Best Floating Aquarium Plants

Aquariums look more appealing when a few plants are added there.  These plants create impressive and breathtaking scenery that can entice your guests just like they do to your fish.

Apart from that, plants play a very important role in making the tank water conditions favorable for the survival of your fish.

That is why it is advisable to include floating plants in your aquarium to create that much-needed ecosystem for your fish and other types of plants grown at the bottom of the tank.

Floating plants with long roots are the most preferred by many aquarists. Besides providing protection and shelter to your fish, these plants can be a good source of food for some breeds of tank fish. In addition, they help in cleaning the water, reducing the growth and spread of algae, giving your aquarium a natural look and so on.

Benefits of Floating Aquarium Plants

Certainly, floating plants are an essential part of your tank that keeps your fish in a safe environment. Learn more about best floating tank plants that you can use to keep your fish comfortable and happy in the following paragraphs. But first, let’s take a look to the benefits of these live floating aquarium plants.

Easy to Grow

Floating plants are the easiest to grow and require very minimal maintenance. Most of the floating plants don’t need much of your effort and expenses to grow them. What is necessary, however, is to trim and prune them whenever they overgrow.

If left unchecked, these plants can grow so fast that they will cover your aquarium and make conditions difficult for your fish. With proper care, floating plants can be a good investment for your tank.

Provide Shade and Cover

One of the most important functions of the floating plants in the aquarium is to provide your fish with enough shade and cover. Floating plants become ideal for your tank if you are keeping bettas because they prefer lots of shade and shelter.

A few duckweed or water spangles can give your bettas that familiar environment they are used to when in their natural habitat. Plants such as Amazon frogbit offer a great platform for your tank fish to hide or forage amongst their roots. Even though the cover is important, you should always be on the watch out.

Too much covering of your aquarium can result in lack of light, thus impacting negatively the life of your fish.

Helps in Cleaning the Water

Floating plants play a significant role in keeping your tank water clean. These plants tend to grow and spread so quickly that they cover almost every section of your tank.

By so doing, you will be amazed to discover that they reduce the damaging waste materials deposited in the aquarium, such as ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates. Most of these floating plants consume these waste matter as their nutrients, removing them from your aquarium to keep it clean and safe for other living things within.

Additionally, these plants keep your tank aerated as a way of supplementing the depleted oxygen that is so essential for the survival of your fish.

Reduce Algae Growth

One of the best ways of controlling algae in your aquarium is by the addition of a few selected floating plants. Most of these plants create unfavorable conditions for the growth and spread of algae in the tank by consuming all nutrients necessary for the growth of these dangerous algae. Therefore, their presence makes it difficult for your tank to get infested with harmful algae.

Provides a Natural Look

Floating plants look great when they are growing in an aquarium environment. In return, they give your aquarium its natural, healthy and more realistic look. In actual sense, this is a stylish design feature that these plants give to your fish tank while boosting the well-being of your aquatic pets.

So, replicating this type of habitat will help your fish live comfortably in an environment that looks so similar to their natural habitat.

Best Floating Aquarium Plants

This is the moment of truth about the 10 best floating fish tank plants that you should know. While most of the other plants in the aquarium need to be grounded in substrates to grow, this is not the case with the floating plants.

In fact, these amazing aquatic plants don’t take any nutrients from the substrate to facilitate their growth but they simply get their supplements from the tank water. This way, you will not be required to use any form of the substrate but you may leave them unplanted in the aquarium and everything else will take a new shape.

Below are our top-pick floating aquarium plants that you should be familiar with.

A quick list of the floating aquarium plants:

  1. Duckweed
  2. Amazon Frogbits
  3. Salvinia Tropica
  4. Dwarf Water Lettuce
  5. Red Root Floater
  6. Azolla (Mosquito ferns)
  7. Water Hyacinth
  8. Mosaic Flower (Ludwigia Sedioides)
  9. Water Wisteria
  10. Riccia Fluitans
  11. Giant Duckweed
  12. Floating Bladderwort
  13. Water Spangles
  14. Java Moss
  15. Hornwort
  16. Guppy Grass

Here are the details of each floating fish tank plant:

1. Duckweed

  • Care Level: Very Easy
  • pH Levels: Any can do
  • Lighting Preference: Any
  • Tank Water Temperature:70-80 degrees Fahrenheit

You must have observed duckweed floating leisurely on top of a swamp or a lake but you didn’t care to know what it is. And if you did, it’s obvious that you never thought that this floating plant can be used in the aquarium in one way or the other.

