Skip to Content

The 11 Best Aquarium Plants For Shrimp (With Pictures)

The 11 Best Aquarium Plants For Shrimp (With Pictures)

In this article, I’ll be talking about plants that you can add to your shrimp tank. Not all shrimp owners put plants in their aquariums, but I recommend doing this for your pet. It will give your shrimp a good place to hide and relax. Live aquarium plants also have many health benefits for shrimp. They filter your water and oxygenate your tank. Plants can even balance out pH to improve water conditions.

These are the 11 aquatic plants that are best for shrimp:

  1. Java Fern
  2. Water wisteria
  3. Cryptocoryne
  4. Red Tiger Lotus
  5. Vallisneria
  6. Java moss (THE best plant for shrimp)
  7. Anubias
  8. Pearl weed
  9. Christmas moss
  10. Subwassertang
  11. Bucephalandra

Still, it isn’t easy picking out the right plant for your shrimp. Underwater plants come in a ton of variety, but not all plants are right for shrimp. This post will go over which greenery is right for shrimp. I’ll also discuss some basic plant care so you can keep your plants thriving in their environment.

Choosing the Ideal Plants For Shrimp

Shrimp will do better with plants in your aquarium. Greenery adds additional properties to your tank that fake plants are unable to provide. For instance, some plants will create nice Algae growth in your tank or shed leaves frequently.

The ideal aquarium plants for shrimp provide shelter, clean water, and food. Dense plants, like moss, will protect the baby shrimp against predators. Algae and decaying plant matter are great sources of food. Carpet plants are great for shrimp, as they can find uneaten food in between the leaves.

When choosing a plant, see which plants will provide this for your pet. Large plants that tend to shed a lot of matter, could be a nice snack for your pet. Shrimp like to eat a lot and plants can be an extra source of food. So also consider this.

In addition to eating a lot, Shrimp like to explore their tank area. You want to have plants with larger leaves or a thick carpet. Plants with plenty of foliage are ideal for shrimp and help keep them entertained.

So if you have other pets in your tank, you should definitely have larger plants. Shrimp will want to hide and create their own territory. And vegetation with plenty of coverage is a must for shrimp with or without other pet species though. Shrimp feel more secure and safe in their tank when they have space to conceal themselves.

1. Java Fern

Common name:Java Fern
Scientific name:Microsorum Pteropus
Max height:13.5 in / 35 cm
Care complexity:Easy
Lighting needs:Low
Growth rate:Slow
Additional CO2 required:No
Recommended position:Midground / Background plant
Fertilization:Liquid fertilizer

Java Fern is an incredibly popular plant choice for shrimp tanks. Their large sprouting leaves are the perfect hideout for shrimp. And the best part is that it doesn’t take much to grow this plant in your aquarium. Java ferns are able to adapt to many different water conditions and parameters. And in a shrimp tank, they will easily adjust to your pet’s water needs.

You can use higher intensity light on this plant, but this is not necessary for your plant to thrive. Java Fern generally has low lighting needs. But I recommend using fertilizer if you want larger Fern leaves. This is not strictly required, but you will get a healthier-looking plant from this product. Java fern does not rely on its roots for nutrients, so a quality liquid fertilizer works best.

Just trim your plant if you decide to grow it bigger, and keep your water well filtered for favorable results. Also, make sure that you are planting your Fern the right way. The roots of the plant should not be submerged deeply within a substrate. You might even want to use driftwood to attach the roots instead.

2. Water Wisteria

Water Wisteria sprout beautiful wavy leaves that shrimp love to explore. This plant grows in clumps and thrives in lower intensity light setups. Planting the Wisteria is simple, it can survive in any type of substrate. Potting this plant is also an option. Really there are many ways for you to put this lovely plant in your shrimp tank. Just make sure to add in some fertilizer to help it grow to the best of its abilities.

Reading tip: I’ve written an entire care guide on Water Wisteria. Check it out here!

Water Wisteria is larger than a lot of other plants on this list. They do better in shrimp tanks that are at least ten gallons. So only get this plant if you have a big enough space to fit this plant. If you plan on caring for many shrimp this can be to your advantage though. The Wisteria has plenty of foliage for large amounts of shrimp.  

As Water Wisteria is a stem plant, it will just keep growing. You can keep the plant small by trimming the tops and replanting the cutting. This plant honestly is great for shrimp due to the fine leaves. I’ve seen my shrimp hide in between them very often.

