Best Floating Aquarium Plants

Many things are involved in adding aquarium plants to your fish tank. Of course, they add an extra touch to your aquarium, and not using them in your tank feels like missing out on an important factor.

Adding aquarium plants into your tank shouldn’t be done with levity; you should be careful when choosing them. Floating aquarium plants are great and add a touch of dynamism to your aquarium. 

Why do you need them, and which are the best floating aquarium plants for your fish tank? Don’t just wonder; read on to find your answers.

What Are Floating Aquarium Plants?

Floating Plants
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Floating aquarium plants float on the surface of the fish tank. These plants grow and drift freely in tank water and are not submerged in the substrate. They move with the water flow and provide many benefits in the tank to the fish living there.

How To Decide The Best Floating Aquarium Plants For Fish Tank

Every decision is crucial in fishkeeping. You don’t make decisions based on feelings; you must consider some factors for your fish’s benefit. 

This applies to choosing the best floating aquarium plants in your fish tank. The following factors are things you should consider when choosing the best floating aquarium plants for your tank:

  • The livestock in your aquarium

This is one important factor you should consider. You need to consider what floating plant is compatible with your fish species and is best for them.

For example, if your fish breed easily like a guppy, molly, or platyl, you should consider planting floating plants with roots in the water. They will serve as shelter spots for fry and protect them from adult fish that can prey on them.

Likewise, if you have labyrinth breathers like gouramis or bettas, you have to be careful, so the floating plants don’t overtake the plant and give room for them to breathe well. 

  • Aquarium size

Aquarium size also matters. Floating aquarium plants tend to grow quickly and can take over tanks quickly. You should consider that when buying floating plants.

If you have a small tank below 40 gallons, get plants that don’t grow so quickly. You can grow a few floating aquarium plants with a large tank.

  • Speed of growth

Floating aquarium plants quickly grow, so they can help with tank aesthetics. But that’s if you want that. You can get fast-growing plants if you want to replicate a look.

However, this means more maintenance. Therefore, you have to weigh their growth speed when buying.

  • Lighting

Another thing to consider is whether the effect of floating aquarium plants on the tank’s lighting is good for your fish. Floating plants can block out light and prevent much light from penetrating.

You must check whether your fish species require low, moderate, or high lighting. If they need much light, you must compromise by choosing thinner plants that won’t overcrowd the tank or be ready to shift them to a side in the tank.

  • Maintenance and care

While floating aquarium plants are easy to grow, some require much care. They grow fast and may need pruning for your tank and fish benefits. 

They’re also fragile; hence, you must keep the water flow in check. If you’re up to constant care, you won’t have much problem planting floating aquarium plants.

Benefits of Floating Aquarium Plants

Floating aquarium plants boost your aquarium appeal. Perhaps the reason some hobbyists add them to fish tanks. However, they offer more than that to your aquarium.

Their benefits include:

  • Provide shade

Floating aquarium plants grow and float over the tank surface, thereby controlling the amount of light penetrating the tank. That way, you can protect your aquarium and fish from getting excess light.

If you keep fish species that stay in shady waters, floating aquarium plants will help them adapt to the tank and protect them from overexposure to light. However, you should study your fish to prevent overcrowding the tank with too many plants and depriving your fish of adequate light.

  • Serve as a hiding place

Fish like to hide and play in the water. Floating aquarium plants create shades that can serve as hiding spots in the tank. Smaller and female fish can hide under the leaves or around the stems of the plants.

They can protect them from adult or slightly aggressive fish from harming them. They’ll feel comfortable and secure there, thereby reading their stress levels. That way, they’ll feel safe in your tank like in the wild.

  • Plants eat them

Yeah, fish eat aquarium plants. You may not intentionally plan to feed your fish plants, but fish eat them, and their curiosity gets the most of them.

Planting floating aquarium plants in your tank is like adding tasty snacks to your fish’s diet. Fish that spend time in the upper part of the tank will benefit from them.

They can occasionally nibble on them and enjoy some nutrients and vitamins. In addition, they can supplement their traditional diet, especially omnivorous fish.

  • They’re low maintenance

Many floating aquarium plants are low maintenance and easy to care for. This means you don’t have to be an expert to grow them or actively tend to them for them to thrive in the tank.

Also, many of them are hardy and fast-growing, so they can quickly serve their purpose in the tank, and you won’t have to wait long. This benefits you because you can focus more on fishkeeping instead of dividing your attention for plant maintenance.

