Fast Growing Aquarium Plants – 10 Great Picks (With Photos)

Fast-growing plants sometimes appeal more to aquarists than those plants that take time to grow. The reason is apparent: some aquarists find it challenging to wait and see their aquatic plants grow big and make their aquariums aesthetic.

With proper maintenance, you can get multiple fast-growing species for your aquarium and stave off potential plant diseases on time.

In this article, I’ll walk you through the 10 types of the fastest growing plants with all the basics you need to know.

Key Takeaways

  • The best thing about fast-growing aquarium plants is that they don’t leave nutrients for algae to feed on
  • You can use most of these fast-growing plants regardless of your experience
  • Most fast-growing plants are very easy to maintain and pretty hardy in nature

What Are Fast Growing Aquarium Plants?

Fast-growing aquarium plants are those plant species that help you keep algae at bay without any specific needs or requirements. Since they have a rapid growth rate, they don’t let nutrients stay in the water column for algae to consume for a long time.

In addition to that, most of these plants grow swiftly which makes them slightly demanding to manage in small aquariums. But if you know your way around them, these plants will be one of the best decisions you can make as an impatient aquarist.

Depending on the size of your aquarium, you can use them as background plants, mid-ground plants, and even as foreground plants.

The Benefits Of Fast Growing Plants

Listing down all the advantages of fast-growing plants can be challenging. But to help you understand some of the most important ones, I’ve put down these benefits you can surely get by planting them in your aquarium.

Algae Control

Excessive algae growth results from a high number of nutrients present in the water column. Apart from nutrients, algae thrive on light. Even though not all algae is harmful, the rapid growth of algae can be dangerous for your fish and plants.

Aquarium fish and plants can’t obviously go without water and light so you have to find ways to fight this overgrowth. In this case, the fast-growing aquarium plants are your solution.

Under their preferred conditions, these plants grow quickly by absorbing nutrients and light. When you observe how algae grow, you will notice that it, too, needs access to both.

While planting fast-growing aquarium plants, these fast-growing aquatic plants will compete for nutrients and light that will make algae starve, restraining the overgrowth and sometimes causing it to die altogether.

Food and Oxygen

Live aquatic plants make a good round diet for aquarium fish, shrimp, and fry and provide oxygen to the inhabitants of home aquariums. Plants are known to absorb carbon dioxide and promote a well-oxygenated environment that is beneficial for the fish.

A fast-growing aquatic plant helps better with oxygenating water and producing food since it doesn’t take too long to grow.

Shade

Aside from making otherwise drab aquariums beautiful to look at, fast growing aquatic plants are popular for providing fish species with shade.

While smaller fish use them to stay away from getting nagged, these plants are perfect during the spawning season.

10 Of The Fastest Growing Aquarium Plants

Now I am going to walk you through 10 of the fastest-growing plants suitable for beginners, intermediate, and experienced aquarium owners.

You will read about their specific needs, and qualities, and how to keep them without any risks.

Let’s get started!

1. Elodea

  • Scientific Name: Elodea Canadensis
  • Skill Level: Easy
  • Lighting: Low lighting
  • Size: 4 inches to up 3 feet
  • Tank placement: Mid-ground and background
  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • CO2 Requirement: Recommended

Perfect for controlling algae growth, Elodea is a fast-growing plant popular in the aquarium hobby for its hardy nature and ability to withstand a range of aquatic conditions. The plant goes by different names such as Brazilian waterweed, Anacharis, and Elodea Densa.

Since it has a rapid growth rate, it can absorb nutrients from the water column faster than algae.

Apart from that, the plant looks absolutely stunning in home aquariums and does well in a water temperature that stays between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Elodea is also perfect for young fish and invertebrates if you want to give them a nursery habitat.

Although the plant stays underwater, it can shoot white flowers above the water’s surface to produce seeds. Almost all species feature deep green stems and light green leaf blades. Some can vary slightly in colors, though.