How you care for this plant will depend on how you plan on growing it though. Larger plants will need more light, if you want a more modest-sized Wisteria, less illumination can be used. These plants also like warmer waters between 74 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. Cryptocoryne

Common name:Crypt. Wendtii
Scientific name:Cryptocoryne Wendtii
Max height:6 in / 15 cm
Care complexity:Easy
Lighting needs:Low to Moderate
Growth rate:Slow
Additional CO2 required:No
Recommended position:Foreground / Midground plant
Fertilization:Root tabs

The Cryptocoryne is a plant with a lot of range. Also known as Crypts, you can get these in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and colors. The different varieties of Crypt let you customize your shrimp tank to your needs. The most popular one is called the Cryptocoryne Wendtii, which comes in either red or green. The table above shows further details.

You can choose from the wild-looking Wendtii Crypt to the more delicate pink tone Petchiis Crypt. You can also get larger or smaller sized Crypts depending on your tank measurements. Overall, these plants are popular with shrimp pets and are not too hard to care for.

Cryptocoryne is also a plant that’s high on my list of 15 aquarium plants for absolute beginners. If you’re looking for more inspiration, make sure to check out that article by clicking here! It’s one of the best articles I’ve written!

In fact, they are perfectly suited to smaller nano shrimp tanks. These aren’t as easy to care for as Java Fern or other more beginner-friendly plants. But this is not a difficult plant to cultivate. Don’t shower them with light, plant their roots in the substrate and give them root tablets for fertilizer. With this they will do fine!

Only bury the Crypt a few inches into your chosen substrate. I recommend using gravel, and be careful not to bury the crown of the plant. Additionally, be aware that your Crypt could experience Crypt Melt.

When this plant is introduced to new water conditions, it loses all its leaves. If you stick to low light conditions and have the right water temperature your plant will grow back. There is no need to panic if this happens, the plant just needs to adjust to living underwater. This may sound strange for plants you just bought in a fish store, but most plants are grown emersed. This means the current leaves of your Crypt are not made to live underwater.

4. Dwarf Lillies

Common name:Red Tiger Lotus, Dwarf Lilly
Scientific name:Nymphaea Zenkeri
Max height:20+ in / 50+ cm (under ideal circumstances)
Care complexity:Moderate
Lighting needs:Moderate to High
Growth rate:Moderate to Fast
Additional CO2 required:Yes (but can be done without)
Recommended position:Midground / Background plant
Fertilization:Root tabs and Liquid fertilizer

If you have a large shrimp tank with many, this next plant might be for you. The Dwarf Lily is a slow-growing plant with a unique look. They come in a few different colors and can flower in the right water conditions.

Shrimp enjoy being in the same water as these plants, but you want to be careful about how you plant these Lillies. They are hardy, but they need exact care to thrive properly. Firstly, don’t bury the bulb of the Lily all the way, otherwise, it will rot. Carefully place the roots in a substrate, and let your plant have time to root before putting your shrimp in.

Dwarf lilies have a pleasing look. Their leaves almost look like arrowheads. But make sure they are strong enough to go in your tank. An older specimen might be preferred as they will have had time to develop more before they are placed in your water.

Under the right circumstances, these plants can grow very large. Trust me, this will not happen overnight, so no need to worry. If the plant is doing well, it will shoot up runners towards the water surface and create beautiful flowers. For shrimp, the bottom part of the plant, with all the large leaves, is the most interesting part. As you can see in the picture above, there are plenty of hiding spaces where hungry schooling fish are less likely to come.

5. Vallisneria

Common name:Vallisneria or Val
Scientific name:Vallisneria Sp.
Max height:8 to 16+ inches / 20 to 40+ cm
depending on the variety
Care complexity:Easy
Lighting needs:Moderate to High
Growth rate:Moderate to Fast
Additional CO2 required:Not necessary
Recommended position:Background plant
Fertilization:Root tabs

Vallisneria is a grass-like aquarium plant that grows long green halms as leaves. This is another great option for large populations of shrimp. It’s best to purchase a whole bunch of these, so your pet has plenty of coverage and places to hide.

Vallisneria is a great plant for shrimp because it can create a dense forest. Shrimp love to hold on to something while eating, and Vallisneria surely provides this. If your plant does well, it will also provide shelter to baby/small shrimp.

Also known as Vals, these plants look like onions. They sprout crowns and grow long green foliage from their tops, so trimming them might become necessary. You have to be careful about how you cut the appendages of your plant though. They can be a little sensitive. I recommend using a sharp pair of scissors for a clean cut. I’ve had the most success this way.

