Fish enthusiasts have been using carpet plants for years to give their aquariums a complete new look. It provides a whole new depth to the tank.

These plants act as a “mini-habitat” for bottom-dwelling fish, and small crustaceans such as shrimps, crabs, etc. They provide sustenance to them and shelter to hide from bigger, more aggressive fishes.

Since there are numerous varieties of aquarium carpet plants, we have sorted out the best and discussed the top 10 you can get for your tank.

Java Moss

Best Carpet Plants - Java Moss
Java Moss

Species Fact Sheet

  • Scientific name: Taxiphyllum barbieri
  • Origin: Southeast Asia
  • Max length/height: 3 – 10 inches (7.6 – 25.4 cm)
  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • CO2 requirement: Not essential
  • Lighting: Low

Java Moss is commonly found everywhere and is also inexpensive. It’s easy to grow in tanks because of their low requirement for carbon-di-oxide and light (can also flourish in dark areas).

Their ability to quickly spread across the floor of the tank has encouraged aquascapers to grow them on rock surfaces and other low-lying decors.

Propagating this plant is also really simple, as it requires only scissors or a sharp object to cut pieces of it and plant them in a nutrient-rich substrate. You can even attach the severed part to a surface using a thread, given the water has sufficient nutrients to support the growth.

Due to their thick unfurling patterns, sac-fry also tend to hide within them after they are hatched. Alongside this, it also acts as a foraging ground for small crustaceans and gastropods.

Dwarf Sagittaria

Dwarf Sagittaria

Species Fact Sheet

  • Scientific name: Sagittaria subulata
  • Origin: Coastal areas of USA & South America
  • Max length/height: 3 to 5 inches (7.6 – 12.7 cm) under bright light; 12 inches (30.5 cm) under low light
  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • CO2 requirement: Yes
  • Lighting: Moderate to high

Dwarf Sagittaria, or Dwarf Sag, is an incredible plant for less-experienced aquarists because it has the ability to adapt itself and grow in different water conditions. It can tolerate hard alkaline and even slightly brackish waters.

It tends to stay at short lengths if sufficient light is provided. So, it is easy to care for without needing to be trimmed continuously. Having said that, in a dimly-lit environment, it will start to increase in height more than usual in order to reach the light source.

Another variety of this plant- the Dwarf Arrowhead, tends to remain small even in dark conditions. But it will die faster rather than grow in height, unlike its cousin.

It also provides shelter for eggs and baby fish and a hefty amount of oxygen for the water. Plus, the organic matter layer that develops on them over time, supports feeding for small invertebrates and fish.

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Dwarf Hairgrass

Dwarf Hairgrass

Species Fact Sheet

  • Scientific name: Eleocharis parvula
  • Origin: Australia
  • Max length/height: 6 inches (15.2 cm)
  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • CO2 requirement: Yes
  • Lighting: Moderate

The Dwarf Hairgrass is an aquarium grass variety that grows succulent-like tendrils. It is very simple to cultivate inside an aquarium and also complements other plants and tank decorations effortlessly.

This carpet plant is an ideal companion for your pet, especially if it thrives in tropical regions, especially Betta fish. Sadly, this grass won’t allow your Betta to hide very effectively, but if you plant it in your tank, your fish will breathe easier and have cleaner water to live in.

Really, all you need to do is provide this plant with a rich substrate, coupled with moderate levels of lighting, and see it spread hastily.

Micro Sword “Narrow Leaf”

Micro Sword “Narrow Leaf”

Species Fact Sheet

  • Scientific name: Lilaeopsis Novae Zelandiae
  • Origin: South America
  • Max length/height: 3 Inches (7.5 cm)
  • Growth Rate: Slow
  • CO2 requirement: Yes
  • Lighting: Moderate to high

Also known as the Copagrass, is an aquatic carpeting plant with a very unique grassy appearance. It has a morphology similar to the Amazon Sword but a smaller size, with tiny blade-like leaves. This makes them look very enchanting in the foreground of tanks.

