Floating plants for freshwater aquariums are a stunning addition to include in any aquarium. These plants are not attached to the base of the tank and exist in various shapes and sizes from just over 10 inches in length.
Some of these floating aquarium plants have roots that hang afloat in the tank water from live plants floating above them. If you own an aquarium, chances are there are plants in it.
In this article, we’ve reviewed the 10 best floating plants we think we need to talk about because we consider them the best for your aquarium. But first, let’s check out the benefits of floating aquatic plants.
Benefits of floating plants in aquariums
With such a large and varied number of species of floating aquarium plants, you can surely find the one that meets the requirements of yours. However, you may be wondering: why would you need floating aquatic plants? Well, today we are going to introduce you to some of the benefits of putting these plants in your aquarium.
1 – Shading
Providing perfect shading for other aquarium plants and also covering your betta from lights entering the aquarium is an essential feature. Shading for aquarium fish will truly reveal their beauty and different colors.
Keep in mind, if you decide to cover the entire surface of your aquarium, it may decrease the rate at which your other plants grow, so it’s wise not to overdo it.
2 – Aeration
Floating aquatic plants are a good way to add oxygen to your aquarium. These plants act as an air circulation system, just like the vegetation outside the aquariums.
This provides additional oxygen to the tank water, which will be of great benefit to your fish in the long run. An adequate amount of oxygen helps protect the reservoir from toxins.
Air circulation in a fish tank is generally controlled by live plants, just like in nature. Some of the floating aquatic plants regulate O2 so that the fish and other inhabitants of your aquarium can breathe.
3 – Prevention, Protection, and Filtering
Floating plants for freshwater aquariums can serve as filters, useful for evacuating fish waste in the tank. The bacterium that grows on the plant is used as a filter element and can handle chemical and biological filtration quite well.
Limiting the chemicals that harm fish can be extremely taxing for floating plants, so it’s always ideal, but not mandatory, to have a reinforcement filter system nearby.
Floating plants will be the perfect protection for your aquarium fish, safeguarding them from disease and providing a place for fish to play or hide.
4 – Wild Look
Floating plants will give your aquarium that wild look, with the roots hanging freely. Creating a natural look will not only enhance the beauty of the tank, it will also allow your fish to feel comfortable.
These floating aquarium plants are exceptionally intriguing and will add some amazing style features to your aquarium. Including these plants creates an incredibly natural look and feel for your aquarium.
Choosing plants with hanging roots will surely give your aquarium a more natural feel. There is a huge range of floating plants, and you need to choose them based on the feel and look of your aquatic habitat. You will need to choose plants that fit your tank without compromising other components.
5 – Alternative Food
It’s highly impossible for fish to starve or be exposed to infections due to irregular feeding in a planted aquarium. Typically, the only source of food would be what you provide them.
However, with floating plants, your fish will have one more thing to munch on or eat, rich in nutrients and part of a great diet. The best so that every fish is healthy, whether small or large!
The 10 Best Floating Aquarium Plants for Beginners
Although many aquarium plants need to be grounded in the substrate in order for them to grow, this is not true when it comes to floating aquatic plants. These plants do not collect nutrients from the substrate using their roots, but they draw them from the water, without the need to be planted.
Some of the best floating plants for freshwater aquariums are discussed below:
1 – Lemna minor
You may probably know the lemna plant as the small floating aquatic plant that can grow and cover an entire lake in just a few weeks. However, it can also be used in aquariums; just don’t approach it if you’re not sure you need it, as it’s hard to dispose of!
You can use the lemna plant to cover fish in the upper water layer, but as mentioned earlier, it’s also a good choice if you plan to use the plants as food for your betta. The lemna plant requires little or no care and will be suitable in almost any type of aquarium.
2 – Limnobium laevigatum
In case you are looking for a floating aquatic plant with beautiful long roots and large rosettes, then you have come to the right place! Limnobium laevigatum is fairly easy to grow and can withstand a wide range of temperatures, providing your betta with ample coverage.
It blocks out a considerable amount of light, but in opaque water biotopes, it’s usually maintained without any problem, as other plants and even fish prefer more covered environments.
In case you are having trouble with the roots getting stuck in the filter, you can try tying the Limnobium laevigatum to one side of the aquarium. This can be done by attaching fishing line to the suction containers, and placing the aquarium plants in this “allotted” space; after that, they will not be able to float in the direction of the filter.
3 – Water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes)
Similar to Limnobium laevigatum, aquatic lettuce has long, attractive roots.
The rosettes of the plant are on the larger side, which makes the plant less suitable for smaller aquarium setups; in a larger tank, however, it can be extremely decorative. Just remember that it grows very quickly, obstructing a significant amount of light.
In case you don’t want your other aquarium plants to be overwhelmed for nutrient uptake and lighting, or worry about having problems with roots penetrating the filter, use the fishing line strategy to keep it tied to one side. or a corner of the aquarium.
Always remove dead or yellowing leaves and excess growths to make your water lettuce green and healthy.
