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7 Best Aquarium Plants For Hard Water

If you are looking for the best aquarium plants for hard water then you are in the right place.

In this article, I am going to show you the best aquarium plants that can survive and thrive in hard alkaline water.

best aquarium plants for hard water image

What is hard water?

Before diving into the list, let’s first make clear what is actually hard water.

According to USGS 120- 180 PPM is considered as hard water and more than 180 PPM is considered as very hard water.

In the aquarium industry, hardness also referred as “General Hardness” or simply “GH” (source)

How to measure the hardness of your aquarium water?

There are a couple of ways to measure the hardness of your aquarium water

1. Stripe test 

The first is the stripe test. As the name suggests, you perform this test using a stripe. 

To perform the test, take a sample of water of your aquarium and dip the stripe into the water.

The stripe will change color according to the hardness of your aquarium water.

The stripe will also come with a color chart that will help you to know the hardness of your aquarium water.

2. Regent test

This test is similar to the stripe test. But instead of the stripe, the kit will come with liquid.

To perform this test just take a sample of water of your aquarium and put some drops into the water and the water will change the color that will tell you the hardness of your water.

Like with the stripe test kit the Regan test kit will also come with a color chart that will help you to understand the hardness of your aquarium water.

Check out our recommended Test Kit

Best Aquarium Plants For Hard Water

1. Bacopa Caroliniana

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PARAMETERSVALUES
PLANTBacopa
SCIENTIFIC NAMEBacopa Caroliniana
FAMILYScrophulariaceae
CARE LEVELEasy
LIGHT REQUIREMENTLow
GROWTH RATESlow
TEMPERATURE69.8 - 80.6°F
pH6.8 - 7.2
HARDNESS71.43 - 142.86 PPM
PLACEMENTBackground
MAXIMUM SIZE11+ inches
MINIMUM TANK SIZE10 gallons

Bacopa caroliniana is one of the few undemanding stem plants.

This plant is relatively hardy and doesn’t require a lot of attention which makes it a good choice for beginners.

The hardness tolerance range of bacopa caroliniana is between 71.43 to 142.86 PPM so you can easily use it in hard water aquarium.

It is also very popular in aquascaping as well as aquarium hobby in general and it is widely available in most aquarium shops.

Usually, this plant features greenish-yellow color but under highlighting conditions this plant can produce pinkish color on the upper leaves.

It is also one of the best plant to keep in outdoor ponds or tubes.

How much light does it require?

Bacopa caroliniana is not very demanding when it comes to light.

This plant can do well in almost any lighting condition.

But under high lighting conditions, as mentioned earlier, it will produce pinkish leaves on the upper side.

So if you are going for the coloration then you should keep it under high lighting conditions.

Besides, it can easily survive and thrive under low lighting conditions as well.

You should provide it anywhere between 1.5-3 watts of light per gallon.

Checkout our lighting recommendation

What’s the best place to keep it in an aquarium?

Bacopa caroliniana can grow more than 11 inches tall so for most of the aquarium it is a good background plant.

If you have a large aquarium or if you are going for a jungle effect then you can also keep it in the middle ground of the aquarium.

Ideal water parameters

Bacopa caroliniana can tolerate a relatively wide range of water parameters.

That being said, the ideal temperature for this plant is between 69 to 80 degree Fahrenheit

Its pH tolerance range is between 6.8 to 7.2 and the hardness tolerance range is between 71.43 to 142.86 PPM.

Substrate requirements

You can use any substrate for planting Bacopa caroliniana in your aquarium whether that is gravel or sand.

But using a fine gravel substrate is recommended for planting in an aquarium.

Fertilization requirements

Bacopa caroliniana can do well without any fertilizers.

But as with all the aquarium plants, this plant will definitely benefit if you supplement it additional fertilizers and carbon dioxide.

As Bacopa caroliniana is a slow-growing plant, if you supplement it fertilizers and additional CO2 its growth rate will increase.

You can supplement it fertilizers in the form of root tabs and liquid fertilizers.

Check the latest price of this plant at Amazon here

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2. Giant Hygrophila

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PARAMETERSVALUES
PLANTGiant Hygro
SCIENTIFIC NAMEHygrophila corymbosa
FAMILYAcanthaceae
CARE LEVELEasy
LIGHT REQUIREMENTMedium
GROWTH RATEFast
TEMPERATURE 72-84° F
pH6.0-7.5
HARDNESS71.43 - 321.43 PPM
PLACEMENTBackground
MAXIMUM SIZE24 inches
MINIMUM TANK SIZE10 Gallons

Giant hygrophila is also known as the Temple plant.

This plant is very hardy and can tolerate a wide range of water parameters so it is a good choice for beginners.

