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Best Plants for Beginners

by TFH Magazine on November 16, 2012 at 8:45 am

By Lea Maddocks

As Lea Maddocks explains in the second part of her article in the December 2012 issue,  Setting Up a Successful Low-Tech Planted Tank Like a Pro, Part 2: Aquascaping and Maintaining Your Planted Tank, choosing aquatic plants that fit your skill level and fit the look that you want can be challenging. However, some plants have a reliable track record of doing well in low-tech setups.

Let’s start with the best epiphytic plants. These should not be planted in the substrate, instead they can be tied to rocks or stones and allowed to grow with their roots exposed.

Java fern and Java moss are both very hardy plants. Photograph by Gary Lange.

Java fern varieties (Microsprum pteropus) including regular, crested (aka ‘windelov’), and narrow leaf

Anubias species

Congo fern – Bolbitus heudelotii

Mosses, including Java moss

Next come floating plants. Similar to epiphytic plants, these should not be buried in the substrate. Instead they should be left floating freely in the aquarium. They are great for providing shade to skittish fish.

Duckweed is an easily grown floating plant, but be warned that it can easily reach plague proportions. Photograph by Albert Connelly, Jr.

Hornwort (Ceratophyllum demersum)

Lacefern/watersprite (Ceratopteris thalictroides)

Duckweed (Lemna minor)

Mosquito fern (Azolla caroliniana)

Brazillian pennywort (Hydrocotyle leucocephala)

Water lettuce

Some stem plants are appropriate for beginners. These must be planted in the substrate.

Green hygro (Hygrophila polysperma) is a relatively easy-to-grow stem plant. Photograph by MP. & C. Piednoir.

Some ludwigia, including the red Ludwigia repens

Elodea/Egeria – Egeria densa

Green hygro (Hygrophila polysperma)

Water wisteria (Hygrophila difformis)

Lacefern/watersprite (Ceratopteris thalictroides, note this can be planted as a stem plant or left floating)

Brazillian penny wort (Hydrocotyle leucocephala)

Bacopa – Bacopa australis, B. monnieri, Bacopa caroliniana


Myriophyllum mattogrossense

Amazon swords, the ozelot variety has red flecks and can be great for color

Rotala rotundifolia

Cryptocoryne species, especially browns like C. Wendtii, C. Lutens

Pearlweed (Hemiantus glomeraturs), which was formerly confused with H. micranthemoides

Saggitaria and dwarf sgaggitarita

Pygmy chain sword (Helanthium tenellus)

Posted in TFH Extras by TFH Magazine on November 16th, 2012 at 8:45 am.

1 comment

One Reply

  1. Jerry Smith Nov 23rd 2012

    You should notify your US readers that Hygrophila polysperma is classified in the USA as a Noxious Weed. ” This species is on the Federal Noxious Weed List – (7 CFR 360). No person may move a Federal noxious weed into or through the United States, or interstate, without a federal permit. See 7 CFR 360 for more information.”

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