One thing that you will find fascinating with duckweed plant is its ability to grow very fast. Despite that growth, this aquarium floating plant does not require any form of maintenance at all. This is contrary to your expectation given that many of the fast-growing tank plants require close attention and maintenance to prevent them from affecting the life of your fish and other live plants in the tank.

The main reason why you will not have to bother yourself with maintaining duckweed is that it grows and rests at the top of your tank water. More often than not, this plant is relied upon to offer shelter and shade to your fish in the aquarium. Also, this plant can serve as a source of food for some herbivores aquarium fish.

2. Amazon Frogbit

  • Care Level: Easy
  • pH Levels: 5.5 to 7.0
  • Lighting Preference: Low to Medium
  • Tank Water Temperature: 70 to 83 degrees Fahrenheit

If you are looking for one of the easiest floating fish tank plants to maintain, then your choice should be Amazon frogbit. This a simple but breathtakingly beautiful aquatic plant that adds some vibrancy in the aquarium. Amazon frogbit is actually a plant that you should consider growing in your fish tank along with other live plants.

If you take good care of Amazon frogbit, it will grow rapidly to develop eye-catching long roots and rosettes. As a result, the plant will provide shelter to your fish as well as being a source of food for some herbivores within the tank.

One thing you need to know about the Amazon frogbit is its growth habit. This plant can grow so fast that it may become thick and long with its roots occupying more space in the tank. With less space in the tank, your fish will certainly become uncomfortable.

To control the rapid growth of the Amazon frogbit, you must look for a better solution that can prevent its roots from spreading and occupying a lot of space in the tank. Therefore, you need to find a way of binding this plant to a specific section of your aquarium. This way, you will have limited its movement and rapid growth to a designated area while ensuring that your fish have enough space to swim around.

3. Salvinia Tropica

  • Care Level: Somehow demanding
  • pH Levels: 5.8 to 7.0
  • Lighting Preference: medium
  • Tank Water Temperature: 60 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit

Despite the fact that normal salvinia does not require a lot of effort when it comes to growing it, you should always be prepared to take good care of it once it is in your aquarium. These floating plants are quite demanding in terms of maintenance,  making them a good choice for experienced aquarium hobbyists or those who are ready to dedicate more time looking after then.

Normal salvinia is a fast-growing plant, especially when it is in the tank. Within a few weeks, after it has been added to the tank, normal salvinia can spread rapidly to cover the entire top of your fish tank. Before you know it, the plant will have blocked out the light that is necessary for other plants and fish in the tank to grow and stay healthy. Of course, lack of enough light can diminish that much-needed vibrancy of your fish colors.

Even though this floating plant grows rapidly, it doesn’t produce flowers just in the same way as other floating aquarium plants. As a result, a few aquarium hobbyists have found it undesirable thus turning away from it. So, if you are looking for an aquarium floating plant that can add bright colors to your aquarium, then normal salvinia isn’t the best choice for you.

4. Water Lettuce

  • Care level: Moderately difficult plants
  • pH Levels:6.5 to 7.2
  • Lighting Preference: Medium
  • Tank Water Temperature: 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit

Water lettuce thrives well in large aquariums. As such, you should spare some space in your tank for this magnificent floating plant. That’s why most experienced aquarium hobbyists advise you to give it this consideration to the water lettuce when introducing it in your aquarium.

With long roots and large rosettes, water lettuce looks impressive when floating in your tank. The plant will serve as a rich source of oxygen for your fish and a place to hide when it is necessary. This is because the plant provides enough cover for your fish or other living things in the tank.

One thing you should note is that water lettuce is a fast-growing aquarium floating plant. As a result, it will require some maintenance to control its growth. If not, it may block the light from reaching other tank plants and fish or clog the filter with its long roots.

The moment you notice the yellowing of leaves on your water lettuce plant, you should remove them as quickly as they appear. Normally the leaves on this plant wither as fast as they grow, hence the need to keep a close eye on such changes.

5. Red Root Floater

  • Care Level: Moderate level
  • pH Levels: 6.8-7.2
  • Lighting Preference: Moderate or Bright
  • Tank Water Temperature: 65-85 ºF

The Red Root Floater is popularly appreciated for its bright red roots and underside. The roots will seem to glow amidst the green backdrop of other floating plants like water lettuce and duckweed. The leaves can also turn completely red in high lighting. The Red Root Floater also propagates quite fast, and it provides shade to your aquarium, which encourages even the more reclusive species to venture out.

The plant can be demanding to start with since it needs rich nutrient content, particularly iron. Once it has consumed sufficient iron, the roots and leaves will reveal the red hue. Its trailing roots are ideal for small creatures like shrimp and amphipods. The Red Root Floater will thrive in low to high lighting and a fairly wide PH. It, however, does not tolerate a lot of surface agitation. The plant does not require CO2 supplementation.

