12 Benefits of Live Plants in an Aquarium (Pros and Cons)

Yesterday I went to my friend’s house.

He is a minimalist guy so his aquarium does not have any plants. He has just a bare bottom aquarium.

I really like plants in the aquarium and there are a lot of benefits of keeping live plants in your aquarium.

I like plants in the aquarium so much that I have included it in the list of the things you must know before buying an aquarium.

So today I am going to share with you the benefits of keeping live plants in an aquarium that will convince you as well as my minimalist friend to put some live plants in the aquarium.

So let’s get started

Benefits of Live Plants in an Aquarium

12 Benefits of Live Plants in an Aquarium (Pros and Cons) pin

1. Emulate the Natural Habitat

Most fish’s natural habitat contains live plants. So keeping some live plants in the aquarium help stimulate their natural habitat.

So that they can feel like home!

2. Oxygen

There are several ways to increase oxygen in a fish tank but increasing oxygen but keeping the live plants in the aquarium is a very natural way to do it.

Plants increase oxygen in the aquarium.

This is probably the most important and a very common reason why many people keep plants in the aquarium.

Plants do photosynthesis to create their own food and in this process, they take carbon dioxide and release oxygen.

Carbon dioxide is very harmful to fish and oxygen is good for fish.

So keeping live plants in an aquarium is a very good thing for the fish.

But during night plants do release carbon dioxide.

And there is a myth related to this that it is harmful to the fish.

But the fact is, plants release way less carbon dioxide than they consume it.

So you don’t need to be afraid that the carbon dioxide released by the plants can cause harm to your fish.

3. Food For Fish

Some fish like Goldfish are omnivorous scavengers.

They feed on non-vegetarian foods like insects, larvae, etc and they also require vegetarian food for their proper growth.

These fish get their non-vegetarian diet in the form of plants in their natural habitat.

So it is a good idea to put some plants into the aquarium that contains these kinds of fish so that they can munch on them.

But you should keep these omnivorous fish well-fed because they can consume the plant completely.

Besides, there are some fish like silver dollar fish, Buenos Aires, Tetras that can devour your plants no matter how well you feed them.

4. Sanctuary for Fish and Fry

The live plants provide very good hiding places for fry and small fish.

This will help to protect themselves from the big fish.

Also, plants provide a kind of shelter for your fish and usually fish like to sleep in these shelters.

It basically provides them a sense of security.

5. Algae Reduction

Believe it or not, plants actually help to reduce the algae in your aquarium.

The nutrients that algae require to grow and the nutrients that a plant requires for its growth are the same.

And plants are pretty good at getting the nutrients. So they starve algae for nutrients which helps to reduce algae growth.

However, there are some other precautions you have to take to reduce the algae growth.

For example, you should not keep the lights of your aquarium on for more than 12 hours.

Also, when you are just starting out with live plants initially you should not use a very strong or bright light or you should keep the lights on for less time maybe for 6 hours and then gradually increase it as the plant grows.

You should do this because at the beginning when the plants are very small it doesn’t actually require a lot of light.

If you keep the light on for more time then algae will take advantage of it and grow.

6. Substrate Health

The roots of the plants are beneficial for the substrate health and the overall health of your aquarium.

The roots of the plant will help to break up the anaerobic pockets in your substrate.

When the oxygen cannot reach the depth of your substrate the anaerobic bacteria form in these areas.

This anaerobic bacteria produce hydrogen sulfide gas which is very toxic for your fish.

If you have a deep substrate then there is a chance that this gas will build up in the lower substrate area and then it will release in the form of bubbles into the tank which is very harmful to your fish.

So, when the roots of the plant grow deeper into the substrate it helps to break these anaerobic pockets in the substrate that ultimately solves the problem of hydrogen sulfide gas.

7. Helps to Keep the Substrate in Place

While aquascaping in the aquarium, when you create hills and valleys structure, the roots of the plants will help to keep the substrate or the soil in place once it gets established.

So the structure you have created in the aquarium will remain as it is and will not flatten out over time.

8. Added Filtration

Any aquarium requires a very good filtration system in place for the growth of the fish.

While the filters help to maintain a healthy environment, live aquarium plants give added filtration that is more natural.