  • Provide oxygen

Aquarium plants help with oxygen in fish tanks. They use carbon dioxide and return oxygen to the aquarium, enabling your fish to breathe better. Since many are fast-growing, they tend to produce much oxygen in the tank.

  • Nutrient control 

Floating aquarium plants help with nutrient control in aquariums. They use nutrients in the water colon and protect your fish from harm. This is because high nutrients in water can cause algae growth in tanks.

  • Helps with algae control

Since floating aquarium plants help with nutrient control, they ultimately help to curb algae growth in fish tanks. Fish waste and bacteria in the tank can harm your fish.

However, with plant presence, the bacteria and water convert to nitrates, and the plants use them as food to grow. While the plants suck the nitrates, you should also engage in water change to control algae and protect your fish.

  • Benefit the water

Floating aquarium plants contribute to cleaner water in the tank and, ultimately, healthier fish. It rids the tank of algae and nitrate and reduces tank maintenance loads. In addition, they stabilize water parameters in the aquarium and help with water maintenance. 

Cons of Floating Aquarium Plants

Sure, floating aquarium plants benefit your fish, aquarium, and you. However, there is more to them that you should know. They have some downsides.

Some of their disadvantages are:

  • Overgrowth

Many floating aquarium plants grow fast and may overrun the tank. This is one challenge that you might face. They can become an eyesore in the tank.

Therefore, you should create a barrier to curtail their growth and prevent them from taking over the tank. For example, you could use air tubing.

Another solution is to plant slow-growing plants or perform routine maintenance to curtail their growth.

  • Water flow

Tank water flow can affect floating aquarium plants. Turbulent water isn’t nice on floating plants, and the strong water current can affect them and damage their roots and stems.

Therefore, you should restrict the surface area where they float using a tube or floating rope. Another solution is to control the water flow in the tank.

  • Shadowing

Floating aquarium plants can spread their leaves over the water and shadow the lives beneath the water, and this can be bad if the tank’s light requirement is moderate or high.

They can be dense and prevent light from reaching your fish and plants. The solution is to trim plants occasionally and remove them from the water, so they don’t mess up the tank.

  • Entanglement

Some floating aquarium plants have long roots that can go down, spread, and tangle around decorations and other plants and clog the aquarium’s filter. Of course, this depends on the type of plant you grow.

You can prevent that by doing routine maintenance of plant trimming and pruning.

  • Oxygen depletion

Floating aquarium plants can cause nighttime oxygen depletion. When you switch off the light at night, the plants stop drawing in CO2 and producing oxygen. They also start breathing oxygen and producing CO2.

This can cause CO2 levels to increase and oxygen levels to drop. Therefore, you should only depend on the plants to aerate the tank. You should also consider using airstones.

  • Suppress other plants

When floating aquarium plants grow out of control, they can take over the tank surface, prevent the plants below from growing well, and deprive them of nutrients.

Ensure you occasionally trim and prune the plants and replenish the water with fertilizers so other plants can benefit from the nutrients.

Tank Setup For Floating Aquarium Plants

Floating aquarium plants are easy to grow; however, a few things contribute to their growth. One thing you should consider is the tank setup. 

With the proper setup, your floating plants will thrive and serve numerous benefits in the tank. How should you set up your tank for floating aquarium plants? 

You should consider:

  • Lidless tank

Floating aquarium plants don’t usually grow well under high humidity; that happens when there’s a lid in the tank. Sure, you can grow floating plants with lids on the tank, but this may not benefit many floating plants.

Therefore, you should consider growing your plants without the tank lid. However, this requires extreme care because this gives your fish free passage to jump out of the tank.

Therefore, you need to consider the fish species in your tank, whether they’re hyper and can jump out of the tank. In that case, you should consider adding a screen on the aquarium top. 

  • Lighting

Removing the lid from your aquarium can deprive floating plants of artificial light. This also means you can’t use some fixtures in the tank.

Therefore, you need to compensate for that with other artificial lighting options. You can use clip-on lights, hanging pendants, desk lamp style, and other options so the plant gets enough light to grow.

  • Filter

While floating aquarium plants help with filtration in tank water, you shouldn’t rule out getting a good filtration system to improve and stabilize water chemistry. This helps your plants grow in minimal water flow.

The best filter you can use in the tank is the sponge filter because it creates the adequate water flow you need. You can add it to your aquarium’s filter to lower the water current. 

Another option for controlling water current is to use driftwood or rock to cut the flow so it can be gentler on the plants.

Caring For Floating Aquarium Plants

Like every living thing, floating aquarium plants need proper care to grow and thrive. While they are easy to grow and thrive with minimal supervision, they still need care. 

