A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Java Fern Java Fern
  • Great for beginners
  • Requires low light
  • Attractive to look at in an aquarium
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Annubias Annubias
  • Does not require much light or CO2
  • Hardy and good for beginners
  • Most fish tend to not eat it
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    3. Marimo Moss Balls 3. Marimo Moss Balls
  • Oxygenate the water
  • Can grow in low light
  • Purify the water
  • Jungle Vals Jungle Vals
  • Attractive bottom dwelling plant
  • Does not require CO2
  • Amazon Sword Amazon Sword
  • Easily maintained
  • Grow slow and steady
  • Do not require added C02
  • The 10 Best Cold Water Aquarium Plants

    1. Java Fern

    Java Fern

     

    • Growth rate: Slow
    • Max height: Around 9” to 11” depending on light availability
    • Light demands: Can grow well in low-light tanks and should not have full bright light
    • CO2: Low dependence
    • Difficulty: Easy for beginners

    Java Fern seems to be quite popular in the aquarium industry, due to its easy availability and simple care requirements. It’s quite a popular choice for beginners who are not yet familiar with taking care of aquatic plants. Java fern plants have broad green leaves hardy enough to survive most beginner mistakes and can handle drastic fluctuating water temperatures and do not require a lot of C02. They are generally able to survive in tanks with low light. Java fern also grows quite slower than other aquarium plants so it needs little to no maintenance, and you have the benefit of having to not deal with overgrowth.

    Pros
    • Great for beginners
    • Requires low light
    • Attractive to look at in an aquarium
    Cons
    • Grows slow
    • Blocks light and nutrients for lower growing plants

    2. Annubias

    Annubias

     

    • Growth rate: Slow
    • Max height: 16”
    • Light demands: Low light
    • CO2: Low demands
    • Difficulty: Easy

    Annubias is a hardy cold water aquarium plant that has a low demand for light, CO2, and grows quite slowly if kept in low light. This attractive plant has durable attractive green leaves and makes a great background plant. It is suitable for beginners due to its ability to thrive in poor aquarium conditions and can be easy to maintain. Note that higher light and CO2 availability promotes this plant to grow more quickly. This is important if you are looking for a plant that has the opportunity to be controlled on how fast or slow it will grow and set the necessary conditions to your liking.

    Pros
    • Does not require much light or CO2
    • Hardy and good for beginners
    • Most fish tend to not eat it
    Cons
    • Does not do well in bright lighting
    • Grow slowly
    • Prefer to grow emersed

    3. Marimo Moss Balls

    Marimo Moss Balls

     

    • Growth rate: Slow
    • Max height: 8” to 12”
    • Light demands: Low to medium direct light
    • CO2: Low
    • Difficulty: Easy

    Marimo moss balls are quite an interesting aquatic plant to add to your aquarium. They are a green sphere-shaped piece of moss that has not only the potential to be an attractive addition to your aquarium, but they are excellent at maintaining good water quality and can improve water parameter conditions. Marimos purify and oxygenate the water, leading to better water quality, and therefore, potentially healthier aquarium life. They are an enticing and interesting form of aquatic plant, which is why it seems to have become quite popular within this industry. These little moss balls have so much good potential to add to your aquarium if kept appropriately.

    Pros
    • Oxygenate the water
    • Purify the water
    • Can grow in low light
    Cons
    • Does not do well in bright light
    • Can fall apart in the water if it gets inadequate care
    • Fails to thrive in warm water or higher temperatures

    4. Jungle Vals

    Jungle Vals

     

    • Growth rate: Fast
    • Max height:4’’ to 7’’ but 6 ft in tall aquariums
    • Light demands: Bright lighting
    • CO2: Not required
    • Difficulty: Moderately easy

    Jungle Vals is a fast-growing aquarium plant replicating a natural grass type look in an aquarium. It grows well under bright lighting and does not require CO2, as in its natural habitat is shallow, brackish deprived of CO2. Regular trimming is required for maintaining your preferred size and the amount it spreads around your aquarium. They make very pleasing grassy carpets along the bottom of your tank, the striking green is very eye catching and interesting, especially when it is grown with other bottom dwelling aquatic plants. Due to its potential fast growth, its ideal to keep up with its necessary trimming maintenance.

    Pros
    • Attractive bottom dwelling plant
    • Does not require CO2
    Cons
    • Fast growing and can over grow in an aquarium
    • Needs bright light
    • Doesn’t grow well with plants that block out light from above

    5. Amazon Sword

    Amazon Sword

     

     

    • Growth rate: Slow and steady
    • Max height: 18’’ to 20’’
    • Light demands: Medium
    • CO2: Low demand
    • Difficulty: Moderately easy

    Amazon Swords make great community aquarium plants and display quite interesting shaped green leaves. As the name suggests, these plants have sword shaped leaves in an upward direction. They are moderately easy to care for when kept in appropriate conditions. They look astounding with a mix of different aquatic plants and have the potential to grow to 20 inches. They are quite hardy and forgiving plants when it comes to mistakes with maintenance and care. They do well when provided with adequate lighting and have a low demand for CO2, which they seem to be able to produce themselves when healthy.

    Pros
    • Easily maintained
    • Grow slow and steady
    • Do not require added C02
    Cons
    • Only grow a few new leaves each growth spurt
    • Prefer iron rich fertilizer

    6. Java Moss

    Java Moss

     

    • Growth rate: medium
    • Max height: 5’’
    • Light demands: low
    • CO2: low
    • Difficulty: easy

    Java moss can make a great overhanging aquarium plant that typically requires little maintenance. Java moss resembles a stem with thin little leaves and grows in no particular pattern, making it an ideal aquascaping plant that provides a hiding place for most aquarium inhabitants and even provides young fry a place to hide away from being eaten by the adult fish. It only grows to a maximum height of 5 inches and grows horizontally through an aquarium, making it ideal to be grown with taller plants that do not cover the surface, which in turn, will block out light for your Java moss.