To feed these plants, consider liquid fertilizers so that they can get enough minerals to survive. Also, iron deficiency is common among these plant species, usually visible when the leaves turn yellowish or when the edges become yellow or brown.

Author's note: Elodea can grow well if it freely floats, but for proper growth, it should be rooted in the substrate.

2. Hornwort

  • Scientific Name: Ceratophyllum demersum
  • Skill Level: Easy
  • Lighting: Medium to high
  • Size: 40 to 140 inches
  • Tank placement: Background
  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • CO2 Requirement: No

In addition to tolerating a wide range of water temperatures and higher levels of pH, Hornwort is an excellent choice for a number of reasons.

This background plant is highly adaptive, with the ability to reduce unwanted nutrients from the water column. This hardy plant is found in freshwater ponds, steady streams, and lakes, making it resilient when it comes to environmental changes.

It does best as a floating plant, but you can consider loosely attaching it to the substrate. One of the best things about Hornwort is that it gives fish a strong cover to use as a hideout and helps control algae by absorbing a large number of nutrients.

Hornwort doesn’t grow roots to soak up nutrients. Instead, the plant uses its stems and leaves to access nutrients in the water.

The main downside to Hornwort is that it grows very rapidly which can lead it to cover most of your aquarium. You have to make occasional trimmings once or twice a month to prevent them from blocking out lighting and becoming a hassle for other plants and fish species living in the aquarium.

Hornwort doesn’t require strong lighting as well as carbon dioxide injection. Keep the water temperature above 60 and below 80 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Pro Tip: Since Hornwort grows quickly, it can use up all nutrients present in the water column. To ensure that the other live plants get enough nutrients, use liquid fertilizers.

3. Water Wisteria

Water Wisteria

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  • Scientific Name: Hygrophila difformis
  • Skill Level: Easy
  • Lighting: Moderate to high
  • Size: Up to 20 inches
  • Tank placement: Midground and background
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • CO2 Requirement: No

Water wisteria is a highly recognized plant species due to its relatively low maintenance and high adaptability qualities. Like other plants, water wisteria brings plenty of benefits to your planted tank.

You can always count on it for cleaning aquarium water, as well as providing your fish with a strong shelter and making your aquarium aesthetic to look at.

Water wisteria features dark green leaves that add a unique accent to aquariums. And just like other fast-growing plant species, it also grows rapidly and makes algae starve to death even before you notice it.

Coming back to its appearance, the dark green leaves form tight protrusions along the length. These leaves take on various forms, mainly influenced by the environment.

The leaves are large, while the roots are thin and white. The roots are usually buried underneath the substrate, making them a strong source of support for the plant to stay in place.

Depending on genetics and how you plant them, the leaves can slightly alter their shape. Since water wisteria is known for growing quickly, it’s always better to perform regular pruning unless you want it to cover your entire aquarium with its dark and heavy leaves.

Although it is pretty hardy, sudden environmental changes can highly influence the overall stability of the plant. You have to learn about how to avoid going through the melting phase before purchasing it.

Also, water wisteria does best when kept in its ideal water temperature range which is above 68 and below 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

4. Duckweed

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  • Scientific Name: Lemnoideae
  • Skill Level: Easy
  • Lighting: Low to high
  • Size: 7 mm
  • Tank placement: foreground
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • CO2 Requirement: Recommended

Not all fast-growing plant species have to be large. Some can be small and still save you time and absorb nutrients from the water to kill excess algae.

Duckweed is one of those few plants on earth that grows to a very small size. But don’t let its diminutive size stops you from buying it.

The plant has wonderful qualities. Duckweed is a very hardy plant that can easily withstand shifting water parameters and even a range of tank setups. Another irresistible feature is its quality of devouring ammonia and nitrates in the tank, which can help with keeping the water pure.

Despite the small size that makes it almost impossible to see, Duckweed grows through budding. When it flowers, you can see small green-colored blooms.

Duckweed floats above the water’s surface and helps you protect underwater creatures. Not only that, it can grow on top of ponds regardless of the cold temperature of winter. To improve its short lifespan, make sure you get plenty of light so it can thrive.