If you care for them well, they’ll benefit your fish. Here’s how to care for them:

  • Adequate nutrition

Floating aquarium plants are water column feeders and get most of the nutrients they use on the water surface from fish and food waste. 

You can also supplement the nutrient by adding liquid supplements to improve the nutrient content in the water. This will help the plant grow faster.

  • Propagation

You need to occasionally propagate the floating plants in your aquarium. Some plants produce flowers while others divide and grow daughter plants. 

You need to check for that and separate them in the water, so the juvenile plants can grow and float in the water. Another option is to leave them to detach on their own and float.

  • Carbon dioxide

Plants need carbon dioxide in aquariums. Some floating plants that grow beneath the water may be deprived of carbon dioxide, especially when taller plants are in the tank.

Hence, you need to introduce CO2 into the water so the plants can get adequate carbon dioxide.

  • Tank maintenance

While floating aquarium plants are hardy, easy to grow, and low maintenance, they still need a level of care. These plants use phosphates, nitrates, and other organic substances to make the water conditions liveable for fish.

However, you need to carry out routine maintenance in the tank. You should check and monitor water parameters with test kits to ensure the water is good enough for the plant to thrive. You should also keep the substrate clean. 

  • Constant checking

To monitor their growth, you must carry out routine checks on floating aquarium plants. They tend to grow fast, so you may need to remove some of them to enable natural light to penetrate the tank.

You can also use floating rings to prevent the plants from intruding and depriving bottom-dwelling plants and fish of nutrients.

  • Tank mates

You need to match your plants with the fish in your aquarium. The presence of floating aquarium plants means minimal or no algae bloom or growth in the tank. 

This can deprive algae eaters of food in the tank. Thankfully, you can make up for that with algae wafers. However, you can prevent that altogether by not growing floating plants in aquariums with fish species like plecos, nerite snails, otocinclus catfish, Amano shrimps, and Siamese algae eaters.

10 Best Floating Aquarium Plants

With the factors to consider, choosing the best floating aquarium plants for your tank is easier. Here are some to choose from:

  1. Java Moss
  2. Anacharis
  3. Duckweed
  4. Red root floater
  5. Hornwort
  6. Amazon frogbit
  7. Cabomba
  8. Dwarf water lettuce
  9. Water wisteria
  10. Brazilian pennywort

Our choice


RUNNER UP: Anacharis


BUDGET ALTERNATIVE: Red root floater

1. Java Moss

Another attractive floating plant to add to your aquarium is java moss. It is fine, versatile, and very easy to grow. You can fix the plant to driftwood or rock in the tank, and they will grow without stress.

It grows across the substrate and water like a carpet and beauties your tank. In addition, they are good for spawning tanks and can protect fry and juvenile fish. 

You can propagate them by cutting pieces of them from healthy mother plants and attaching them to the tank. They need standard lighting and 70° and 90° Fahrenheit.

Product details: 

  • Skill level: Easy
  • Lighting: Low to moderate
  • Growth rate: Moderate
  • Temperature: 70° to 90° Fahrenheit
Aquatic Arts Java Moss
  • Loose portion bunch; enough moss to make a 5 by 5 inch or larger mat that covers 25 square inches
  • Grows along driftwood, rocks, and other surfaces; grows along rear glass for a plant backdrop effect
  • Does not need special or high intensity lighting; can be kept in any freshwater aquarium
  • Provides biofilm, hiding places, and security for the young when you place it in a breeding tank
  • Comes with a 100 percent Live Arrival
  • Age Range Description: All Life Stages

2. Anacharis

Anacharis is another popular aquarium plant that’s very easy to grow. It is hardy and can grow under different water conditions. It grows deep green leaves, and you can submerge it in a substrate or let it float freely.

It tends to thrive under low water pressure but responds to changes in water temperature and time of the day. The plant stands to the surface when it absorbs the sun and sinks in the water when it’s cool at night. 

During summer, it grows tiny beautiful flowers that add to the tank’s aesthetics.

Product details:

  • Skill level: Easy
  • Lighting: Moderate
  • Growth rate: Fast
  • Temperature: 60° to 82° Fahrenheit
1 Imported Anacharis Bunch
  • Easy live aquarium plant specie for any freshwater aquarium. You get 4+ stem cuttings tied in bunch as pictured. This plant does not have roots in the traditional sense but thrives as long as there is enough light.
  • Create a natural habitat in your aquarium for your fish and invertebrates. The Anacharis plant is a naturally floating plant and can be used floating or can be tied in a bunch and planted in the substrate. This is a favorite for beginners as this plant doesn’t demand much other than enough lighting.
  • Make your fish tank look natural and beautiful
  • Provide natural resting and hiding places for your smaller fish and invertebrates

3. Duckweed

Duckweeds are popular and native to wild slow-moving waters. This plant can decorate the water surface because it covers the water top.

