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How Many Aquatic Plants Do You Need per Fish: Tank Tips

Aquatic plants are a great addition to any freshwater or saltwater aquarium. They provide many benefits and are also a great way to personalize your tank. 

Quick Answer

While having live plants in your tank is unnecessary, it is recommended. You should have at least two live plants in your tank. However, the more, the better. If you have a larger tank, you can place more plants in the tank, but just ensure you have the space and the tank is clean.

Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of having aquatic plants in your tank and the best plants for freshwater and saltwater tanks. 

Benefits of Having Aquatic Plants in Your Fish Tank

There are numerous benefits to adding live plants to any fish tank. These benefits include: 

  1. Provides oxygen to the tank. 

Adding live plants will naturally add more oxygen to your fish tank. Increasing oxygen will give your fish a better “breath” because plants also act as a natural filter. Just like trees do on land!

Planted aquarium with a lot of plants
  1. Absorbs excess nutrients in the tank. 

Plants are incredibly demanding of nutrients; adding these plants will balance out the toxins in the tank. These toxins can be from excess waste in the tank, such as leftover food, fish poop, or toxins from the air.

  1. Gives fish an extra habitat and place for hiding. 

Some fish are naturally shy, and adding live plants will give these fish an extra area to hide in. 

On top of this, shrimp and snails love live plants! 

You will also find that small fish love to play hide-n-seek in plants and more!

  1. Acts as a natural fish feeder. 

Many fish are herbivores (eat plants) and omnivores (eat meat and plants). Adding a few live plants will allow your fish to graze on fresh plants that mimic their natural habitat. 

This will also keep the fish entertained and mentally stimulated as opposed to always eating typical fish flakes or pellets.

  1. Personalizes your tank. 

There are a variety of live plants to choose from, whether for a freshwater or saltwater tank. 

With so many options, adding live plants is a fantastic way to personalize your aquarium to how you truly like it. 

For example, if you have a castle-themed tank, you may want taller plants that are taller than the castle. You can also add colorful plants if you love pops of color throughout the tank.

5 Best Plants for a Freshwater Tank

If you are a beginner aquarist but want to add live plants to your tank, this list is for you!

The following plants are great for beginners or experts and are perfect for aquascaping any freshwater aquarium.

  1. Java Fern. 

The Java Fern is an excellent plant for beginners because it is tough to kill. It grows well in almost all water parameters but does exceptionally well in temperatures between 72-84℉. 

This plant is composed of thick leaves that have a ripple appearance and can withstand larger fish. You can also mount it to other decorations in the tank and on driftwood or other objects.

  1. Amazon Sword. 

The Amazon Sword is another great option for a beginner plant. 

This plant also does well in various water parameters and is harder to kill. Unlike a few others, this plant grows tall and can reach up to 20 inches. 

With that being said, it does well as a background plant, but you will need to have a taller aquarium to house this plant.

  1. Dwarf Sagittaria. 

The Dwarf Sagittaria is the perfect option for smaller freshwater tanks. 

Unlike its typical counterparts, the Dwarf Sagittaria only reaches up to 4 inches tall. 

This makes it great to have in the forefront of your tank while providing adequate hiding places for your fish. 

This plant does well in temperatures ranging from 72-78℉ 

  1. Anubias Nana. 

The Anubias Nana is another great option for beginners because it tolerates almost any water parameters and quality. 

They are on the smaller end of the spectrum and do grow relatively slowly. However, they are very hardy plants.

  1. Java Moss. 

Java Moss is one of the most popular plants for an aquarium. This moss is almost impossible to kill and it will grow like a carpet. 

This plant can be put on any surface of the tank and the moss will spread quickly. 

They can also live in various water conditions but do best in temperatures ranging from 72-90℉.

5 Best Plants for a Saltwater Tank 

Both freshwater and saltwater tanks should have live plants. The following is a list of saltwater plants that are also great for beginners. 

  1. Spaghetti Algae. 

While you typically want to stay away from algae, spaghetti algae is one of the exceptions. 

No special additives are needed for this plant, but it does expel tons of oxygen in the tank, which is wonderful for the fish. 

The plant needs little to no maintenance and is very hardy. It also has a unique appearance which is great for adding personality to the tank as well.

  1. Red Graciliaria Algae. 

This is another exception to the algae rule. 

Red Graciliaria Algae will give your tank an excellent pop of color while also adding oxygen and tons of nutrients to your tank. 

It is also hardy and is great for novices. 

  1. Mermaid’s Fan. 

Mermaid’s Fan is a great plant to add some personalization to your tank. Once planted, the fish tend to leave the plant alone. 

It has a shorter stem and resembles a large clam or mermaid’s tail. 

Unlike the others, Mermaid’s Tail does require decent lighting and enough calcium to thrive. 

  1. Mangrove. 

Mangroves are sold as shoots that look more like sticks with a few leaves on top. They are great at filtering the water and increasing oxygen in the tank. 

They are also great at neutralizing nitrates, which makes them a great addition to any tank.

  1. Green Finger Plant. 

The Green Finger Plant is one of the most popular saltwater plants. 

This natural filter looks like a bush of fingers and is exceptionally hardy. 

It is a shorter plant, so it will look fabulous in the foreground or middle ground in any tank. 

Since it is thicker, most fish will also not bother the plant. 

Fish that Need Plants 

As previously mentioned, some fish need plants, while others do just fine without them. 

A few species especially love to munch on live plants throughout the day to get their daily nutrients, while other species tend to like having more swim room in the tank. 

Below is a list of fish that love plants. However, it should be noted that some of these species will destroy the plants by eating them. 

  1. Goldfish
  2. Mbuna
  3. Oscars
  4. Cichlids
  5. Plecos

Best Beginner Aquarium Plants 

If you are interested in adding live plants to your aquarium, add beginner-proof plants. 

This will teach you how to care for aquarium plants while providing a bit of leeway for any mistakes since the following plants are hardy.  

Below are a few great options to start…

  1. Amazon Sword
  2. Vallisneria 
  3. Java Fern
  4. Java Moss
  5. Dwarf Sagittaria