Floating aquarium plants are beneficial because they can provide a layer of filtration. They’re also easy to maintain and grow quickly.
Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
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Our top picks
- 1. Amazon Frogbit (Limnobium laevigatum)
- 2. Duckweed (Lemna minor)
- 3. Hornwort (Ceratophyllum demersum)
- 4. Cabomba (Cabomba caroliniana)
- 5. Red root floater (Phyllanthus fluitans)
- 6. Java moss (Taxiphyllum barbieri)
- 7. Rotala indica
- 8. Waterweeds (Elodea)
- 9. Water spangles (Salvinia minima)
- 10. Water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes)
If you’re looking to enhance how your tank looks, floating aquarium plants are an excellent way to do so. It creates a natural environment for your fish and is aesthetically pleasing.
Aside from looking better, plants provide shade, filtration, are easy to maintain, and act as a snack for fish to nibble on.
While plants provide filtration and reduce toxins, such as nitrate, you still need to have a good filter. Plants are supplemental filters.
When adding aquarium plants, make sure you provide sufficient lighting. The lack of lighting is what causes most aquarium plants to die.
Also, be sure to provide the proper nutrients and water quality.
Now that you know why floating aquarium plants are beneficial, the following are the best to add to your tank.
1. Amazon Frogbit (Limnobium laevigatum)
Amazon Frogbit is a member of the Hydrocharitaceae family. It’s native to Central and South America. Now, it’s a popular plant for aquariums that need a lot of shade.
The low-maintenance floating aquarium plant is recognized by its round, smooth, and vibrant green leaves. Its roots can grow up to 20 inches long, and the leaves can be as large as 3 inches wide.
With long roots, your fish will have a space to play and explore. Plus, Amazon Frogbit blocks out a lot of light.
It’s an excellent choice for fish that enjoy darker areas and don’t need a ton of light.
Also, take into consideration other plants. If you have deeper plants, they may not get enough light to survive with Amazon Frogbit.
2. Duckweed (Lemna minor)
In the wild, duckweed is in lakes and ponds. However, it’s a popular plant for aquariums because it’s low maintenance, grows fast, and balances the water quality in your tank.
If your tank is prone to algae, duckweed is an excellent solution. It quickly absorbs the nutrients, which prevents algae growth.
It’s also important to understand that duckweed grows very fast. It can thrive in various environments and take over the entire surface of your tank. Without barriers, it may even grow out of the tank.
Since duckweed spreads quickly and covers the surface, it provides a lot of shade. Whether it’s good or bad depends on how much light your fish need.
The main drawback with it is that overgrowth can cause it to get caught in the filtration system. If this happens, it can be difficult to remove.
3. Hornwort (Ceratophyllum demersum)
Hornwort is a versatile aquatic plant. You can allow it to float or plant it at the base of your tank.
Hornwort is on every continent except for Antarctica. It has a high tolerance to different water conditions, which means it’s easy to keep alive.
Maintenance is also straightforward. In the wild, hornworts can grow up to ten feet long.
Pruning is required to keep your tank aesthetic and to ensure the plants don’t overwhelm the fish.
From a functionality aspect, hornworts are excellent because they provide oxygen and improves water quality.
When you first add hornworts to your tank, you may notice that its needles are shedding. It’ll happen because it’s not used to the water conditions.
Give it time, and it’ll adapt. The needles can also be eaten by scavenging fish.
4. Cabomba (Cabomba caroliniana)
Cabomba is a weed also known as fanwort. The aquatic plant is native to North and South America.
They can be green or a red-purple color. Plus, they’re widely available at pet stores.
Like hornwort, Cabomba can be planted at the base or float. They’re densely packed and have a few openings for fish, fry, or shrimp to hide.
Cabomba is a hardy plant. With regular trimming and enough light, it’s an excellent addition to your aquarium.
5. Red root floater (Phyllanthus fluitans)
Red root floaters are colorful and versatile. They originate from South America and have a green and deep red color, making your tank more visually appealing.
The leaves are about an inch wide and they float at the surface. Its roots will hang right below.
They’re small but will take over the entire surface. It leads to diffusing light, which also manages the growth of algae.
Red root floaters have a moderate to fast growth rate. As they spread, you can remove them to maintain the look that you’d like.
They don’t require substrate. However, red root floated thrive in warm water temperatures, such as 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
6. Java moss (Taxiphyllum barbieri)
Java moss originates from Southeast Asia. While most people plant it, java moss can float. You can also provide an anchor, such as a cork.
It’s one of the easiest plants to care for and doesn’t need much attention. Plus, it’ll look incredible in your aquarium.
Java moss doesn’t require a lot of light. However, the amount of light dictates how quickly it grows.
Overall, it grows at a steady rate. You can trim it occasionally to maintain a specific shape or give it a light trimming.
7. Rotala indica
Rotala indica originates from Southeast Asia. They’re delicate, which means it’s important to handle them with care.
It’s a beautiful aquatic stem plant that makes your tank more appealing. They look best when grown together to create a bush.
It grows at a moderate speed, required medium-light, and can get up to a foot tall.
Like other plants, the rotala indica enriches the water to provide a high-quality environment for your fish.
It’s a beginner-friendly plant that fits perfectly in tanks with a capacity of 10 gallons or greater. Your fish will have fun swimming through the leaves.
8. Waterweeds (Elodea)
Waterweeds are also known by many different names, such as elodea, anacharis, and Brazilian waterweed. At stores, they’re commonly labeled as anacharis.
They’re popular floating aquarium plants because they look good in the tank and are adaptable. They can handle different temperatures and water conditions.
Aside from looking good, waterweeds are unique. They rise to the surface during the day and sink to the bottom at night.
When you’re buying waterweeds, make sure you choose one with strong stems and a lot of green leaves. Limp and brown leaves are signs that it’s not healthy.
In your tank, allow it to float instead of planting it. It’ll be closer to the light and can encourage growth.
9. Water spangles (Salvinia minima)
Water spangles are native to Central and South America. They prefer still and gentle water.
The leaves are textured, and they have long roots. Most of them have leaves that are less than an inch wide. However, they can grow up to 4 inches wide.
They float freely and multiply quickly. Within weeks and under optimal conditions, water spangles can cover an entire pond.
If you have deeper plants, they won’t do well with water spangles due to the lack of light. They’re effective at blocking light.
Water spangles are easy to care for. Due to its fast growth rate, consistent trimming is a must.
10. Water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes)
Water lettuce isn’t related to the lettuce in your salad. It gets its name due to its lettuce-shaped leaves. Some states consider it invasive. Check with your state to see if you can have it.
If you’re able to, water lettuce will be an excellent addition to your aquarium. It’ll remove toxins from the water to provide a clean and healthy tank.
It works best in a tank with a capacity of 10 gallons or more because the leaves can grow as large as 10 inches wide.
Water lettuce also prefers indirect sunlight and you don’t have to worry about substrate because its roots float freely.
Featured image courtesy of Canva.
About the author: David Em is the founder of Nola & Luna Pets, the leading resource for everything you need to know about pets and adorable pet accessories.