If you have a nano shrimp tank, this is not the plant you want to put in your water. There is a smaller version of this plant you can buy though. They are more manageable, but they do take up space in a tank. Larger Vals can grow upwards of twenty inches in height, and they grow fast.

You’ll want to use fertilizer with this plant, and make sure not to bury the crown of your plant to deep or it won’t grow right. Root tabs are the best form of fertilization, as these plants rely on their roots for nutrients.

6. Java Moss

Java Moss is a beginner-friendly plant that is well-loved by shrimp keepers. This freshwater aquarium plant is tall enough for your pet to hide in. But does not take up a ton of room in your tank. Instead, it creates a lovely carpet for your tank.

Java moss is the best plant for shrimp, I reckon every shrimp tank should have it.

Bart (myself)

Java Moss can be planted in a substrate. But you can also attach them to other tank objects. The moss loves to grow on driftwood or porous rocks. In addition, Java moss likes lower levels of light. You can give them more intense light, but make sure that you don’t overdo it.

Personally, I’ve never managed to grow moss as a carpet. Instead, I would use a piece of fishing line or super glue to attach small pieces of moss to driftwood or rocks. As soon as it starts growing, it will be great for your shrimp! I vividly remember seeing the tinies shrimp hiding in moss. It really is the best plant for shrimp!

Too much light can actually stall the growth of your Java Moss. But it will cause algae to grow on it which your shrimp will like. On the whole, though, this is a pretty simple plant for shrimp that makes aquariums look amazing with minimal effort. 

7. Anubias

Common name:Anubias
Scientific name:Anubias Barteri
Max height:16 inches / 40 cm
Care complexity:Easy
Lighting needs:Low
Growth rate:Slow
Additional CO2 required:No
Recommended position:Midground / Background plant
Fertilization:Liquid Fertilizer

Anubias is another aquarium plant that is well suited for shrimp.  Anyone with an aquarium has likely heard of this plant. It’s nice to look at, creates large amounts of tank coverage, and is readily available at the aquarium stores. There is also some variety to be found in this plant. You can get a bigger version of this or a smaller one depending on your aquarium setup.

In terms of care, you won’t have a hard time growing this plant. Just give it lower levels of light. If you have a bigger specimen more light will be needed though. You’ll need to trim your Anubias as well, but if you prune it regularly it will stay at a manageable size.  

In addition, Anubias have pretty flexible water condition requirements. They will adapt to the climate and conditions your shrimp prefer. Just ensure that you are planting you Anubias right. They don’t like to be buried deeply in a substrate. In fact, it’s usually better for their growth to root them on driftwood or other decorative objects.

8. Pearl Weed

Pearl Weed, also known as Baby Tears, is a versatile plant. This is a relatively undemanding species with a nice visual. The leaves of the Pearl are rounded and grow on short stems. They don’t grow rapidly, but Pearl Weed can be used in any area of your shrimp tank. And if you are looking for a carpet plant, it can be used for this purpose.

The fine leaves and small size is the reason why it is on this list. Shrimp and carpet plants go together great because there are only a few fish or critters that are able to reach uneaten food that has settled between the plants. Therefore, your shrimp will always have something to eat and are constantly exploring the tank. If you have bright lights, additional CO2, and nutritious aquarium soil, definitely try to grow a carpet!

Pearl Weed, like other great shrimp tank plants, provides lots of coverage for your pet. It also has a larger climate range. It can be in waters anywhere from 60 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. You won’t have to put a ton of effort into this plant. But fertilizer and CO2 can be added to your tank for better growth.

Lighting also affects the growth of this plant. High lighting intensity creates more of a carpet look, while less lighting and trimming creates more straightforward vertical growth. Consider this if you are considering planting this species.

9. Christmas Moss

Moss type plants are great for shrimp tanks. Your pet will love roaming in the grassy carpet of a moss! I talked about Java Moss previously, but Christmas Moss is another good option for your aquarium. This plant is similarly easy to care for. It’s actually one of the best aquarium plants for beginners.

While we’re talking about Christmas, did you ever realize that moss is one of the best gifts for a fellow aquarium owner? It even made it on my list of 11 great aquarium gifts for Christmas, which you can read here.

Christmas Moss is a dense plant. So, it provides your shrimp with an ideal place to live in. It can even be kept in a smaller sized tank. You just want to be sure to trim your plant often. Moderate light should also be given to this plant.