The thing is, plants absorb all the unnecessary products like nitrates, nitrites, ammonia, heavy metals, the waste produced by fish and the uneaten food.

All this unnecessary waste works as a fertilizer for the plants that helps them to grow.

So it is a kind of Win-Win situation because these unnecessary products are very harmful to your fish but they are actually beneficial for the plants.

9. Keeps Water Temperature Low

If you have a bright light for the aquarium that produces a lot of heat then plants can help to reduce the temperature in the aquarium.

Big plants like the Amazon sword will provide shade in a part of your aquarium.

Also, there are floating plants that float on the surface of the tank so it will prevent the light from directly coming into the tank and ultimately help to maintain lower temperatures in the tank.

10. Promotes Beneficial Bacteria Growth

When you put plants in your aquarium it provides a lot of space for the colonization of the beneficial bacteria.

Beneficial bacteria, as the name suggests, are good kind of bacteria that helps to reduce the ammonia level in your aquarium.

Ammonia is very harmful to your fish and a slight rise in the ammonia level in the aquarium can even cause the death of your fish.

Overall, the beneficial bacterias are good and plants promote their growth by offering a lot of space for their colonization.

11. Promotes Breeding and Laying Eggs

Fish breed in a certain environment in nature.

So creating such an environment is very important for successful breeding.

And most of the time plants come into play while creating an ideal environment for the breeding of your fish.

Fish actually lay their eggs on the plants.

Overall plants are very important for breeding and laying eggs in fish.

12. Decorate the Fish Tank

Besides, all the other benefits of the live plants, it also offers you a chance to decorate and personalize your fish tank and give it a unique and interesting look.

Plants make your aquarium look more natural.

You can try different colors of plants like red plants that really look very good along with green plants.

There are a lot of varieties of plants having different kinds of leaves. 

Some plants are floating and others you have to tie to driftwood or substrate that can bring variety in your fish tank and really enhance the overall look of your aquarium.

How to Choose Live Plants for Aquarium?

You should choose the plants which are compatible with your fish.

The plant should require the same water condition as your fish to grow.

If your fish like to nibble on plants then you should go for fast-growing plants.

The fast-growing plants will grow fast so that even if your fish nibble on it then it will not consume it completely.

But the fast-growing plants also require regular trimming so that it will not occupy all the space of your aquarium.

If your fish like to nibble on plants but you still want to keep some slow-growing plants in your aquarium then you should just keep your fish well-fed so that it will not nibble on the plants.

Types of Live Plants for Aquarium

There are a lot of varieties of plants to choose from.

Some plants need to be tied to any ornament like driftwood or substrate.

And there are some other plants that you can let it float in your aquarium.

Also, there are red plants if you want to make your aquarium look more colorful.

The red plants are a bit difficult to maintain but they really make your aquarium attractive.

Most people put big plants in the background of their aquarium and short plants at the front of the aquarium.

But you can also put some short plants in the background, it actually provides a nice depth effect to your tank.

Beginner-friendly Live Plants

1. Cryptocoryne wendtii

This is a small plant. The great thing about this plant is that it can grow in any substrate.

Also, it can thrive in almost any lighting condition.

2. Marimo Moss ball

This is just a small green ball. It is a kind of algae but it looks good in Tank.

The great part about this is, it doesn’t require any maintenance and it can survive in any lighting condition.

Also, they are very cheap.

You just have to toss it in your aquarium and then whenever you change the water just move this ball a little bit so that the part which was at the bottom will also get light or else it will die.

This is a very good plant to put in Goldfish tank because Goldfish will move it around and they may also nibble on it.

3. Aponogeton Crispus

This is also a very cheap plant.

It is a fast-growing plant that makes it ideal for the fish which like to nibble on plants.

These plants don’t require any maintenance you just have to put it in the substrate and it will grow on its own.

4. Java Moss

This is another low maintenance plant but it is a bit expensive.

This plant grows relatively fast and it is particularly good for Goldfish because sometimes they can nibble on it.

This plant is also very good for breeding fish.

5. Susswassertang

This is probably the most beginner-friendly plant in this list.

You don’t have to tie it to any ornament or substrate.

You just have to put it into your aquarium and it can survive in any condition.

This is probably not the easy to find plant and it is also not the cheapest as well.

