Five super easy aquarium plants

Want a bit of greenery in your tank? Fed up of forking out on live aquarium plants that disintegrate and die? Stick to these five species and your aquarium will become a green, serene planted tank in no time. 


Anubias is a genus of beautiful aquarium plants, known for their dark green, waxy, spade-shaped leaves. Those tough leaves offer them protection even from some herbivorous fish, and they’re the live plant choice if you’re creating a West African biotope, or you just have boisterous, messy fish like cichlids. 

Anubias score again as they only need dim lighting in which to thrive and should be tied to wood or rocks where they will grow up, off the bottom of the tank, leaving you free to vacuum the gravel without disturbing them. A guaranteed winner. 

Java fern

Java fern is to Asia what Anubias is to Africa, being tough, easy to grow, hardy, shade tolerant and also growing on wood and rocks, not in the gravel. If you can buy them potted or already growing on a piece of bogwood and you’ll have an instant aquascape and speaking of aquascapes, they form the basis of many nature aquarium designs too. Hard water, soft water, low light, bright, CO2, no CO2, they’re not bothered. They grow baby plants on their leaves too. A must-have for any freshwater tank.


Ceratophyllum demersum is a popular UK oxygenating plant for ponds, but it’s so hardy it can go from frosty waters to tropical and grows naturally over most of the planet. Hornwort is a bushy, feathery space filler that’s great for hiding equipment like filters and heaters or growing up to the surface and providing height too.

It can be thrown in as a free-floater or bunched, weighed down and planted like a conventional live plant. Fish lay eggs in it and fry take refuge in it. Its super-fast growing and you can move cuttings to and from tank and pond in the summer months too.


Hygrophila polysperma is a stem plant often available in potted form. Take it out of the pot, give it decent lighting and fertiliser and you will be amazed by its growth rate, touching the surface in days and putting on inches of height before your eyes. 

Cut with scissors, replant the cuttings and you’ll have a lovely ornamental looking underwater garden before your eyes, and new larger leaves take on a lovely pink hue as they bask under the tank lights.

Elodea densa

Another popular oxygenator for ponds, Elodea densa is the cousin of Elodea crispa, a plant which is now banned from sale, but densa will grow in or outdoors and will fill your tank with lush green growth in no time. It can free-float or be planted as a weighted bunch, and it will quickly reach the surface and stretch out, providing hiding places for eggs and fry. Cut with scissors anywhere along the stem, and replant, and a new head will form and race to the surface again. You can transplant cuttings to your pond too.    

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Jeremy Gay is an author and freelance aquatic specialist. A former editor of Practical Fishkeeping magazine, he offers a wealth of experience on all things aquarium and pond.

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