floating aquarium plants

17 Best Floating Aquarium Plants for Your Fish Tank

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Aquarium plants are a great way to add life to your fish tank without adding any additional weight. They come in all shapes and sizes, so they can be used for every type of fish tank. Even the tiniest freshwater aquariums can have live plants inside them!

Floating aquarium plants are some of the best kinds of plants to grow because they help keep the water clean by filtering out toxins and waste that would otherwise pollute your tank’s water.

Not all water plants are great floating aquarium plants—but some are. You’ll want to look for plants that thrive in the high nutrient environment of a fish tank, as well as those that do well with minimal maintenance.

Fish in aquarium

Here are some of the top floating aquarium plants for you to consider.

#1. Hornwort

Hornwort is, without a doubt, one of the most popular aquarium plants you can buy. This floating plant not only looks great but is incredibly easy to care for. You can pair this plant with just about any species. Its lovely deep green color will add a vibrant appeal to your entire tank.

The only thing to watch out for is its growth rate. Though beautiful, hornwort grows remarkably fast. You’ll need to keep an eye out for clogging equipment like filters—it can easily take over the entire top water surface of your tank.

#2. Water Wisteria

Water wisteria is another popular aquarium plant. It can either be left to float at the top of the tank, or it can be rooted in the substrate. Whichever you choose, you’re sure to love this plant’s appearance. It has lovely green colors and its stems can be used as wonderful hiding plants for shy—yet curious!—little fry.

Like many other aquatic plants, this one grows quite quickly—therefore, you will need to keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t take over your tank.

#3. Java Moss

Java moss is another great option to grow if you don’t want to spend a lot of time (or money!) worrying about your tank. Java moss can thrive in just about any setting and works well with most kinds of fish.

It has a unique appearance and growth habit that enables it to be used as both a floating plant as well as a carpet. It has a stunning effect and actually has no roots, instead consisting of tiny oval leaves and stems. It can easily be trimmed to achieve any kind of look you want. 

Just one piece of advice—if you plan on growing Java moss, you’ll need to have something to anchor it to. You could use a piece of driftwood, a tank decoration, or even a piece of cork. This way, the plant can easily float and provide full coverage for your tank. 

#4. Brazilian Pennywort

Brazilian pennywort is a cool-looking floating plant that can change the whole look and feel of your aquarium. Its large, circular leaves are spaced out, creating a gorgeous pattern on the surface of your tank that will allow some filtered light to reach the rest of the aquarium.

It doesn’t grow quite as out of control as other floating aquarium plants—you can adjust its growth rate by changing up how much light it gets.

#5. Red Root Floater

Red root floaters might not be the most common aquarium plant you can grow, but it’s sure to astound nonetheless. This unique plant is native to South America and is remarkably easy to care for. It can thrive in all kinds of water parameters and has a very apt name.

It is named “red root floater” because its leaves can turn almost completely red when grown in the right circumstances. The bottom of the plant and roots are usually red at all times, but the ability of the leaves to change colors is absolutely astounding. 

This plant turns red when exposed to a lot of light—with the proper lamp, you can have bright red foliage in your tank at all times. 

#6. Ludwigia Repens

This attractive floating aquarium plant has cool orange and red leaves that appear near the top of the plant. You’ll find these scattered among other leaves, which might be green. Easy to care for, this plant requires just consistent lighting and a nutrient-rich aquarium to thrive. 

#7. Duckweed

Duckweed is another popular aquatic plant that can thrive in just about any setting. Its small leaves grow rapidly, quickly covering the tank in a unique green pattern. 

Although duckweed looks amazing from above, it looks even more remarkable from below—your fish will love it! 

Duckweed shouldn’t be grown in tanks that require more light or surface water. You’ll have to trim it back constantly to allow your fish to get to the top. Otherwise, it’s a great option for any aquarium.

#8. Water Sprite

This fun-loving plant is a classic choice for the aquarium. It offers excellent cover for fish who need to hide from other fish, and is often used for tanks that have a mixture of small and large fish alike 

As with many other floating plants on this list, the water sprite is one that you will need to watch in terms of its growth rate. Although it is hardy and durable, it can quickly overtake the rest of the tank if you don’t commit to a regular pruning schedule. 

