Best Beginner Aquarium Plants – 11 Easy To Care For Plants For Everyone!

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Starting up a planted tank for the first time can be intimating for a beginner. You see all these wonderful photos of incredible aquascapes and see videos of others using high end CO2 systems. It makes it seem it may take lots of money and expertise to create a stunning planted tank. Some of you have visited here looking to add a few plants to add variety in your aquarium.

In today’s post, I’m going to go over the best beginner aquarium plants that anyone can try out and be successful today. As a quick note before we get started, this post will contain affiliate links. An affiliate link means I may earn advertising or referral fees if you make a purchase through my link. Let’s go ahead and get started!

What Makes An Aquarium Plant Easy To Care For (Our Criteria)

We first have to explain what our selection criteria is for an easy to care for plant. What makes a plant easy to care for. Our criteria would be:

  • Hardiness
  • Can thrive without CO2 injection
  • Can thrive without fertilization
  • Can thrive without intense lighting

I’ll list a number of recommended beginner plants, then will go over each one in detail.

In a hurry? I recommend purchasing any plant from the Low Tech Section at BucePlant!

The Best Aquarium Plants For Beginners

Below is a list of the easy to care for aquarium plants for beginners. You can purchase them easily online. I have hand selected reputable vendors and will discuss the pros, cons, and specs of each plant below. 

PictureNameFeaturesLink
Editor’s Choice
Java Fern
Java Fern
  • Background Placement
  • Colum Feeder
Click For Best PriceBuy On Amazon
Best Value
Anubias Barteri
Anubias Barteri
  • Mid-Ground Placement
  • Column Feeder
Click For Best PriceBuy On Amazon
Budget Option
Marimo Moss Ball
Marimo Moss Ball
  • Foreground Background
  • Column Feeder
Click For Best PriceBuy On Amazon
Vallisneria Vallisneria
  • Background Placement
  • Root Feeder
Click For Best PriceBuy On Amazon
Java Moss Java Moss
  • Foregound Placement
  • Column Feeder
Click For Best PriceBuy On Amazon
Amazon Sword Amazon Sword
  • Backgound Placement
  • Root Feeder
Click For Best PriceBuy On Amazon
Baby Tears Baby Tears
  • Forground Placement
  • Root Feeder
Click For Best PriceBuy On Amazon
Cryptocoryne Lutea Cryptocoryne Lutea
  • Mid-Ground Placement
  • Root Feeder
Click For Best PriceBuy On Amazon
Dwarf Sagittaria Dwarf Sagittaria
  • Foregound Placement
  • Root Feeder
Click For Best PriceBuy On Amazon
Micro Amazon Sword Micro Amazon Sword
  • Mid-Ground Placement
  • Root Feeder
Click For Best PriceBuy On Amazon
Christmas Moss Christmas Moss
  • Foregound Placement
  • Column Feeder
Click For Best PriceBuy On Amazon

The 11 Best Beginner Aquarium Plants (Updated 2021)

Let’s go into further detail about each different plant and why they are so great for beginners.

1. Java Fern – The Best Aquarium Plant For Low Tech Tanks

Editor's Choice
Java Fern

Editor's Choice

Hardy, easy to care for, and requires only basic lighting to grow. This is the perfect aquarium plant for beginners!

Buy On Buce Plant Buy On Glass Aqua

Java Fern is the staple plant for any low tech planted tank. It is very hardy and very easy to take care. Java Fern does not many requirements and feeds off your column. It has the added benefit if not being liked by most fish. This means they can be used in aquariums with fish that eat aquarium plants. It can be attached to rocks or driftwood. There are no substrate requirements for Java Fern, giving you freedom on how you create your aquasacpe.

This Java Fern offered online is a rooted specimen that is 4″ in size. You can a sizable plant for a really attractive price.

The only downfall to Java Fern is its look. Java fern has a Jurassic look to it due to its unique shaped green leaves. Because of that look, many aquascapers tend to not like it as it’s shape stands out among more classical plants and groundcover. 

