Looking to beautify your fish tank? Floating aquarium plants are a definite answer to this.

These are natural plants that improve the overall aesthetics and quality of water in the aquarium. Of course, these becoming entertainment piece for fish goes without saying.

Setting new dynamics to any existing fish tank can get tricky. While aquarists spend half the time deciding which kind of fish to pet, one must also look at the environment, they are going to settle in. And nothing beats the kind of surroundings fish tank plants offer.

You have come to the right spot if you are itching to know what floating plants are and which piece to buy. Here, you’ll be going through the Top 16 Best Floating Aquarium Plants in detail. Stay with us.

How to Choose the Best?

Go through these 4 tips while picking a floating plant for your aquarium.

Cross Match:

First things first, you need to know what’s already swimming in your tank. Supposedly, petting bettas would mean fixing plants that offer cover for their bubble nests post reproduction. Hence, matching needs becomes of utmost importance.

 Lighting:

Subsequently, a live plant needs adequate light to fuel its growth process. Not providing that is simply letting a plant go down the drain. It would be better to ask the amount of light sufficient for the floating plant you will opt for your tank.

Maintenance:

The next thing you look forward to is maintenance. While a healthy growing aquarium floater enhances the quality, a dying piece can have adverse effects. Hence, with a busy schedule like yours, make sure you opt for a low-maintenance plant. 

Size:

Lastly, picking the best floating plant would mean aligning it with the size of your aquarium. With that being said, you do not want a fast-growing species in your small tank, as this might disrupt the swimming space. You will learn more about it in the following sections.

6 Reasons Why They are Good for Your Aquarium

Having water plants floating in your aquarium would mean an extra layer of protection, circulation, beautification, and the list never ends. Let’s dig a little deeper.

Water Cleansing

Aquarists have been keeping freshwater floating plants to prevent water quality from degrading quickly. By feeding on the waste matter for nutrition, floating plants limit their accumulation in the aquarium by a fair margin.

Act as A Cover

When you see an aquarium with plants on top, you observe a cover-like structure. It is capable enough to provide fish enough shade and prevent the incoming of any external creature like flies and mosquitoes.

Enhancing Aesthetics

As we mentioned, nothing does a better job of enhancing the aesthetics of any aquarium than floating aquarium plants. Moreover, these look like a natural habitat growing on the inside where fishes feel at home.

Limiting Algae Growth

Algae can be dangerous for your tank and the creatures sheltering inside. However, with live floating plants, you can be sure of minimal algae deposit as all the nutrition that algae feed on already gets consumed by these.

Serving A Purpose

Most aquarists choose live floating aquarium plants based on the purpose they deliver. As mentioned, bettas love to have covers to build their bubble nests. Toys and pebbles are not a handy option as much as these plants are.

Keeping Conditions Favorable

We all know how vital it is to maintain a certain pH level, nitrate level, temperature, and other aspects of a fish aquarium—keeping live plants in means safeguarding those parameters from deviations. You must maintain it.

Best Types of Floating Plants Reviewed 

1. Amazon Frogbit (Limnobium Laeviatum)

Coming from Central & South America ranges, Amazon Frogbit is the prime choice for any beginner-level aquarists. It requires less maintenance, settles in quickly, and provides your aquarium the kind of aesthetic it deserves.

Having spongy leaves, lily-pad-like structure, and moderate roots traveling from top to midwaters, this floating fish tank plant does not require rigid water parameters to thrive. Any moderate size, current level, and setting would be perfect.

Plus, its size won’t be an issue for the fish and the owner. If you are worried about its size disturbing the swimming space, don’t be.

Pro Tip: Since Amazon Frogbit develops a cover-like structure on the top, you must ensure that the fishes swimming beneath as well as the submerged plants do not require abundant light. If that is the case, shift to some other piece.

  • Difficulty – Easy
  • Growth Rate – Fast
  • Lighting Conditions – Moderate Lighting Needed
  • CO2 Need – No
  • Average Price – $8 – $10
Floating aquarium plants - Amazon Frogbit (Limnobium Laeviatum)
Image Credit: Reddit MisterSwain

2. Water Spangles (Salvinia Minima)

If you have been looking for the best floating ferns for your aquarium, this right here is the best choice. With absolutely no hardships in maintaining, Water Spangles offer a dynamic aesthetics along with natural habitat to the freshwater fish species. Being a native to South America, these have long roots flowing from top to low, mid waters.

