Gone are the days when the traditional aquarium is just left to look bland and tasteless – so boring. It’s so unfair on the tiny aquatic creatures who have to leave their home in the sea, as vast and colorful as it is, only to be taken to a place that can’t compare to it – we as humans and owners can do better.
Keep reading for everything you need to know when it comes to floating aquarium plants. From the benefits they possess to the top recommendations to choices you need to consider when getting some for your tank, as well as answers to any questions you might have – it’s about to be a very informative and eye-opening ride with us.
What Are Floating Aquarium Plants?
In simple terms, floating aquarium plants are those plants that float on the surface of bodies of water – with the aid of their leaves, although they also have roots that run along down into the water. Yes, they do grow while floating, depending on the type you pick.
Why Should I Get Floating Aquarium Plants?
To be very honest, there are many good reasons to get some floating aquarium plants other than for aesthetics – they offer much more than just the colorful feel they bring to your aquarium, and here are some reasons why you should get some:
Given that they are afloat and have access to the atmospheric co2, they would grow faster than any plants you have in the tank just because they are closer to the source of light. This, in turn, helps to increase their efficiency for whatever benefit they would be adding to your aquarium – the more the merrier as they say, beneficial in this sense.
Regarding the point above, while they are close to a light source, they help absorb the nitrate that your fishes in the aquarium would have produced, reducing its effect on the fishes naturally. These floating plants absorb faster than any other type of plant lying in your aquarium.
As your tank increases in the number of fishes, and they may mate to reproduce younger ones, the bigger and larger ones can begin to exhibit predatory traits and try to eat the small fries. The roots of these plants, which are mostly thick, provide them with safety where they can also eat and grow, so they don’t lose their young lives to satisfy the hunger of a bigger fish.
As they grow and multiply, they provide shade from the light, which helps to reduce the algae growth in the tank.
Floating aquarium plants have the edge over other plants in the aquatic world because they are pretty easy to maintain. Although they are rapid growers and quite hard to kill off, they won’t take much of your time to keep, giving you enough time to pay attention to the welfare of the fishes in the tank. The majority of the plants we will be discussing are easy to care for and require little or no expertise to maintain.
Natural Habitat Remodel
We feel it would be an injustice to the aquatic creatures if we fail to add this as one of the reasons you should get floating aquarium plants. If not for the fish alone, this sentiment gives you a feeling that you are down deep in the ocean when you place your face against the glass of an aquarium – stay there for a couple of minutes, and you might end up thinking you are indeed in the ocean, with the various elements swaying in your face.
While maintaining that you don’t have to overdo it, keep it minimal and in line with the tank’s goal – easy maintenance. The addition of floating aquatic plants would give your artificial fish home – an aquarium, a more natural-like feel. It doesn’t only make the tank look cool, but it even helps to make the fish more comfortable too.
It is important to note that it is imperative to control the growth of floating plants. They can take over the water’s surface if left unchecked, blocking much-needed oxygen from the fish in the tank. Hence the need for a surface tension breaker to help you move them peacefully to a part of the surface while they grow through their duty without getting in the way of oxygen to the fish.
Now that we have highlighted some major reasons you should get some floating aquarium plants, we will walk you through some recommendations on the plants, just so you have the know-how when you go shop for them – helping you make the right choice.
Our Top Recommendations
For you, our dear fish keepers and aquarium owners, we have compiled a list of our top floating aquarium plants to help you ensure your fish-keeping journey is a smooth and fulfilling one. Here are some plants you should consider when getting some floating aquarium plants.
Ceratophyllum demersum, commonly known as hornwort, derives its name from its distinctive characteristic -its foliage looks like horns, can be found in ponds, lakes, ditches, and quiet water bodies.
This rapid grower can be either anchored down or left to float in the tank, where it can give off a substance that reduces algae in the water and is accessible all over the world except Antarctica. Despite these abilities, it is pretty easy to maintain, as it only needs to get 8 hours of sunlight per day.