6. Azolla (Mosquito Ferns)

  • Care Levels: Easy
  • pH Levels: 5.5 to 7.5
  • Lighting Preference: Low to Medium
  • Tank Water Temperature: 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit

Why would you wish to add Azolla to your aquarium? Azolla is an aquarium floating plant that thrives best at the water surface. The plant will float freely at the top of your tank, providing its living creatures with enough shade and several places to hide when they need to.

Azolla is revered as a better choice of floating plants in the aquarium for their variety of colors which add some liveliness and vibrancy to the tank. In most cases, the plant is referred by the name, “mosquito fern” and it has become increasingly popular among pedantic aquarium hobbyists who love to stock their aquariums with fish and plants of different colors.

Now that Azolla is a surface plant, it needs to be trimmed from time to time. This maintenance practice is important such that it prevents the plant from growing rapidly and covering the entire surface of the tank.

It is not a good idea to let your tank get covered with the floating plants because they will block any light from penetrating to the required depths where fish and other living things need it the most.

7. Water Hyacinth

  • Care Level: Moderate
  • pH Levels: 5.0-7.5
  • Lighting Preference: Bright
  • Tank Water Temperature: 77-86 ºF

All hyacinth species are indigenous to Central- and South America. It is a popular beginner floating plant, mainly because it is easy to care for. The plant is a favorite with pond owners, where they are noticeable for their beautiful flowers and thick leaves

The water hyacinth sports some huge roots with a blackish coloration, which provide a habitat for aquatic fish. The roots are also water purifiers, as they absorb impurities. The fish will also eat at the roots.

If you want to keep water hyacinth in your aquarium, ensure you have adequate space above the water. The plant also desires a lot of light, to thrive and flower. Being among the fastest plants in the world, water hyacinth is a pest in many areas across the globe. If managed and controlled well, the plant can liven up your water garden.

8. Mosaic Flower (Ludwigia Sedioides)

  • Care Level: Easy
  • Ph Level: 6.5-7.5
  • Lighting Preference: Medium to High
  • Tank Water Temperature: 70-75 ºF

Mosaic plants feature leaves that grow from the center stem. This beautiful plant is popular in outdoor ponds and freshwater gardens, but it can thrive in tanks as well. Its characteristic striking foliage heavily relies on the environment it is cultivated on.

When kept in tropical temperatures, high quality LED lighting, and soft parameters, the plant will reveal bold red leaves. The aquarium soil must be of high-quality since the Mosaic Flower loves rich nutrients. The tank should also have a gentle flow because it does not like to be tossed around a lot.

Above all else, the Ludwigia Sedioides requires light. Even high values of what is possible in a cultivated aquarium are often not sufficient. Outdoor cultivation in a well-lit pond is often the most effective way to achieve optimum growth with the plant. Attractive growth is further enhanced with heavy fertilization.

9. Water Wisteria

  • Care Level: Easy
  • pH Level: 6.5-7.5
  • Lighting Preference: Moderate to High
  • Tank Water Temperature: 70-82 ºF

Beginner and advanced aquarists favor the water hysteria because of its hardiness and ease of care. Its size discourages cultivation in Nano aquariums. It can be grown as a background or mid-ground plant in tanks with at least 10 gallons of water. The water hysteria can also be kept as a carpet.

It thrives in a range of conditions, even in the absence of CO2 supplementation. It is vital to provide it with a nutrient-rich substrate. Fertilizing tabs will also be sufficient as it requires iron, nitrate, and phosphate. If the leaves appear pale and yellowish, it is starved of iron.

Water hysteria should ideally be kept with smaller species like snails and shrimps because they will not nibble at the plant. You can manipulate the plant’s propagation by planting cuttings in different areas. The water hysteria grows fast, and it can rapidly fill your tank.

10. Riccia Fluitans

  • Care Level: Moderate
  • pH Levels:5.5 to 7.5
  • Lighting Preference: Medium
  • Tank Water temperature: 68 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit

Riccia fluitans is another popular aquarium floating plant that you should have in your aquarium all the time. Whether floating or otherwise, this plant has always been considered one of the best by those you raise betta fish in their tanks. This is due to its ability to provide good shelter to the fish and it’s also a rich source of food.

These two factors are the only reasons that have made riccia fluitans to grow in popularity among aquarists. The plant itself does not have roots and leaves, so it is not particularly attractive as such.

Despite not featuring roots or leaves, riccia fluitans need moderate maintenance practices. The plant should be trimmed regularly to control its growth as well as keeping it in its pristine condition.