Pros

  • Very easy to grow
  • Many fish won’t eat it

Cons

  • Unique looks makes it not suitable for some aquascapes

Java Fern Plant Specs

  • Light Requirements – Low to Moderate
  • Growth Rate – Moderate to Fast
  • Water Parameters – 72 to 82 degrees F, pH 6.0-8.0, soft to moderately hard 
  • Best Location – Mid-Ground
  • Feed Type – Column Feeding

2. Anubias Barteri – A Hardy Mid-Ground Plant

Best Value
Anubias Barteri

Best Value

This hardy plant is super versatile. Can be placed anywhere in the aquarium and looks amazing when aquascaped

Click For Best Price Buy On Amazon

Anubias is the ultimate easy to care for mid-ground plant. It will literally grow in any condition and is very attractive when fully mature. It is a very forgiveable plant and since it is column feeding it can be placed anywhere. Many aquarists will attach this plant to driftwood or aquarium rocks since the rhizomes are best left in the open to prevent rot. It has the added benefit of many fish not liking the taste of it. Like Java Fern, Anubias does not require a specialized substrate and will happily grow even in bare bottom tanks.

This Anubias Barteri by UNS is one of the highest quality plants deals you can find online. This Barteri variant is known as the “Board Leave” type. Is a tissue culture plant that are growth in-vitro in laboratories who specialize in propagating aquatic plants. This method of growing plants ensures the plant is free from any pets. It ensures you get the highest quality plant available.  If you are looking for a small plant, check out Anubias Nana.

Pros

  • Most fish won’t eat it
  • Very hardy and forgiveable
  • Elegant looking

Cons

  • Grows slow
  • Rhizomes should be left above substrate when planted 

Anubias Barteri Plant Specs

  • Lighting Requirements – Low
  • Growth Rate – Slow
  • Water Parameters – 74 to 82 degrees F, pH 6.5-7.5, soft to moderately hard 
  • Best Location – Mid-Ground
  • Feed Type – Column Feeder

3. Marimo Moss Balls – The World’s Easiest Aquarium Plant

Budget Option
Marimo Moss Ball

Budget Option

Grows anywhere, cheap, and soaks up nurients. An excellent beginner plant

Click For Best Price

The Marimo Moss ball is known to many as the world’s easier aquarium plant in the industry. It is bulletproof and requires very little care. It’s cute round shape makes them perfect for small Betta Fish and Freshwater Shrimp Tanks. In mass quantities, they are known for reducing nutrient levels.They are sold at such low prices that most people just purchase them in bulk and drop them into their tanks. They are native to colder waters, making them good candidates for coldwater tanks.

These Marimo Moss balls are sold at jaw dropping price. Marimo Moss balls only con that I can think of is as they collect detritus in your aquarium they will darken and look ugly in your tank. This is addressed by washing the ball in your aquarium water. 

Pros

  • Small enough for nano tanks
  • Great for nutrient reduction

Cons

  • Small
  • Look ugly as detritus collects off it

Marimo Moss Ball Plant Specs

  • Light Requirements – Low
  • Growth Rate – Moderate
  • Water Parameters – 60 to 80 degrees F, pH 6.0-8.0, soft to moderately hard 
  • Best Location – Foregound
  • Feed Type – Column Feeder

4. Vallisneria – An Easy To Grow Background Plant

Vallisneria

One of the easiest background placement aquarium plants that can be kept. Provides excellent shelter for fish

Click For Best Price Buy On Amazon

If you want the ultimate easy to care for background aquarium plant, Vallisneria is the plant. It is super easy to care for and not demanding. It gets very tall, usually over 18″ if left to grow and will easily turn a background into a jungle like backdrop. It supplies a lot of shelter for your fish and looks amazing as its long green leaves waves through the current in your tank. It is a centerpiece plant that can thrive in a low tech setup. 

Vallisneria is an amazing buy. They are reasonably prices, grow fast, and get tall. My recommended seller (BucePlant) offers the best specimens you can purchase online.

The drawback with this wonder plant is that it gets very tall and needs to be fed Aquarium Fertilizer to thrive. Aside from that, it’s worry free!

Pros

  • Very easy to grow
  • Many fish won’t eat it

Cons

  • Gets very tall
  • Needs to be fed to thrive

Vallisneria Plant Specs

  • Light Requirements – Low to Moderate
  • Growth Rate – Fast
  • Water Parameters – 72 to 82 degrees F, pH 6.0-8.0, soft to moderately hard 
  • Best Location – Background
  • Feed Type – Root Feeder

5. Java Moss – An Easy To Care For Moss Cover

Java Moss

One of the easiest mosses to grow in an aquarium. Great for small fish and shrimp

Click For Best Price Buy On Amazon

Java Moss is the moss version of Java Fern. It is a plant that many fish will not bother with and it will grow in just about any condition. It is a very forgiveable plant that can easier be planted in your forground or attached to driftwood or aquarium rocks. Java moss is an ideal plant for low tech tanks as it will thrive without fertilizers or CO2. It feeds on your water column, making this a very worry-free plant. It is a great plant for fish and shrimp fry. It will provide biofilm, hiding places, and security for young aquatic animals in a breeding tank.

