Floating plants are a stunning addition to any aquarium. Just as suggested by the name, these plants are not attached to the bottom of the aquarium and are available in numerous shapes and sizes, ranging from small ones to those that are more than one feet long.
This article reviews 10 of the best floating plants for aquariums. But before we talk about them, let us first take a look at some of the benefits of these plants.
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5 benefits of having floating plants in your aquarium
You might be asking yourself for what reasons would you need to include floating plants in your fish tank. Well, below are a few advantages of including these plants in your aquarium.
1. Provision of shade and cover
Supplying the proper amount of shade and covering to the other aquarium plants as well as fish inhabiting your tank is an important aspect. Creating shade for your aquarium fish goes a long way in truly revealing their remarkable colors (beauty) and potential.
Just ensure that you are not covering your tank’s entire water surface. Why? This will reduce the growth rate of the other plants in your aquarium. You should, therefore, not go overboard.
2. Improved aeration and water chemistry
Floating aquarium plants are an easy and good way of elevating the oxygen levels in your aquarium. This will greatly benefit your tank’s inhabitants in the long run. Note that a well-aerated tank with a good oxygen supply is safeguarded against toxins.
These particular plants serve as air circulation systems just the way normal vegetation does in the external surroundings. Air circulation in planted aquariums is normally controlled by the inhabiting live plants. And when floating plants are added, aeration is improved and the aquarium fish, together with other tank inhabitants find it easier to breathe.
Besides, these plants grow very quickly, which makes them great for eliminating wastes such as nitrates from your tank. Floating plants ingest these wastes as nutrients and in the process, saves you the stress of having to conduct regular water changes.
3. Enhanced aquarium beauty
These plants help in giving your aquarium a more natural look. Going for plants that have hanging roots will certainly leave your tank with a more natural appearance. Creating this natural-look not only adds to the overall beauty of your tank but also allows your fish to feel more comfortable.
And the best part is that there’s a wide variety of floating plants to pick from. Just ensure that you go for one that matches the looks you want and fits your aquarium without necessarily overwhelming the other tank dwellers.
4. Filtration and protection
Floating aquatic plants can be used as filters to eliminate any fish waste in the aquarium. The bacterium that develops on these plants acts as a filter element and is capable of handling both biological and chemical filtration very well.
Note that retaining any toxic chemicals in your aquarium can harm your tank inhabitants. That said, do not leave it to the floating plants to get rid of these chemicals on their own. It is, instead, ideal to have a supporting filtration system close by.
Also, the floating aquarium plants will offer protection to your fish by protecting them against various diseases. They also provide great places for your fish to hide or play.
5. Alternative food source
Normally, the only and main food source for aquarium fish is basically the food substance that you feed them on. However, with floating aquatic plants, your fish and other aquarium creatures will have another healthy thing to eat or nibble on. They are, in fact, a nutritious and tasty addition to the diet of your aquarium fish.
Now that you are familiar with the benefits of including floating aquatic plants to your aquarium, let us now take a look at some of the best floating plants available out there.
Top 10 floating aquatic plants for aquariums
The duckweed is one of the most stunning floating plants. It does well in freshwater conditions with either gentle-moving or still waters. This floating species is light green colored and has one to three leaves that are oval in shape and really flat. The plant features one root that knots itself together with fellow duckweed plants.
Duckweeds are asexual plants and they flower during reproduction. Their flowers are considered one of the tiniest flowers in the entire world. The duckweed is also well-known for its filtering abilities. Their flowers are also rich in protein and can be used as fish feed. The plant is, in fact, utilized in huge fish farms for its nutritional value.
This floating aquarium plant is naturally hardy and very easy to look after. The plant should be kept in waters with slightly warmer temperatures and a pH ranging from 6.0 to about 7.5. They also require ample light for proper growth. Note that duckweeds reproduce very fast and so you need to watch out; they might dominate your aquarium.
2. Java Moss
This is one of the most popular floating aquarium plants. It has extremely high growth rates and is very low maintenance.
The java moss is well-known for its floating nature, and so it is always advisable to cling it onto something to prevent it from freely roaming around your aquarium. When connected to a massive stone on the floor of your tan, this plant will spread over the water surface.
This floating aquatic plant has a beautiful carpet-like, low growth pattern and appears to be almost fluffy. It is capable of tolerating anything ranging from 72 to 90 Fahrenheit but grows fastest at about 73 Fahrenheit. It can thrive in any lighting condition, which makes it very simple to house.
Apart from providing shade, java moss can be used as embellishments, for substrate stabilization, or even for carpeting and rearing certain fish species.
3. Water lettuce
Thanks to its unique appearance, the water lettuce does a great job of improving your aquarium environment. This is a tropical plant and in some places, it is considered to be an invasive species.
The water lettuce has numerous leaves and is dark green in color. Its leaves form a rosette and are quite thick without any stems. It is covered with hair that traps nutrients. Normally, water lettuces grow to a maximum size of about 10 inches and only requite moderate lighting to thrive. Caring for it is, however, a bit difficult when compared to other floating plants.
To keep them alive, you’ll have to maintain your tank’s water temperatures around 70 to 80 Fahrenheit, and the pH at about 6.5 to 7.2. And for proper growth, this plant requires a humid atmosphere, which could be quite challenging to create.
4. Water Spangles
This floating plant species tends to thrive in still or gentle-moving waters when in the wild. They are green in color with rounded petals covered up in white hair and resemble the clover. They are classified as ferns despite their appearance.
