Low maintenance floating aquarium plants

If you’re in a hurry and eager to find out the best floating aquarium plant. Then we would recommend JavaMoss.

Aquarium plants should be at the top of your list if you own an aquarium or are planning to start one. With an extensive range to choose from, there will always be one to match your specific needs. Aside from the aesthetic appeal, plants will add numerous benefits to your fish tank. Below we’ll explain what these benefits are and recommend what we believe to be the best floating aquarium plants that both you and your fish will love!

What are the benefits of floating plants? 

1.) They provide shade 

Since the plants float on the water surface, this helps to inhibit light. Certain fish species prefer shady environments, and by having shade this will help reduce their stress levels, keeping them comfortable. That being said, this is dependent on the fish as some species may prefer well-lit waters. It’s crucial to fully understand how much light your species of fish will require. 

2.) They act as additional food Source

Certain plants can be highly nutritious and for herbivorous fish species, they can provide the perfect snack. 

3.) Provide aeration

Floating plants add substantial amounts of oxygen to your fish tank. They act as a plant aeration system to generate high amounts of oxygen in the tank. Which will help safeguard the aquarium against toxins.

4.) Minimal maintenance

Floating plants will proliferate faster and are easy to keep, allowing you to focus on fish keeping instead of plant maintenance. Most of them require no extra effort besides the occasional pruning when overgrown. 

5.) They give your aquarium a jungle appearance

The plants will give your fish tank a natural, healthy, and wilderness appearance, increasing your fish’s comfort level. 

How to decide on the best plants for you!

Now that you know what floating plants can offer. Below are some things you should consider when choosing the best plant type. 

Aquarium size

If your aquarium holds less than 40 gallons, then you may consider smaller plants. Naturally, those with a bigger tank can accommodate a wider variety of floating plants.


Plants will provide your fish with low light areas. This can however be detrimental to the plant species’ health at the bottom of the tank. Therefore, allow enough lighting to keep your plants at the bottom in those areas out of the dark. However, some plants can thrive in lower lights, which you might want to consider having. 

Speed of Growth

Some plants will grow considerably faster than others, which will, therefore, require regular pruning. It’s important to consider the size of the tank before purchase. To prevent buying a plant that will quickly overrun your tank. 

Type of fish

The fish you have or plan to keep will play a role when choosing the correct plants. For example, if you plan to breed fish, opting for floating plants with roots that provide shelter for the fry (baby fish) would be wise. 

7 Tips on how to best prepare for planting

1.) When the plants arrive, remove the wrapping bag, tear the rock wool from the roots, and then split the plants carefully using scissors.

2.) If a plant has elongated roots, you can trim them to a length of about 2-3 centimeters, to encourage new and healthy growth.

3.) You will need to remove any pigmented or dead leaves to allow new leaf growth since the colored leaves may decay in the aquarium.

4.) Since the plants are floating, you only need to pick and place them on the water surface. However, remember to position the leaves right up. Also, ensure that the water flowing beneath isn’t too vigorous that it overturns the plants.

5.) Space out the plants adequately to give them enough growing space, about 3-4 centimeters apart. If you have larger plants, you may need to give more space. 

6.) Research your plants’ feeding habits and get the appropriate fertilizers to bring up healthy and thriving plants.

7.) Invest in functional lighting for your plants to promote continuous growth. However, note that excess light can encourage the growth of algae, therefore, you will need to control the light exposure.

needyfish’s favorite floating aquarium plants 

1.) Duckweed

Key Features

  • Grows to double the size every 36 hours
  • Forms an attractive layer of greenery on the water surface
  • Long roots and small green leaves

Duckweed is a small aquatic plant with long roots with 1-3 leaves. It comes as a single oval or oval-obovate thallus, slightly lush in texture with smooth margins. The tiny air bubbles embedded in its interior enables the plant to float. It’s a favorite dish for koi, tilapia, goldfish, and turtles, making it ideal for any aquarium. You’ll be impressed by how fast it adapts to stagnant water within aquariums and has a reasonably high PH tolerance.


