Looking for a low maintenance aquarium plant that is ideal for the beginning or hobby aquarist? Anubias, najas and java fern are easy care aquatic plants.
Starting a home aquarium? Thinking about growing aquarium plants? Moving from artificial plants to real, living plants can feel intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Choose plants that are easy to care for, and they can thrive in the home aquarium under the care of a new aquatic gardener. These species of aquatic plants are small and easy to grow, a perfect choice for the home aquarium.
Characteristics of Easy to Grow Plants
Some plants are picky. They need a lot of light and ideal temperature and filtration conditions. Other plants are not nearly as finicky, and these are the easy care aquarium plants. These plants:
- Do well in low light conditions
- Can survive at typical aquarium temperatures
- Require no more than a filter under the gravel
- Need no added nutrients other than what the aquarium fish provide
- Are hardy when used as hiding places by aquarium fish
- Grow vigorously
1. Java Fern
Microsorium pteropus, or the java fern is a tough plant for those with no aquarium green thumb at all. It survives in any type of light. Java fern’s hardy, sword-shaped leaves are lovely but hard for fish to nibble, since they are so tough.
This hardly little plant does best in low light. Java Fern is most often seen growing on driftwood or rocks as well as in the gravel. It can be purchased already attached to a piece of wood or by itself. These plants are easy to attach to driftwood with either rubber bands or fishing line. Over time, black roots will secure the plant to the wood and eventually, the fern will spread and cover the entire piece of driftwood. Use taller plants to shade Java as bright light can cause algae to grow on its green leaves.
2. Anubias (Anubias barteri nana)
The anubias plant (Anubias barteri) is from Africa and is an easy plant for the first time aquarist. It thrives in medium or bright light conditions, ideal for those homes or offices that do not have a shady corner for the aquarium. Anubias has more rounded, lemon-shaped leaves than java fern. While it grows slowly, anubias is a tough plant that will grow steadily over time. Place its roots under a small aquarium rock and let it send its root system down into the gravel.
Anacharis is a beautiful plant with small thin green leaves covering their stems. These plants are sold by the bunch, five or six plant strands strapped together with a rubber band. To plant these in your aquarium simply remove the band and cut off the bottom 1 inch of leaves from the stem with a pair of scissors. Gently push stem leafless part of the stem into the gravel, Leave about 2 inches of space between each plant.
Anacharis will also grow even if it is left floating around the aquarium. It can grow one to two inches a week in ideal conditions. When Anacharis becomes too tall for your aquarium, trim off the top four inches or so. These cutting can then be planted by remove the lower one inch of leaves and planting them in the gravel. Since Anacharis can grow very tall, place them in the middle or back of the aquarium.
This light green, fast-growing plant will thrive and easily adapt to a variety of water conditions. When grown in different amounts of light its leaves change shape. In low light, the leaves are wider while in bright light they are narrower with a lacy appearance. To grow new plants just trim older plants, remove the bottom 1 inch of leaves and gently push cuttings into the gravel.
5. Cryptocoryne wendtii Green
Cryptocoryne wendtii Green is a great beginner rooted plant with attractive long green leaves, capable of living in a variety of water conditions and various levels of light. If you prefer longer leaves, grow this plant in low light. Like most rooted plants, this plant prefers small size gravel and benefits from fertilization. When first adding Cryptocoryne wendtii to your aquarium, it may appear to be dying. They do not like to be moved but will soon thrive and multiply.
6. Banana Plants
Banana plants are unique looking with their thick green rhizomes that resemble bunches of new bananas. This plant’s bright green leaves are shaped like Lilly pads. In regular aquarium light the stems on the leaves stay short, in bright light these stems grow until the lily pads reach the surface of the water.
Adding a banana plant to an aquarium is simple; because there is no need to bury the roots, simply place it on top of the gravel and it will grow. Sometimes this plant will float and may require a lead plant weight wrapped loosely around the stem to keep it down. It is ideal to use full spectrum lamps with at least 2 watts for each gallon of water to keep this plant healthy.
Looking for a plant that will play host to many aquarium fish, providing a great hiding place? Najas graminea is an excellent food source for goldfish, and it also provides cover for eggs and young fish. This grass-like plant floats in the aquarium and grows vigorously. Each piece will grow into a new plant.
Najas does require regular maintenance, but this is not because it is difficult to grow. Regular maintenance and removal of some of the najas will ensure that other plants and fish have room to grow. Najas has a tendency to grow so well that it will take over the tank!
Each aquarist has a responsibility to ensure that these plants are not released into the environment since many species of aquatic and wetland plants can become invasive, especially if they are very adaptable and vigorous species.
By choosing plants like Java Fern, Anubias, and Najas, the beginning or hobby aquarist can have a successful first experience growing live plants in the home aquarium. These plants are easy to care for and have few specific requirements, making them an ideal choice for those aquatic gardeners who are looking for a low maintenance beginner aquarium plant.