4 – Salvinia Minima
Minimal Salvinia is another nice choice to consider for your aquarium. These plants are really strong and can handle a wide range of water conditions, but you will need to use a special aquarium light if you want them to grow inside.
These plants make a good cover for the betta that doesn’t like sunlight very much. In addition, they are an excellent food source for both omnivores and herbivores. Aquatic plants usually feed on the supplements in the tank water, thus preventing algae growth. Obviously, one of the main advantages of these is that they do not require any substrate.
5 – Common Salvinia
The common Salvinia is a small plant that grows in clusters and floats on the surface of the water. It grows well in still waters that are not disturbed by the waves.
It’s not recommended to include them in your aquarium in case you have a tight filter. The plant can quickly and easily cover the surface of your aquarium in no time.
Constant care is required so that it does not overgrow and does not cover too much light for the bottom plants. The normal Salvinia plant is part of the fern group and does not produce flowers.
6 – Ceratofillo (Ceratophyllum demersum)
This floating species is one of the hardiest aquarium plants of all. It will thrive well in environments that could destroy weaker plants such as algae and is a really tempting choice for most aquariums.
Ceratophyllum can be grounded in the substrate, but it can also be left suspended over water. This aquarium plant has one major drawback. On some occasions, it releases needles which can slightly damage the aquarium.
Likewise, it becomes a little less attractive in a high-light environment, as it becomes stringy and elongated.
7 – Vesicularia Dubyana (Singapore moss)
This floating plant is among the most popular for aquariums. It grows very fast, is difficult to kill, and has a fairly low maintenance requirement. If you attach it to a large stone on the bottom, it will extend over the entire surface of the tank.
Due to the plant’s known floating nature, we suggest tying it to something that partially blocks it, so that it doesn’t roam too freely around your aquarium.
It has a low to mat growth pattern and is almost ” fluffy “. This plant resists between 22 and 32 degrees, but it has been found that the plant develops more rapidly around 22/23 degrees. Likewise, it grows best in any lighting conditions, making it easy to house in your aquarium.
However, its growth was estimated to be the fastest in medium to high lighting environments. It can be used as a landscaping or substrate cover, even protection, bottom lining, and breeding specific types of fish.
8 – Riccia Fluitans
This is another type of short-length floating plant, made up of pieces that intertwine creating a mat that fits loosely. These plants have no leaves or roots. It’s usually not negatively affected by lights near the water surface, as it is located below the surface or at the same level as it.
It’s a common floating aquarium plant for betta breeders, given its simplicity of cultivation and good shading, which offers benefits to both deep and surface keepers.
This floating plant is also used to recreate moss. It’s attached to bunches of wood and rocks with nylon threads or nets. It grows through the net and appears as a beautiful yellow-green moss.
The plant should be cut often and kept short near the net, or its clusters will break apart and float to the surface of the water. When the plant is grown this way, it requires a lot more concentrated light.
9 – Azolla
This floating plant has a place in the fern group and will float freely on the surface of your aquarium. It has a woven appearance that hides the single root that protrudes from each stem. It comes in various colors, from red to green.
Like other floating aquarium plants, Azolla will give shelter and shade to your little fish, but it should be trimmed and cared for so it doesn’t take control of your aquarium surface.
10 – Floating Utricularia
This floating plant comes from the carnivore group, but it is good for all fish. It floats in groups on the surface of the water and develops bright yellow blooms.
The plant destroys microorganisms within the water but is harmless to fish. The plant’s covered bottom area contains a series of traps that look like blisters. Organisms are usually dragged into traps, where most of them are devoured and digested.
How to grow floating aquarium plants?
As discussed above, many floating aquatic plants grow very quickly. This makes them a great treat for herbivorous fish with a different diet than normal based on vegetables and pellets.
You can grow plants independently if you’re looking to handle some more dangerous fish, such as the African rift lake cichlid fish species, or some more imaginative types of goldfish.
One technique would be to choose only fast-growing floating aquatic plants so that you don’t run out of them often and don’t have to constantly refill the aquarium to integrate them into your fish’s feeding routine. Lemna is a great choice for this type of diet.
It shouldn’t be extremely difficult to find a floating aquatic plant that grows profusely and quickly. Most species are fast-growing, making them exceptional in reducing hazardous waste such as nitrate in your aquarium, and they are all-natural abilities. These types of nitrates can harm other aquarium inhabitants but are used by plants as food.
Another way to reduce nitrate levels is by doing a water change. While this technique will surely be the most important in the end, it’s still helpful to have a few little “assistants” who will naturally decrease nitrate levels in between water changes.
Floating plants are used by aquarium fish, fish like them for a variety of reasons like breeding, feeding, comfort, and safety, so they are quite important in keeping any aquarium in a balanced and healthy condition.
It’s ideal to remember all the essential roles they can play, so choose the floating plant that is right for your aquarium.
Just like with any other landscaping for your aquarium, preparation and research should be conducted before including any type of living organism within it. Your fish community needs to remain harmonious, healthy, and happy.
Adding floating aquatic plants will surely give your aquarium a very wild and natural look. It’s a very easy and low maintenance method to make your aquarium look great in no time.