Best Low-Maintenance Floating Plants For Beginners

Most of the aquarists, be the experienced or amateurs, love creating an underwater paradise for their fish tanks.

But it's a natural human tendency to not be satisfied with whatever we do and ultimately we get bored of what we have created. 

Similar situation occurs with keeping an aquarium. People get bored of the paradise they have created for their aquarium.

We try creating the world in our head by adding the finishing touches but a few times does it turns out as expected. So we keep adding the finishing touches, observe it and change it all over again.

Creating a living art is not easy. It takes years and years of practice, skills, headaches and holes in the wallet. It takes hours of planning, finding the best aquarium, plants, gravel, fish and other equipment.

Then we blend them together to form one art piece. But it doesn't happen very often that we consider the art complete - there's always something missing.

The load only got light when the floating plants came into being. After I discovered them, I realized that it isn’t that hard to make everything look better, natural and complete (the top of my tank never looked empty after putting the floating plants).

Besides giving a visual appeal like no other, these plants have many benefits for the water quality and fish

Why Choose Floating Plants?

Why Choose Floating Plants?

Floating plants have many benefits to the fish and water like:

  • They reduce the nitrate level in water.
  • They don’t require an expensive setup to thrive.
  • Anyone can use floating plants to their full effect.
  • They are the food of many herbivore fish and inverts.
  • Many fish love hiding under these plants or using it as a cover.
  • They help in keeping tabs on harmful chemicals present in the water.
  • They are very low maintenance and grow quickly – the best one being duckweed.
  • Though water needs to be changed in regular intervals, these plants provide a little help.
Fish like Freshwater Puffers, African Butterfly (required for proper husbandry) and Bettas are among those fishes who love the company of floating plants. 

Another fish is the Little Fry which uses them as a nursery hiding among the long branched roots and foraging.

Types Of Floating Plants:

Here I have listed my favorite floating plants that are suitable for any aquarium:

Water Lettuce (Pistia Stratiotes)

Water Lettuce - Floating Live Pond Plant
  • IMPORTANT: Please note that during times of extreme weather, live plants will suffer due to extreme temperatures. During winter, do not order live plants when temperatures are expected to go below 20F at the lowest point during the day. During summer, avoid ordering plants when temperatures are above 100F.
  • You get 1 plant of about 3-5 inches in diameter. These water lettuce and mature and ready to reproduce.
  • They serve as natural biofilters to your pond, helping clear the water naturally.
  • Please note this plant ships with trimmed roots as sometimes they tend to fall off during transit due to heat. In case roots fall off upon receiving them, just place them in your pond and give them couple of weeks so they can re-establish themselves. If you live in areas experiencing above 90 temperatures, please make sure these plants are retrieved as soon as possible as extreme heat could kill these plants while in a box. AL, FL, SC, TX, WI, LA
  • Grown pesticide free in our California nursery

Last update on 2021-12-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This is one of the most appealing floating plant to look at. It has larger leaves compared to most of the species.

They bunch slightly like a small gem lettuce and grows fast if proper care is taken. And in case they overrun your aquarium, it is easy to just scoop them out and bin.

One drawback with these plants is their leaves, which tend to block a good amount of light entering the aquarium. But you can take care of that by cutting those leaves on time.

Their long leaves make for nurseries and hiding spots for many fish. Their roots give an artistic look to the aquarium by adding something to the top which is hard to make look appealing. 

Due to their large size, they are best suited for big-sized aquariums say at least 100 liters.

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Duckweed (Lemna Minor)

1 Cup Live Duckweed (LEMNA Minor)
  • Great for Shade
  • Koi love it
  • Duck Weed is a hardy free floating plant that is found around the planet, with low to moderate lighting requirements
  • It is a floating freshwater aquatic plant, with one, two or three leaves each with a single root hanging in the water; as more leaves grow, the plants divide and become separate individual

Last update on 2021-12-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Unlike water lettuce, duckweed is perfect for large as well as small aquariums. It has tiny leaves and small roots which makes it ideal for under 100 liters aquarium. The best thing it, they do not block light and looks like a frog pond.