In terms of planting, there are plenty of options. In small tanks, you can let this moss float or attach it to decorations. If you want a bigger carpet-like plant use substrate to root the Moss down.

Temperature and pH have some of the widest ranges of any plant on the list. So you won’t have to worry about getting your tank to a specific setting. Just make the water right for your shrimp.

10. Subwassertang

Subwassertang is one of the best aquarium plants you can get for your shrimp. These free-floating plants create some of the best coverage for shrimp. They are also great at enriching your water column with oxygen. Subwassertang is especially good for young shrimp. When you let the plant float it creates a nice maze-like environment for pets to swim through. This plant tends to like colder climates, but I’ve seen people grow it in tropical temperatures too.

Subwassertang grows slow, but if you put fertilizer in the water this will help with their growth greatly. Light can be set low, but I recommend going with a high volume of light if you want a lot of this plant to grow in your shrimp tank.

You can also attach this plant to other objects, but this isn’t strictly required to grow this plant well. It just depends on how you want your aquarium to look. Attached Subwassertang looks more orderly and neater.

11. Bucephalandra

Common name:Bucephalandra
Scientific name:Bucephalandra
Max height:4 in / 10 cm
Care complexity:Easy
Lighting needs:Low
Growth rate:Slow
Additional CO2 required:Not necessary
Recommended position:Foreground / Midground plant
Fertilization:Liquid fertilizer

Bucephalandra is the last plant on this list. It’s a newer type of flora, but it has similarities to the Anubias. This plant ranges in hue and shape, but it grows on the shorter side. It is not difficult to care for the Bucephalandra, but you’ll want to keep a few general tips in mind.

Colorful versions of this plant will need more light to maintain their color. Low light can be used, but this setting will result in green hued plants. Fertilizer is also needed for this plant. You don’t need to use a ton of it, but you’ll need enough to enrich your soil.

Like the Anubias, Bucephalandra grows slow and likes to be attached to objects to root. You can bury it in substrate though if this is your preference. Overall, this is a nice plant for shrimp. It does not require too much care and gives the bottom of your tank nice coverage for your small pets.

12. Honorable mention

Echinodorus plants are popular, and for shrimp I can highly recommend the foreground swords. The one on the picture above is called Echinodorus Tenellus or more commonly known as Pygmy chain sword.

These plants do well in low tech aquariums but require moderate to high lights. CO2 is not necessary, but adding root tabs or providing a nutritious soil is preferred.

My Favorite Fishtank Products to Make Life Easier

Over the years I’ve found a variety of products that make the fish keeping life so much easier. Whenever someone asks me what products I recommend buying, these are the first 5 items that come to mind. I’ll briefly list them below and state why I love them so much. I’m 100% sure you’ll love them!

1. A good gravel vacuum; Without a gravel vacuum, cleaning the substrate of your tanks is near impossible. Whenever I want to remove some of the sunken detritus from the bottom of my tank I’m happy I’ve got one of these. They’re available here on Amazon and I highly recommend them!

2. Liquid plant fertilizer; It’s no secret that I do not like nutritious aqua-soil. It makes a mess and only works a given amount of time. Instead, I always use a liquid aquarium plant fertilizer. Everyone who keeps live plants needs it, it’s not that expensive and makes your plants grow better. This is the one I use and recommend.

3. A set of aquascape tools; I love keeping plants, but planting and reorganizing my aquarium was difficult until I got a set of these tools. It’s much easier to plant any kind of plant compared to using my thick fingers. They’re also available here on Amazon.

4. A liquid-based water test kit; ever since I’m able to accurately test my water parameters, keeping fish became less stressful. Before I was always stressed that my water parameters were wrong, but using a kit such as the API Master kit, which is available here, I can measure this. It really is essential to successful fishkeeping.

Quick Care Tips for Aquarium Plants

Even the simplest aquarium plants require care. Not all plants are the same or course. Each species has specific requirements that need to be adhered to. However, in general, there are a few basic tips any shrimp tank owners should follow.

First, do research on any plant you plan to buy. Figure out what water conditions your plant needs to survive in a tank and provide it with the proper amount of light. Once you know how to care for your plant, make sure you have clean water for your greenery. The fastest way to fail at aquatic planting is by having poor quality water.

Fertilizer is something else to consider as well. Most plants need fertilizer to stay healthy and thrive underwater. You’ll also want to trim or prune your plant often. This will control the growth of your plant and keep it alive longer.