Water spangles normally grow in unique sets of three leaves, with one of the leaves growing beneath the water surface. They are easy to look after and grow rapidly when properly cared for; they have very high growth rates. This plant thrives in aquariums with slow-moving waters, temperatures of about 70 Fahrenheit, and pH ranging from 5.0 to 8.0.
Be careful not to let these tiny plants take over your tank though.
5. Amazon frogbit
Similar to most floating plants, this plant is green in color and almost resembles a water lily. Its leaves are generally about 2.5 inches big and feel like leather when touched. The Amazon frogbit is asexual and it produced tiny white flowers.
To keep this plant alive, a lot of work is needed. First, you have to ensure that your tank has little to no water movement. Second, you need strong lighting for proper growth. Note that this plant should only be used for freshwater tanks. They do well in water pH ranging from 6.0 to about 8.0 and temperature of about 64 to 86 Fahrenheit.
The Amazon frogbit is quite nourishing to fish. Moreover, it improves your tank’s overall health.
Also going by the name the Coontail plant, the hornwort plant is among the easiest as well as fastest growing floating aquarium plants. It has a light-green and at times a yellowish coloring and grows is native to North America.
The hornwort is a relatively tall aquatic plant and has the special ability to grow either floating or rooted. In appearance, it looks like a crossbreed between seaweed and pine needles. The plant has some spacing in between every branching leaf which contributes to its unique look.
To survive, hornworts require a pH ranging from 6.0 to about 7.5 and temperatures of around 59 to 86 Fahrenheit. They also need to be kept in tanks with average light supply and have a capacity of at least 15 gallons.
Great for biological filtration, the hornwort is easy to grow and reproduces very fast. They need to be closely monitored. In fact, this plant can grow to up to one inch every week.
7. Normal Salvinia
Also referred to as the common Salvinia, this is a tiny floating aquatic plant that grows in clusters. It thrives in still to slow-moving waters; water that isn’t disturbed by waves. The common Salvinia plant is a member of the fern group and it does not produce any flowers.
This plant has very high reproduction rates and can easily and quickly take over your tank if you are not careful. Constant care is needed to prevent this. Remember, an overgrowth of this plant might prevent the base plants in your aquarium from getting enough light, which eventually results in their poor growth.
8. Floating Bladderwort
The floating bladderwort is a carnivorous plant but is a totally harmless aquarium fish. The plant floats in small groups and develops bright yellows, which go a long way in enhancing the overall look of your tank.
Floating bladderworts destroy any microorganisms inhabiting the tank water. They get this done with the help of traps that resemble bladders positioned at the bottom submerged area of the plant. Microorganisms get pulled in the traps where they get consumed and digested.
Azolla, also commonly called Mosquito fern, is a floating aquarium plant belonging to the fern family. It has a sewn look that hides the root protruding from each of the stems. And the best part about this plant is that it comes in a variety of colors including red and green variations.
Similar to most other floating aquarium plants, Azolla provides shade and shelter to tiny fish. It, however, has to be trimmed and well maintained to prevent it from taking over your aquarium; it has a high rate of reproduction.
10. Riccia fluitans
This is another popular floating aquarium plant that’s comprised of short strands that intertwine together to form a freely floating mat. This plant does not have any roots or leaves and is a popular choice for betta keepers because of its simplicity in growing.
The plant is also commonly used by aquascapers in moss recreation. Its clusters are attached to rock and wood using nylon or thread netting. The plant then grows all over this netting, resembling fine yellow-green moss.
Note that, Riccia fluitans are not normally adversely affected by lighting near the water surface since they are either below or level with the water surface. It should, however, be kept trimmed near the clusters or netting or else it will separate and float to the surface. When grown in this way, a lot more concentrated light is required.
Growing floating aquarium plants
Listed above are some of the best floating aquatic plants that you can add to your aquarium. But how are they grown? Growing these plants could either be very easy or difficult, based on the equipment and knowledge you have.
First things first, you will need some sort of lighting. Note that not just any sort of light will work; you need a light that is strong enough to act as an alternative to the sun. Luckily, there are lots of good lights available on the market today that are specially designed for the growth of aquarium plants. However, before placing your order on a certain product, you first need to conduct some research on exactly how much light is needed by your plant.
After sorting out your lighting, the next thing to consider is your tank’s pH. Some plants are specific to pH. If your tank’s pH is extremely high or high, some plants will not be able to grow there. In such a case, you might have to get the water treated to make it suitable for the growth of your plant.
The next thing to check for the water temperatures. Some floating aquarium plants are tropical and thus require higher temperatures, while other plants might just require room temperature to grow. Before mixing and matching, first see if you’re the plants you intend to add are compatible with each other.
Another important aspect to bear in mind is the high reproduction rate of most floating plants, which calls for close monitoring. If not closely monitored, these plants can easily take over your fish tank within no time. In case you notice the floating plants are starting to overpopulate your tank, then you will have to get rid of some of them from your aquarium to avoid future troubles.
Last but not least, the majority of these plants require pruning for them to remain healthy. If your plant is the leafy type, ensure that you pick off all the yellow or dead leaves. Apart from improving the general health of your floating plant, this will help the other leaves to grow. Just be careful not to pull off any roots.
Similar to all other embellishments in your aquarium, you need to conduct proper research and preparation before adding floating plants to your fish tank. You have to ensure that your tank inhabitants stay happy and healthy even after making this new addition.
Adding these plants will without a doubt give your tank a natural and wild look. They are, in fact, an easy and low-maintenance way of making your aquarium look good within no time.