This Java Moss offered in the link I provided comes in a golf sized ball. This makes it easy for you to attach to anything you want. I like this loose version of java moss over something that is attached. Having it loose makes it easier to do whatever you want with it. Given the applications for java moss are many, this makes things easy for you when purchasing.

There are two downfalls with java moss. Due to its form, java moss tends to get dirty from detritus and may need to be clean off with a powerhead. It also grows in a varied nature making java moss not look as pretty as other groundcover aquarium plants.

Pros

  • Most fish won’t eat it
  • Fast grower

Cons

  • Can grow too fast for some
  • Not as pretty as other mosses

Java Moss Plant Specs

  • Light Requirements – Low to Moderate
  • Growth Rate – Moderate
  • Water Parameters – 74 to 82 degrees F, pH 6.5-7.5, soft to moderately hard 
  • Best Location – Foregound
  • Feed Type – Column Feeder

6. Amazon Sword – Easy To Care for Rooted Plant

Amazon Sword

A classic background aquarium plant. Grows large and will be a centerpiece in your aquarium

Click For Best Price Buy On Amazon

If you want a tall rooted easy to care for plant, the Amazon Sword is one of the best to buy. It is one of the classic aquarium plants in our hobby that can grow very large and tank over your fish tank with its giant green leaves. As it grows and matures, it will require feedings through root tabs or liquid fertilizers. An active substrate will also keep it fed in the beginning. It requires the most light of all the plants on this list, though that isn’t saying much since all of these plants can grow in a low light low tech environment.

This Amazon Sword offered by in the link is the only source of tissue cultured Amazon Swords I could find online. The plants are shipped at a good size. Tissue culture plants ensures that the plant is pest free and easy to introduce to your aquarium.

Keep in mind that Amazon Swords are known having leaf die off after planting. The plants does this in order to reabsorb nutrients to make longer, narrower leaves. This is very common if you purchase an Amazon Sword that has been grown outside of water. Amazon sword all requires the most light of all the plants on this list. I would recommend a quality planted tank LED if you plan on keeping one. It also needs a quality substrate to anchor given it’s root feeding nature and size.

Pros

  • Tall
  • Forgivable for a rooted plant

Cons

  • Requires feeding
  • Needs more light than others on this list

Amazon Sword Plant Specs

  • Light Requirements – Moderate
  • Growth Rate – Moderate
  • Water Parameters – 72 to 82 degrees F, pH 6.5-7.5, soft to moderately hard 
  • Best Location – Background
  • Feed Type – Root Feeder 

7. Baby Tears – Easy To Care For Ground Cover For Aquascapers

Baby Tears

One of the easier carpeting plants available for planted tanks.

Click For Best Price Buy On Amazon

If you are looking to do a aquascape style that requires a carpeting plant and want something easy to grow, Baby Tears is the plant to buy. It grows fast and once established is an easy grower. It requires medium light, which means you will want a proper Planted Aquarium LED since the light will need to penetrate down to the bottom of the tank. It’s small leaves will offer a good contrast to other plants in your aquarium and give you that grass like carpet look that make aquascapes look amazing.   

Baby Tears are grown as tissue culture plants. These are lab grown plants that are provided clean environments. This means that you are going to receive a pest and disease free plant. It also means this plant easy to divide when you first plant them, which will save you money.

Baby Tears are not a true low tech plant. If you are looking to do a mass carpet, it is recommend that you consider CO2 injection. If you are using it as an accent to your other easy to care for aquarium plants, then you should not. Make sure to keep this in mind when you are buying this plant. 

