10 Beginner Friendly Aquarium Plants

Posted by on 11/09/2023

Growing and maintaining aquarium plants in a freshwater tank is one of the most rewarding aspects of the hobby. The natural colors produced by live aquatic plants are a sight to behold and can turn even a dull-looking tank into a beautiful slice of nature.

While some plants require a more complicated setup (expensive lighting, CO2 injection), other plants are much more beginner-friendly. Here are 10 options for those looking to get their feet hands wet.

Our Top 10

The following plants are great choices for beginners, not only do these plants have an aesthetic appeal, but they'll also outcompete algae for nutrients, resulting in a much cleaner, algae-free tank.


Hornwort (scientific name: Ceratophyllum demersum) is an aquarium staple, and its ease of care has made it one of the most popular plants in the hobby. While this plant may initially lure you in with its needle-like leaves, hobbyists should be aware that the plant can add a bit more work to your weekly maintenance routine. The fine leaves of this plant will easily get caught in your filter intake, which may be problematic for those of us with smaller intakes, such as lily pipes.

Some hobbyists may decide to keep hornwort as a floating plant, rather than rooted. Its fast growth rate allows it to absorb nutrients quickly, keeping algae at bay. Hobbyists will typically remove the plant from the water column once the rest of their plants have fully grown in. 

Image of Hornwort
CSaquatics/Light Fish
Hornwort (scientific name: Ceratophyllum demersum)

Amazon Frogbit

Floating plants are often recommended for beginners, and Amazon Frogbit (scientific name: Limnobium laevigatum) is a common one. Its small leaves, resembling lilies, will quickly cover your aquarium's surface. Native to the Amazon, this plant can spread rapidly. Just be sure to properly dispose of this plant if you need to discard it, as the species is deemed invasive in some parts of the world.

Amazon Frogbit
Kenzie/Light Fish
Amazon Frogbit

Water Lettuce

If you're looking for a plant with a rich history, look no further than Water Lettuce. This plant has been formally documented as far back as Ancient Egypt and is a common floating plant seen in planted tanks.

Similar to Amazon Frogbit, this plant is considered invasive, and you'll want to make sure you properly dispose of the plant so that it doesn't end up in any local waterways. With its upturned, fluffy leaves, water lettuce is an attractive plant to keep.

Image of Water Lettuce
DIYWaterGarden/Light Fish
Water Lettuce has been around since Ancient Egypt!


For hobbyists looking to try their hand at breeding or raising fry, Subwassertang is an excellent beginner plant. This free-floating plant will provide plenty of hiding spots for baby shrimp or juvenile fish.

Once the plant is established, it will grow quite rapidly, giving a bush-like appearance to any planted tank.

Image of Subwassertang
Funsize Fish Factory/Light Fish
Subwassertang can provide coverage for fry

Dwarf Sagittaria

Dwarf Sagitarria, often abbreviated as Dwarf Sag, is an easy-to-care-for plant that's primarily placed in the foreground. While its growth is not quite as compact as the more advanced Dwarf Hairgrass, Dwarf Sag has a wild look, and grows to be about 5 inches in height when well taken care of.

Image of Dwarf Sag
Kevin Hsu/Light Fish
Dwarf Sagittaria, often called "Dwarf Sag"

Water Wisteria

The unique patterns of Water Wisteria's leaves make this plant a popular option for hobbyists looking for a bright green plant with rapid growth. Native to Bangladesh, this plant propagates easily for those of us looking to form a lush background in our tanks. 

Similar to Hornwort, Water Wisteria's fast growth rate makes it an excellent nutrient absorber, eliminating competing algae.

Water Wisteria
Kenzie/Light Fish
Water Wisteria has uniquely-shaped leaves

Pogostemon Stellatus Octopus

Named after its leaves which resemble octopus-like tentacles, Pogostemon Stellatus Octopus is a stem plant well suited as a background plant. Hobbyists should keep in mind that this plant does require moderate lighting, and will benefit from a dedicated fertilization regime, making it slightly more advanced than some of the other plants on this list. It does not, however, require CO2 injection.

The plant can be propagated easily, by trimming off the top of the plant, and then replanting directly into the aquarium substrate.

Pogo Octopus
CSaquatics/Light Fish
Pogostemon Stellatus Octopus


Native to the Americas, Anacharis is a genus comprising 6 different aquatic plants, but the one we see most frequently in the aquarium hobby is Egeria densa. The plant has fragile, narrow-shaped leaves that are bunched tightly together. Hobbyists can take advantage of this plant's dense growth by planting it along the back of the tank. 

The plant's ability to grow rapidly under low lighting conditions has made the plant quite successful in both nature and the aquarium hobby.

Image of Anacharis
CSaquatics/Light Fish
Egeria densa, the most commonly seen Anacharis plant

Hygrophila Salicifolia

The narrow leaves of Hygrophila Salicifolia make this an attractive background plant, especially for those looking to give their tank a more wild appearance. While growth won't be as compact when compared to a Rotala, this Hygro is easy to care for and hard to kill. 

Hygro Salicifolia
CSaquatics/Wikimedia Commons
Hygrophila Salicifolia (pictured in green)

Nymphoides Hydrophylla (Taiwan Lilies)

One of the most unique-looking plants on this list has to be Nymphoides Hydrophylla, also known as Taiwan Lilies. These plants have long stems, each of which produces a leaf resembling a lily pad. Over time, this plant may even fully cover the water's surface. 

Hobbyists looking to shade their tanks should consider the plant, which is a welcome alternative to the more commonly seen floating plants.

Image of a Taiwan Lily
CSaquatics/Light Fish
Nymphoides Hydrophylla (Taiwan Lilies)

Where to Purchase

While plants such as Subwassertang and Hornwort are easy to find for sale online, other plants such as Taiwan Lilies and Hygrophila Salicifolia are a bit less common. Hobbyists may find these items for sale from other hobbyists on our marketplace, and can also visit our list of 250+ online aquarium stores.


That sums up our list of 10 beginner-friendly aquarium plants. No matter which plant you choose, we guarantee you'll love everything each has to offer. These plants are a great first step before moving onto more advanced plants, such as red plants.

Image of Miles Harrison

Miles Harrison

With over a decade of aquarium experience, Miles can be found writing about saltwater and freshwater aquariums. When he’s not writing about fish, you can find him going for a run or building websites, such as this one!