They grow quickly and will overtake the tank a few days after planting. They are also very easy to grow. Their tiny leaves carpet the aquarium, needing medium light conditions to thrive. Leave them under 50° to 86° Fahrenheit, and they’ll grow well.

Product details:

  • Skill level: Easy
  • Lighting: Moderate to high
  • Growth rate: Fast
  • Temperature: 50° to 86° Fahrenheit
1000 Live Duckweed Plants LEMNA Minor
  • 1000+ Duckweed in a ziploc bag. Super clean and healthy, long roots, no pests, no snails, no pesticides
  • Common Duckweed (Lemna Minor), is a small floating plant which has 1-3 leaves and 1/16″ – 1/8″ long. Fresh water, easy to grow and maintenance. You can use this small portion as a start culture. They propagate fast under good lighting, and cover the water surface like a green carpet
  • Live Arrival and Satisfaction Guaranteed

4. Red root floater

Red root floaters are one of the best floating aquarium plants for your tank. They’re little floating ferns that grow over the water surface. You can prune them to your desired taste and design.

They’re fast-growing, take over the tank, and prevent light from penetrating. They have red and green leaves, which add color to your tank. They have long red roots that suck nutrients from the water colon.

In addition, they sometimes bloom beautiful white flowers.

Product details:

  • Skill level: Easy
  • Lighting: Low to high
  • Growth rate: Fast
  • Temperature: 70° to 82° Fahrenheit
6 Red Root Floater Phyllanthus Fluitans
  • Each order contains 6 red root floater
  • Each plant should contain 5-10 leaves, see Picture #4 for reference
  • A special light for aquatic plants is required to grow water spangles indoor
  • This is a freshwater floating plant, no substrate required

5. Hornwort

Skill level: Easy

Lighting: Moderate to high

Growth rate: Moderate to fast

Temperature: 59° to 86° Fahrenheit

One floating aquarium plant you can hardly go wrong with is hornwort. It’s very hardy and grows with minimal care. You can either plant hornwort in a substrate or leave it to float freely in the water.

In addition, they needed low to minimal lighting to grow, so you can set up accordingly. The water temperature should be between 59° to 86° Fahrenheit. However, the problem with this plant is that it sheds its leaves, and they can clog your filtration system.

Also, their branches can become too long and stringy if they get too much light. 

Product details:

  • Skill level: Easy
  • Lighting: Low to high
  • Growth rate: Fast
  • Temperature: 70° to 82° Fahrenheit
3 X Hornwort Bunches
  • PLEASE READ BEFORE PLACING AN ORDER. This natural pond plant improves water quality by oxygenating and removing excess nutrients from pond water. Helps neutralize algae. Please be mindful that aquatic plants will always carry a risk of snails so DO NOT ORDER if they are a concern
  • You get 3 Hornwort bunch with metal ties this offer
  • Resilient to cold weather and very easy to grow. Please keep in mind Hornwort plants DO NOT root. Instead, they absorb nutrients through its stems unlike most aquatic plants. These plants are dark green and sometimes with shades of red/brown during winter.

6. Amazon frogbit

Amazon frogbit is another floating plant to put in your aquarium. It is similar to duckweed and grows quickly and spreads across the tank. They have bright circular leaves that spread over the water.

Also, they need occasional little maintenance. However, you should be careful with them so they don’t become waterlogged and so they don’t rot.

They can also serve as food for snails and other omnivores in the tank. Grow them under minimal light and 64° to 84° Fahrenheit.

Product details:

  • Skill level: Easy
  • Lighting: Moderate
  • Growth rate: Fast
  • Temperature: 64° to 84° Fahrenheit
12 Amazon Frogbit
  • Each order contains 12 plants (+3 leaves each), enough to cover a 4″x 4″ surface
  • Freshwater Floating Plant, Substrate and CO2 Supplementation is not necessary
  • Excellent at removing unwanted and unhealthy inorganic nutrients,Excellent cover for fish fry and shrimps

7. Cabomba

Cabomba is very popular among hobbyists. While they’re floating aquarium plants, they can be challenging and tricky to grow and not beginner friendly. 

They’re also known as Carolina fanwort, fanwort, or Brazilian fanwort. They bloom in green or reddish-purple varieties. The red and purple variety is more challenging to grow than the green one.

