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Top 11 Easiest Aquarium Plants For Absolute Beginners

I get this question a lot: "Hey, I want to get rid of this fake plastic cr*p in my tank but I have no idea where to begin. Can you recommend me some really easy plants?" Of course, having been in that position myself, I know how overwhelming it can be with all this information out there on what the best substrate is, what the lights are, what plants are good for beginners, etc, and I have seen a lot of shocking lists that dare to include plants like "Dwarf Baby Tears", aka one of the hardest plants to get carpeting without proper lighting and CO2! What?!


I personally hate going through long blog posts so I'm going try to keep this short as possible and list out the top 11 plants that I feel will grow in literally any type of lighting or conditions and are for ABSOLUTE beginners, like the "I just got attacked yesterday in a Facebook group for the sharp plastic plants in my betta tank so I guess I'll do some research on real aquatic plants now" kind of beginners. In this post, I'm assuming that whoever is reading this can't be bothered to read a 3-page post on how they should buy expensive substrates, lights, etc, and just want to keep their fish happy in their TopFin aquarium set. Yeah, I've been there!

My first ever planted aquarium in my Topfin 5 gallon Tank *cringes*

The plants I'm going to recommend are some of the first plants I ever used when I started doing planted tanks so I can definitely vouch for all these plants on my list.


If you would actually like me to go more in-depth on the pros, cons, and recommendations for about like substrate, lighting, different types of fertilizers, and more, be sure to keep an eye out for future blog posts about these topics!

1. Anacharis


Anacharis is definitely one of my favorite go-to absolute beginner plants. It's one of the first plants I bought for my first planted tank and I swear it literally can grow in anything (it probably would be able to grow in your toilet) and doesn't require any fancy lighting at all. It will happily grow even with the basic led lights that come on those basic aquarium sets you get at PetSmart. It also doesn't require any fertilizer really as long as you have something living and pooping in your aquarium (it's fast-growing and is great at sucking up excess nitrates). Yay!

  • Growth rate: fast

  • Placement: background 

  • Max size: 18 inches+

  • Propagation: cutting stems 

  • Preferred Fertilizer: Liquid

2. Hornwort

Hornwort, or Ceratophyllum, is honestly one of the hardiest plants you can find. It can grow from even the tiniest of clippings, and is also another great fast-growing plant that helps suck up excess nitrates, keeping your water clearer and your nitrates low, which means less frequent water changes! It can either be floated in the water column, or rooted into the substrate. Hornwort is a great plant for grow-out/nursery tanks for fry or even shrimp tanks, as it provides a lot of cover for fry and shrimp to hide in.

  • Growth rate: Fast

  • Placement: Background

  • Max size: 10 feet

  • Propagation: side shoots/stem cuttings

  • Preferred Fertilizer: Liquid

3. Guppy Grass


Guppy Grass, najas grass, or – scientifically – Najas guadalupensis, is another great fry/shrimp tank plant that is fast-growing and doesn't require anything special. It can also either be floated in the water column or rooted into the substrate if you have the patience to do so, as the stems are pretty delicate and break easily. I personally just let it grow wild in my guppy fry tank.

  • Growth rate: medium-fast

  • Placement: foreground or midground 

  • Max size: 23-35 inches

  • Propagation: cutting stems 

  • Preferred Fertilizer: Liquid 

4. Anubias Plants


Anubias plants are another extremely easy plant to grow. They can grow in both aquariums and terrariums either submerged or emerged and can be either buried in the substrate (as long as the rhizome-part is not buried) or glued/tied to rocks or wood. I personally love the Anubias Nana Petite, which I call the "poor man's buce" as it's very similar in size compared to bucephalandra plants and is usually cheaper as well.

  • Growth rate: slow-moderate

  • Placement: on rocks/wood, foreground

  • Propagation: rhizome cutting

  • Max size: 1-2 inches

  • Preferred Fertilizer: Root Tabs or Liquid (depending on how its planted)

5. Java Fern

Java Fern, or Microsorum Pteropus as it is scientifically known, are also super hardy plants that grow in (basically) any conditions. They are easy to propagate by splitting the horizontal rhizome and naturally reproduce through seeds on the undersides of their leaves (they look like black dots). I haven't personally known anyone who's managed to unintentionally kill a Java Fern so I think it's safe to say these are pretty beginner-friendly!