  • It easily adapts to freshwater
  • It has high nutrient levels
  • It grows and spreads aggressively


  •  It requires full or partial sunlight to thrive

2.) Hornwort Bunch Plants

Key features

  • Can grow on substrates or float on water
  • Dark green but has shades of red/brown during winter
  • Long enough to create a natural jungle effect

The first plant I used in my aquarium was Hornwort since it’s not a demanding plant. Once the main plant grows, the side shoots turn into bigger plants, which will effortlessly float by snipping off one of the shoots. It’s known to be very hardy, thus perfect for goldfish that tend to be abusive to live plants. The plant will also act as a shelter for the smaller fish and is an excellent food source.


  • Easy to grow
  • It’s a hardy plant
  • It helps in water oxygenation


  • Rots when planted in the substrate
  • Tends to shed its thin leaves faster

3.) Amazon Frogbit Plant

Key features

  • Has a circular structure
  • Bright green unmarked leaves
  • Long roots
  • The underside of the leaves has a spongy tissue

The Amazon Frogbit is a stunning looking freshwater plant with long roots that will extend below the water that acts as a hiding space for the smaller fish in the aquarium as well as providing chemical filtration. It’s a rounded, leafy structure that will start small and eventually branch into three leaves, which facilitates it to float. People were very impressed by the green color that increases the general appeal in the aquarium.

It’s an excellent choice for a range of freshwater fish. It will also help combat algae growth, absorb carbon dioxide, and eliminate bacteria, thus keeping the water clean.


  • Easy to maintain
  • Excellent nitrate sucker
  • Can coexist with almost all freshwater fish


  •  Can attract pests and parasites

4.) Java Moss

Key features

  • Uses rhizoids to attach itself to aquarium surfaces
  • Has a perfect floating nature
  • Has a fluffy growth pattern

Java moss is a well-known freshwater aquarium plant, which is suitable for various tropical fish. It’s easy to grow and can attach itself to substrate or gravel, making it an excellent choice for either beginners or experts.

It comes with small irregular stems and tiny overlapping oval-shaped leaves. It’s tolerant of a wide range of temperatures and will survive in low light intensity. Users liked the fact that it has sticky feet allowing it to grow anywhere in the aquarium. It’s excellent for harboring eggs as well as providing the perfect shelter for Fry. 


  • Provides shelter for fry
  • Adds an artistic look to the aquarium
  • Helps combat algae


  • Small moss elements may clog up the aquarium

5.) Dwarf Water Lettuce

Key Features

  • Large leaves that give an aquarium a natural look
  • It features light to dark green colors
  • Thick but soft leaves

If you’re looking for a beautiful plant to add a subdued and tasteful look to your aquarium, you’ll want to try out the dwarf water lettuce. It’s a freshwater species that doesn’t require any CO2 supplementation or substrate. They grow faster in the right amount of light and are perfect for smaller fish species. It will help eliminate any unhealthy and unwanted substances and provide a healthy ecosystem for your fish. It’s an affordable option, especially for a beginner.


  • Doesn’t require any substrate
  • Easy to trim and maintain
  • It’s affordable


  • It can offer too much shade

6.) Water Spangles

Key features

  • Fast growth rate
  • It’s a green plant with round petals covered with white hair
  • Grows in sets of three leaves

Water spangles are free-floating plants that will cover your fish tank allowing only minimal light. Its shading factors proved popular with several users, especially those with fish species that don’t require much sunlight. One thing that stood out for many users is the plant’s ability to thrive in any water. It’s suitable for both small (5-gallon capacity) and larger tanks. The plant will grow well in still water, and if afforded the required care will thrive easily. 


  • Perfect for smaller fish
  • Helps prevent the growth of algae
  • Small in size and will grow quickly


  • Needs a special aquarium light to survive

Our choice

Adding floating plants into your aquarium will help give it a natural and wild appearance. However, you need to do in-depth research and understand your fish species before you include any plant in your tank.

When considering everything, from the ease of growth, maintenance and appearance, our winner has to be Java moss! People were very impressed with its ability to thrive in almost any environment, working well in a variety of fish tanks. It creates a stunning appearance, and you can easily trim it to accommodate your desired look. The plant also provides an ideal hiding space for your fish and security for the younger ones.

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