There are a lot of reasons why having live plants in your aquarium is a good idea.
They help control algae growth, oxygenate the water, and add stability to the substrate. Plus, they create a natural-looking habitat and provide a safe place for fry and timid fish to hide.
A lot of people think that live plants are too much work and stick with artificial varieties. But there are plenty of fast growing aquarium plants that are easy to care for. Your tank can be full of thriving live plants in no time.
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The 8 Fast Growing Aquarium Plants
No matter what type of plant you need, you’re likely to find a fast-growing option that’s easy to care for. Here are eight that we recommend.
This plant gets its name from the tall sword-shaped leaves. It’s a great background plant because it grows up to 20 inches tall.
It’s not necessarily a good choice for beginners because it does require some extra care. Specifically, the addition of a high iron fertilizer and loose substrate.
A cool thing about this plant is it can grow even if it’s only partially submerged. You can create some cool effects with this one. In the right conditions, it can grow incredibly fast so it requires a large tank.
There are different types of aquarium plants: those that grow on the surface of the water, those that grow from the substrate to the waterline, and those that grow across the bottom of the tank.
If you’re looking for a good carpeting plant that grows fast, go for Sagittaria subulata.
This plant quickly covers the substrate with long, thin leaves that resemble blades of grass so it adds more height than a lot of carpeting plants. The more established this plant is, the faster it grows. Don’t be surprised if it requires a trim now and then.
Hornwort can be used as either a floating plant or rooted in the substrate depending on the kind of look you’re going for.
It’s hardy and tolerates a variety of tank conditions, though it does require strong lighting to grow fast.
This plant grows pretty tall, particularly if it’s rooted. For that reason, it’s a good idea to keep them in tanks that are at least 15 gallons.
Not only does Amazon frogbit look awesome, but this floating plant can also play an important role in the balance of your tank’s ecosystem.
It serves as a tasty treat for some fish and blocks the light, creating a safe hiding spot for timid of juvenile creatures that need it.
Amazon frogbit grows fast, especially with strong lighting. It’s a good plant for beginners because it tolerates a wide range of water temperatures and pH levels.
One of the most popular carpeting plants is java moss because it grows quickly and is easy to take care of. That said, it has been known to grow too fast and may require a lot of pruning to keep it manageable.
This is a great choice for anyone who is trying to breed fish. The dense cover gives the fry a place to hide and it can even be used as food. It requires a lot of light, nutrients, and CO2 to grow quickly but it’s versatile enough to grow in a range of conditions.
This is another plant that’s very easy to care for and grows very fast. Something to keep in mind with this one is it gets very tall.
In the right conditions, it might grow to the height of your tank and even attempt to grow beyond the waterline and over the sides!
Water wisteria grows best in medium light and is a good background plant because it gets so tall. This is a good choice for beginners, too.
You should have a tank that’s at least 10-gallons. It’s pretty easy to maintain in part because it tolerates fluctuations in temperature and pH so well.
7. Marsilea Hirsuta
One of the great things about Marsilea Hirsuta is it’s a great carpeting plant that doesn’t tend to grow excessively.
By that we mean it grows fast, but it won’t invade other plants or require pruning as often as some of the other carpeting plants we mentioned.
Another cool thing about this one is its changing leaf patterns. The same plant can have anywhere from one to four leaves per stem.
This plant not only carpets the bottom of the tank, it grows pretty tall, too, without a lot of maintenance. It does better in a larger tank with a lot of room to grow.
If you’re looking for a carpeting plant that grows fast, take a look a lilaeopsis. It typically only gets about two inches tall but it quickly covers the substrate, creating a natural green carpet that looks amazing in a planted tank.
A word of caution, it’s possible that this plant will grow too fast. It may need pruning occasionally if it begins to invade other plants. It’s pretty forgiving when it comes to water temperature and pH and adds a bright green pop of color to your tank.
How to Make Aquarium Plants Grow Faster?
There are a few things you can do to help your aquarium plants grow faster. Luckily, if you’re also keeping fish in the aquarium, you’re probably already doing most of them. Unsurprisingly, there is a lot of overlap between the needs of healthy plants and healthy fish.
1. Use a good substrate. Healthy plants need a firm, stable substrate to grow sturdy roots. While glass beads or large gravel might make your tank look pretty, plants need sand, fine gravel, or soil to develop a root system capable of sustaining them.
Large root systems are very important for plant growth. The bigger the roots, the more surface area there is to absorb the essential nutrients the plants need to grow. The more nutrients, the faster the growth.
2. Keep the water flowing. Most aquarium plants don’t grow well in stagnant water. There are a few things you can do to create movement.
The easiest thing to do is turn up the speed of your filter. This causes the water to return to the tank faster which creates more motion on the surface. Keep in mind that some fish don’t like water that flows too fast so try to find a balance to make both your plants and fish happy.
Alternatively, you can invest in a powerhead which gives you a little more control over where movement is generated. You can set up the powerhead so the water flows faster at one end of the tank by the plants while leaving a calmer area elsewhere for the fish to swim in peace.
3. Heat. If your plants aren’t growing well, make sure your tank is the right temperature. You might need to invest in a heater if you don’t already have one. Like fish, plants all have different temperature needs, so make sure you research the kind that you have to get the temperature right.
The good news is that a lot of these plants have a wide temperature range that they’re comfortable with which makes it easier to pair plants with your fish.
4. Fertilizer. If your plants aren’t growing fast enough or don’t seem to be doing well, there’s a chance that there aren’t enough nutrients available to feed them. There are different types of fertilizer available depending on what type of plant you have.
We mentioned how important the right substrate is for plant growth. If the plants have a decent root system but still aren’t growing quickly, add fertilizer to the substrate to make sure there are enough nutrients available.
It’s also possible that your plants were growing great initially but that growth has slowed down over time. In this case, the plants may have used up everything available. So, adding fertilizer should get them growing again.
If you have floating plants, liquid fertilizers can be added directly to the water. In any case, read the directions carefully to make sure the product you’re using is safe for your fish.
5. Keep algae under control. Essentially, algae are green plants that compete with your aquarium plants for the same nutrients. By eliminating algae, you get rid of the competition.
6. Lighting. Most aquarium plants are just like any other plant. They need light to grow. Different plants require different levels of light. For plants that need UV light, there are full-spectrum LED lights available that give off some UV light.
Your plants may also be getting too much light. Some plants do better when it’s a little darker in the tank. Research your plant to see what it needs.
7. CO2. What about carbon dioxide? Some people will tell you that adding carbon dioxide is essential if you have aquarium plants but that’s not exactly true. In low to moderate light conditions when algae growth is under control, adding CO2 isn’t necessary.
That said, if you have a large aquarium with a lot of plants that require plenty of light along with some algae growth, adding CO2 is something to think about.
There are a lot of reasons why adding plants to an aquarium is beneficial. Not only do they look great and create a natural-looking atmosphere, but they also help control algae growth and give those fish that need it a safe place to hide.
If you’re interested in adding live plants to your tank but don’t have the patience to wait for them to grow, consider the fast-growing plants we included in our list. Most of them are easy to care for and thrive in a range of environments.