Looking from the top, a mass of beautiful and small green leaves are visible which breaks slightly whenever an organism surfaces. 

It gives them a natural and splendid look. If you look from the underneath, you will see a picture of the wild riverbanks of slow-moving tropical which are slightly dark due to the rays of light breaking through.

Just like water lettuce, duckweed's growth is also very fast. So you will need to cut the roots off before they get into and clog the filter. 

The last thing to consider before getting duckweed is to keep the lid on as it can stick to the walls.

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Amazon Frogbit (Lamnobium Laevigatum)

These plants are used in Amazonian style fish tanks or biotopes. Its leaves are comparatively broad, have large rosettes and long roots.

It is popular among the hobbyists because of its reliability and low maintenance. However, due to its large size, it can block a considerable amount of light entering the tank. 

But if you are planning on creating a biotope, you need not worry as the plants from that area prefer slightly darker murky water.

Just like with the above-mentioned plants, you might also face trouble with its growth. So you will have to chop them off at regular intervals.

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Suspended plants

Suspended plants can’t float but they do move about in the fish tank on their own. These plants do better when being left to move around free, away from the confines of a substrate. Though they don’t stay at the top of the fish tank, they keep a bit of buoyancy and remain suspended in the aquarium.

Hornwort (Ceratophyllum Demersum)

Aquatic Arts Live Hornwort Plant - 2 Extra Large Bunches of Pond Plants Over 10 Stems
  • Great plant for beginners; does not require special equipment, care, or knowledge
  • Beautiful upgrade over plastic plants, which can look tacky and make your tank appear unnatural
  • Very fast growing; ships up to 8 inches tall and grows 1 inch per week with adequate nutrients
  • Grows by using pollutants in the water; very effective part of your biological filtration
  • Reduces or eliminates water changes; comes with live arrival guarantee

Last update on 2021-12-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

It is a very common plant that can be easily found in any pet store. Belonging to the British native species, they can withstand any water condition and still manage to look beautiful.

It is up to you if you choose to plant it at the bottom or leave it floating in the tank. Also, they grow very fast up to 6-foot in length.

These plants have relatively densely packed green leaves which acts as a great hiding blanket for all the fish and other organisms inside water.

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Cabomba (Cabomba Caroliniana)

Aquatic Arts Green Cabomba - 2 Bunches – Live Aquarium Plant
  • Great plant for beginners; does not require special equipment, care, or knowledge
  • 2 bunches of 6 or more branches that are 6 to 8 inches tall; can grow to 2 feet with proper care
  • Beautiful upgrade over plastic plants, which can look tacky and make your tank appear unnatural
  • This is a truly unique looking plant with delicate; feathery leaves than fan out from its branches
  • Comes with a 100 percent live arrival guarantee

Last update on 2021-12-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Belonging to its native country America, this plant is technically a weed which suggests its quick growth. It is a pale-green leaf and different from the rest that I have mentioned above.

You can plant it or leave it to float in the aquarium. These plants are loved by shrimps and fry compared to others.

Cabombas grow very densely and give a natural look to the aquariums.

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Lastly, I would say that no matter which floating or suspended plant you get for your aquarium, all of them look great. They give a natural look to the water world which is loved by aquarists.

If you keep the setting of your home right, then nothing will supersede the beauty of an aquarium with plants living inside. 

If your fish tank has only the gravels, organisms and a few plants, trust me, it will not at all look attractive. Instead, it will give more of an artificial look when looked at.

So to make it look appealing and classy, floating plants are the best option. They not only look great but also have a number of positive effects on the water quality of the aquarium.

Though you need to clean the tank at regular periods, these plants to assist a lot. Which is great as no other thing can do that while look beautiful at the same time.

In addition to it, they complete the aquarium by covering the top of it with its green beauty. So, yes, floating plants are the best. You should get one!


[Revised and Updated for July, 2019]
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Written by Debra Hutchinson, founder of FishXperts

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