The water hardness tolerance range of Giant hygrophila is between 71.43 to 321.43 PPM.

So you can keep this plant in almost any hard water aquarium.

It is a fast growing tall aquarium plant that can grow as tall as 24 inches.

It is also one of the best oxygenating plants.

This plant is also one of the flowering aquarium plants that produce violet flowers above the surface of the water of an aquarium.

How much light does it require?

Giant hygrophila requires moderate lighting conditions for its proper growth.

So you should provide it at least 2-3 watts of light per gallon.

What’s the best place to keep it in an aquarium?

As Giant hygrophila is a tall-growing plant that can grow as tall as 24 inches, it is a very good plant to keep in the background of an aquarium.

Substrate requirements

You can use any substitute for planting Giant hygrophila in your aquarium whether that is sand or gravel. But fine gravel substrate is recommended.

Ideal water parameters

The ideal temperature for the proper growth of Giant hygrophila is between 72 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit.

Its pH tolerance ranges between 6 to 7.5.

And its water hardness tolerance range is between 71.43 to 321.43 PPM. 

So as you can see its water hardness tolerance range is very wide and it can do well in hard to very hard water aquariums.

Fertilization requirements

Giant hygrophila does require regular dozing of fertilizers especially if you want to grow it big and see it flowering.

You should supplement it with the fertilizers that are rich in iron, potassium and other micro and macro nutrients.

Giant hygrophila is a more root feeder aquarium plant so you should supplement it fertilizers in the form of root tabs.

And you can also supplement it liquid fertilizers.

Check the latest price of this plant at Amazon here

3. Marsilea Hirsuta

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PARAMETERSVALUES
PLANTMarsilea Hirsuta
SCIENTIFIC NAME Marsilea hirsuta
FAMILYMarsileaceae
CARE LEVELEasy
LIGHT REQUIREMENT Low
GROWTH RATEFast
TEMPERATURE64 to 84°F
pH5 and 7.5
HARDNESS17.9 ppm to 400 ppm
PLACEMENTForeground and carpeting
MAXIMUM SIZE1 inch
MINIMUM TANK SIZE10 gallon

Marsilea hirsuta is a short aquarium plant and it is used as a carpeting plant in the aquarium hobby.

This plant is very undemanding and easy to care for so it is a very good choice for beginners.

The hardness tolerance range of Marsilea hirsuta is between 17.9 to 400 PPM.

So as you can see its hardness tolerance range is pretty wide and it can survive in almost any hard water aquarium.

How much light does it require?

Marsilea hirsuta can survive in any lighting condition.

But to get its carpeting effect you should provide high lighting conditions.

You should provide it light anywhere between 2 to 4 watts per gallon.

What’s the best place to keep it in an aquarium?

Marsilea hirsuta is a fast-growing short plant so it is usually used as a carpeting plant in an aquarium.

So you should keep it in the foreground of your aquarium.

Ideal water parameters

Marsilea hirsuta can tolerate a wide range of water parameters.

That being said, the ideal temperature for the proper growth of Marsilea hirsuta is between 64 84 degrees fahrenheit.

Its pH tolerance range is between 5 to 7.5.

And its hardness tolerance range is between 17.9 PPM to 400 PPM.

So you can use it in any hard water aquarium.

Substrate requirements

For optimum growth and carpeting effect, you should plant Marsilea hirsuta in a nutrient rich substrate.

Fertilization requirements

To get the carpeting effect of Marsilea hirsuta, you should regularly supplement it CO2 and also fertilizers in the form of root tabs.

Check the latest price of this plant at Amazon here

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4. Amazon Frogbit

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PARAMETERSVALUES
PLANTAmazon Frogbit
SCIENTIFIC NAMELimnobium laevigatum
FAMILYHydrocharitaceae
CARE LEVELEasy
LIGHT REQUIREMENTModerate
GROWTH RATEFast
TEMPERATURE64 to 84 °F
pH6.0-7.5 pH
HARDNESS200 ppm-240 ppm
PLACEMENTSurface
MAXIMUM SIZE20 Inches
MINIMUM TANK SIZE10 gallon

Amazon frogbit is a fast growing floating aquarium plant.

The hardness tolerance range of this plant is between 200 PPM to up to 240 PPM so you can easily keep it in a hard water aquarium.

This plant is very easy to care for so it is also a very good choice for beginners.

How much light does it require?

Amazon frogbit does well under moderate to high lighting conditions.

Usually, lighting is not a problem with floating aquarium plants because as they are on the surface they get sufficient light anyways.

Ideally, you should provide it at least 2 to 4 watts of light per gallon.

What’s the best place to keep it in an aquarium?