Pros

  • Grows fast
  • Easy to grow ground cover
  • Good looking as a carpet

Cons

  • Not a true low tech plant
  • Easy to get uprooted when first planted

Baby Tears Plant Specs

  • Light Requirements – Moderate
  • Growth Rate – Fast
  • Water Parameters – 74 to 82 degrees F, pH 6.5-7.5, soft to moderately hard 
  • Best Location – Foreground
  • Feed Type – Root Feeder

8. Cryptocoryne Lutea – Easy To Care For Ground Cover For Aquascapers

Cryptocoryne Lutea is a great mid-ground easy to care for aquarium plant. It is slow growing, which means that it will not require much pruning and will save you a lot of them with maintenance when it hits maturity. It is a very hardy plant and will grow in low light conditions. It is also one of the few plants on this list that can tolerate lower pHs. 

Cryptocoryne Plants will sometimes lose their leaves after being planted and regrow them afterwards. This is done by the plant in order to absorb nutrients and growing new leaves appropriate for being submerged in water.

It is a great mid-ground plant with only one drawback. It does require fertilizer to thrive.

Pros

  • Does not require much pruning
  • Cheap

Cons

  • Slow Grower
  • Needs fertilizer

Cryptocoryne Lutea Plant Specs

  • Light Requirements – Moderate
  • Growth Rate – Slow
  • Water Parameters – 72 to 82 degrees F, pH 5.5-8.0, soft to moderately hard 
  • Best Location – Mid-Ground
  • Feed Type – Root Feeder

9. Dwarf Sagittaria – Ground Cover For Non CO2 Setups

Dwarf Sagittaria

A hardy and easy to grow ground cover aquarium plant. Does not need CO2 to thrive

Click For Best Price Buy On Amazon

If you are looking for a ground cover aquarium plant that does not need CO2 to thrive, Dwarf Sagittaria is the plant to buy. It is very hardy and grows very fast. You can see an example of a Dwarf Sagittaria ground cover below on this Discus Tank

To control the height of the plant, you can increase your light intensity. The more intense the light, the shorter Drawf Sagittaria will grow. They spread through runners very similar to terrestrial grass like St. Augustine or Bermuda grass. If they grow in an area you don’t want them to be, just pull the runners out.

The Dwarf Sagittaria offered in the link is a tissue culture plant. It is one of the more difficult plants to find tissue culture due to the point point of it’s aquarium grown counterpart. At the rate these plants grow, you should have good coverage on your aquarium floor within a few months of planting.

Dwarf Sagittaria may be able to thrive without CO2, but does require fertilizer given its root feeding nature.

Pros

  • Grows fast
  • Cheap
  • Can control size with light intensity

Cons

  • Needs fertilizer

Dwarf Sagittaria Plant Specs

  • Light Requirements – Low
  • Growth Rate – Fast
  • Water Parameters – 72 to 82 degrees F, pH 6.5-7.5, soft to moderately hard 
  • Best Location – Foregound
  • Feed Type – Root Feeder

10. Micro Amazon Swords – Fast Spreading Mid-Ground Plant

Micro Amazon Sword

A mid-ground plant that is fast growing and easy to grow

Click For Best Price Buy On Amazon

Mid-ground plants that are fast growing and easy to grow are hard to find for this list. Micro Swords are the best candidate for this list. They are usually labelled as a foreground plant, but given their size of 4-6″ they can be used as mid-ground plants in shorter tanks. It will grow well without CO2 and does fine in a low light tank.

Micro Swords are available in either pots or tissue culture. Both options are easily split up and spread around your tank given our the plant grows.  It’s splitting ability can give you more plants to start with since the plant reproduces with runners.

As with all rooted plants on this list, make sure to fertilize them at minimum to keep them healthy.

Pros

  • Grows fast
  • Doesn’t need CO2

Cons

  • Needs fertilizer

Micro Sword Plant Specs

  • Light Requirements – Low
  • Growth Rate – Fast
  • Water Parameters – 70 to 82 degrees F, pH 6.8-7.5, soft to moderately hard 
  • Best Location – Mid-Ground
  • Feed Type – Root Feeder

11. Christmas Moss – Perfect Ground Cover for Shrimp Tanks!

Christmas Moss

A easy to care ground cover plant that is an excellent choice for shrimp tanks

Click For Best Price Buy On Amazon

Christmas moss is an excellent live aquarium plant for freshwater shrimp tanks. Their fluffy make up make them excellent for baby shrimp and it’s really easy to attach them to rocks or driftwood. They grow very fast and will get tall if you do not prune them.

This Christmas moss comes in a mesh pad or dish that is ready to plant or attach to driftwood or rocks. As with all root feeding aquarium plants on this list, it will require fertilizing feeding to thrive. It also gets a bit dirty with detritus. An Amano shrimp will help with clean up. I have a separate article about Christmas moss here.

