One of the easiest and simplest aquatic plants to keep is Java Moss. It grows under a multitude of light intensities, with or without CO2, with or without fertilization and can be attached to driftwood, rocks, plastic grid, or just about any other surface to create a carpeting effect. Java Moss, when grown bushy, can serve as a hiding place for baby fish and shrimp. It is also a great tool for helping to keep nitrate and phosphate low. How quickly it grows will depend on the conditions you provide.
A unique plant that has rigid and robust foliage sprouting from a rhizome, Anubius is another plant that happily grows on driftwood, rocks, ornaments, or even rooted into plain pea gravel. Anubius is a notoriously slow growing plant but has the distinct advantage of being nearly bullet-proof in low light and low nutrient conditions, making it an excellent beginner plant. There are many varieties of Anubias ranging from the small ‘nana petite’ to the larger ‘barteri’ making it easy to find a good placement in your aquascape for an Anubias, whether it is low in the foreground, or tall in the background. Anubias is also a good option for aquariums with fish notorious for eating plants as the rigid leaves are much more difficult to damage.
If you are looking for a plant with interesting leaf texture, more earthy tones and coloration, Cryptocorynes are a great option. They have quite a range in leaf size, shape and come in a wide variety of colors from light greens, dark greens and browns to bold reds. They do well in systems with medium light, with or without CO2, and minimal fertilization. Cryptocorynes can work well as midground and background plants in smaller aquascapes and as foreground and midground plants in larger aquascapes. A few notable species are wendtii, crispatula and undulata.
Much like Java Moss, Java Fern is an easy and robust plant to keep that grows in just about any aquarium setting. Being a true fern, it has prehistoric looking fronds with sori (little orange-brown dots) along the underside of each leaf. Java Fern is also a rhizome plant and is easily attached to driftwood, rocks or planted in just about any substrate. It can grow quite tall and busy making it an excellent midground and background plant. There are several species readily available including narrow-leaf and trident-leaf varieties if you are looking for something more elongated and wispy.
Last but not least on the list is Jungle Valisneria, also called ‘Vals’ for short. Jungle Vals grow long and tall with leaves that are straight and flat like grass. They grow easily in almost any aquarium setup with a moderate amount of light. They also uptake nutrients quickly because of their rapid growth and can do a good job of reducing nitrates and phosphates in the aquarium. They make a fantastic background plant and will lie across the surface of the water if they grow too tall. Trimming is easily done to keep the leaves shorter if desired. Overall they are an excellent choice for a first time aquatic plant owner!
Give these plants a try and transform the look of your aquarium while adding the benefits of an ecosystem for your fish!
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