6. Amazon sword

This is probably one of the most popular plants in this hobby.

This plant grows very big and it requires a deep substrate for proper growth.

This plant can survive in low to moderate lighting conditions.

You should use some fertilizers for its fast growth.

As it is a fast-growing plant and it grows very big, it is ideal for fish who like to eat plants because they will consume it completely.

How to Take Care of Live Plants in an Aquarium.

Favorable Environment

First of all, you should select the plants which are comfortable with the water conditions that your fish require. So that the plant can thrive in your aquarium.


For most plants, you will need a substrate to plant it into your aquarium.

A layer of fine gravel of 2-3 millimeters at the bottom is ideal for planting plants in your aquarium.

Besides, you can also use sand and there are also some plants that don’t need any substrate like Java moss.

And there are also some floating plants that don’t require any substrate at all.


Depending on the plant, you may require low, moderate or high lighting.

Some plants require a good amount of light for their proper growth like anacharis, duckweed, water spirit, parrot feather.

Some plants require moderate lighting for example hornwort, Amazon sword.

And there are some plants which can survive in very low lighting conditions, for example, Anubis, Java fern, Java moss.

So you should arrange the lighting according to the needs of your live plants for its optimum growth.

Use Fertilizer

You can also use fertilizers for the optimum growth of your aquatic plants.

Just make sure that the fertilizers are fish safe and iron-based.

Also, don’t choose phosphate fertilizers because that helps algae to grow fast.

Where to Get Live Plants?

There are several places where you can find live plants.

You can buy live plants online from Amazon and there are also some other websites that sell live plants.

You can also go to your local fish shop to buy your live plants.

There are also some local fish keeping organizations and clubs where the members sell live plants.

This is a good place to get your live plants because usually, you will find them cheap and also the seller may share with you some tips to maintain the plant.

You can also get the live pants from the wild on your own.

But this is not recommended for a beginner.

While collecting live plants from the wild just be knowledgeable about the laws in your region about plants.

When you buy live plants there is a chance that the plant may have snails on them.

So you should always wash the plants with water and bleach solution or potassium per magnet solution because you don’t want snails to get transported into your aquarium.

Signs your Plant is Not Getting a Healthy Environment for its Growth

Like your fish, plants are also living things. And there are certain signs that can tell you your plant is not getting sufficient nutrients.

The signs are as follows:

  • Plants dying in the aquarium
  • Holes in the leaves of the plant
  • The plant is turning yellow, brown or black

Live Plants Pros and Cons


  1. Live plants help in the filtration of the tank.
  2. Live plants help to oxygenate the tank
  3. Live plants help to maintain a healthy substrate
  4. Live plants provide food for the fish
  5. Live plants help to emulate the natural habitat of fish
  6. Live plants help in algae reduction
  7. Live plant promotes breeding and laying eggs
  8. Live plants help to keep temperature low
  9. Live plants provide more space for the colonization of the beneficial bacteria

Now let’s move towards the cons of keeping live plants in an aquarium.

Honestly, there are actually no real cons of keeping live plants in your aquarium.


  1. You will have to give some time to maintain healthy live plants
  2. You may also need to buy some lights for the plants which require good amount of lighting.


So as you can see there are a lot of benefits of keeping live plants into your aquarium.

Also, there are not really any cons of keeping the live plants in the aquarium beside you have to give some time to it.

And also, if you chose to keep the plants that require a good amount of lighting then you may have to buy some good lighting for it.

12 Benefits of Live Plants in an Aquarium (Pros and Cons) pin
Photo of author
Prathmesh Gawai
He is the main author and editor at Aquagoodness.com. And he loves to share helpful information on aquarium and/or fishkeeping hobby. Prathmesh has over five years of aquarium and/or fishkeeping experience. Currently, he has a Betta fish tank. He has written hundreds of articles on various aquarium fish species and on fish tank maintenance over the last five years. Connect with him on YouTube here. Learn more about him here.

2 thoughts on “12 Benefits of Live Plants in an Aquarium (Pros and Cons)”

    • Hi Dominick.
      I would suggest about 3/4 cup of bleach of solution for a gallon of water. Just dip the plants in the solution 3 to 4 times and then rinse it well under running water.


Leave a Comment