Hence, managing the swimming space becomes crucial. Opposite to other strong current enjoying species, these enjoy steady water. Growing rapidly in bright light, these will contrarily block the light’s path for submerged plants and creatures. Appearing to be broad elliptical 3-set leaves with white hairs on the top, they multiply when subjected to favorable conditions.

Why should you pick this? Well, its ability to thrive under vivid water parameters makes it a fine piece. Subsequently, it acts as a biofertilizer that feeds on the same nutrients that algae like. Hence, limiting the growth of these too.

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Recommendation: If you find discoloration of leaves, it means the conditions are not ideal. Hence, you need to adjust the parameters accordingly. Make sure it does not affect the fish’s health.

  • Difficulty – Easy
  • Growth Rate – Fast
  • Lighting Conditions – Moderate
  • CO2 Need – No
  • Average Price – $5 – $7
Best Floating Ferns - Water Spangles (Salvinia Minima)

3. Dwarf Water Lettuce (Pistia Stratiotes)

The look of a Dwarf Water Lettuce makes one instantly wish to have it in the aquarium. Adding to the beauty of your aquarium, this floating plant has significantly bigger velvet-like leaves and a head shape that depicts lettuce, although they are not true lettuce. Further, these can grow up to 1.5 inches long and develop roots too.

Volume-full roots mean you will have a helping hand controlling the nitrate levels in the tank. Originating on the side of Lake Victoria, this does not allow the light to travel in the tank. Hence, trimming and sharpening become a frequent practice. To make this low light floating plant enhance its beauty level, you must not let direct light fall onto it.

While many people might gently put it in the tank and set it afloat, you must not commit this mistake. Instead, first, quarantine the water lettuce as it may carry parasites. With an aesthetic appeal, management of waster matter, and an easy-to-maintain approach, we seriously cannot think of a better live plant floating on top.

  • Difficulty – Easy
  • Growth Rate – Fast
  • Lighting Conditions – Low-to-Moderate
  • CO2 Need – No
  • Average Price – $3 – $5
Dwarf Water Lettuce Plant for Aquarium

4. Duckweed (Lemna Minor)

As the name suggests, ducks love it, but this is not the case here. For your water tank, this green plant is going to be of tremendous help. It adds to the serenity, plus it has the nitrate-controlling capability. A mere look at this floating fish tank plant from above gives a neat, sharpened look, while a glimpse below can make your jaws drop.

Growing at a rapid pace, these require no direct light and no specific water parameters to flourish. Well, this is kind of a pro and con both. The speed at which it grows makes it hard for many aquarists to trim and maintain. Subsequently, it becomes inevitable to remove this tiny cell-like plant entirely.

If you have fishes that love the light insertion in the tank, this is not the plant you’d want to get. While these nutrient-rich species keep your creatures fed under odd circumstances, this can also become a threat by diminishing the oxygen levels inside. Quarantining it before it spreads all over is the solution you are looking for.

  • Difficulty – Easy
  • Growth Rate – Fast
  • Lighting Conditions – Moderate-to-High
  • CO2 Need – No
  • Average Price – $3 – $5
Duckweed (Lemna Minor) for Watertank

5. Anacharis (Egeria Densa)

Anacharis is perfectly made for beginner-level aquarists, but not the one having a small aquarium in place. Yes, this plant grows quickly and deems to have a large size containing a stem and leaves all around it. Having a green-colored appearance, this plant can tackle various adverse water conditions, including pH levels, hardness, and temperature.

Anyone who hasn’t had any experience with floating freshwater aquarium plants can start with an anacharis. Having said that, you do need to have a moderate-to-large size aquarium in place.

Light will not be an issue as it can thrive under low lights. It can become a toy for fishes that like to nibble (this won’t negatively impact the plant). While being a stunner standing right on cue, this is also a plant that keeps the oxygen levels full in the tank and defeats algae in extracting nutrients from the water. Hence, limiting the growth of algae. 

  • Difficulty – Easy
  • Growth Rate – Moderate
  • Lighting Conditions – Low-Moderate
  • CO2 Need – No
  • Average Price – $4 – $6
Floating Aquarium Plants - Anacharis (Egeria Densa)

6. Java Moss (Vesicularia Dubyana)

Deeming to be one of the favorite floating plants, or let’s say carpeted species (it can do both), Java Moss is a great piece to include in your water tank. With small circular-shaped leaves and branched stems, your fish tank with this plant on top looks beautiful. It either floats freely or catches the tank’s decorative substances; typically, driftwood.

