How to Grow Freshwater Aquatic Plants


Aquarium plants come in many varieties and can add visual interest to any tank. They are just as easy to plant as regular plants. The only difference is that instead of planting them in soil, you're planting them in substrate on the bottom of the aquarium. They require some care such as lighting and fertilization. The key is to spend some time planning out the setting so that you get the look you desire.

Step 1

Prepare aquarium plants before placing them in the tank. Rinse them under water to wash off debris such as insects and snails. Remove damaged stems, leaves or roots.

Step 2

Plan out the aquarium so that the taller plants are in the back and the shorter ones, such as rosettes, are in the front. You can also put some of the taller plants along the sides of the tank.

Step 3

Prune the roots. If there is an extensive root system, trim off the brown ones. You can remove up to 1/3 of the roots without a problem.

Step 4

Place the plants in the substrate at the bottom of the aquarium. Gravel and sand are the best choices for substrate. Insert their roots so that they are covered up to where the leaves start growing.

Step 5

Plant tubers such as Elephant Ears at an angle in the substrate. This is how they prefer to grow. Put them just deep enough so the shoots are right above the substrate.

Step 6

Pull cuttings apart by hand to separate them. Some freshwater aquarium plants are sold in clusters or bunches. Be gentle so you don't damage them.

Step 7

Cut off a few of the leaves at the base of each stem. Bury the cutting so that the bottom-most leaf touches the substrate.

Step 8

Space planted cuttings so they can grow individually. This is healthier for the plant.

Step 9

Give the plants 10 to 12 hours of direct light daily. Fine-leafed and red-leafed plants need bright light, so install fluorescent lighting above the aquarium.

Step 10

Feed the plants with an aquatic plant fertilizer as needed. Follow the instructions on the label.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not tie cuttings together and bury them in the substrate as a group because they will rot. Avoid burying plants too deep because they will rot.

Things You'll Need

  • Water
  • Aquarium plants
  • Substrate
  • Pruning shears or scissors
  • Lighting


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Keywords: grow aquarium plants, freshwater aquarium plants, plants fish tank

About this Author

Kelly Shetsky has been a broadcast journalist for more than 10 years, researching, writing, producing and reporting daily on many topics. In addition, she writes for several websites, specializing in medical, health and fitness, arts and entertainment, travel and business. Shetsky has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Marist College.