The Best Floating Plants For Aquariums! (Easy Care Plants)

I am a big fan of keeping floating plants in my aquariums. At the time of writing, all my tanks feature at least one type of floating plant.

The main benefits of floating plants are:

  • Water Purification: Floating plants help remove nitrogen compounds from the water, improving water quality.
  • Shade and Shelter: Floating plants provide shade and shelter for fish, reducing stress and creating natural hiding spots.
  • Grazing Areas for Shrimp: Floating plants serve as grazing areas for shrimp, providing biofilm and algae for them to eat.

One-Sentence Summaries

  • Salvinia: Easy to grow and great for water quality, but requires regular maintenance.
  • Amazon Frogbit: Aesthetic appeal and effective at water purification, but needs regular root trimming.
  • Red Root Floater: Beautiful red roots and leaves under optimal conditions, but can be challenging to maintain.
  • Duckweed: Easy to find and grow, but difficult to remove once established.

Salvinia

Salvinia
Salvinia

Pros

  • Water Quality Improvement
  • Shade and Shelter
  • Easy To Grow

Cons

  • Requires Regular Maintenance
  • Can Block Light
  • Oxygen Depletion at Night

Salvinia is my favorite floating plant because of its many advantages and minimal disadvantages.

There are two main types of Salvinia in the hobby: Salvinia Auriculata, which I keep, and Salvinia Natans, with Salvinia Minima being a variant of the latter.

Like all floating plants, Salvinia consumes nitrogen compounds in aquarium water, helping to maintain safe water parameters.

When allowed to propagate, Salvinia bunches up and provides cover and shelter for my fish and grazing spots for my shrimp.

An Amano Shrimp On Salvinia

My video clip above shows one of my shrimp grazing on the algae and biofilm growing on the Salvinia but it is common to see large numbers of shrimp grazing on it.

There are three main downsides to Salvinia’s rapid growth rate. First, you remove large amounts of the plant weekly, but it only takes a few minutes.

Overgrown salvinia can restrict light penetration and cause issues for submerged plants.

Another potential issue is that a large amount of Salvinia in a heavily stocked tank might reduce available oxygen at night.

A cheap air stone can prevent this issue, and the benefits of the plant far outweigh the negatives.

Ease Of CareBeginner
Plant TypeFloating
OriginSouth America
Growth rateMedium
Height Range1-2 Inch (3-5cm)
Light RequirementsLow
CO2 RequirementsOptional
Salvinia Auriculata

Amazon Frogbit

why is my frogbit dying
Amazon Frogbit

Pros

  • Water Quality Improvement
  • Shade and Shelter
  • Grazing Areas
  • Aesthetic Appeal

Cons

  • Requires Regular Maintenance
  • Roots Get Tangled
  • Roots Restrict Swim Space
  • Water Flow Interference

Amazon Frogbit is a fantastic floating plant for aquariums, and it’s my second favorite choice for my tanks.

One of its best features is its aesthetic appeal, thanks to its long, flowing roots. However, this also comes with some drawbacks.

These roots can get tangled in your hardscape and restrict the swimming space for your fish, necessitating regular trimming.

Additionally, the rapid growth rate of Amazon Frogbit means you’ll need to remove some of the plants each week.

Removing Amazon Frogbit From My Aquarium

The large size of Amazon Frogbit allows for quick removal of significant amounts of the plant, keeping maintenance time short.

Even though it only takes a minute, trimming the roots each week can become annoying.

There are various methods to trim the roots, but the easiest way is to lay the plant over the palm of your hand and cut the roots hanging over the side.

Trimming Amazon Frogbit Roots

The photograph below shows how quickly the roots of Amazon Frogbit can grow, necessitating regular trimming.

1 Week Of Amazon Frogbit Growth
1 Week Of Amazon Frogbit Growth

Depending on your fish, the roots can provide hiding spots and shelter. I’ve seen my Honey Gourami, Neon Tetras, and Chili Rasboras taking refuge among the Amazon Frogbit roots.

As shown in the video clip below, shrimp in that tank also enjoy grazing on the biofilm, algae, and captured fish food that accumulate among the roots, making Amazon Frogbit an excellent choice for shrimp tanks.

