Are you tired of the same old aquarium plants that just sit there looking pretty but not doing much else? Well, it’s time to mix things up and add some floating plants to the mix! Not only do they add a quirky look to your tank, but they also provide various benefits for your aquatic environment.
As a long-time fish fanatic, I’ve always found the beauty of floating aquarium plants to be captivating. Watching them gently sway in the current and provide shelter for my fish friends has always been relaxing and joyous. But with so many different types of floating plants available, choosing the right ones for your tank can be a bit overwhelming.
In this article, I will share my experience and knowledge of these top 5 plants, along with tips for their care and maintenance tips.
Whether you’re new to aquarium keeping or a seasoned pro, you’ll find something in this guide to help you select and care for these gorgeous aquatic plants. So, let’s dive in!
How to Choose Types of Floating Aquarium Plants
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of choosing the best-floating plants for your aquarium. Before you go adding any old plant to your tank, you need to consider a few things first. We’re talking about the plants’ personality, if you will.
First up, ease of care. You don’t want a demanding plant that requires all your attention and time. You want something low-maintenance that won’t give you a headache.
Next, think about what type of fish you have. Are they the shy type who needs plenty of hiding places? Or are they the outgoing types who enjoy swimming through and around plants? You want to ensure your chosen plants fit your fishy friends well.
Lastly, compatibility with existing plants. You don’t want a plant that will start throwing shade and causing drama with your other plants. Make sure the plants you choose play well with others. With all these factors in mind, you’ll be sure to pick the perfect plants for your aquatic oasis.
Top 5 Best Floating Aquarium Plants
Are you ready to meet the top 5 floating aquarium plants that will make your underwater world the envy of all your fish-keeping friends? Let’s plunge in!
1. Amazon Frogbit (Limnobium laevigatum)
The Amazon Frogbit is one cool floating plant. This floating plant looks like it’s just chilling on the water’s surface with its cute little leaves. The leaves look like mini lily pads, but don’t be fooled by their size- they can grow up to 3 inches across!
This plant is worth considering if you want to jazz up your aquarium. It’s straightforward to care for and would add some serious class to your underwater world. The round, oval-shaped leaves have a waxy texture that repels water and helps them float on the surface. The plant can produce small white flowers, which is uncommon in aquariums.
The Amazon Frogbit can adapt to a wide range of water conditions, but its preference is neutral to slightly acidic water with a pH between 6.0 and 7.5. It thrives in moderate to high lighting conditions. This cute plant is a native of the amazon river basin, and its roots dangle from its leaves, making it a great hiding spot for fish. Plus, it’s a nutrient sponge absorbing excess nitrates and keeps your tank clean.
Because it’s an aquatic plant, it doesn’t need soil to survive and will happily float on the surface of your tank. If you want to anchor it down, tie it to a rock or driftwood using a fishing line. The roots will eventually attach to the surface of the object.
This plant prefers slow-moving water, so avoid placing it in an area with strong water flow, as this can damage the leaves. You may need to trim the plant regularly to prevent it from taking over your aquarium. You can do this by using a sharp pair of scissors to cut the leaves and roots.
If you notice the plant starts to turn yellow or brown, it may be a sign of nutrient deficiency. You can add liquid fertilizer to your aquarium to give it a boost. Keep an eye out for any sneaky runners that can pop up and start a new colony. Simply remove them, as you want to keep the plant from taking over.
2. Red Root Floater (Phyllanthus fluitans)
As the name suggests, this plant has vibrant red roots that add a splash of color to your aquarium. It also creates dense mats, providing plenty of hiding spots for your fish. Plus, it’s a nitrogen hound that consumes the excess nutrients and keeps your tank healthy.
Not only are the roots red, but the leaves can range from green to reddish brown and grow up to several inches in length. In the right conditions, the red root floater can grow rapidly and cover the surface of your aquarium.
The waxy coating on the leaves prevents them from sinking and floating freely. It prefers moderate to low lighting conditions and slightly acidic water with a pH between 6.0 to 7.5. It can be sensitive to high levels of nitrates and other nutrients in the water, so it’s essential to keep an eye on your aquarium’s water quality.
When it comes to caring for the Red Root Floater, it’s pretty straightforward. Makes sure the plant has access to low to moderate lighting conditions. If your aquarium receives too much light, you may notice the leaves turning brown or yellow.
Avoid positioning it in an area with strong water flow, like next to the pump outlet, as this can bruise the leaves. Any changes in the plant’s color, like yellowing or brown rotting, could be a sign of nutrient deficiency or poor water quality.
Keep an eye on your aquarium’s water parameters and adjust as needed.
This is one of my favorite aquarium plants- the leaves are so cute, and it’s easy to look after. I just give mine an occasional trim now and then to keep it under control. My fish love to hide around the long red roots!
3. Water Lettuce (Pistia stratiotes)
This little one is like a floating salad for your fish! They love nibbling on its leaves too. Water lettuce is also known for its ability to help regulate your tank’s pH balance, making it an excellent choice for sensitive fish. Water lettuce has small light green leaves that resemble the leaves of lettuce- hence the name!