Talking about the care level of this plant, you do not need to do much to keep it alive. No special treatment, no specific water parameter, and absolutely no regular trimming make it one of the easy plants to have, and that is why busy aquarists like us love it. They’d be offering plenty of space for egg protection and the fry to enjoy. Here, small shrimps can also hide from hunters.

With a low growth rate, flexibility to carpet & float, and less maintenance, Java Moss deems fit to be a beginner-level plant. All you have to do is buy it and set it afloat. The beautification process starts instantly.

  • Difficulty – Easy
  • Growth Rate – Moderate-Fast
  • Lighting Conditions – Moderate
  • CO2 Need – Yes
  • Average Price – $4 – $7

7. Hornwort (Ceratophyllum Demersum)

Depicting java moss in appearance, Hornwort is slightly different. It has thin stems, plenty of dark green leaves, and a tendency to flow freely. With this being set in your aquarium and complemented by dim lighting, you can indeed have a glorious piece posted right in front. Multiplying rapidly, this can grow up to 10 feet tall. Therefore, you must get ready to trim it frequently.

Viewed as one of the best floating plants for a tank, Hornwort can flourish in a variety of settings. It is a rich source of oxygen and fodder that steadily becomes a fish’s favorite within no time. As for the appearance, a sole plant can carry multiple stems giving it a look of several being put in place. Further, roots are not true to the origin, and instead, these are the leaves that do the anchoring.

Expert’s Advice: There are two major issues you’d encounter here. First, this plant can potentially damage the tank (wreck) with its needles. Second, its unbeatable growth rate eventually equips the whole tank limiting the swimming space. Hence, keeping a regular check is recommended.

  • Difficulty – Easy
  • Growth Rate – Moderate
  • Lighting Conditions – Moderate
  • CO2 Need – No
  • Average Price – $4 – $6
Thin stems aquarium plants - Hornwort (Ceratophyllum Demersum)

8. Mosquito Fern (Azolla Filiculoides)

Mosquito Fern has tiny leaves that grow up to 1 inch in length. You can identify this floating fish tank plant by looking at the alternating growth of leaves on either side of the stem. It looks bright green when it is growing. However, brown or yellow leaves mean the plant is stressed.

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One major reason aquarists opt for this is its ability to repel mosquitoes. It can prevent mosquitoes from laying their eggs in water, hence the name. Having it in your aquarium means having a carpet or mat-like structure floating on the top. Its fertilization capability is remarkable.

While it turns into a nitrate filter, it also covers the surface rapidly. Meaning, your plants and creatures living beneath the surface won’t be receiving much light. Hence, make sure you match the needs of organisms living below first. As for the care, you do not need advanced skills to keep it alive. It hangs in there under a wide array of conditions.

Pro Tip: If you feel there isn’t sufficient light reaching the depths of the water tank, you can create light pockets. These pave the way for the light to travel directly.

  • Difficulty – Easy
  • Growth Rate – Moderate
  • Lighting Conditions – Moderate
  • CO2 Need – No
  • Average Price – $5 – $6
Mosquito Fern (Azolla Filiculoides)
Image Credit: plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/azolla-caroliniana

9. Water Sprite (Ceratopteris Thalictroides)

Growing in tropical areas all over the world, Water Sprite will be an elegant addition to any existing water tank. Offering a lush-green look, this plant has its root growing wildly in the substrate. Remember, better the root system, better the health.

It grows and grows until you take on the task to trim. However, this growth rate has its pros and cons (mentioned below).

Looking at the bright side, this floating aquatic plant is a great hiding spot for fishes in your aquarium that love to go into hiding periodically. On the contrary, its growth rate tends to be rapid and fiery. Hence, cutting and trimming are indeed a necessity. As for the placement and look, you can either grow or root it or let it float on the surface.

Further, this acts as a guardian and prevents the growth of the algae in the tank. And not just this, it aids fish in combatting nitrogen poisoning in the initial stages. Its care level is something that won’t stress you at all.