Pros

  • Grows fast
  • Doesn’t need CO2
  • Great for shrimp tanks

Cons

  • Needs fertilizer

Christmas Moss Plant Specs

  • Light Requirements – Low
  • Growth Rate – Moderate to Fast
  • Water Parameters – 70 to 82 degrees F, pH 6.8-7.5, soft to moderately hard 
  • Best Location – Foreground
  • Feed Type – Root Feeder

What Are Best Plants for Beginners? (Our Expert’s Pick)

This was a tough pick because there are so many good easy to care for aquarium plants on our list. Below are the recommended aquarium plant picks by background placement:

How To Chose Your Aquarium Plants

Many beginners start out with freshwater aquarium plants by going to their local fish store and picking out random plants that look nice. Usually getting what looks nice can be problematic because aquarium plant requirements vary. It will also lead to having a mixed planted tank that doesn’t flow well in your aquarium. All aquarium plants have a type that we should be aware of when picking them out. I’ll explain further.

Why Do You Want Aquarium Plants?

Let’s talk about why you want aquarium plants in the first place. Plants offer many benefits in your aquarium. They come with added maintenance, so we want to make sure you are getting plants for the right reasons. Below are the benefits live plants can provide to your fish tank:

  • Aquarium plants complete the nitrogen cycle by consuming nitrates in your aquarium
  • They provide added oxygen in your aquarium by converting CO2 to oxygen
  • Provide places to hide for your fish decreasing stress and mitigating aggression for territory
  • Can be used to hide aquarium equipment and accent aquarium rocks and driftwood

Many of these benefits can be done by equipment or media. Keep this in mind when deciding on whether you want plants or not. If you are reading here, I imagine you have decided the benefits of keeping aquarium plants outweigh the additional maintenance so let’s continue on. 

The Different Types of Aquarium Plants

All freshwater aquarium plants are broken down into three plant types. They are:

  • Foreground plants
  • Mid-ground plants
  • Background plants

Foreground Plants

Foreground plants are plants that are best placed in the front of your tank. They are shorter plants. Some of these plants are what we called carpeted plants as they will grow fast and spread across your substrate. Foreground plants can be great accents to Driftwood as they can be attached to it and will grow on the wood. 

Mid-Ground Plants

These are taller plants that are best placed on the sides or middle of your aquarium. They add beauty to your aquarium without taking away swimming space. In shallow tanks, they can be used as background plants.

Background Plants

These are tall plants that are best placed in the back of your aquarium. They are going to be rooted plants and need a substrate to anchor to. They provide a pretty backdrop to your aquarium and offer the most shelter for your fish.

One you know what type of plant you are selecting, it makes placement planning much easier.

How Aquarium Plants Feed

Each aquarium plant has two ways of absorbing nutrients in your aquarium these are:

  • From your water column
  • From its roots through your substrate

Plants that can feed on your water column are going to be one of the some of the better aquarium plants for beginners. You will not need an active substrate and you can place them anywhere in the aquarium including on rocks and driftwood. Some water column feeding plants can also feed through roots.

Root feeding plants in general are more difficult to grow than water column feeding plants. They feed through your substrate, which means your substrate need to have nutrients available. This will mean you will need to be more selective on the type of Aquarium Substrate you choose. Active substrates are best for them along with regular feedings. There are root feeding aquarium plants that do not require frequent feedings and will grow. 

Conclusion – Aquarium Plants For Beginners

Getting started with aquarium plants is easier than you think when you select good hardy plants. Every aquarium plant on our list is pretty forgivable to beginner mistakes and will do well without expensive CO2 systems. If you are ready to dive into the world of planted tanks, I recommend you get started with one of the plants on the list. They are sourced from proven and reputable vendors online. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below. Thanks for reading and see you next time!

by Mark

Mark is the founder of Aquarium Store Depot. He started in the aquarium hobby at the age of 11 and along the way worked at local fish stores. He has kept freshwater tanks, ponds, and reef tanks for over 25 years. His site was created to share his knowledge and unique teaching style on a larger scale. He has worked on making aquarium and pond keeping approachable. Mark has been featured in two books about aquarium keeping - both best sellers on Amazon. Each year, he continues to help his readers and clients with knowledge, professional builds, and troubleshooting.

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