An advantage over the normal Micro Sword is the ease of spreading along the substrate. Even if you own a low-tech tank, it won’t hamper their development in any way.

However, in a low-lit environment, it tends to grow longer and more irregular. But with proper lighting, it will stay short and the horizontal spread will be better.

Their development will be substantial in sand substrates that have been supplemented with manure and root tablets, or in any soil-based substrate designed for plants.

Although the blades of this plant appear single, they really originate from a single runner. If you wish to accelerate the expansion, detach a few runners and plant them all over the tank. This will ensure the carpet spreads out evenly and takes less time to spread.

Dwarf Crypt

Dwarf Crypt

Species Fact Sheet

  • Scientific name: Cryptocoryne Parva
  • Origin: Sri Lanka
  • Max length/height: 2 – 3.15 inches (5 – 8 cm)
  • Growth Rate: Very slow
  • CO2 requirement: Yes
  • Lighting: High

Similar to the majority of Crypts, Dwarf Crypt grows slowly, seldom reaching short heights. It has a strong light requirement but tends to prefer shady places to spread in the wild.

But it is somewhat different from its relatives. The color of many Crypts varieties changes with the level of illumination intensity, whereas Dwarf Crypt stays a pale grassy green all the time.

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Another distinct characteristic of Cryptocoryne Parva is that once it has settled itself in the tank, there is no work required to maintain its height.

Christmas Moss

Christmas Moss

Species Fact Sheet

  • Scientific name: Vesicularia montagnei
  • Origin: South East Asia and Australia
  • Max length/height: 1.2 inches vertically, 4 inches horizontally
  • Growth Rate: Slow
  • CO2 requirement: Optional
  • Lighting: Low to moderate

Christmas Moss or X-mas Moss is also a popular choice for aquascapers who like Java Moss or Flame Moss. Their name is derived from their distinctive leaf pattern, which resembles the leaves of coniferous trees such as Fir and Spruce.

This moss makes for a better carpet plant because, apart from the substrate, it can also be tied on hard surfaces and decors. People like to sculpt them over rocks and driftwood, which makes them even more attractive.

Christmas Moss can also be planted in low-light settings, but it propagates best in moderate lighting.  The carbon di-oxide requirement is not a must, but it will condition the growth rate. So, even with a low-tech tank, you won’t face any hurdles.

Another distinct nature of this plant is that it can even thrive emersed i.e., partially submerged in water. This makes it a perfect choice for paludarium enthusiasts.

Dwarf Baby Tears

Dwarf Baby Tears

Species Fact Sheet

  • Scientific name: Hemianthus callitrichoides ‘Cuba’
  • Origin: Cuba
  • Max length/height: 1.2 inches vertically, 4 inches horizontally
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • CO2 requirement: Yes
  • Lighting: Moderate to high

Dwarf Baby Tears are among the smallest aquarium plants you will see, with leaves reaching about 0.1 – 0.2 cm in size and having a tear-like appearance.

In the foreground, an equally spread growth looks like a real carpet on the tank bed. It is also quite famous amongst people who like to aquascape their tanks in an Iwagumi layout.

These varieties are also spread through runners, but it takes some time for them to achieve a thick carpet density, and cover all the black spots. A strategy to make this better is by planting equidistant clusters (4 inches in the area) across the whole substrate.

A good nutrient base will help boost growth. In addition to that, bright lighting and a strong carbon-di-oxide concentration in the water will reinforce the carpet development.

Micranthemum ‘Monte Carlo’

Micranthemum ‘Monte Carlo’

Species Fact Sheet

  • Scientific name: Micranthemum tweediei
  • Origin: Argentina
  • Max length/height: 1.2 – 2 inches (3 – 5 cm)
  • Growth Rate: Moderate to fast
  • CO2 requirement: Optional
  • Lighting: Moderate

Micranthemum, commonly known as Monte Carlo, is a plant that has recently enlisted itself into the league of carpet plants.