They can often be located in cold water or freshwater aquaria, and you can identify them by their fluffiness, filamentous, and bright-green leaves they exhibit.
A distinct yet important feature is that they tend to drop their leaves when they sense or are exposed to products that can kill snails, which can, in turn, harm your fish. As soon as the water is healthy enough again their recovery process is relatively quick, as it just takes them a few weeks to grow back their leaves.
This plant belongs to the Lemna genus. Their apparent lack of stem nor leaves allows them to stay afloat or just beneath the surface of water bodies. This characteristic makes them the smallest known flowering plant, unique and distinct, making them relatively easy to identify.
As free-floating as they are, they have small leaves shaped like clover and eventually cover the water’s surface as they are quite the rapid growers. They can be found in Africa, Europe, North America, and some Asian freshwater ponds.
Asides from being great floaters, while they undergo their growth process they block out light used in the growth process of algae in the water. Nutritionally, they are naturally high in protein and are a potential food source for the fish in the tank.
In addition to being nutritious, they are also great filtering agents – as they remove and reduce the nitrate deposited in the water, absorbing the excess mineral nutrients in the process – nitrogen and phosphates in particular.
This plant is one of the floating aquarium plants that has been recommended to be very easy to grow, as they require only an elementary care level, and they can be applied to the aquascape in various ways – so it’s little wonder as to why it’s famous amongst its peers and popular amongst aquarium keepers.
Java moss, native to the region of Southeast Asia, has been found to grow on rocks, riverbanks, and tree trunks, and requires little quality light and water to thrive. This trait makes it fairly common amongst freshwater aquarists and has made it an easily accessible floating aquarium plant.
They are majorly used in Aquascaping – a form of underwater gardening that beautifully arranges aquatic elements. They are ideal to use in your breeder tanks as they provide adequate protection for your eggs and fries from bigger fishes in the tank just by attaching to them.
A freshwater plant of the Acanthaceae family can be found in its native home on the subcontinent of India – Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal. There are many additions this plant can bring to your tank, including shelter, which acts as a nursery for raising eggs and fries while also keeping the water clean.
In addition to its hardy characteristic, it always has its green leaves displayed in an attractive way and manner as they can reach up to a height of 20 inches and a width somewhere around 10 inches. This can brighten up the ambiance of your tank from any angle of view.
Easy to propagate and set up, this plant is very versatile- it can handle your mistakes even if you are just starting your fish-keeping journey.
Its versatility means it can tolerate and thrive on any setup you might have as its conditions can be recreated at home easily. You can recreate its natural habitat using sandy substrates and fine gravel.
When buying this plant, keep an eye out for discoloration – yellow or brown. This could be a sign of poor health. Just make sure the green is bright and consistent. Its popularity makes it easy to find as it can be found in most aquarium stores. You also don’t need to buy much – little is needed as they propagate quickly.
Majorly found in freshwaters, native to the Americas, and widely accepted as aquarium vegetation, Anacharis is widely considered a generic water weed. Although it can be confused with similar-looking plants, it can be an attractive option to have.
It favors a wide range of growing conditions – from very shallow to deep waters and various sediments. Its attractiveness and ability to be easily kept make it a welcomed option among aquarium keepers.
This plant is a fantastic floater and grows very fast. It grows by at least one and a half inches a day, visible enough in its regular change of direction with the passing of each day. Even in a beginner setup – where they might just be placed in the tank, it grows easily and naturally attaches its roots to the substrates.
In addition to its ability to suck up ammonia from the water, it also serves as a breeding point for the life forms in the tank. It doesn’t need a ton of light to survive; however, you might need to pop in from time to time to trim its stalk.
Nicknamed “Indian toothpick” as its weeds are native to India, this pure flowering plant exudes beauty adorned with vibrant and bright reddish-pink leaves, which can be used to indicate its health and needs. It can be used as a beautiful background plant to decorate your aquarium, and it can grow submerged as it extends above the surface of the water.