As Amazon frogbit is a floating aquarium plant, you should keep it on the surface of the water of your aquarium.

Keeping it on the surface will also help to lower the temperature in your aquarium.

Ideal water parameters

Amazon frogbit can tolerate a wide range of water parameters especially the temperature.

The ideal temperature range for this plant is between 64 to 84 degree Fahrenheit and its pH tolerance range is between 6 to 7.5

The hardness tolerance range of this plant is between 200 PPM to 240 PPM so you can easily keep it in a very hard water aquarium.

Substrate requirements

Amazon frogbit is a floating aquarium plant and it doesn’t require any substrate to keep in your aquarium.

Fertilization requirements

For the proper growth of Amazon frogbit, you should regularly supplement it with liquid fertilizers.

Check the latest price of this plant at Amazon here

14 Best Fast Growing Aquarium Plants (without CO2)

5. Java Fern

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PARAMETERSVALUES
PLANTJava Fern
COMMON NAMESJava Fern
SCIENTIFIC NAMEMicrosorum pteropus
FAMILYPolypodiaceae
CARE LEVELEasy
LIGHT REQUIREMENTLow to Moderate
GROWTH RATELow to Moderate
TEMPERATURE68-82oF
pH6.0-7.5
HARDNESS60-160 ppm
PLACEMENTMid to Background
MAXIMUM SIZE13.5 inches
MINIMUM TANK SIZE5 Gallons

Java Fern is one of the most popular aquarium plants in the hobby. It is also one of the best aquarium plants for Tetras.

The hardness tolerance range of this plant is between 60 to 160 PPM so you can easily keep it in a hard water aquarium.

But it’s not a very good choice for a very hard water aquarium i.e. the aquarium water which has hardness over 180 PPM.

The reason it is one of the most popular plants is that it is very undemanding and can tolerate a wide range of water parameters.

You can easily keep it in a wide range of fish.

Also, it is a very hardy and relatively cheap plant.

Overall, Java Fern is a very beginner-friendly plant.

How much light does it require?

Java Fern is not very demanding when it comes to light.

You can easily keep it in low to moderate lighting conditions.

In fact, keeping this plant under high lighting conditions can make it transparent and brown.

So if you notice it turning brown or transparent you can simply reduce the light and over time it will get healthy again.

Ideally, you should provide it 1.5-2 Watts of light per gallon.

What’s the best place to keep it in an aquarium?

Java fern is a tall-growing plant that can grow up to 13.5 inches tall.

So you should keep it in the background or foreground of your aquarium.

Ideal water parameters

The ideal temperature for the proper growth of Java fern is between 68 to 82 degree Fahrenheit

Its pH tolerance range is between 6 to 7.5.

And its hardness tolerance range is between 60-160 PPM, so you can easily keep it in a hard water aquarium.

Substrate requirements

Java Fern doesn’t have real roots so it doesn’t actually require substrate.

This plant has rhizomes that get attached to anything in your aquarium whether that is rock, gravel or driftwood.

You can also keep it floating in your aquarium.

Fertilization requirements

Java fern is a very hardy plant and can do well without any fertilizers.

But if you want to encourage faster growth, you can supplement it with some fertilizers.

Java fern is a water column feeder plant i.e. it gets its nutrients through its leaves so you should provide it nutrients or fertilizers in the form of liquid fertilizers.

You should add these fertilizers after the weekly water change.

Check the latest price of this plant at Amazon here

6. Java Moss

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PARAMETERSVALUES
PLANTJava moss
SCIENTIFIC NAMEVesicularia dubyana
FAMILYHypnaceae
CARE LEVELVery easy
LIGHT REQUIREMENTLow to Bright
GROWTH RATEFast
TEMPERATURE59-86°F
pH5.0 to 8.0
HARDNESS60- 240 ppm
PLACEMENTForeground
MAXIMUM SIZE4 inches
MINIMUM TANK SIZE5 gallon

Java Moss is a very popular plant in aquascaping. And it is one of the best aquarium plants for shrimp and guppies.

It is a short plant and it is usually used as a carpeting plant in an aquarium.

The hardness tolerance range of this plant is between 60 to 240 PPM so you can easily keep it in a hard to very hard water aquarium.

This plant is also very undemanding and hardy so it is a good choice for beginners.

This plant is also very popular among breeders as it provides very good protection for eggs and fry.

As it is a very popular plant, it is widely available in almost all the aquarium shops and online.

How much light does it require?

Java Moss is very undemanding when it comes to light.

You can keep it in high as well as in low lighting conditions.

Though it will grow more compact under high lighting conditions.

But when you keep it under high lighting conditions it is susceptible to the algae growth.