  • Difficulty – Easy
  • Growth Rate – Fast
  • Lighting Conditions – Moderate
  • CO2 Need – No
  • Average Price – $3 – $7
Floating Aquatic Plant Water Sprite

10. Cabomba (Carolina Fanwort)

A stem-like structure having leaves growing like fans all around it, Cabomba is indeed a beautiful floating plant that sets the tone of your tank. Growing quickly with assistance from bright light, chemicals, and CO2 supplements, this plant becomes a hiding spot for several small organisms living in your aquarium.

They can potentially cover the water surface when left floating without any trimming. If that’s the case, you must try to cut the leaves gently. Make sure you do not uproot the stem if you have planted it. Being rich in nutrients for juveniles, this plant soon becomes a place of feeding and enjoyment for many fishes in your tank.

When you look at it, you see green leaves creating a plentiful fan-like structure. The stem can grow around 1.5 m long. Quickly dispersing inside the whole of the aquarium, this can soon become a hurdle in swimming space. Hence, keeping it in the background is advised where it looks like a curtain.

  • Difficulty – Moderate-to-High
  • Growth Rate – Fast
  • Lighting Conditions – Moderate-to-High
  • CO2 Need – Yes
  • Average Price – $5 – $10

11. Brazilian Pennywort (Hydrocotyle Leucocephala)

From the aesthetics point of view, Brazilian Pennywort is probably the finest choice for your aquarium. Creating a light green ceiling-like structure on the top, this plant requires minimal maintenance. With proper care, nutrition, and lighting, you can even get a sight of flowers on this plant.

The issue with these floating leaves in your aquarium is their fast growth due to abundant light. Its circular leaves (though they are spaced) can soon cover the entire surface, and before you know it, it sneaks into the edges of the tank. It is advised to keep this plant under check as any fish coming to the surface for oxygen won’t be getting any of it due to the carpet formed by this plant.

If there are creatures in there looking for a place to hide, this plant can be of help. The list of suitable tank mates strictly leaves behind cichlids and goldfish as these do not go well with it. Overall, this is a beginner-level plant that grows well under various conditions and requires minimal care.

  • Difficulty – Moderate-to-High
  • Growth Rate – Fast
  • Lighting Conditions – Moderate
  • CO2 Need – Yes
  • Average Price – $8 – $11
Brazilian Pennywort plant for Aquarium

12. Rotala Indica (Rotala Indica)

Tired of having regular greenish plants on top of your fish tank? Try this out. Rotala Indica will be of extreme beauty once it settles in your aquarium. While professional aquarists advise people to plant it, you can still set it floating where it grows well. Talking of the growth, it requires a bit of extra care for Rotala Indica to express its true colors.

By true colors, we mean it does not have only green shade dominating the leaves. You may find pink, brownish, or yellowish-orange leaves at the bottom. When set with a slow-steady current and few juveniles swimming across it, it sets the tone apart through a wave-like creation. The only reason why this terrific piece comes after others plants is its care level.

This is the type of floating plant that requires you to be very cautious of trimming. Any break in the stem can lay stress over this plant. Further, it requires a minimum of 8 hours of light to unleash its true form.

  • Difficulty – High
  • Growth Rate – Fast
  • Lighting Conditions – High
  • CO2 Need – No
  • Average Price – $5 – $7
Rotala Indica floating plant

13. Water Wisteria (Hygrophila Difformis)

Water Wisteria can offer you a couple of different looks depending on whether you plant it or set it afloat. While kept as a floating material, its stems will slightly bend to either side, and when planted, they would be reaching straight up to the surface in search of light.

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If you are a newbie, this aquarium plant is going to be the best choice since it does not require any special care and CO2 injections to grow. It also becomes a safe spot for the fry to reach and rest. Besides acting as a secure spot, it can act as a natural filter in the aquarium. Coupled with its oxygen supplementing capability, Water Wisteria could be your premium choice for the coming year.

This floating plant is also a snacking hub for invertebrates in a fish tank that like to have a variety. Having plentiful leaves on the same stem can bring out various shades of green that look dynamic when contacted with light.

Expert’s Advice: While this plant requires a minimum of 7-hour lighting, its exposure to full lighting can advance its growth rate. Subsequently, it can block the light from reaching other parts of the tank. As an owner, keep an eye on it.