More than its obvious aesthetic perks, this plant does have a lot of benefits to render your tank.
It requires low maintenance just like all the other plants mentioned above, and poses no danger to any of the fish in the tank, but it does require that all the trace elements needed for its growth be present. However, it requires a variety of light supply as its growth depends on it – low light fosters larger and less compact leaves, while the tip of the stems turns reddish with high light.
Finally, as a beginner, you might be aiming for simplicity and beauty – if so then you need to opt for the Rotala Indica. It doesn’t consume much space and can stay in the background, adding its lush and natural beauty to your tank with its size and bright colors. You can also add them at the bottom corners or middle in clusters to add beauty to the landscape of your tank.
Red Root Floaters
If you’re looking for an excellent floating plant that does a beautiful job in blocking light from below and preventing algae growth, that would be the Red root floater.
Not only that, if you are looking for a companion plant for your aquarium friends, like shrimps, then the red root floats are perfect.
They are appealing to the eyes, and most importantly, very easy to grow. All you have to do is place them on the surface of the water, and they will complete the job themselves. They grow to the extent of covering the entire surface of the water.
When it comes to the preferred light exposure, they thrive in a warm environment with low to high light exposure. If you prefer the leaves of the red root floaters to be bright red, then high light with a combination of hard water will achieve this. Medium to low light will give the plants a green look, with a tint of red at the edges.
However, the red floaters can only tolerate slight movement on the water’s surface. So it is best to prevent a lot of agitation on the water’s surface.
The Amazon Frogbit also made it to the list when it comes to aquarium plants that are pretty easy to grow. Amazon Frogbit is a floating plant that originates from Central and South America.
Many people find this floating plant pretty attractive thanks to the small whitish flowers that the plant produces.
When the plant is young it looks flat and floats on the surface of the water, but as soon as it matures, the beautiful whitish flowers float above the surface of the water.
An exciting feature of this plant is that it can quickly adapt to different environments. However, you must take due care of the water that the plant stays in. Even though the Amazon Frogbit is easy to care for, it will start to rot if it stays in the same water for too many days.
Cabomba is a stem plant belonging to the cambombaceae family. They are aesthetic and don’t be surprised if you find the plants sold in a bunch tied together at the base. They are commonly sold in this manner for display.
However, Cabomba is not quite as easy to grow, although it’s not very hard. The growth technique is quite tricky. When it comes to light it is most tricky. Low light can make Cabomba look healthy for a couple of days before it eventually dies. Because of this, it has been suggested that Cabomba should not be grown by beginners.
Also, it is essential to consider the tank mates, particularly the species of fish they can be kept with. Cabomba is pretty delicate and does not thrive well with goldfish or snails that might find it delicious enough to eat.
Dwarf Water Lettuce
The Dwarf Water Lettuce, first discovered at the Nile River, is an excellent choice for your aquarium. It is popular worldwide, perhaps because it is easy to grow regardless of the tank.
It floats on the surface of the water, and over time it continues to spread, creating a shade from the light. As it grows, small flowers may start to form at the center. Although the growth rate may not be as fast as some other aquarium plants, it still grows quickly. Dwarf Water Lettuce does not like much movement, so it is best to keep the water current low.
In search of a low-maintenance plant in your aquarium? Then the Brazilian Pennywort is a perfect choice. It is very easy to manage and grow very fast. It can even survive a poor environment in the aquarium.
It can grow up to eight inches or more in height. The rate of its growth is dependent on the nutrients it gets. So in the right environment, you can be sure its growth will be speedy. They thrive in diverse water temperatures and lighten.
Lugwiga repens owes its popularity to its attractiveness and the fact that it is easy to care for. It thrives better in low to medium lighting and can grow as long as 12 to even 20 inches in height.
Concerning the size of the aquarium, it thrives and grows better in large aquariums. It is important to note if the plants have a reddish color when purchasing. The red color is an indication that it is not damaged. Besides, the same red color also attracts many people and many fishes.
