds with very minimal space.
It does not spread too quickly and does not need to be pruned frequently, making it an ideal option for small, enclosed ponds.
Here’s a complete guide on caring for the Acorus calamus (Sweet Flag).
Alternanthera ficoidea (Party Time Plant)
Alternanthera ficoidea, or Party Time Plant, is an ideal small pond plant for aquariums, paludariums, and ripariums. Party Time Plant has unique foliage that is incredibly eye-catching, featuring a deep purple base with splashes of green, yellow, and red.
It has a well-behaved, mat-forming habit, stays low to the ground, and is well-suited for carpeting an area. Its foliage adds beautiful texture to the bottom of an aquarium, as well as a bright burst of color.
It is easy to maintain and trim, and also produces small white flowers to give an additional pop of color over time.
Here’s a complete guide on caring for Alternanthera ficoidea (Party Time Plant).
Coleus scutellarioides (Painted Nettle)
The Coleus scutellarioides, also known as Painted Nettle, is an eye-catching small pond plant that is perfect for mini aquatic setups. It is an evergreen perennial plant with serrated leaves that grow from a large central stem.
The oval-shaped leaves are a bright green that features vibrant splashes of colors such as red, yellow, and purple. Painted Nettle is a low-maintenance plant that doesn’t require much pruning or trimming and prefers semi-moist soil.
Its unique colors and easy-care requirements make it a popular choice amongst pond plant enthusiasts.
Here’s a complete guide on caring for Coleus scutellarioides (Painted Nettle).
Ruellia brittoniana ‘katie’ (Katie Ruellia)
Ruellia brittoniana ‘Katie’, a.k.a Katie Ruellia, is a popular small pond plant for mini aquatic gardens due to its intense blue flowers that blossom throughout the year. This exotic water plant is easy to grow and maintain, reaching only heights of 6-8 inches.
Katie Ruellia is an excellent choice for keeping pond size small, with its delicate lance-shaped foliage and vibrant blue flowers. It is also highly tolerant of low light and warm temperatures, making it one of the most unique small pond plants on this list.
Here’s a complete guide on caring for Ruellia brittoniana ‘Katie’ (Katie Ruellia).
Saururus cernuus (Lizard’s Tail)
The Saururus cernuus, commonly referred to as Lizard’s Tail, is a small pond plant that is perfect for adding that extra bit of life and bright, vibrant color to any mini pond, paludarium, riparium, or aquarium.
It’s a tropical to semi-tropical evergreen perennial, usually growing to heights around 1-2 feet, which makes it an ideal choice for smaller ecosystems.
The foliage of the plant is oval-shaped and is generally a glossy deep green color, with small white flowers that grow in spikes during the summer months.
What makes Lizard’s Tail unique from other small pond plants is that it can easily tolerate partial shade, meaning that it’s a great choice for those ponds with limited sunlight.
Additionally, the foliage can stay in good condition even when the waters of the aquarium get a little too warm, so it’s a great heat-tolerant pond plant.
Here’s a complete guide on caring for Saururus cernuus (Lizard’s Tail).
Aglaonema spp. (Chinese Evergreen)
Aglaonema spp., or Chinese Evergreen, is a small pond plant that is commonly used in aquariums and mini ponds. This plant is a low-maintenance aquatic species and comes in a variety of attractive shapes and sizes, such as the Silver Bay and the Silver Queen.
It has long, narrow oval-shaped leaves with a bright and glossy appearance and comes in a range of foliage colors including cream, purple, silver, and green. Chinese Evergreens are ideal for those areas with lower light and require minimal pruning or maintenance.
What makes the Aglaonema spp. especially unique from other small pond plants is its ability to help filter toxins from the water, creating a clean and healthy environment for all aquatic life.
Here’s a complete guide on caring for Aglaonema spp. (Chinese Evergreen).
Codiaeum variegatum (Croton)
Codiaeum variegatum or Croton is a plant native to India, Southeast Asia, and some parts of Australia. It is an evergreen shrub that can grow as tall as 6–8ft but can also be kept to a much smaller size with regular maintenance.
Croton is one of the most popular small pond plants, boasting a wide selection of colorful and distinct foliage, ranging from bronze, red, yellow, and green, with some varieties having striped patterns.
Its bright, bold foliage and its adaptability to water features, make it a great addition to all aquatic vivariums. It is also easy to care for, requiring regular pruning and trimming to keep it small and maintain its attractive appearance.
Here’s a complete guide on caring for Codiaeum variegatum (Croton).
Laguncularia racemosa (White Mangrove)
Laguncularia racemosa, also known as White Mangrove, is a small pond plant that makes the perfect choice for mini ponds. It is a slow-growing evergreen shrub with thin, white stems and feathery leaves. It can reach a maximum height of about four feet but can be pruned to maintain a desired size.
These plants are usually found growing in sandy and rocky areas in the wild, and therefore have the ability to thrive in a wide range of conditions. As an added bonus, this versatile plant provides a natural habitat and food source for aquatic life.
The White Mangrove is a great choice for small ponds due to its soft foliage and attractive look, which adds interest and beauty to the pond.
Here’s a complete guide on caring for Laguncularia racemosa (White Mangrove).