If you want them to grow well, you should use liquid fertilizers or add CO2 supplements. Lastly, they are delicate, so they’re not good for goldfish, snails, or cichlids as they can consume them to nothing.

Product details:

  • Skill level: Challenging
  • Lighting: Low
  • Growth rate: Fast
  • Temperature: 72° to 82° Fahrenheit
TruBlu Supply Green Cabomba Live Aquarium Plant Freshwater - Buy 2 Get 1
  • 1 Green Cabomba Plant
  • Live Arrival and Satisfaction Guaranteed

8. Dwarf water lettuce

Dwarf water lettuce is also another popular floating aquarium plant for your tank. It is also known as water cabbage or Nile cabbage.

It is easy to grow and beginner friendly. It can self-propagate and grow in cabbage-like rosettes with its leaves wide enough to protect fry or shrimp. It needs a fairly humid environment to grow well. 

Product details:

  • Skill level: Easy
  • Lighting: Moderate
  • Growth rate: Fast
  • Temperature: 64° to 68° Fahrenheit
Dwarf Water Lettuce, Pistia stratiotes, Live Aquarium Plant (6 plants)
  • Skill level: Easy
  • Lighting: Moderate
  • Growth rate: Fast
  • Temperature: 64° to 68° Fahrenheit

9. Water wisteria

Water wisteria is common in fishkeeping hobbyists and good for beginners. It is very easy to grow and can thrive with minimal supervision and care. 

You can plant it in a substrate or leave it to float on the water surface. This plant tends to grow quickly, so they’re more compatible with large tanks that are high because water wisteria tends to grow up to 20 inches in length.

However, if lighting levels are low, it won’t grow that much, saving you pruning time and keeping the plant under control. Also, water wisteria isn’t compatible with goldfish, snails, or silver dollars because they can munch on it and affect its growth.

Product details:

  • Skill level: Easy
  • Lighting: Low to moderate
  • Growth rate: Fast
  • Temperature: 70° to 82° Fahrenheit
3 Water Wisteria Hygrophila Difformis
  • Each order contains 1 bunch (3 stems) of Hygrophila difformis, 3-5 inche in height
  • A special light for aquatic plants is required to grow water spangles indoor, Stem plant, doesn’t come with roots, once planted in substrate, roots will develop
  • Substrate required, Low demanding, medium light, co2 supplementation is not required, Mid-ground to Background plant
  • 100% Alive On Arrival (AOA) Guarantee, if there is any problem, just send us a message to receive a replacement

10. Brazilian pennywort

Brazilian pennywort is easy to grow and thrives under moderate lighting. Its leaves grow along vine-like creeping stems. They have white roots and white flowers that bloom across the water surface.

You can either plant Brazilian pennywort in a substrate or let it float in the water. Its leaves carpet the water surface and make it look attractive. However, the more the stems grow, the more the leaves drop off. You should remove them from the tank when they do so they don’t mess it up or clog the filter.

Product details:

  • Skill level: Easy
  • Lighting: Moderate
  • Growth rate: Fast
  • Temperature: 68° to 82° Fahrenheit
Aquatic Arts Brazilian Pennywort Plant
  • LIVE BRAZILIAN PENNYWORT AQUARIUM PLANT LIVE: Handsome and useful aquatic plants that resemble mini lily pads for aquarium. These Hydrocotyle plants grow rapidly, remove waste from water and aquarium accessories, and offer a place for fish to hide.
  • NATURAL AQUARIUM DECORATIONS: Plant Brazilian Pennywort in substrate for fish tank or an aquarium plant holder, or use as floating plants for aquarium. Great live aquarium plants for betta fish tank accessories and other live fish freshwater tanks.
  • POND PLANTS LIVE: Also very popular as live pond plants. Live fish for ponds love plants grown from pennywort seeds, other Hydrocotyle seeds (e.g. Hydrocotyle tripartita, Hydrocotyle verticillata, Hydrocotyle vulgaris) and other aquarium plant seeds.

Will Fish Eat Floating Aquarium Plants?

Your fish will probably eat the floating aquarium plants in your tank. Even when you feed your fish properly, they may still nibble on the plants. 

Some hobbyists use artificial plants to prevent their fish from eating them. You can also plant hardy and tough plants that your fish can’t easily yank off and eat.


The best aquarium plants are the ones compatible with your fish and should be low maintenance, especially if you’re a beginner. You should monitor your floating plants to ensure they’re growing well and not hindering the life beneath the tank.

Good luck.

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