Regarding its attractiveness to fish, some aggressive fish may try to eat it, so it is best placed out of reach of these fish.
When it comes to easy availability and fast growth, the Water Sprite falls under this category. In addition, it is attractive, with a green color that beautifies your aquarium. Many people love them, and the fishes love them too.
The Water Sprite provides a cover as it grows and spreads, which keeps algae growth in check. It can grow as long as 13 inches and thrive well in any tank.
While it is popular for its fast-growing attribute, how fast it grows also depends on the level of care they get. Nevertheless, most growers do not experience many problems growing the Water Sprite.
So now that you’ve decided to get some floating aquarium plants and have seen our recommendations for you above, you’re ready to go. However, you might still have some questions lurking at the back of your mind regarding floating plants.
In the following points, we will provide answers to some questions that you might have – these questions are those which we have been frequently asked about these plants from those who are considering getting them.
Given the abundance of advantages attached to floating aquarium plants, In addition to the aesthetic they provide – they bring nature and the feeling of the wilderness to the fishes far away from home residing in your tank, they are of far more great benefits.
Majorly, as we all know, they provide shade and shelter for the fishes in the tank, and their roots can also serve either as a breeding ground for fries or their food. In addition to this, they act as natural filters to reduce the harmful content left from the waste products deposited in the tank. So, they are quite an excellent addition to your tank and its fish.
What is the easiest floating aquarium plant to grow?
When starting as an aquarium keeper and deciding to add floating aquarium plants to their tank, people often ask which type of plant can tolerate the mistakes they might make in the learning process.
Putting this into consideration, it is crucial to recommend plants that are low maintenance – which require little or no experience to maintain. The plants we have mentioned above foot the bill but top on this list and widely recommended is the JAVA MOSS – we’ve spoken about it extensively above.
Easy to install, maintain, compatible with almost all kinds of fish, and quite impossible to kill, they are your best bet for beginners.
Do floating plants oxygenate the water?
Plants, in general, breathe in carbon dioxide to give off oxygen – and floating aquarium plants are no different. Their ability to stay afloat and close to the source of oxygen makes them a cheap and natural alternative to oxygen tanks – even though helpful, they are expensive and take time to install.
While they are great oxygenators, not all floating aquarium plants can keep your tank optimally oxygenated. As mentioned above, we won’t try to bother you with identifying these premium oxygenators. They include Hornwort and Anacharis, among the top oxygen producers.
Do floating plants help with algae?
Algae growth in water is a natural phenomenon – your tank is never totally free from them, and if not properly controlled, they can be harmful to the fish in the tank.
These plant’s ability to reduce the presence of algae in the water is credited to their ability to consume nutrients from the water that algae also feed on.
While kicking out the competition from algae for the available nutrients, they will help gently reduce its presence and won’t affect your fish in their never-ending battle with it.
Can you have too many floating plants in the aquarium?
In general, your aquarium can not have too many plants in it – just as long as the fish still have a lot of space to swim, they will do just fine. However, if they aren’t maintained in the right proportion, there can be a few problems.
Minor problems can be made worse when they overcrowd the tank. They can take up most of the oxygen needed by the fishes at night. The plants can take up trace elements that the fishes need. Shedding dead leaves in bulk can lead to a significant deposit of mulm that affects the substrate – it can be harmful to the fish if they exist more than in trace forms.
If you can make sure all of these are checked and exist in the right proportion, and your fish will do just fine.
Floating plants are effective ways to provide aesthetics to your aquarium and provide enough coverage on the surface of the water garden.
We assume that you’ve decided to get some floating aquarium plants, which is a good choice, and we hope to have done justice to making some recommendations for you above.
Try them out, and you’ll be amazed at how much your aquarium comes to life.
Hi, my name is Adam and I’m an aquarium enthusiast! I didn’t discover the joys of being an ‘aquarium fanatic’ (as some of my friends call me!) until I was in my 20’s. When I first started out I found it difficult to find all the information I needed so I started this website to compile all the useful information I can think of. Enjoy!