5. Ludwigia Repens

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  • Scientific Name: Ludwigia Repens
  • Skill Level: Easy
  • Lighting: Moderate
  • Size: 8 to 20 inches
  • Tank placement: Mid-ground and background
  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • CO2 Requirement: No

Ludwigia Repens is not a rare plant in the aquarium hobby. In fact, many beginners and experts use this plant on a very large scale because of how versatile, easy to grow, and beautiful it is.

The beautiful color combination of vibrant red and deep green adds to the beauty and uniqueness of the plant. Make sure you expose it to bright lighting to get that mesmerizing red and green shades.

Ludwigia Repens can tolerate a wide range of water fluctuations, given you understand other contributing factors to their well-being. Generally, the plant does best in warm water temperatures, ranging from 75 F° to 79 F°. And apart from growing underwater, Ludwigia Repens can grow out of the water, making it an amphibious plant.

Like other fast-growing aquarium plant species, Ludwigia Repens also grows pretty fast and consumes nutrients from the water column, making avoiding algae growth easy.

Some of the most common advantages this plant brings to your aquarium are enhancing water conditions, helping the anxious fish stay away from aggressive fish species using the plant, and adding to the beauty of your tank with its red-pigmented olive green leaves.

The plant will grow out of the aquarium if the water column is not deep. Even though the roots are already strong, you have to get them a nutrient rich substrate for optimal growth.

Author's Note: Ludwigia Repens is extremely sensitive to environmental transitions. Once the plant gets used to a particular temperature including pH levels, avoid disturbing the water parameters as much as possible.

6. Vallisneria

  • Scientific Name: Vallisneria sp.
  • Skill Level: Easy
  • Lighting: Medium
  • Size: 8 to 18 inches
  • Tank placement: Background
  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • CO2 Requirement: No

For those aquarists who want to give a classic look to their aquariums, Vallisneria is for you! It is one of the most popular and earliest plants used in home aquariums. It’s easy to grow and adds up to the beauty of your aquarium’s background.

The growth rate of Vallisneria is somewhat faster than those discussed above. This can make it hard for you to keep it in a small aquarium.

And even if you have a large one, you need to make frequent trimmings to control the growth. You can trim the leaves to the length you like so that the plant doesn’t cover the entire top of the tank.

Being a very undemanding plant and one that grows swiftly, Vallisneria allows you to enjoy your time without stressing over how to avoid algae from intruding on your tank.

The plant looks like grass. When you observe their light green leaves, you see spines visible on them. The leaves can be highly variable in shape. Some are straight, while others can go twisted or spiraled.

Before sending out roots, the plant throws runners to the top of the substrate. Once they grow out of the water, they develop flowering and production of seeds.

Vallisneria doesn’t do well in soft waters. You have to keep acidic levels between 6.5 to 8.0 and water temperature above 68 F° and below 82 F°.

7. Pearl Weed

Pearl Weed

A carpet growing plant that is fast growing and will do well in low light

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  • Scientific Name: Hemianthus micranthemoides
  • Skill Level: Easy
  • Lighting: Medium
  • Size: 2 to 6 inches
  • Tank placement: Foreground and mid-ground
  • Growth Rate: Moderate to high
  • CO2 Requirement: Recommended

Pearlweed is another great option for those aquarists who don’t want to spend days and nights waiting for their plant to grow.

This plant is an extremely versatile, simple, and adaptable carpeting plant. It features a bright green-colored stem that is usually delicate. Depending on how you want to use it, you can use this plant to decorate your foreground, mid-ground, and background.

The plant grows small leaves that are also green in coloration. Contrary to the delicate stems, the leaves grow pretty thick, forming beautiful vegetation.

Since the plant has good adaptability, you can keep it under low lighting as well as intense lighting conditions.

The only difference between these two conditions is that low lighting will encourage thin stems with upward growth and longer gaps between the leaf nodes. While under intense lighting, Pearlweed will grow dense mats and dark green leaves.