The leaves can grow up to several inches in diameter and are covered in tiny hairs that help them float on the water’s surface. The plant can reproduce rapidly under the right conditions and quickly cover your aquarium’s surface. Ideally, keep the Water lettuce in low to moderate lighting conditions with slightly acidic water with a pH of 6.0 and 7.5.
One sign that your water lettuce is receiving too much light is that the leaves will turn yellow or brown, so you may need to adjust your lighting if this happens.
A little fertilizer will keep these plants looking their best, and you can find these formulated explicitly for aquatic plants. Just follow the instructions on the label, as over-fertilizing can lead to algae growth and other issues.
This plant can produce small inconspicuous flowers in its natural habitat outdoors. However, in aquariums, it’s less likely to flower due to controlled conditions and limited space. You never know your luck though!
I’ve had water lettuce floating on my aquarium for years now, and it’s an excellent filter to improve water quality as it helps to remove the excess nutrients from the water. I love seeing my little fish snack on it at the water’s surface too!
4. Salvinia (Salvinia natans)
This little plant has a fascinating look, as it looks like a floating fern on the surface of your tank. It’s a favorite among Betta (Siamese fighting) fish, who love resting on the leaves. Plus, it’s a master at reducing algae growth keeping your tank clear and clean.
Salvinia is native to the tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas, Africa, and Asia. It is a freshwater floating aquarium plant and is commonly found in ponds, lakes, and slow-moving rivers. The leaves of the Salvinia are divided into two parts: the upper part that floats on the surface of the water and the lower part that hangs down underwater.
The upper leaves are covered in fine hairs, which help to trap air and keep the plant afloat. This plant is ideal for tropical aquariums where the water is around 70-85F with moderate to high light levels. It can also tolerate lower light levels and cooler temperatures but wonts grow as quickly. If left unchecked, Salvinia can take over the surface of your aquarium, so be sure to give it a trim occasionally.
Ensure you keep a stable and consistent environment for this plant and make regular water changes to prevent it from spoiling. With proper care, it can thrive and provide numerous benefits to your aquatic oasis.
5. Dwarf Water Lily (Nymphaea stellata)
Last on the list is the Dwarf water lily. Who doesn’t love a good lily pad? This dwarf variety is perfect for smaller tanks and adds a touch of elegance to your aquarium. It is also known for providing a good resting spot for fish and reducing algae growth, making it a win in my book!
This tiny aquatic plant is native to India and Southeast Asia and popular among aquarium hobbyists because of its beautiful appearance. The small round leaves are typically green or reddish brown and are held above the water on long stems.
The plant produces small fragrant white or pink flowers that bloom above the water’s surface. The flowers only last a few days but are a beautiful sight to see. The dwarf water lily is a slow-growing plant that can reach up to 6 inches in diameter and help absorb excess water nutrients. This function reduces the likelihood of algae growth and assists in improving water quality for your little fish friends.
These mini lily pads can provide shelter and hiding places for fish and other aquatic creatures, which helps them feel more secure and less stressed. Dwarf water lilies thrive in moderate to bright light and occasionally do well with a small dose of aquatic plant fertilizer.
I had some of these water lilies in my tank before, and they make a great addition. They look stunning, and when you get to see them bloom, it feels highly rewarding. I recommend these for anyone looking to add a touch of natural beauty to their aquarium or pond.
Care and Maintenance
Now that your floating plants are all set up and looking great in your aquarium, it’s time to keep them healthy.
Here are a few simple tips for maintaining your floating plants:
Most Floating plants prefer moderate to high light, so make sure your tank has appropriate lighting. If you notice your plants looking sad, it might be time to adjust your lighting. This is where LED lights are great because they allow you to adjust the lighting based on the different species.
Floating plants typically thrive in temperatures between 72-82F. Ensure your tank’s temperature is within this range to keep your plants happy and healthy. Always check the temperatures required for your fish before adding plants.
While floating plants absorb excess nutrients, they still benefit from occasional fertilization. You can use liquid or substrate fertilizers to give your plants the extra nutrients to stay healthy. You can find these online or from your local aquarium supplier; they are straightforward to apply.
Pruning and Propagation
Keeping your floating plants pruned is essential to keep them from taking over your aquarium. Prune any dead or dying leaves regularly to prevent them from decomposing and adding excess nutrients to the water. If your plants start getting too big, you can easily remove some of them from the tank and propagate them in a separate container.
The Best Aquatic Plants to Enhance the Health and Beauty of Your Aquarium
Floating aquarium plants are a stunning addition to any fish tank. Let’s face it; the natural plants look much better than the plastic ones you see. Not only do they look great, but they can give your fish somewhere to hide out and also keep their home nice and clear.
You can ensure your floating plants thrive in their new home by choosing the correct plants and following some essential care tips.
Just remember factors such as ease of care, suitability for different types of fish, and compatibility with other plants when selecting your floating plants. And once you’ve got them in your tank, pay attention to their lighting temperature and fertilization needs. Regular pruning and propagation will also keep them looking healthy and fresh.
Ready to Start Branching Out into the World of Plants?
Our expert tips and tricks will have your plants flourishing in no time. Whether you’re a newbie gardener or are searching for extra inspiration for your garden, we’ve got you covered!
We love to share all things plants, so check out our planting 101 pages, where you’ll find everything you need to get started.