Failure to trim it may cause large chunks to fall off from it and float on the tank surface, obscuring far more light than what is required. Consequently, your fish and other living creatures in the tank will be affected negatively. On the other hand, the rogue strands may as well clog the filter, leading to the accumulation of waste materials and deterioration of tank water conditions.

11. Giant Duckweed

  • Care Level: Easy
  • Ph Level: 6 to 6.5
  • Lighting Preference: Low to Bright
  • Tank Water Temperature: 25-30 ºC

Giant duckweed is only giant in comparison to other duckweed species. It lacks true stems and leaves, and a single plant is made up of an oval-like body named thallus. The underside of the thallus takes on a reddish-purple hue, and there will be a cluster of 4 to 16 roots growing into the water. It can grow quite fast to create extensive floating mats, particularly in nutrient-rich environments. If colonies extend across the surface of a pond, fish kill and oxygen depletion will follow. The giant duckweed, therefore, needs to be controlled.

12. Floating Bladderwort

  • Care Level: Easy
  • pH Levels:6.5 to 7.5
  • Lighting Preference: Medium
  • Tank Water Temperature: 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit

If you are looking for an aquarium floating plant that will take much of your effort to maintain, then your search should lead you to the floating bladderwort. This is arguably the best and easiest floating plant to take care of while in your aquarium. You won’t have to spend a lot of your time maintaining it because it’s a hardy plant

Given that the floating bladderwort is a carnivorous aquatic plant, you can rest assured that it will feast on any available microorganisms living in your fish tank water. This way, this plant will help prevent the risk of harmful bacteria from reaching dangerous levels.

The floating bladderwort is one of those colorful floating plants that you shouldn’t forget to add to your aquarium. When floating at the surface of your tank, you will notice it blooming into yellow flowers to indicate that the conditions in the tank are favorable for it to thrive best. With adequate lighting, ideal pH and the right tank water conditions, floating bladderwort can grow to protect your fish and other aquatic life in the tank against direct sunlight.

13. Water Spangles

  • Care Level: Demanding
  • pH Levels: 5.0 to 7.0
  • Lighting Preference: Moderate
  • Tank Water Temperature: 65 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit

Water spangles are known to be one of the favorite meals for herbivores and omnivores alike. So, when you add it in your fish tank, you can rest assured that your fish will be well taken care of in terms of food while you are away running your errands. This ideal floating plant is suitable for community tanks because they can be a good source of food to all breeds of tank fish.

Besides feeding your fish, you can add water spangles to your aquarium to serve as ornamental plants that can entice your guests as it does to your fish. This is because its multiple spangles grow up to 6 leaves each, creating an impressive scenery to observe and captivate anyone who gets closer to your tank.

However, water spangles require specific lighting, especially when growing indoors. For that reason, you may opt for something less demanding if you can’t commit to paying close attention to this aquarium floating plant. But with a little dedication and attention, you will find water spangles to be manageable for the sake of keeping your aquarium and its inhabitants happy and comfortable throughout.

14. Java Moss

  • Care Level: very Easy
  • pH Levels: 5.0 to 8.0
  • Lightning Preference: Low to Medium
  • Tank Water Temperature: 59 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit

Java moss is a common aquatic plant that you are likely to see in quite a number of aquariums. This plant has grown in popularity for many reasons. To begin with, Java moss is easy to grow and maintain. The plant is hardy and more difficult to eradicate than other aquarium floating plants.

Java moss is capable of surviving and thriving in many different tank water conditions. It can withstand temperatures as high as 90 degrees Fahrenheit in addition to varied aquarium conditions.

The main reason why Java moss a preferred choice for breeders is that it offers aquarium fish a safe place to hatch. Alternatively, the young fish can use it as their hiding place in case of any threats from larger fish within the same tank.

15. Hornwort

  • Care Level: Easy
  • pH Levels: 6.0 to 7.5
  • Lighting Preference: Medium
  • Tank Water Temperature: 59 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit

Hornwort is a beginner’s aquarium floating plant but it is more complicated than many other plants you may come across. This is due to the fact that this plant requires more effort to take good care of it. That explains clearly why most of the aquarium hobbyists, both newcomers and experienced, face a lot of challenges while trying to keep this plant in their aquariums.

Certainly, hornwort is not the type of plants to add to your aquarium if you are not ready for the challenge of maintaining it. Instead, you may opt for something easier to save yourself from the agony of failing to take care of this aquarium floating plant. But if you are confident in growing and caring for aquatic plants, then you can extend your skills taking care of this floating aquatic plant.

