A paludarium is one of the best representations of a functioning ecosystem you can get anywhere. Getting the right plants in your paludarium can be far more than just an aesthetic choice and will make daily care significantly easier. However, choosing from so many species of plant life can be a difficult decision.
Here are the top 9 plants for your paludarium:
- Red Rotalia
- Java moss
- String of Pearls
- Peace Lily
- Anubias Barteri
While the tank, substrate and animal life are also important, having the right plants can be the lynchpin that holds it all together. To that effect, the remainder of this article will shed light on what the best plants are for your paludarium and why they are such good choices.
1. Red Rotalia (Rotala rotundifolia)
The red rotalia is one of the most common aquarium plants. There are quite a few more interesting plants that we will get into later, which will add some more variety to your aquarium, but you won’t go wrong with an old favorite.
The red rotalia is as classic as classic gets with paludariums. It is easy to keep and maintain and a good choice for beginner enthusiasts and specialists alike.
I recommend it if you’re a first-timer because it is significantly easier to keep. While it grows quickly, I still recommend this for beginners as it is a great practice to maintain your paludarium inhabitants.
One thing that makes the red rotalia suitable for paludariums is its low-light tolerance. Aquatic plants usually require quite a bit of light, but the red rotalia can survive in less than optimum conditions.
However, this plant does thrive under high light exposure, with its leaves turning its characteristic red which it is named for.
If you don’t mind the red, this could be a great starting point. If you would rather use a different beginner option, then there will be other options for you in this list. The red color is understandably a big attraction for most keepers, and the main way to get this is to give it lots of light(at least 8 hours a day of it).
2. Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
Pothos is another especially popular option.
Like the red rotalia, it is well-known for the ease of care involved. This reason makes it also a very good choice for beginners. If you plan to grow pothos, you can grow them in water or the land part of the paludarium due to their versatility.
A noteworthy point here is that while it does well in either environment, you cannot grow it completely underwater.
If you want your pothos to make it, you will need to leave some leaves above water to get nutrients. While it does well in water, it is not a true aquatic species.
One major advantage of the pothos plant is that it is very good at reducing nitrate levels in the water.
As nitrate levels directly correspond to algae growth in the pond, you will need to change your water less often. If you choose to keep it on the terrestrial part of your paludarium, this would also be a good choice.
Pothos is also good at filtering the air. It is rated to be one of the most effective at doing it, according to a study by NASA. Due to this reason, pothos is good for both the aquatic and terrestrial parts of the vivarium. Should you choose to, you could hang the vine out of the enclosure as long as it anchors itself properly in the substrate.
3. Java moss (Taxiphyllum barbieri)
You might have heard people refer to this plant as Christmas moss, willow moss, or Singapore moss.
Originating from Southeast Asia, java moss is a hardy plant that does well in a wide range of conditions. It also does well in low light, which is a significant plus for paludarium keepers.
If you plan to keep java moss in your paludarium, then you would be delighted to know that you can easily use it to create carpets that you can use for its aesthetic and to cover up equipment. It is both aesthetically pleasing and useful to the ecology of your paludarium.
The main thing to note with java moss is that while it is quite an easy plant to keep due to its resilience, it is not faultless. One thing you can do to keep it in the best possible condition is to make sure your water is as clean as possible.
Like most plants, excessive nitrate presence and, by extension, algae growth will make maintaining moss problematic. If your moss does start to develop algae, the best option is to replace it.
Moss is versatile and as a result, replacing it is usually not too difficult. Once you have the sample you want to introduce to the enclosure, it can grow on top of the water or use a plastic mesh to make a wall or carpet.
Finally, java moss is a slow grower, and it grows even slower with warmer water. If your taste leans towards less care-intensive plants, then java moss could be a very good choice for you. However, you will still need to trim it occasionally to control its growth.
You can use the cut-off parts to start a new moss section, which counts as a plus if you want to expand.
4. String of Pearls (Curio rowleyanus)
The string of pearls is the first purely terrestrial plant on this list.
Unlike the previous plants on this list, which do relatively well in wet environments, the string of pearls thrives on dryness. As a result, it is best to get this plant only if you can keep it relatively dry and the terrestrial part of your paludarium is mostly free from water.
The string of pearls is so named for its unique look. Its leaves give it the name as they are usually spherical, like pearls. The plant is also known to flower, although conditions need to be optimal for this to happen.
Curio Rowleyanus (previously Senecio Rowleyanus) is a creeping vine, and as a result, it can grow quite nicely as a hanging plant in your enclosure.
Conversely, it also forms adequate soil cover if you plant it on land. It will do quite well if you keep it hydrated and it receives enough light.