What’s the best place to keep it in an aquarium?

The reason Java Moss is very popular among aquascapers is that there are several ways you can keep it in an aquarium.

The easiest way to keep it in your aquarium is to just let it float in the aquarium.

You can also attach it to any rock or driftwood and then put it inside your aquarium.

Or you can use it as a carpet plant.

How you should keep it in your aquarium really comes down to what aesthetics you are going for.

Ideal water parameters

Java Moss can tolerate a wide range of water parameters.

The Temperature tolerance range of this plant is between 59 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. 

So you can easily keep it in a cold water aquarium.

Its pH tolerance ranges between 5 to 8.

And its hardness tolerance range is between 60 to 240 PPM. So you can easily keep it in hard to very hard water aquarium.

Substrate requirements

Java Moss doesn’t require any substrate for planting It in an aquarium.

You can just toss it into the aquarium and over time it will get attached to anything in your aquarium.

Fertilization requirements

Java Moss is a very hardy plant and it can do well without any fertilization.

But for faster and compact growth, you can supplement it with some additional fertilizers.

You should provide fertilizers in the form of liquid fertilizers after the weekly water changes.

Check the latest price of this plant at Amazon here

7. Anubias

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PARAMETERSVALUES
PLANTAnubias
COMMON NAMES
SCIENTIFIC NAMEAnubias
FAMILYAraceae
CARE LEVELEasy
LIGHT REQUIREMENTLow-Moderate
GROWTH RATESlow
TEMPERATURE72-82°F
pH6.5 – 7.8
HARDNESS60- 160 ppm
PLACEMENTMid-background
MAXIMUM SIZE11+ Inches
MINIMUM TANK SIZE5 Gallons
PROPAGATIONRhizome Division

Anubias is another popular plant in the aquarium hobby.

The hardness tolerance range of this plant is between 60 to 160 PPM. So you can easily keep it in hard water but it is not a good choice for very hard water aquarium.

This is a short plant that can grow a maximum of 11 inches and its growth rate is pretty slow.

Besides, this plant is very hardy so it is a good choice for beginners.

How much light does it require?

Anubias is very undemanding when it comes to light.

It can do well in almost any lighting condition.

But for faster growth, you should keep it under high lighting conditions.

But high lighting conditions can also cause algae growth on this plant.

Ideally, you should provide light anywhere between 1.8 to 3 words per gallon.

What is the best place to keep it in an aquarium?

As Anubias is a slow-growing plant that can grow a maximum of 11 inches, you should keep it in the foreground of your aquarium.

You can also attach it to any driftwood for rock and then put inside your aquarium.

Substrate requirements

Anubias doesn’t have true roots instead, it has rhizomes.

So, it doesn’t really require any substrate to keep it in an aquarium.

But it does draw nutrients through its rhizomes so if you plant it in a nutrient-rich substrate it will grow faster.

Besides, you can also attach it to any driftwood or rock.

Ideal water parameters

The ideal temperature for the proper growth of Anubias is between 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

Its pH tolerance range is between 6.5 to 7.8.

And its hardness tolerance range is between 60-160 PPM so you can easily keep it in a hard water aquarium.

But it is not a good choice to keep in a very hard water aquarium i.e. the aquarium water which has more than 180 PPM hardness.

Fertilization requirements

For optimum growth of Anubias, you should regularly supplement it with fertilizers. 

You can also supplement additional CO2 for healthy and faster growth.

Check the latest price of this plant at Amazon here

20 Tips to Maintain a Healthy Aquarium

FAQ

Can aquarium plants grow in hard water?

Yes, there are certain species of aquarium plants that can easily grow in hard water.

Examples of such plants include Anubias, Bacopa caroliniana, Hygrophila, Marsilea hirsuta, Amazon frogbit, Java fern, and Java moss.

Can hard water kill plants?

No, hard water doesn’t kill plants. In fact, they provide some essential nutrients that a plant require such as magnesium, calcium, and potassium for their growth.

But there are some species that doesn’t do well in hard water.

So, you should choose plants wisely and choose the plant which can grow and thrive in or with hard water.

Conclusion

So these are the best aquarium plants for hard water.

Before choosing any aquarium plant from the list you should first check the hardness of the water of your aquarium with a test kit and then you should choose the plant accordingly.

For example, if the water hardness level of your aquarium water is below 160PPM then you can go for the plants that can thrive in water hardness of up to 160 PPM like Anubias and Java fern.

If you have very hard water i.e. hardness over 180 PPM then you should go for plants such as Amazon frogbit, Marsilea hirsuta, etc.

I hope you found this list helpful.

If you do please share it.

Happy fishkeeping!

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