How To Choose the Right Aquatic Plants

Looking for a good source of aquatic plants is hard to find.  Most of the time, you cannot find all of the aquatic plants you are looking for in one local fish shop.  Some of the shops don’t even know what a nature aquarium is and what a planted tank is.  The salesman will usually have a question mark on their faces when you start asking them, “Do you have Hemianthus callitrichoides?”  There are even stores who don’t know what a CO2 tank looks like.  So looking for the right shops is often hard to find.

Another main concern that one needs to look at when buying the plants is the quantity that will be purchased.  Before buying an aquatic plant, always remember to do some research first.  It is extremely important to know the requirements of the plants you desire especially on CO2 and lights.  You need not to buy a whole bunch of plants.  Instead buy a few plants at a time.  The advantage in doing this is you will be able to see what plant grows well in your tank.  You can simply replace those plants that will not survive in your aquarium.

Identifying healthy plants are relatively easy.  You just need to look on the physical form of the plant.  Choosing a healthy plant is important because healthy plants have better chances of surviving that the unhealthy ones.  Check for melting leaves and roots.  Do not choose a plant whose leaves are already turning yellow.  It is also recommended to buy plants which were grown in submerge form instead of buying those who were grown immersed. Sometimes, plants that were grown immersed take a lot of time to adapt in submerged condition.  When packing the plants, make sure it is contained in plastic bag tied on top with plenty of air to provide cushioning.  Retaining the moisture during the shipment is important.


In planting the aquatic plants, it is always recommended to use long tweezers.  This is indeed very useful in planting very small plants and in tight spaces.  Make sure to remove the rockwool on plants carefully before planting especially when buying from commercial stores.

For Vallisneria, microsword, glosso and other creeping plants, make sure to separate each runner before planting.  Planting them this way will allow them to spread quickly in the tank.  It takes time in planting carpeting plants but its well worth it once success is achieved.

In planting stemmed plants from cuttings like rotalla, ludwidgia species, cabomba and others, you just simply need to insert them directly in the substrate.  Provided with good conditions, they will grow quickly.

As for mosses, ferns and anubias, you have to tie them on a drift wood or stones.  Make sure that the rhizomes are all above the substrate.  These plants will rot if you try to plant them on the substrate. A good water flow must be provided on the rhizomes because it usually collects dirt in the aquarium if the water flow is not strong enough.

Other Aquatic Plants Available

Echinodorus barthii

Echinodorus barthii “Red Melon Sword”

Red melon swords have spade-shaped leaves and grow in a rosette pattern. They are easy to grow, requiring minimal pruning and medium to high light. The red tint of their new leaves makes them a showy addition to planted aquaria.

Anubias heterophylla

Anubias heterophylla has waxy thick, dark green foliage like others in its genus. The leaf of this species is large and more elongated than others. These are African plants, and will tolerate lower light and hard water. These plants are hardy and slow growing, and may be rooted directly onto rock or wood instead of being planted in the substrate.

Sagittaria subulata - Bunched

Sagittaria subulata – Bunched

Subulata is a thin, grasslike looking plant. The leaves are green in coloration with some areas of reddish brown. Will work well as a foreground plant or lined along the sides of aquariums. This plant slowly grows to an average height of 1.5-12+ inches. This form of subulata is sold in bunches, not by individual plant.

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