  • Difficulty – Moderate
  • Growth Rate – Moderate
  • Lighting Conditions – Moderate
  • CO2 Need – No
  • Average Price – $5 – $11
Water Wisteria floating plants for aquarium

14. Ludwigia Repens (LudwigiaRepens)

Ludwiga Repens is the kind of plant suitable for aquarists thinking to add contrasts in the tank. While you can have fish of various colors and textures, you can set this brownish (red + orange) leafy plant floating on the top. We know what you are thinking. Not every distinctive plant requires advanced-level care, and this is one of them.

Irrespective of your experience, you can set this afloat. It tends to grow without any special fertilizer or CO2 injection. Growing up to an average height of 15 inches, it periodically asks you to trim it to maintain a balance of aesthetics, swimming space, and light. Growing in the parts of Central America, they go well with peaceful fish such as cherry barbs, corys, and tetras.

This floating plant adds benefits to your aquarium. Acting as a natural filter, it removes any excess of nitrates and often becomes the first feeding spot for a fry. Further, they regulate oxygen levels and also play the role of a shelter for shrimps and small fishes.

  • Difficulty – Easy
  • Growth Rate – Average
  • Lighting Conditions – Medium
  • CO2 Need – No
  • Average Price – $5 – $8
Ludwigia Repens Plants for Aquarium

15. Red Root Floater (Phyllanthus Fluitans)

Native to South America, Red Root Floater, as the name suggests, holds the ability to turn completely red under favorable circumstances. That being said, you need to set the conditions right for this water surface plant and make sure it does not interfere with the suitability of other creatures and plants.

However, sticking to color, this is indeed a stunner and perhaps not your regular floating plant in the aquarium. With an easy-care level, it can thrive in almost all the settings you set for your creatures already residing in. Having a dense root system, it flows to mid-waters creating a red appearance on the top as well as in between. Keeping the current rate slow and steady is advised.

  • Difficulty – Easy-to-Moderate
  • Growth Rate – Fast
  • Lighting Conditions – Moderate
  • CO2 Need – No
  • Average Price – $9 – $13
Red Root Floater Plant for Aquarium

16. Subwassertang (Lamariopsis Lineata)

Popular with shrimp keeps, Subwassertang has a densely populated small floating plant that demands adequate care from the owner. These leaf patches are favorite spots for small, shy fishes and shrimps to hide. Any aquarium parameter or décor can let this plant thrive amazingly. With no additional supplements needed, this freshwater floating plant is indeed a perfect fit for beginners.

This bushy plant is called Freshwater Seaweed in British. Slowly occupying a round shape while growing, this plant has no roots and can either be floating on top or sinking. Either way, it is healthy doing both. The primary purpose for having this is its stress-relieving capability for shrimps and small fish. By offering several hiding spots, it can provide alone peaceful time to organisms inside.

Things to Know: Subwassertang plays a great deal in oxygenating the tank. By consuming the CO2 produced from fish, it retaliates by releasing oxygen into the water.

  • Difficulty – Moderate-Hard
  • Growth Rate – Average
  • Lighting Conditions – Moderate
  • CO2 Need – Yes
  • Average Price – $9 – $12
Subwassertang bushy floating plant for Tank

FAQs

Do floating plants stop algae?

Yes, by primarily feeding on all the nutrients that algae need to grow, floating plants can limit the growth of algae.

How do I quarantine a floating plant?

Quarantining floating plants is almost similar to quarantining fish, and all you need is a separate container in place. Make sure you sterilize the plant to remove any harmful parasites feeding on it.

Why are my floating plants dying?

Floating plants have a requirement of light and CO2 in some cases. Failing to provide that and other ideal substances can result in death.

Which fish species like floating plants?

Bettas and Gourami fish like to have various types of floating plants in the aquarium covering the surface and creating a dark environment to hide. However, shrimps and snails also like to have these as their hiding spots.

Do floating plants multiply?

Yes, floating plants multiply by a great deal. Some only require one cell to travel in the water, and before you start to inspect, it starts multiplying and soon covers the surface.

Are there any disadvantages to keeping floating plants in your aquarium?

One major disadvantage of keeping floating plans is the blockage of life due to overgrowth. These can carpet the surface totally. Anything below, fish and submerged plants, will get deprived of light.

Concluding Thoughts

Once you have a live floating plant in your freshwater tank, you develop a habit of seeing new aesthetics overtaking the space. After that, there is no going back to artificial materials. With several benefits and, of course, elegance, we recommend you set a floating plant right in right now.

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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