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Aquarium Plants to Make Your Fish Happy

If you’ve ever had an aquarium, you know how relaxing it can be to watch fish putter around their tank. Fish make great starter pets for kids or adults who don’t have the time for a cat or dog. We’re also of the opinion that fish are some of the most underrated pets. There are thousands of species to choose from, and we swear they have more personality than most people might think!

It can be tons of fun to pick out new decorations for a fish tank or goldfish pond. Whether its silk plants, rocks and gravel, or sculptures, there are lots of fun ways to add interest. However, we’ve noticed that many people don’t know how beneficial it is to add live plants to their aquariums. 

Recently, more of our customers have been interested in planting live plants into their fish tanks. As opposed to artificial plants, live aquatic plants do a better job of mimicking a natural environment, and they have health benefits for your fish as well. Live vegetation adds oxygen to the water and absorbs carbon dioxide and ammonia. They also offer shelter and security for your fish. Since they need the same nutrients, they can also help slow down the growth of algae. While adding plants will help maintain a healthier environment, it does not eliminate the need for water changes.

Live Aquarium Plants for Happy Fish

There are so many options for fish tank plants. We have many different varieties in the garden centre. Depending on the kinds of freshwater or tropical fish you have, some plants may be better suited to your tank than others. The expert staff in our pet department can help you decide which choices would be the best for your aquarium and give you details about how to take care of them.

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But, if you have goldfish—well, you’re choices are just a little bit more limited. These immensely popular pet fish are members of the carp family, and carp are naturally omnivorous scavengers. In the wild, they pass the time by sifting through the sand or gravel on the bottom of lakes or rivers, looking for snacks and treats. They’ll eat nearly anything they can get their mouths on, including greenery. Their method of sifting for snacks—rooting around in the gravel and picking up mouthfuls—can also mean they’ll completely uproot some plants.

Having goldfish doesn’t mean you can’t have plants, you’ll just have to make sure you keep their habits in mind. The best choices will be plants that grow quickly, or plants that aren’t appealing to your goldfish. Options that can be anchored to rocks or heavier decorations that your fish can’t move will also survive these energetic eaters.

Best Plants for Goldfish

Here are a few options that can withstand the enthusiastic feeding behaviours of goldies and other foraging fishies.

Crypts come in a variety of shapes and colours and are usually left alone by hungry nibblers. Crypts also need to grow in a substrate, so they will also need to go in a basket or vase before you introduce them to your tank.

Java Fern is hardy, and most goldies will leave it alone because the leaves are quite tough. Java needs to be anchored with fishing line to a porous rock or some driftwood to grow well.

Anubias might be the favourite for goldfish owners. It’s super easy, is happy in low-light situations, requires basically zero maintenance, and seems to be left alone by fish. Anubias need to be mounted to a rock or driftwood.

As a treat, consider giving your goldies a Marimo moss ball now and then. They’ll make short work of it, and they’ll certainly enjoy it!

Tropical Freshwater Aquariums

If you’ve got a freshwater aquarium with tropical fish you can enjoy aquatic plants too. Live plants can help you preserve a more balanced ecosystem in your tropical tanks. Most tropical fish will be pretty gentle with live plants, and they’ll like the fact that they can hide out in the leaves of plants. If you have cichlids, do a little more research before choosing plants, as they will attack some plants. 

If you’re new to tropical fish, always make sure you pick species that can get along and have similar needs. The same goes for plants. Your best choices are plants that would be common in your fish species’ native waters. You can use the plants above in a tropical aquarium too, but if you don’t have goldfish, you’ve got even more options.

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Plants for Tropical Aquariums

Tropical fish originate from some of the most ecologically diverse ecosystems on the planet. Adding a variety of tropical aquatic plants will help re-create their natural environment, which is a paradise for just about any tropical species! These species are a great start.

Anacharis, also known as Egeria or Elogia, has tall stems with tiny green leaves the full length. It’s great for a background plant and will be happy between 22-25°C and 6.5-7.5 pH.

Hornwort, or Coontail, is one of the easiest aquatic plants to grow. It’s bright green branches have tiny soft needle-like leaves. It is also a great background plant. Hornwort is happy between 15-30°C and 6-7.6 pH. 

Dwarf Hairgrass creates a delightfully soft carpet of fine grass across the bottom of your tank. It oxygenates the water and helps control nitrates. It may need regular trimming. It’s happy from 10-30°C and 6.5-7.5 pH. 


Whether you’re setting your first-grader up with their first fish tank, or you’re looking to add diversity to a scaled-down underwater kingdom, you’ll love our aquarium department! We’re the best place to find aquatic plants and fish in Powell River. Stop by and let our animal-loving team set you up with everything you need to “get your feet wet” with aquarium care!

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