Midground aquarium plants are the “average” plants of the aquarium world. They are too short to be used in the back of the aquarium, but they are also too tall to be used in the front of the aquarium. Therefore, they have to be placed somewhere in the middle.

With that said, despite technically being in the same category, these plants vary a lot. There are leafy plants, bladed plants, red plants, green plants, purple plants, tall plants, short plants – you see my point. It can be challenging to choose the correct plant for you with many options out there. Often, you’ll want to get more than one for some variety, which can make things even more complicated.

In this article, we’ll review 8 of the best aquarium plants out there so that you can choose the best option for your aquarium and vision.

divider4-bubblesA Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Image Product Details
Winner
Rotala rotundifolia sp. Green Rotala rotundifolia sp. Green
  • Easy to take care of
  • Doesn't mind trimming
  • Grows full
  • Second place
    Greenpro Anubias Nana Potted Greenpro Anubias Nana Potted
  • Short
  • Very easy to care for
  • Little maintenance needed
  • Third place
    Java Fern Java Fern
  • Easy to care for
  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Doesn't require high light levels
  • Cryptocoryne Wendtii Cryptocoryne Wendtii
  • Grows thick
  • Red
  • Little maintenance
  • Staurogyne repens Staurogyne repens
  • Little maintenance required
  • Versatile
  • Flourishing in the correct conditions
  • The 8 Best Midground Aquarium Plants – Reviews 2020

    1. Rotala rotundifolia sp. Green

    Rotala rotundifolia sp. Green

     

    • Growth Rate: High
    • Max Height: 30+ cm
    • Light Demands: Medium
    • CO2: Medium
    • Difficulty: Easy

    This is a variable species of the Rotala rotundifolia. As the name suggests, it is very green. We rated this plant so high because it can play many roles in an aquarium without being difficult to care for. These plants are very robust, so it takes a lot to kill them. They have round leaves and look like your average plant. However, their average appearance is just what you need in most aquariums. They will not be the star of the show, allowing the fish, décor, or other plants to be in the limelight.

    Because this plant is green, it does not need much light as the red variant. It forms side shoots often, allowing it to become very compact and busy. You will need to prune it regularly, but it deals well with regular cutting.

    Pros
    • Easy to take care of
    • Doesn’t mind trimming
    • Grows full
    • Simple aesthetic
    Cons
    • Needs a lot of maintenance

    2. Greenpro Anubias Nana Potted

    2. Greenpro Anubias Nana Potted

     

    • Growth Rate: Slow
    • Max height: 7.5 inches
    • Light Demands: Low to Moderate
    • CO2: Little
    • Difficulty: Easy

    The Greenpro Anubias Nana Potted is a straightforward plant to take care of. When planted, it grows to be relatively short and doesn’t grow very quickly. You won’t have to trim it often, but don’t expect it to get full very quickly, either. It mostly depends on what you’re looking for. Because this plant is so hardy, it can grow in many different conditions.

    This is also a very short plant. It works well in aquariums that are scarcely planted. Otherwise, it might just get covered up by bushier and taller plants.

    The best part about this plant is that it is super easy to take care of. It is hard to kill an Anubias, making them perfect for beginners.

    Pros
    • Short
    • Very easy to care for
    • Doesn’t require much light or CO2
    • Little maintenance needed
    Cons
    • Doesn’t grow quickly
    • Not bushy or full

    3. Java Fern

    3. Java Fern

     

    • Growth Rate: Slow
    • Max Height: 13.5 inches
    • Light Demands: Low to Moderate
    • CO2: Little
    • Difficulty: Easy

    Java Ferns look exactly what they sound like – tiny ferns. They look like a fern you might see growing on the forest floor, only much smaller. They work well in the middle of a tank due to their smaller size. In tanks with few plants, they are sometimes used as background plants as well.

    These plants are elementary to take care of. They don’t die quickly, are easy to plant, and don’t require very high lighting. If you’re looking for a simple little plant that can look striking in a tank, this is a reliable option.

    This plant can get a bit taller than you might like otherwise, which is vital to keep in mind. It works best with other medium-sized plants. If you place it next to something too short, it might cover it up or damage it.

    Pros
    • Easy to care for
    • Aesthetically pleasing
    • Doesn’t require high light levels
    Cons
    • On the taller side

    4. Cryptocoryne Wendtii

    4. Cryptocoryne Wendtii

     

    • Growth Rate: Slow
    • Max Height: 7 inches
    • Light Demands: Low
    • CO2: Little
    • Difficulty: Easy

    Everyone loves red aquarium plants. For an easy option, the Cryptocoryne Wendtii is your best choice. Most red plants are tough to take care of, as you might imagine. However, this plant is much easier to take care of, which is why we put it on this list.

    It can be used to decorate the foreground and midground. It grows to be decently small and doesn’t need much maintenance. However, it can grow quite thick, which means it will cover up unsightly parts of the aquarium if you need it to.

    Pros
    • Grows thick
    • Red
    • Little maintenance
    Cons
    • Grows very slowly

    5. Staurogyne repens

    5. Staurogyne repens

     

    • Growth Rate: Medium
    • Max Height: 4 inches
    • Light Demands: Medium to High
    • CO2: Medium
    • Difficulty: Medium

    The Staurogyne repens is a dependable little stem plant that is suitable for the foreground and midground. It grows at a medium rate and is not difficult to take care of. It isn’t as robust as some other options, but it does flourish easily under the right conditions. It does require a bit more light and CO2 than those we listed previously.