Hydration is important here, and while I previously said it is terrestrial and relative dryness is important, it still needs some water to survive. However, like many succulents, they are fine with dryness, but excessive moisture is something you should avoid.
This limitation applies to both the humidity and the soil moisture.
5. Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum wallisii)
The peace lily originates from South America, although its popularity as a vivarium plant means it appears quite frequently in many places worldwide.
The majority of its foliage is green like most other plants, but it has a single white leaf which many people mistake for its flower. The actual job of this leaf is to protect the real flower which grows under its hood.
Like many other plants on this list, the peace lily is a resilient plant.
As a semi-aquatic plant, it can survive on land, moist soil, and water. You will need to be careful if you choose to put it in water. Only the roots can be submerged as putting the whole thing underwater will eventually cause it to die.
Due to the ease of its maintenance and its aesthetic advantage, many hobbyists keep it in a wide range of environments. While this is fine, the optimum conditions for the peace lily are low- medium light and damp soil.
As a paludarium plant, it will grow even if these conditions are not fully met, but it will rarely flower, especially without adequate light.
The most important thing for peace lilies is the amount of water you give them.
It is usually better to err on the side of a deficit than excess here. The reason for this is that peace lilies survive far better with little to no water than they do with the excess. Some other important things to note are avoiding excessive lighting and ensuring proper humidity.
6. Anubias Barteri
The anubias plant is named after the Egyptian god of death. By contrast, this plant is quite resistant to dying. While its adaptation to adverse conditions means that it does not require excessive care, anubias plants can be relatively expensive.
For this reason, it is not recommended for beginners. It’s better to dive into more expensive plants when you’re well-versed in plant keeping.
Anubias is a green leafy plant. Like most aquatic plants kept in paludariums, it can survive under a wide range of conditions, but it is best to keep it as close to optimal as possible.
Optimal conditions for the Anubias usually involve low to medium light and clean water, free of algae and waste. Low light is usually preferred as it makes the plant slow-growing.
While high, intense lighting will make the plant grow faster, it also promotes increased algae growth.
The white variant of the Anubis is a particularly good choice if you want the plant primarily for its look. Note, however, that it is significantly more expensive to purchase this because of its rarity.
While most of the other plants on this list are specific species of plants, philodendrons refer to the genus name, which encapsulates many plants under it.
Despite the large number, many philodendrons will do well in a paludarium. There are also many other fern types that can do well in a paludarium.
The philodendron is native to central and southern America. As a result, these plants thrive when you give them conditions similar to their origin.
The appearance of your philodendron usually depends on what type you get. Typically they are divided into climbing(vining) and non-climbing philodendrons.
Each type is easy to identify what you know its name, and the variety adds some good options to your paludarium.
Typically the climbing plants are sturdier, but the upright philodendrons tend to be more visually appealing with larger leaves.
Regardless of the type of philodendron, you will need to take proper care of it. Most philodendrons thrive on dry or damp soil, humidity, and mid-low light levels.
Although they can take bright lights, excessive amounts over a period will usually cause many leaves to turn yellow.
8. Hornwort (Ceratophyllum demersum)
Hornworts are a group of non-vascular plants. Unlike most common plants, they do not have the same system of feeding that starts from their roots.
Whereas other plants usually have roots to anchor themselves and feed on the substrate, hornwort and other non-vascular plants use a type of stem called a rhizome to feed.
What the plant lacks in roots and a vascular system, it makes up for versatility and sturdiness.
Hornworts can grow almost everywhere in your paludarium if they are given the proper conditions to survive. The one place you cannot keep them is completely submerged but barring that, most other places are fine.
Hornworts also produce flowers, making them a great choice if your tastes lead to flowering plants. One thing to note with hornwort is that it possesses allelopathic abilities.
This ability is an evolutionary tactic by this group of plants that allows it to deny other plants and organisms in the same ecosystem from nutrients they might need to survive.
Due to this ability, you must be very careful in placement as placing it too close to other plants might cause some or all of them to die eventually.
9. Bladderworts (Utricularia)
If you recognize the name above, you might be stuck with a head scratch, wondering what these types of plants are looking for in a paludarium.
The truth is that carnivorous plants like bladderworts can do quite well in paludariums, provided that you take proper care of them. Bladderworts are a type of carnivorous plant, and like other plants in their group, it survives by feeding on living organisms.
Bladderworts, in particular, feed themselves by using little bladder-like bags to capture prey. Due to this, it is essential to ensure that the nutrients they need to survive are always available.
Bladderworts primarily feed on microfauna in water, but you will need to take extra care here as they can also feed on fry.
As a result, you will need to make sure that any wildlife you introduce into your paludarium does not fall victim to the plant while still ensuring that it feeds properly.