You can give it CO2 for a better growth rate. And as far as water parameters go, keep the temperature under 66 F° – 82 F° and acidity level 6.5 to 7.5.

Pearlweed is a water column feeder because of its weak roots. The plant will get nutrients through the leaves most of the time. So, you have to dose them a liquid fertilizer instead of root tabs.

8. Bacopa Carolinana

  • Scientific Name: Bacopa caroliniana
  • Skill Level: Easy
  • Lighting: Moderate
  • Size: 20 to 39 inches
  • Tank placement: Background
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • CO2 Requirement: No

As a hardy plant, Bacopa Caroliniana is a considerably easier species for beginners to try out.

Even though the growth rate of this plant is slow compared to other aquatic plants, but this is a great plant for those who want to oxygenate water for their fish and provide them a healthy environment. Since the plant doesn’t grow that fast, you can inject CO2 to improve the growth rate.

Bacopa Caroliniana can tolerate different water parameters as well as minor environmental changes. This makes it a perfect choice for those aquarists who don’t want a hassle-free experience.

When it comes to offering your tank a beautiful and pleasing look, this plant is no less. The surface of the leaves look glossy green while the lower surface appears pubescent.

Flowers can be either deep blue or light blue. Depending on the lighting conditions, the shoots take on bronze or copper colors which can sometimes appear pink.

To enhance their chances of getting a richer shade of classic green and red, put the plant under strong lighting.

Apart from this, you can grow it in soil, and sand. It can while floating on the surface as well. This can help you provide your fish with appropriate shade.

9. Giant Ambulia

  • Scientific Name: Limnophila sessiliflora
  • Skill Level: Moderate
  • Lighting: High
  • Size: 16 inches
  • Tank placement: Background
  • Growth Rate: High
  • CO2 Requirement: Recommended

Some people consider Ambulia (video from Tropica Aquarium Plants) as one of the finest plants for maintaining the beauty standards of aquariums. And while they are absolutely right, there are other advantages to bringing them home.

The plant is laced with intense shades of green. If you take care of what the plant prefers, you will paint the leaves emerald.

The plant has another feature that is loved by almost every aquarist. It is the topmost area of the stem. The stem features a set of leaves that never stops growing.

The stem is divided into multiple internodes that sit one centimeter apart. The leaves can be seen emerging from each one. The leaves are designed in a way that resembles a palm tree. This adds up their ornamental value even more.

You don’t have to worry about cultivation and maintenance because this plant will be one of the easiest plant species to care for.

Ambulia has a good growth rate that you can increase with CO2 injections. This will discourage the presence of algae as well. Keep the water temperature around 60 F° to 82 F°.

10. Amazon Frogbit

  • Scientific Name: Limnobium laevigatum
  • Skill Level: Easy
  • Lighting: High
  • Size: 3 to 20 inches
  • Tank placement: Surface
  • Growth Rate: High
  • CO2 Requirement: No

Capable of withstanding various water conditions as well as providing a smooth planting experience to beginners, Amazon Frogbit (video source) is one of the most commonly used plants in the aquarium world.

The plant is famous for different qualities, such as its ornamental nature, versatility, adaptability, and simplicity.

The structure looks round, and the plant consists of bright green leaves that have a smooth texture. Upon hitting maturity, they get laced with white color. You don’t have to wait for the plant to get mature to cover the top of the tank with its leaves. Amazon Frogbits can do it while still being young.

As for roots, the roots are long with neat hairs. The flowers, however, look very tiny but extremely appealing to the eyes.

The growth rate is high, so don’t need to use CO2 injections. As far as size is concerned, it can go anywhere between 3 to 20 inches, depending on how well you take care of them. If you keep water parameters consistent, the plant will not fall prey to anything. Keep the water temperature above 60 and below 80 degrees Fahrenheit and pH level between 6.0 to 7.5.

Pro Tip: Amazon Frogbits are prone to rot if the surface is wet. Make sure you keep the surface dry at all times.

