How to Care for Aquarium Plants


Aquatic plants in your fish tank make it more attractive and can actually improve the health of the aquarium if the plants are properly cared for. Aquarium plants do require some attention and maintenance, but the benefits far outweigh the effort that is necessary to keep the plants healthy. Choose plants and create a design that suits your taste, then watch your underwater garden grow and develop.

Step 1

Pour a layer of substrate rich in nutrients into the bottom of the tank. Cover with a layer of decorative rocks or gravel. Some plants will require a deeper substrate to accommodate their roots, so research your chosen plants before preparing the aquarium.

Step 2

Examine the roots of the plants you have purchased. Remove any that are flimsy or dark brown. Pinch off any leaves that are damaged or yellow.

Step 3

Rinse each plant well in fresh water before placing it into the aquarium to remove tiny snails that can quickly multiply and devour your new plants.

Step 4

Bury the roots and stem of each aquatic plant up to a level just below the bottom leaves. If you are planting a bulb or rhizome, let the tip of the pointed end remain barely above the gravel. Leave enough room between each plant to allow light to reach the bottom leaves

Step 5

Provide sufficient lighting in the aquarium. Fluorescent bulbs work well in most tanks, but they weaken over time. Replace them every six months.

Step 6

Replace 20 percent of the water each week to keep the tank healthy and prevent your plants from becoming diseased. Add a chlorine-removing water treatment to the fresh water before introducing it to the aquarium.

Step 7

Remove algae weekly, as well as any tank residue that may have accumulated on the plants.

Step 8

Fertilize the plants by adding aquatic plant food tablets to the tank. These tablets dissolve in the water and need to be replaced when they are completely gone.

Step 9

Clip the plants back if the leaves reach the surface of the water. You can propagate many types of aquatic plants by simply planting the part of stem that you removed.

Tips and Warnings

  • Keep the tank as clean as possible. Most aquarium plants cannot survive in water that is cloudy, as it prevents enough light from reaching the plants.

Things You'll Need

  • Fish tank
  • Nutrient-rich substrate
  • Gravel
  • Aquarium plants
  • Fluorescent aquarium lights
  • Chlorine-removing water treatment
  • Aquatic plant food tablets


  • Animal-World: Aquarium Plant Feeding and Maintenance
  • MongaBay: Freshwater Aquatic Plant Care
  • Aquatic Community: Caring for Plants
Keywords: aquarium plant care, grow aquarium plants, aquarium plants, aquatic plants

About this Author

Annita Lawson has been working as a freelance writer since 2004. Her work has been published in various web and print outlets, including The Dabbling Mum, A Virtuous Woman, and Pediatrics for Parents. Lawson is pursuing an Associate of Arts degree at Southeast Kentucky Community College. She enjoys sharing all that she has learned about parenting, healthy eating and living a frugal lifestyle.