#9. Amazon Frogbit

This low-maintenance water plant is just as fun to grow as its name suggests! A popular floating plant, it looks a lot like lily pads—fitting, if you think about the name of the plant.

It has long roots that can create a unique aesthetic in your tank, along with leaves that are wide, sturdy, and flat. It requires minimal work to maintain, but you do need to make sure the fish that are living in your aquarium doesn’t require a lot of light to thrive—it can really cut out much of the light from above. 

#10. Cabomba

Cabomba is a less common floating aquarium plant but one that needs to be considered nonetheless. It has a unique appearance that will provide smaller fish with places to hide. 

#11. Anacharis

Anacharis is another easy plant to grow in the aquarium. It can grow to large sizes, so you’ll need to keep it trimmed to suit the size of your tank. However, it requires minimal light and can handle a wide range of temperatures.

One word of caution, though this plant is a tasty treat to many kinds of fish! The good news is that anacharis is relatively resilient and can handle some snacking here and there. 

#12. Dwarf Water Lettuce

water lettuce

You won’t be making salads out of this plant any time soon, but it’s still a great choice as a floating aquarium plant. 

It has large leaves and can stop light from reaching all corners of your tank—which can be a pro or a con, depending on what kinds of fish you are raising. It grows quite large, too, so you’ll want a tank larger than 30 gallons if you plan on growing this unique plant. 

#13. Water Spangles

Water spangles are hardy floating plants that can survive all kinds of water conditions. They’re also great at blocking out sunlight and providing shade for your fish, a must if you plan on positioning your aquarium in a bright light environment. 

These plants can also provide some shelter for fish that like to hide, such as betta fish. 

#14. Rotala Indica

This lovely floating plant doesn’t look aquatic, meaning it’s a good choice for growers who want to switch up the look of their tank. It can add a ton of variety to your environment with its leaves that turn a bright pink-red on the bottom. 

You’ll love watching this plant—as the fish swim through the tank, the ripple of the water will create a gorgeous wave of rainbow-like colors in your tank.

It’s also easy to care for. Although you’ll have to protect the stems and be careful when you trim to not prune too much, it’s otherwise well-suited to novice growers. 

#15. Azolla

Also known as the mosquito fern, azolla does best in acidic water. This makes it the perfect companion for fish like angelfish. It grows quickly and requires frequent pruning but is excellent at removing nitrates.

#16. Marimo Moss Balls

Marimo moss balls are super fun plants to grow in your aquarium. They can survive in warm temperatures—as high as 80 degrees!—and in low, indirect light. They are wonderful when it comes to removing nitrates, making them good choices for bettas or goldfish. They are also unique in their lifespan – when cared for properly, they can live for more than a century! 

#17. Bladderwort

Despite its somewhat unpleasant sounding name, bladderwort is an excellent choice when you’re looking for plants to fill your fish tank.

The size of these plants can vary, so check with your local shop to find out how big your variety might get—some can grow to just eight inches while others can be ten times that size or more! These plants grow well in cooler waters and can help trap floating algae.


How to Choose the Right Floating Plants for Your Tank

Now that you know a few of the best floating plants for your aquarium, how do you decide which ones are best for your tank and for your fish?

First, consider exactly what kinds of fish you are raising. This will help you determine which plants will be best for them.

If you want your fish to reproduce, it’s a good idea to choose plants that have roots to provide shelter for smaller fry. This can help put them at ease and protect them from stress.

On the other hand, if you have frequent issues with nitrate build-up in your tank, you may want to choose fast-growing plants like duckweed. This can help neutralize these toxins and provide a more suitable environment for your fish to grow.

You’ll also want to consider the size of your aquarium. For smaller tanks, those less than 30 to 40 gallons or so, choose smaller plants. Otherwise, too much vegetation will crowd out your fish and make it harder for them to move around.

Finally, consider the type of look you want to achieve in your tank. Although floating plants are primarily used to provide a health benefit to your tank, removing toxins and making the tank a more pleasant place to live, they also help it look nice. 

Consider a few of these floating aquarium plants as you design your tank—your fish are sure to thank you!

Up next: Best Water Plants for Indoors and Backyard Ponds

*image by gegham-aper.yandex.ru & pavelrock95.mail.ru/depositphotos

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