    Pros
    • Provides a hiding space for the aquarium inhabitants
    • Grows horizontally
    Cons
    • Only grows up to 5”
    • Can make the aquarium look overrun
    • Does not grow vertically

    7. Water Lettuce

    Water Lettuce

     

    • Growth rate: Fast
    • Max height: 2” to 10”
    • Light demands: Medium
    • CO2: Not required
    • Difficulty: Moderately easy

    Water lettuce is a floating aquarium plant and does not require a substrate as the roots will hang into the water. This is an incredibly attractive addition to the top of your aquarium. Water lettuce looks like an arrangement of green leaves in a flat lying pattern on top of the water, this plant does not sink and propagates fast in the water under full light, although these plants prefer partial shade and should be introduced to full light slowly. They do not grow noticeably big, especially when kept in low light. A bonus to this plant is that it is excellent at maintaining water quality and is known to use large amounts of ammonia, nitrites and nitrates making it ideal for maintaining good water conditions and water parameters, keeping your fish or invertebrates potentially healthier.

    Pros
    • Does not require CO2
    • Does not need substrate
    • Maintains good water quality
    Cons
    • Blocks the bottom plants light availability
    • Can grow fast and quickly overrun an aquarium
    • Sensitive to light changes

    8. Hornwort

    Hornwort

     

    • Growth rate: Rapid
    • Max height: 10” to 10’
    • Light demands: Moderate
    • CO2: Low
    • Difficulty: Easy

    Hornwort is known in the aquarium industry for their interesting fluffy green stems and the way it grows so fast under good conditions. It also makes an excellent water maintainer and uses ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates to grow and supply itself with nutrients. If you keep them under moderate light conditions you can expect them to grow rapidly and well and grow both horizontally and vertically. It also resembles a fluffy horn-like structure that looks great in aquariums, especially when mixed with a variety of smooth leaved aquatic plants. They also keep unwanted algae under control because it uses the nutrients algae would need to use to grow and thrive.

    Pros
    • Easy to grow
    • Low CO2 demands
    • Interesting plant structure and feature
    Cons
    • Grows amazingly fast and rapid
    • Competes with other plants for nutrients and resources

    9. Anacharis

    Anacharis

     

    • Growth rate: Moderately fast
    • Max height: 3’
    • Light demands: Moderate
    • CO2: Low in cold water
    • Difficulty: Easy

    Anacharis, also known as waterweed, is a fast-growing aquarium plant. It has long stems where thin leaves grow from horizontally. It can make a good background plant along with other thin stemmed plants surrounding or intertwining with the Anacharis. It provides shelter and food for most aquarium inhabitants. This plant can survive most water conditions, whether poor or well maintained. It has the potential to grow quite high and at a moderately fast rate when kept in ideal conditions. So, this is not ideal in a small aquarium as Anacharis can deprive the water of oxygen and lead to inhabitants dying from oxygen deprivation.

    Pros
    • Hardy enough for beginners
    • Makes a good background plant
    • Provides food and shelter for aquarium inhabitants
    Cons
    • Can grow out of control
    • Can deprive the aquarium of oxygen

    10. Ludwigia Repens

    Ludwigia Repens

     

    • Growth rate: Fast
    • Max height: 12” to 20”
    • Light demands: Medium to moderately high
    • CO2: Low demand
    • Difficulty: Medium

    Ludwiga Repens is a versatile plant and can provide a colorful addition to your aquarium, as long as you meet its requirements, it has a moderately high demand for appropriate lightening to produce colorful leaves within your aquarium and to be provided with the necessary nutrients to support growth and coloration. It makes a good background plant as the dark red coloration goes well with other green aquarium plants, especially other overhanging green plants in the aquarium. Intertangling Ludwiga Repens with other long strand growing plants that are compatible with Ludwiga Repens and they will not overly compete for resources. This will make a great color variation in your aquarium.

    Pros
    • Colorful
    • Low CO2 demands
    • Looks attractive with other aquatic plants
    Cons
    • Grows quite fast and out of order
    • Requires high light demands
    • Medium difficulty, not the best for beginners

    Buyer’s Guide for Cold-Water Aquarium Plants

    What are the most suitable plants for your aquarium?

    When deciding on a good species of aquatic plant for your aquarium, you must take a few things into account. First, monitor your tanks temperature fluctuations for a week, as some plants do not tolerate constant drastic differences, especially cold-water plants. Keep in mind how much tank space you can provide. It is not a good idea to cramp a tank full of aquatic plants because it can deprive the tank of oxygen at night, leading to oxygen deprivation. Some types of fish will consume the plants, so choose plants that are uninteresting to your aquatic life but still entices and adds value to your aquarium.

    What are the different options?

    As seen above, there are quite a few options when choosing a suitable aquarium plant. With each plant you can decide on the size and quantity you want to have within your aquarium. If you have a larger aquarium you will most likely want a larger grown plant than if you had a smaller aquarium with less space. Choose colors that you ideally feel comfortable decorating to your liking and aquascaping. A mix of compatible plant species can be a great idea!

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    Conclusion

    Aquarium plants can be a great and interesting addition to your aquarium. They bring out so much life and value to your aquarium as well as providing the aquarium inhabitants with security and a source of food. There are so many options, sizes, and colors available to choose from as well as varying price ranges to suit your budget and needs. I hope these reviews have helped you to make a suitable decision regarding choosing a cold watered aquatic plant for your aquarium.


    Featured Image Credit: IvanaStevanoski, Shutterstock