Cherry Shrimp Grazing On Amazon Frogbit Roots

Amazon Frogbit absorbs lots of nitrogen compounds from your tank’s water column, making it an excellent choice for maintaining safe water conditions for your fish.

As long as you can dedicate time to trim the roots weekly, Amazon Frogbit is a fantastic floating plant for your aquarium. I’m planning to use it in a future jungle-style aquascape.

Ease Of CareBeginner
Plant TypeFloating
OriginSouth America
Growth rateMedium
Height Range1-2 Inch (3-5cm)
Light RequirementsLow
CO2 RequirementsOptional

Red Root Floater

Red Root Floaters
Red Root Floaters

Pros

  • Water Quality Improvement
  • Shade and Shelter
  • Aesthetic Appeal
  • Easy To Grow

Cons

  • Require Regular Maintenance
  • Difficult To Turn Red
  • Prone To Melt
  • Blocks Light

Red Root Floaters are a popular floating plant in the aquarium hobby, but I’m not particularly fond of them.

While they provide the common benefits of floating plants, such as maintaining water parameters and offering shade and shelter, they have one significant drawback.

In my experience, Red Root Floaters start to melt if they become submerged due to water flow from a hang-on-back filter or splashes from a sponge filter.

As these plants decompose, they may cause an ammonia spike in your tank, which is the opposite of what I’m trying to achieve with floating plants.

Many people, myself included, are drawn to Red Root Floaters for their aesthetic appeal and beautiful red colors, as shown in the photograph below.

Red root floaters can develop beautiful red leaves and roots in the right conditions making it one of the most unique-looking floating plants in the hobby but this can be surprisingly difficult to achieve.
Red root floaters can develop beautiful red leaves and roots in the right conditions making it one of the most unique-looking floating plants in the hobby but this can be surprisingly difficult to achieve.

One thing that often goes unmentioned is that achieving the vibrant red color of Red Root Floaters can be surprisingly challenging.

The plant requires optimal conditions in terms of lighting, ammonia levels, nitrate levels, and pH to develop its red hues.

Many fish keepers use lower-powered lights, making it difficult to achieve the desired red hues. Therefore, don’t choose Red Root Floaters solely for their aesthetic appeal.

Ease Of CareBeginner
Plant TypeFloating
OriginSouth America
Growth rateMedium
Height Range1-2 Inch (3-5cm)
Light RequirementsLow
CO2 RequirementsOptional

Duckweed

Duckweed
Duckweed

Pros

  • Water Quality Improvement
  • Shade And Shelter
  • Easy To Grow
  • Cheap And Easy To Find

Cons

  • Require Regular Maintenance
  • May Take Too Many Nutrients
  • Filtration Interference
  • Can Be Difficult To Remove

Duckweed is a controversial plant in the fish-keeping hobby as it is difficult to remove from your tank once it’s in.

Some people may be able to get free duckweed from their local public pond or fish-keeping group helping to keep costs low.

I highly recommend choosing Salvinia or Amazon Frogbit over duckweed. These plants offer all the advantages of duckweed without its drawbacks.

As you can see in my video clip below, if left unchecked, duckweed can quickly cover the surface of your tank, creating a dense carpet of plants that provide shade for your fish and shrimp.

A Cherry Shrimp On Duckweed

The downside is that duckweed can block out a significant amount of light, potentially causing problems for other plants in the tank by limiting their light exposure.

The video clip above shows my 29-gallon tank with low-light plants like Java Fern and Anubias.

Within a week of the duckweed covering the surface, these other plants started to wilt due to insufficient light.

Fortunately, maintaining duckweed can be quick and easy with this simple trick.

Removing Duckweed From My Aquarium

Instead of using a net to remove duckweed from the surface of your aquarium, try using a comb as demonstrated in the video clip above.

This significantly reduces the time needed to clear large amounts of duckweed from your tank.

Ease Of CareBeginner
Plant TypeFloating
Growth rateFast
Height Range0.39 Inches (1cm)
Light RequirementsLow
CO2 RequirementsOptional
Duckweed

Conclusion

Floating plants like Salvinia, Amazon Frogbit, Red Root Floater, and Duckweed offer various benefits for your aquarium, such as improving water quality and providing shelter for fish.

Each plant has its unique advantages and disadvantages, so choose the one that best fits your tank’s needs and maintenance capabilities.