Tank Setup For The Fastest Growing Aquarium Plants

Fast growing plants don’t take too much time to grow. If you understand and take care of their basic needs, they can thrive and make your aquarium environment beautiful and healthy for the inhabitants.

But there are certain things you should never ignore. For most species discussed above, lighting acts as a contributing factor to their maintenance. Aside from this, most plants will take nutrients from the water so you don’t have to worry about a thing when it comes to algae.

Make sure you use water fertilizers to keep things stable. Let’s have a look at how to successfully run an aquarium that has fast growing plants.

Lighting

Most aquatic plants that grow fast need high lighting. You can consider planted tank LEDs. Using T5 fluorescent bulbs can be another great option. Current USA’s Serene RGB Pro is a great all-around LED light that works for virtually all plants.

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Filter

Filtration is as important as lighting for these plants. Even though they can get nutrients from the water and improve your aquarium’s water conditions, you still need to get a good quality filter.

You have to be careful with the currents since some plants still need water to thrive, while others can tolerate subtle currents.

You can use a canister or sponge filter for your planted tank.

How to Care for Fast Growing Aquarium Plants

Caring for these plants is pretty straightforward. Being a novice might hold you back but with proper guidance, you can ensure that the plants are doing fine.

Feeding

Most fast growing plants are aggressive when it comes to taking nutrients from the water. They can also fulfill their needs through fish waste and leftovers of food.

In case you are just setting up the tank, get liquid fertilizers as soon as possible so the plants don’t have to go through anything rough because of the absence of nutrients in the water.

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CO2 Injection

Some plants need CO2 to grow faster, while others don’t. With some plants, using CO2 will trigger their already high growth rate even further, which can be seriously challenging for an aquarist.

Plants that grow out of the water don’t need Carbon Dioxide injection. You can also use Carbon Dioxide for Giant Ambulia, Pearl Weed, and Duckweed.

Propagation

Most plants are easy to propagate. Some plants produce seeds, while others can be grown by division. Some plants will grow on their own once you separate the plantlets produced by the mother plant.

Tank Maintenance

It doesn’t matter whether you run a small fish tank or one with lots of fish and plants or your own species of floating plants or submerged ones. Tank maintenance is extremely essential and beneficial.

Most species that grow fast use all the nutrients they can get. This helps with keeping algae at bay. Moreover, you don’t have to worry about nitrates as the plants will use them. But I highly recommend making partial water changes and using a liquid test kit to maintain proper water parameters.

You should also consider cleaning the substrate and the tank walls.

Tank Mates

Choosing the right tank mates is always one of the most important things to consider before turning your traditional tank into a heavily planted tank.

Some animals can get along with different plants, while other aquarium plants are prone to get nipped. Other than that, you can add animals to a heavily planted tank to reduce the chances of algae attacking your tank.

You can choose animals like:

FAQs

What Is The Fastest Growing Aquarium Plant?

One of the fastest-growing plants that you can get is Hornwort. The stem plant does wonders to your aquarium and has been a part of home aquariums for a long time. Plants like Ludwigia Repens, Vallisneria, Giant Ambulia, and Amazon Frogbit are some other great choices.

Do Aquarium Plants Grow Faster In Warm Water?

Aquarium plants have a higher chance of growing faster in warm water temperatures as compared to cold water. Aquarium plants have a higher chance of growing faster in warm water temperatures as compared to cold water. 

Do Aquarium Stem Plants Need Substrate?

Some plants absorb nutrients through their leaves, and they can survive without any substrate. However, plants that take nutrients through their roots need soil to thrive.

You can plant these versatile plants in any substrate. It can be soil, gravel or sand. Just make sure you know what plants are best for growing in soil and what plants can go without any substrate.

Closing Thoughts

If you’re looking for some new plants to grow in your aquarium, why not try one of these fast-growing varieties? They’re easy to care for and will add a splash of color to your tank in no time. Plus, they’ll give you the satisfaction of seeing results quickly. So what are you waiting for? Give them a try and let us know how it goes in the comments below.

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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