  • Growth rate: slow-moderate

  • Placement: on rocks or wood, or midground to background

  • Propagation: rhizome division

  • Max size: 12 inches+

  • Preferred Fertilizer: Root Tabs (if roots are buried) or Liquid (if roots not buried)

6. Cryptocoryne Wendtii

Cryptocoryne Wendtii plants are very common beginner plants that come in a range of colors, such as Red, Brown, or Green. They make great foreground or even midground plants and do well as long as you supplement Root Tabs. Other than that they are generally pretty undemanding and can grow dense with many leaves.

  • Growth rate: slow-moderate

  • Placement: foreground-midground

  • Propagation: cuttings from the mother plant

  • Max size: 6 inches

  • Preferred Fertilizer: Root Tabs

7. Java Moss

Java Moss (Taxiphyllum barrier) is one of the easiest to grow, attaching itself to any surface and will grow vertically and horizontally. It's used a lot in shrimp tanks as shrimp love grazing on it, and it provides extra cover for baby shrimp to hide and graze on! You can either tie a clump of Java Moss to a rock or wood, or just leave it as a clump on top of your substrate.

  • Growth rate: Slow to Medium

  • Placement: foreground or on rocks/wood

  • Max size: around 4 inches

  • Propagation: trimmings

  • Preferred Fertilizer: Liquid

8. Amazon Sword Plant


The Amazon Sword Plant, or Echinodorus grisebachii/amazonicus, is a great background plant that can grow tall and is perfect for any aquarium. Being a heavy root feeder, I generally would recommend supplementing Root Tabs to keep it growing, but I've found that the Amazon Sword Plant I have in my 29 gallon tank (with gravel substrate) has been actually still doing fine considering I haven't added any Root Tabs in a while. It's normal for it's older leaves to die when planted in a new aquarium so don't panic! Just try away any dying/dead leaves to ensure nutrients are directed to growing new leaves.

  • Growth rate: moderate

  • Placement: background

  • Max size: 20 inches+

  • Propagation: cuttings with root from the mother plant

  • Preferred Fertilizer: Root Tabs

9. Floating Plants/Floaters


Floating plants, or "floaters" as they are commonly referred to, do best in tanks with minimal surface agitation. If you have a hang-on-the-back filter, I'd suggest creating a DIY barrier or getting a Feeder Ring to contain any floaters, or to stop any floaters from getting pushed down by the outflow. Some floaters I'd recommend for beginners are Giant Duckweed, Salvinia Minima, Frogbit or Dwarf Water Lettuce. They are great cause they are relatively fast-growing and help reduce nitrates and prevent/reduce algae. I would not recommend them, however, if the lights in your aquarium are on the dimmer side as they tend to block out excess light and might hinder the growth of your aquarium plants below. Since they are fast-growing, I would recommend removing excess floaters (please dispose of them responsibly, and DO NOT dispose of them in any waterways) when they are covering most of the water surface.

  • Growth rate: medium-fast

  • Propagation: asexual division/plantlets

  • Preferred Fertilizer: Liquid

10. Ludwigia Repens

Ludwigia Repens plants, such as Ludwigia Ovalis, are generally considered a hardy species of plants. Depending on your lighting conditions and fertilizer, most can range from green, to orange or red. In low-tech tanks, however, most species will generally stay green or brownish-red and will still do fine in low-light tanks, hence why it is a great beginner plant. Depending on the specific Ludwigia, medium-high lighting, co2, and fertilization help it grow redder in color.

  • Growth rate: medium-fast

  • Placement: midground-background

  • Propagation: stem cuttings

  • Max size: 12 inches+

  • Preferred Fertilizer: Root Tabs and Liquid

11. Pearl Weed


Pearl Weed is what I actually consider one of the EASIEST carpeting plant options for beginners. It grows relatively fast in medium-high lighting but still thrives in low light tanks. It's fairly easy to care for and will grow runners if you keep it trimmed. To help it carpet, simply replant any trimmings in the substrate, and it will regrow into a new plant. Most people would recommend Monte Carlo for beginners, but I feel that if you truly want a beginner-friendly low-light carpeting plant, definitely give Pearl Weed a try. The only downside is maybe having to trim it a bit more frequently than other carpeting plants.

  • Growth rate: medium-fast

  • Placement: foreground or midground 

  • Max size: 12 inch+

  • Propagation: cutting stems 

  • Preferred Fertilizer: Root Tabs and Liquid 

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