8 Best Freshwater Aquarium Plants for Beginners

Best Freshwater Aquarium Plants for Beginners
Best Freshwater Aquarium Plants for Beginners, photo by Brandy Dopkins

Below is a list of some of the best freshwater aquarium plants for beginners. Before you start adding plants into your aquarium, it is very important that you understand the pros and cons of adding freshwater plants to your aquarium. Freshwater plants are not for everybody and should only be used if you fully understand the benefits and negative aspects of having freshwater plants in your fish tank.

Pros of Freshwater Aquarium Plants

  • During the daytime, freshwater plants take in carbon dioxide, while giving off oxygen, aiding in a healthy habitat.
  • Most plants harbor bacteria that aid in the breakdown of wastes. This may lead to very little attention towards chemical filtration.
  • Some aquarium plants also act as a food source for some fish in the tank. Be cautious when deciding which plants and fish you will be keeping together if you are wanting to keep your plants alive.

Cons of Freshwater Aquarium Plants

  • If left unmaintained, they will outgrow your fish tank, leaving you with a mess.
  • Dead plant matter can create a lot of debris and waste.
  • Needs routine trimmings once every while.
  • At night, freshwater plants tend to reverse their daytime process by giving off carbon dioxide while taking in oxygen levels causing a problem for some fish.

Below is a list of the best freshwater aquarium plants for beginners. They are broken up into two categories (carpet and background aquarium plants).

Carpet Plants

Carpet plants are used to cover ground space. These plants will grow wide rather than tall. If you are looking for an underwater bedding, carpet plants are the way to go. They will act as a grass bedding for the base of your aquarium.

Java Moss
Java Moss, photo by

1. Java Moss

Java moss is used by many aquascapers to replicate moss, algae, and tree leaves. By itself, it may seem very boring, but spread out, it can create some pretty cool underwater creations. To make the best of it, it is suggested to grab a piece of the java moss and tie it to some driftwood with some fishing line. After a few months, it will start to grow around the driftwood piece replicating an underwater tree.

Lighting: Low to moderate
Temperature: 59 to 82°F
pH: 5.5 to 8.0



Baby Tears
Baby Tears, photo by jimmytruong87

2. Baby Tears

Baby tears come in two different sizes (baby tears and dwarf baby tears). As a fish-keeper, I would suggest using the dwarf baby tears because they are much easier to maintain.

Lighting Needs: Moderate to high
Temperature: 68 to 82°F
pH: 5.0 to 7.5


Dwarf Hair Grass
Dwarf Hair Grass

3. Hair Grass

Hair grass is another type of grass-like aquarium plant similar to the pygmy chain sword, but is much more thinner. Being thin gives the aquarium a very unique type of feel, especially when currents move the stands of hair grass back and forth with ease.

Lighting Needs: Moderate
Temperature: 70 to 83°F
pH: 6.5 to 7.5


Pygmy Chain Sword
Pygmy Chain Sword, photo by, ValorG

4. Pygmy Chain Sword

Pygmy chain sword is known for its identical similarity to grass. Most fish-keepers like to use this plant when trying to replicate a dry-land type of aquascape. Other fish-keepers void using this plant because they find it to be too common and boring.

Lighting: Moderate
Temperature: 68 to 84°F
pH: 6.2 to 7.5

Mid-Ground and Background Aquarium Plants

Amazon Sword
Amazon Sword, photo by, Andrew

1. Amazon Sword

The amazon sword plant is one of the hardiest and best freshwater aquarium plants for beginners. Amazon swords are known to grow 12+ inch leaves, so you will definitely be needing to trim them every once in a while.

Lighting: Moderate
Temperature: 72 to 78°F
pH: 6.5 to 7.5

Anubias Nana
Anubias Nana, photo by, Superwen

2. Anubias Nana

The anubias nana is another great type of freshwater aquarium plant for beginners. The biggest benefit of this plant is the amount of coverage it provides. If you have fish that love to hide, or are in need of hiding spots in your fish tank, the anubias nana is the plant you are going to want to go with. It does not grow past 6 inches, so you won’t have to worry about trimming often.

Lighting: Moderate
Temperature: 72 to 78°F
pH: 6.0 to 7.5

Cryptocoryne Wendtii
Cryptocoryne Wendtii, photo by Wikimedia

3. Cryptocorynes

Cryptocornes (also known as cryps) are a family of plants that are used by a lot of fish-keepers. The colors range from green to reddish-brown. There are many different sizes of cryptocrynes as well. Size and color all depends on the lighting being used and the species of crypts that you have.

Lighting: Low to moderate
Temperature: 72 to 82°F
pH: 6.0 to 8.0

Java Fern
Java Fern, photo by C Math

4. Java Fern

Java fern is a great addition to any aquarium because of its beauty and easiness to care for. It is important that you keep the rhizome planted above the substrate, otherwise, your entire plant may rot. Does great planted on driftwood.

Lighting: Low to moderate
Temperature: 68 to 82°F
pH: 6.0 to 7.5

What’s Your Favorite Aquarium Plant?

What do you think is the best freshwater aquarium plant? Do you know of another type of plant that does well in your fish tank at home with easy care? Share with us your thoughts and recommendations below in the comments section.

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