Although it is a demanding aquatic plant, hornwort is hardy and can withstand the harshest environments you can think of. Most significantly, this plant will not get destroyed by algae while floating in your fish tank. Keep in mind that hornwort sheds its needles from time to time and may negatively affect certain components in your aquarium.

16. Guppy Grass

  • Care Level: Easy
  • Ph Level: 6.0-7.0
  • Lighting Preference: Low to High
  • Tank Water Temperature: 72-84ºF

Guppy grass was named for providing habitat to baby guppies. This fast-growing aquatic plant can either be floated or rooted. It can reach 35 inches in height. Guppy grass is also appreciated for its ability to remove toxins in aquarium plant.

Guppy grass loves light, and the more is supplied, the brighter green it will be. It is ideal for any tanks, but it is especially suitable for shrimp and breeding tanks. It is sufficiently dense, while still providing enough spaces for fish to retreat to.

Choosing Floating Plants for Your Fish Tank

Floating plants will typically purify and cleanse the water in your tank while providing breeding areas and hiding places for fish. But how do you choose the best floating plants for your aquarium?


Floating plants, like other plants, need light for photosynthesis. Some types will thrive in high-light, while others will do just fine with low light. If you have not installed artificial light in your tank, you will need plants that do well with natural light. You will rely a lot on artificial light for your indoor aquarium since you can keep any kind of floating plant.

Floating plants can offer low-light areas and shade for your fish, but they can also cut off light supply for your aquatic plants. The light from your LEDs should penetrate, in good levels, to the plants at the bottom. Opt for plants than can be thinned out like duckweed, so that you manage light penetration.

Types of Fish

The species of fish you maintain in your aquarium will inform your choice of floating plants. If nitrates are a common concern in your tank, you will be better off with purifying plants like Guppy Grass and duckweed. These plants will neutralize the toxic substances in your tank and protect the fish. Other plants will provide hiding spaces for reclusive fish while others will protect fragile newborn fish. Fish that feed on algae, like mollies, will also eat the roots of floating plants.

Tank Size

Some planting plants are capable of growing quite big with massive roots. In a tank with less than ten gallons, you cannot cultivate huge floating plants. Such plants will grow too much and leave no space for your fish. Smaller plants will thrive well in tanks of under 40 gallons. Larger tanks can handle larger and fast-growing types.

Water Flow

Floating plants desire still or slow-moving water. They will struggle in tanks with strong water movement or where a strong filter pumps out a lot of water. In such cases, the root system of the plants will be compromised, and the constant splashing of water will also damage the leaves.

Disadvantages of Floating Aquarium Plants

Floating aquarium plants are associated with a host of benefits, from aeration, filtration, and purification. They have some cons, however, including:

High Maintenance

Most floating aquarium plants grow quite fast and need consistent management. If left for some time, they will take over your tank. If you are cultivating one type of a floating plant, it will thrive from the lack of competition, and like any other plant, it will break down in parts. PH variations can also facilitate fast growth for your floating plants.

To keep the plants from invading your tank, you will have to do a lot of trimming and grooming. You should continuously monitor your tank to ensure that the plants are not taking up a lot of swimming space for the fish.

Floating plants can also block a great deal of light from being absorbed into the tank. Another element of maintenance is spotting dead plants immediately and retrieving them. Dead plants will contribute to the ammonia output and make your tank dirty.

Reduce Water Aeration and Oxygen Exchange

You should not let floating dead plants stay in the tank since the bacteria in the water will initiate decomposition. Since oxygen will be present in the aquarium, the process will take place aerobically. The process will utilize a great deal of the dissolved oxygen and leave little for the fish species. When the oxygen is finished, the decomposition will start taking place anaerobically, and the fish and other plants will die.

Can Kill other Aquarium Plants

Depending on the kind of floating aquatic plant you get, it may spread over the surface of your tank’s water and inhibit light penetration. The plants at the bottom will especially suffer from the low levels of light. While your fish may appreciate the shade given by floating plants, the rest of the aquatic plants may die from receiving little to no light.


By now you know the importance of live plants, particularly the floating aquarium plants. Apart from adding some elements of beauty to your tank, these plants protect your fish against direct light, cleans the tank, prevents the growth of algae and at some point, they can be a good source of food for your herbivorous or omnivorous fish species.

That being said, you should make up your mind on which plants to choose for your aquarium based on its maintenance level, growth requirements and the size of your tank. Otherwise, you can make your fish happy and comfortable by simply adding any or a combination of the ten mentioned plants in this discussion.

Written by Fabian

Hey, I'm Fabian, chief editor at Aquarium Nexus. I really enjoy the aquarium hobby and love sharing my experience with others. If you have any questions feel free to contact me or leave a comment below.

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