Planted aquariums add an exciting dimension to your freshwater or saltwater environment, and encourage additional creativity as you design your underwater world! When placing plants in your aquarium, you’ll want to “aquascape,” or arrange the plants to display them in a way that highlights their beauty and vibrancy.
Many new fish owners start with a freshwater tank, opting to incorporate live plants as they recreate a realistic habitat for their fish. Commonly available freshwater plants include Sagittaria, Java Fern, Anubias, and Cryptocoryne species. Each type of plant will have different lighting needs, so it is important to only purchase plants that will do well under the lighting you have. Low light plants can be tucked in shadier spots under aquarium decorations, if your lighting would normally be too high for them. Most popular community fish species you might select for your aquarium will be compatible with a planted aquarium, but not all. like guppies, goldfish, and Bettas. Avoid species of highly herbivorous fish that will eat your aquatic plants like goldfish, the Buenos Aires Tetra, and Silver Dollars. Some larger Cichlids and Plecostomus (such as the Common Pleco) may also want to be avoided, as they have a tendency to “redecorate” or push plants out of place.
Saltwater planted tanks are less common, but are no less stunning. Most saltwater planted aquariums include different species of Seagrasses, which are true plants, as well as many Macro-Algaes such as Sea Lettuce, Caulerpa, and Chaeto. Keeping Macro-Algaes can reduce any excess nutrients that could contribute to smaller nuisance algaes.
NOTE that many of the products and treatments recommended in this guide are geared toward planted aquariums with fish, and may not be necessary for strictly planted aquariums that don’t contain fish.