Their leaves have a round shape similar to that of Dwarf Baby Tears, but the size is a bit bigger (0.4 cm). They have a strong green color and do not fade, even with accidental changes to water parameters.

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In addition to providing an alluring carpet look to the tank, they are also easy to maintain. When paired with appropriate light settings, you will have a thick carpet in no time.

Staurogyne Repens

Staurogyne Repens

Species Fact Sheet

  • Scientific name: Staurogyne repens
  • Origin:   South America
  • Max length/height: 4 inches (10 cm)
  • Growth Rate: Slow
  • CO2 requirement: Yes
  • Lighting: Moderate to high

Staurogyne repens, or SR, has a considerably shorter height than conventional stemmed carpet plants, yet it reaches higher lengths than carpet Bladderworts.

These plants can sometimes be mistaken for the Amazon Sword plant due to the resemblance, especially the leaves.

If they get a proper light cycle, they will spread quickly along the bottom surface. This characteristic alone, plus their hardy nature, really makes them a viable option for the initiate.

Their stems can sometimes spread out unevenly, even with proper conditions. So, they may require regular trimming from time to time.

You can also take these trimmed parts (mainly the stems), and seed them deeply into the substrate. Those will grow into small plants; but, it may take a while.

Glosso

Glosso

Species Fact Sheet

  • Scientific name: Glossostigma elatinoides
  • Origin:   New Zealand
  • Max length/height: 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5.1 cm)
  • Growth Rate: Moderate to fast
  • CO2 requirement: Yes
  • Lighting: Moderate to high

Another fantastic species of carpet grass plant is the Glosso. Their short size ensures a thick carpet in no time.

Having said that, Glosso may require a little bit of experience with carpet plants, but don’t let this change your opinion about them. These tiny aquatic plants can tolerate noticeable temperature, across different light settings.

In addition to having a lush carpet growth aspect, their leaves are oval or “spoon-shaped”, which contributes to covering the blank spots uniformly across the foreground.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can lawn grass be grown inside an aquarium?

They can’t be grown because they are terrestrial plants. Maybe it will do well in a terrarium, but it will die when submerged fully, or even partially, in the water. They can sometimes be confused with aquatic grass, which looks similar but has very different biology.

Can aquarium grass grow in gravel?

They can be grown, to a degree. This is due to the fact that they acquire nutrition directly from the water through their leaves, and do not require the substrate to thrive.

Final Verdict On Best Carpeting Plants

We can agree that it takes time and care to grow a lush carpet with these plants. But once you do that, it is advantageous to your tank.

Moreover, even if you lack the proper aqua scaping skills, you won’t face any challenges. These plant specimens are known to form carpets by themselves, but with a little help, it spreads.

About the Author

Shelby Crosby

Shelby is a passionate fishkeeper who has been writing about fish for over 5 years. She is a pro aquarist and holds a BSc Honors Degree in Wildlife and Fisheries. She creates her own beautiful aquarium layouts and loves to share her knowledge of tropical fish with other hobbyists.

Career Highlights:

  • Has worked with several aquarium manufacturers as a consultant
  • Organized and hosted workshops on freshwater fish keeping at retail stores, educational facilities, and libraries
  • Released content for the amphibian community through her writings

Educational Highlights:

  • BSc Honors in Wildlife and Fisheries in 2011 (University of Northern British Columbia)
  • Completed her undergraduate thesis on the effects of zoochlorella supplementation on the growth and health of fish.

Writing Experience

Miss Crosby is a Freelance blogger; many of her articles are posted online on various blogs. She has also written a few short articles for "Tropical Fish Hobbyist Magazine" in the past. She is a regular contributor to FishParenting.com. Her education, first-hand experience with fishkeeping, and in-depth knowledge in aquaculture make her one of the most competent writers in the industry.

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