    Its versatile nature means that it can be used as everything from a focus plant to a carpet plant, depending on your needs. It is an excellent little plant for many aquariums, assuming you have the correct lighting and CO2 conditions.

    Pros
    • Little maintenance required
    • Versatile
    • Flourishing in the correct conditions
    Cons
    • Requires medium light and CO2
    • Very short

    6. Helanthium tenellum

    6. Helanthium tenellum

     

    • Growth Rate: Fast
    • Max Height: 3-4 inches
    • Light Demands: Low to medium
    • CO2: Low
    • Difficulty: Low

    Helanthium tenellum basically looks like underwater grass. It is effortless to take care of and grows very quickly – like you would imagine a grass to. It doesn’t require any added CO2 and can thrive in low light conditions. It is also very cheap, which is another win if you’re on a budget.

    The color of its leaves may vary from light green and red depending on the tank’s conditions. As it is fast-growing, it does require a lot of maintenance. For this reason, we rated it a bit lower on our list; it just isn’t great for the midground due to its fast growth rate.

    Pros
    • Inexpensive
    • Robust
    • Little light and CO2 needed
    Cons
    • Grows very quickly
    • Requires a lot of maintenance

    7. Alternanthera reineckii

    7. Alternanthera reineckii

     

    • Growth Rate: Medium
    • Max Height: 10-20 inches
    • Light Demands: Medium to High
    • CO2: Low
    • Difficulty: Medium

    The draw of the Alternanthera reineckii is that it can produce very striking red colors without high levels of CO2 or particular nutrients. For this reason, it is a good option for those that want a red plant but don’t necessarily want to deal with the maintenance level that red plants often come with. It does require very high light levels for it to truly thrive, though.

    Plus, it also gets very tall. It only grows at a medium rate, so you can cut it down to match whatever height you need. It takes well to trimming.

    Pros
    • Red
    • Doesn’t need a high level of nutrients or CO2
    • Low maintenance
    Cons
    • Can get rather tall
    • Grows at a medium rate

    8. Pearlweed

    8. Pearlweed

     

    • Growth Rate: Medium
    • Max Height: 2-6 inches
    • Light Demands: Medium to High
    • CO2: Low to Medium
    • Difficulty: Medium

    Pearlweed can be used as a carpet plant, foreground plant, or midground plant. It will continuously grow up to the light until you cut it. It requires quite a bit of maintenance because of this, but it does increase the plant’s versatility. It is adaptable and thrives in the correct situations. You can easily shape it into whatever shape you want.

    It works very well as a contrast to fine-leaved plants as well as darker species. It fills out its area nicely and can be a bushy or thin as you want.

    Pros
    • Versatile
    • Easy to trim
    Cons
    • Requires a lot of trimming
    • High light demand

    Buyer’s Guide

    When choosing the best midground plants for your aquarium, you need to keep a few features in mind. Picking out a plant can become quite complicated quickly. Luckily, if you break the process down into a few steps, you can make everything go much smoother and choose a plant that will thrive in your aquarium.

    Your Current Plants and Fish

    If you currently have any plants or fish, you need to consider their needs first. Plants don’t always do well together, and certain fish and plants don’t always thrive side by side. It is essential to research what plants would work with your current set up. Usually, this will lower your choices quite a bit, making it easier to make a decision.

    You should consider the temperature, light, and CO2 needs of your existing plants and fish. You should choose a new plant that matches these requirements. You do not want to get stuck with a plant that can’t thrive in your aquarium. It is best to write down your tank’s current settings and then refer back to those specifications while you’re shopping.

    Light Needs

    Lighting can get expensive. Usually, all plants will need some light fixture that attaches to the top of your tank. However, different plants will need different levels of light. Generally speaking, the more power the light, the more expensive it will be.

    Therefore, you need to think twice before picking a plant that requires high or even medium light. You’re not only paying for the cost of the plant, but you will also have to purchase a strong enough lamp. This can cost you hundreds of dollars, depending on your tank’s size and the exact light you need.

    CO2 Needs

    CO2 is very similar to lighting. There are many ways you can add CO2 to your tank. There are supplements that you can add in directly. These are cheap but will cause the levels to go up and down. Plus, it is more maintenance on your part. Or, you could choose a machine. These can be expensive.

    Different plants need different CO2 levels. If you choose a plant with a high CO2 need, you will be spending quite a bit on getting your water’s CO2 level up to where the plant needs it. On the other hand, some plants require very low levels, and you won’t need to do anything extra to add CO2 to the water.

    CO2 can also change the water’s pH, so you’ll need to keep this in mind if you have fish.

    Tank Size

    Bigger tanks usually require bigger plants – or lots of tiny plants. If you have a very large tank, you may want to choose plants that get bushier so that they can take up more room. Furthermore, you may need to adjust your budget for more plants, as bigger tanks need more plants.

    At the same time, smaller tanks will likely need smaller plants. Otherwise, a few plants can overrun the whole tank. Keep your tank size in mind when shopping so you choose appropriately-sized plants.

    goldfish dividerConclusion

    The midground takes up most of your tank, so it is essential to choose excellent plants for this area. There are many options out there, so you should find something to fit your tank and your aesthetic needs. Consider things like your tank’s current lighting system, CO2 levels, and size to select a suitable plant – don’t just go off of aesthetics alone.


    Featured image credit: Cheng Wei, Shutterstock