Lindernia grandiflora (Blue Moneywort)
The Lindernia grandiflora, or Blue Moneywort, is an attractive small pond plant that is well-suited for aquariums and mini ponds. It has pointed, oval leaves of blue-green that are fairly short, clumped in a round shape that stands out in the miniature aquatic scene.
What makes this plant unique from other small pond plants is its striking coloring and its ability to thrive in full sun, partial shade, and even in cooler temperatures.
It is an easy-care plant to cultivate and can be an eye-catching addition to add both aesthetics and interest in any aquatic environment.
Here’s a complete guide on caring for Lindernia grandiflora (Blue Moneywort).
Saintpaulia spp. (African Violet)
Saintpaulia spp., or the African Violet, is a unique small pond plant with velvety foliage and a mix of soft purple, pink, or white blooms that make it an ideal choice for mini ponds and semi-aquatic vivariums. It requires bright, indirect light and can tolerate temperatures ranging from 60-85 °F.
It can be grown indoors or outdoors, is low maintenance, and is easy to propagate through leaf cuttings. African violet is a perfect choice for those looking to add a hint of beauty to their miniature pond or aquarium.
Here’s a complete guide on caring for the Saintpaulia spp. (African Violet).
Syngonium podophyllum (Arrowhead)
The Syngonium podophyllum, commonly known as the Arrowhead plant, is a small evergreen perennial often used in fish tanks and mini ponds. This plant is recognizable for its arrow-shaped glossy leaves that are dark green with brownish-yellow variegation.
This accentuates the various-sized foliage, creating an eye-catching addition to any wet vivarium. In addition to its attractive foliage, the Arrowhead plant is an excellent air purifier, reducing the levels of carbon dioxide while releasing higher levels of oxygen into the water.
This makes this small pond plant a unique choice for adding beauty and balance to any miniature river scene.
Here’s a complete guide on caring for Syngonium podophyllum (Arrowhead).
Caring For Small Pond Plants
Small pond plants need proper care and maintenance to ensure their well-being. This includes providing adequate lighting, monitoring the pH levels of the water, and pruning or trimming the plants when necessary. Additionally, regular maintenance should be done to keep the plants looking healthy and vibrant.
Provide Adequate Lighting
Adequate lighting is essential for the health and growth of small pond plants. Depending on the type of plants, they may require direct sunlight or indirect sunlight. For direct sunlight, the plants should receive at least 6 to 8 hours of full sun per day.
For plants that don’t require direct sunlight, aquarium lightings such as LED lights or fluorescent lights should be used. These lights should be placed at the right height and distance from the plants to ensure optimal lighting.
Additionally, you should keep an eye on the intensity of the lights to make sure that the plants are not getting too much or too little light.
Monitor pH Levels
Monitoring pH levels is an important part of keeping small pond plants healthy. The ideal pH range for pond plants is between 6.5 and 7.5, with the majority of species thriving within this range. To ensure that pH levels stay within the ideal levels, regular monitoring is needed.
This can be easily done with a water test kit, which can test water’s pH levels. Additionally, using dechlorinated pond water and chemical-free fertilizer can help to maintain ideal pH levels.
It’s important to note that if the pH levels drop below 6.0, the aquatic plants may die, so monitoring the pH levels of your pond water is essential.
Prune & Trim Pond Plants
Pruning and trimming small pond plants is an important part of keeping them healthy and vibrant. This should be done on a regular basis in order to keep the plants growing in the desired direction and to prevent overcrowding.
Pruning should be done carefully, making sure to avoid large or deep cuts that can damage the plant. When pruning, one should focus on removing dead or dying material as well as any crossed branches or stems that are taking away light or resources from other plants.
For trimming, it is best to use scissors or shears and gently trim the leaves and stems back to the desired size and shape. Doing this correctly will greatly reduce the amount of time and resources needed for maintenance and also improve aesthetic appeal.
Small pond plants are the perfect choice for adding life and vibrancy to your mini pond or aquarium. With so many types of small water plants to choose from, you are sure to find the perfect aquarium plants to create a colorful and lush aquatic environment.
With proper lighting and pH levels, you can easily care for these plants in your miniature pond or aquarium and enjoy the added aeration, colors, and natural source of food and shelter for any aquatic life. With the right selection of small pond plants, you are sure to have a beautiful and vibrant aquatic environment.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here’s a list of the best small plants for mini ponds and aquariums:
- Acorus calamus (Sweet Flag)
- Alternanthera ficoidea (Joseph’s Coat ‘Raspberry Swirl’)
- Coleus scutellarioides (Painted Nettle)
- Coleus solenostemon (Sky Fire)
- Ruellia brittoniana ‘katie’ (Blue Dwarf Ruellia)
- Saururus cernuus (Lizard’s Tail)
- Aglaonema spp. (Chinese Evergreen)
- Codiaeum variegatum (Croton)
- Laguncularia racemosa (White Mangrove)
- Lindernia grandiflora (Blue Moneywort)
- Saintpaulia spp. (African Violet)
- Syngonium podophyllum (Arrowhead)
Yes, you can put pond plants straight into a pond. It is important to make sure that the pond has the right elements, such as light and oxygen, in order to ensure the plants will thrive. Additionally, pond plants should be placed in a container or basket to prevent uprootings.