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9 Great Low-Maintenance Plants for Custom Aquariums

Brighten Up Custom Aquariums with Some Aquatic Plant LifePhoto of a custom aquarium filled with plants.

Designing custom aquariums is one of the most exciting aspects of being an aquarist, and plants are one of the best ways to breathe life into a design. However, choosing the right plants can be as tough as choosing the right fish or the right décor. A plant is both a decoration and a living organism, so you have to consider both its aesthetic appeal and its biological needs.

When you’re still new to the hobby, it can be confusing navigating huge inventories of products without a frame of reference. Living Art Aquatics in Crystal Lake is here to help you out.

Aquarium plants are categorized by where you place them in the aquarium. To keep the inside of the tank visible, you should place low-lying plants in the front and taller ones further back. Here are nine species that are great for beginners starting to experiment with plants, organized by where they belong in the aquarium.

For a comprehensive guide on designing your own custom fish tank, click here.

Foreground or Carpet Plants

An infographic depicting popular plants for custom aquariums.

Click for full-size infographic.

  1. Java Moss—This low-maintenance moss grows on rocks and driftwood in custom aquariums. It grows best in 70-75°F water and provides baby fish with some shelter and additional food.
  2. Water Wisteria—These lace-like leaves are low-maintenance and fast-growing. They’re tall, and great for lining the front edges of custom aquariums.
  3. Lilaeopsis— The lilaepsis normally looks like tiny 2-inch tufts of grass. They can spread out across the entire aquarium floor and may need occasional pruning.

Midground and Background Plants

  1. Cryptocoryne Beckettii—This plant’s leaves have a reddish hue. It does well in a wide range of temperatures and light levels and is easy to care for.
  2. Amazon Sword—These plants have leaves that resemble swords, and they can grow to about 20 inches tall. Because of that height, they’re usually best placed in groups in the back of custom aquariums.
  3. Green Tiger Lotus—This plant has wide leaves that are great for providing hiding spots for your fish. It does well in mid-range conditions and need very little maintenance.
  4. Java Fern—This fern makes a beautiful low-maintenance background decoration. It’s fairly versatile though, and can be used in nearly any area of your custom aquarium.
  5. African Water Fern—This feathery fern is another versatile one. It looks good in both foreground and background, and it thrives in most conditions with minimal maintenance, though it does best in low light or shade.
  6. Anubias Nana—This plant has dark oval leaves and grows to be about 6 inches tall. It doesn’t need much maintenance, and is ideal for a beginner.

Other Tips for Keeping Plants in Custom Aquariums

Match Environmental Needs: Just like any other organism, each plant species has its own needs in terms of water quality, temperature, and lighting. Make sure these are compatible with the other inhabitants to keep your aquarium maintenance schedule as simple as possible.

Use the Right Substrate: Different plants need different things out of the substrate where they anchor their roots. The ideal is typically 2-3 inches of laterite topped with an inch of gravel. This helps their roots develop and provides a more natural look.

Stick to Green Plants: Typically, green plants are easier to care for in freshwater aquariums. They require less direct sunlight, so you’re less at risk of excessive algae growth.

Plants are just one part of the process of designing custom aquariums, though. For someone without a lot of experience, it can be tough learning about it all just to get started. Here at Living Art Aquatics, we’ve been designing artistic seascapes for over 20 years throughout Chicago and surrounding suburbs, so we take a lot of guesswork out of the equation. For more guidance building lush and vibrant custom aquariums, give Living Art Aquatics in Crystal Lake a call today at (847) 737-5151.

Let’s turn that aquarium into a piece of living art!

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