How To Grow Aquarium Plants – Your Ultimate Guide To Aquatic Plants

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When it comes to decorating your home aquarium, you have a wide variety of options to choose from. The easiest option is to pick out some synthetic plants and other novelty décor items. Though this may be the easiest option available, it isn’t necessarily the best – especially if you want your aquarium to be impressive. To make your aquarium something to behold, and to make it an environment worthy of your fish, you should think about filling it with aquarium plants. Nothing is more beautiful than a lushly planted aquarium filled to the brim with thriving aquatic plants.

Growing an aquarium fill of live plants does take some planning and a little bit of work, but it is well worth the effort. If you’ve never grown aquarium plants before, don’t worry – it isn’t too difficult for a beginner! Your key to success lies in educating yourself about the process before you begin and in planning it all out from the start - that is where this tutorial comes into play. In this tutorial, you will receive detailed instructions for every step of the process from choosing your substrate and picking out your plants to setting up the tank. Keep reading to learn how to get started!

What You Will Need To Follow This Tutorial

You can probably already guess some of the things you are going to need in order to follow this tutorial. First and foremost, you’ll need an aquarium – the size and shape is up to you, but make sure you have plenty of room for plants. Next, you’ll have to pick out the right substrate for your tank as well as the live plants you want to cultivate. Last but not least, you’ll need to equip your tank with a heater, filter, and lighting system to support the growth of all those live plants. Here is a detailed list of everything you are going to need:

  • Aquarium.
  • Planted tank substrate.
  • Aquarium gravel.
  • Foreground plants.
  • Midground plants.
  • Background plants.
  • Aquarium heater.
  • Aquarium filter.
  • Aquarium lighting system.

Step By Step Instructions

Now that you have a better understanding of exactly what you’ll need to cultivate a planted tank, you are ready to get started! Don’t worry – we’ll take you through the process step by step to make sure everything goes according to plan. Here is how to get started:

Selecting Your Substrate

There are a number of different planted tank substrates out there, but your best option is to choose a product like EcoComplete that contains all of the nutrients your plants will need to grow. You’ll need enough substrate to put down a 4- to 6-inch layer along the bottom of your tank. You may also want to put down a layer of fine aquarium gravel on top of the substrate to keep your plants in place.

Picking Out Your Plants

The best part about cultivating a planted tank is picking out your plants! There are many different aquatic plants out there and some of them are easier to grow than others. If you have a betta tank, you can learn more about best plant for betta here. Your best bet is to start out with some hardy plants that tend to grow quickly so they will spread and fill in the space in your tank without you having to buy too many. Be sure to choose an assortment of foreground, mid-ground, and background plants. Foreground plants include things like carpet moss and other plants that grow no more than 1 to 3 inches tall. Mid-ground plants can be a few inches taller but your background plants should be the tallest. While shopping for your plants, make sure to buy species that have similar tank requirements in terms of water chemistry and lighting. Buy enough to decorate your tank but not to fill it completely – your fish need room too!

Setting Up Your Tank

Part of setting up your tank involves choosing and installing your tank equipment. The three most important pieces of aquarium equipment you’ll need to cultivate a planted tank are an aquarium heater, a filter, and a lighting system.

Choosing Your Heater

Aquarium heaters are easy to come by and easy to use – just find one that is rated for the size of your tank and follow the instructions to set it up. You should be able to set the thermostat on the heater to keep the water in your tank within the proper range for both your fish and your plants.

Picking A Tank Filter After

choosing your tank heater you’ll want to pick out a tank filter. The easiest option for beginning aquarium hobbyists is a hang-on filter, also known as a power filter. These filters come in a variety of sizes for different tanks and they usually offer three-stage filtration – mechanical, chemical, and biological. Follow the instructions to set up your tank filter and make sure it is working properly.

Shopping For Aquarium Lighting

Perhaps the most important piece of equipment for a planted tank is your aquarium lighting system. Aquarium plants are photosynthetic so they need 8 to 12 hours of light each day to provide them with the energy they need to sustain their growth. Choose a lighting system that is the appropriate size for your tank – compact fluorescent lights are usually the most cost-effective option.

Putting It All Together

After choosing and installing your tank equipment, all that is left is to add your substrate and your plants! Follow these steps to plant your tank:

  1. Rinse your substrate well until the water runs clear.
  2. Line the bottom of your tank with 4 to 6 inches of the rinsed substrate.
  3. Fill your aquarium with lukewarm water and use a water conditioner to remove the chlorine.
  4. Set up your tank heater, filter, and lighting system and make sure they are all running properly.
  5. Start with your foreground plants, burying the roots in the substrate along the front wall of the tank.
  6. Add your mid-ground plants around the sides of the tank behind the foreground plants.
  7. Plant your background plants along the back wall of the tank.
  8. Add any other decorations you like in the middle of the tank – just be sure to leave enough open space for your fish to swim.
  9. Let your tank run for 2 to 3 weeks to establish the nitrogen cycle before adding your fish.
  10. Acclimate your fish to the tank and resume normal care.


Did you enjoy this tutorial for growing aquarium plants? Hopefully after reading this guide you see just how easy it is to grow aquatic plants in your very own aquarium. A lushly planted tank can turn a boring aquarium into a beautiful aquatic environment for your fish and it will be something you can be proud of! Like and share this article with your friends and leave us some comments about your experience with growing aquarium plants. Good luck and have fun!

3 thoughts on “How To Grow Aquarium Plants – Your Ultimate Guide To Aquatic Plants

    • As for me I’m will soon have a pair of hybrid cichlids called the (RED PHOENIX KING CICHLIDS) they are extremely extremely extremely extremely extremely aggressive/territorial /quarrelsome and predatory the male grows up to a large 32 inches the female 20″ they will live on the left side of my tank in a big castle along with male citizen cichlids like 5 eartheaters with houses to hide and 4 firemouth cichlids with houses to hide. On right side of my tank it will be dark with purple coral trees and 1 single male Texas cichlid. I like hybrids a lot.

    • That’s the problem today cichlid purists think think their cichlids are better Hybrid cichlids are better let’s have a DEBATE my hybrid (RED PHOENIX KING CICHLID) from south and central america VS the pure Texas cichlid in aggression.

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