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The 8 Best Freshwater Floating Aquarium Plants

The 8 Best Freshwater Floating Aquarium Plants

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Aquariums offer plenty of benefits for those who want to take the time to keep them clean.

Other than simply having something that is aesthetically pleasing, they can reduce your stress, lower blood pressure, increase creativity, and help calm down the children in your home.

Even the process of setting up a tank and choosing which fish you’d like is a fun process. But, hardly anyone considers the plants until nearly everything else is set up. 

There are a variety of plants that you can adorn your tank with, including two separate types of flora. You can add anchored or free-floating plants. Is one more beneficial over the other?

The 8 Best Floating Aquarium Plants

The 8 Best Floating Aquarium Plants

  1. Hornwort
  2. Duckweed
  3. Dwarf Water Lettuce
  4. Amazon Frogbits
  5. Water Wisteria
  6. Pennywort
  7. Water Sprite
  8. Java Moss




Ceratophyllum Demersum

Hornwort, or Ceratophyllum demersum, is a commonly sought after freshwater tank plant. As you would assume based on their name alone, these floras have foliage that resembles horns.

They’re located almost all over the globe, specifically in places that are quite humid. Hornworts can either be anchored down into the substrate, or left to float on the top of a tank. 

They made it to the top of our list due to their easy-going nature. Hornworts don’t take much to be happy, in all honesty. They also tend to grow at a relatively fast rate compared to other aquatic species.

These flora aren’t picky when it comes to temperature or lighting, aside from not getting more than 8 hours of light a day. 




Belonging to the genus Lemna, these individuals have been labeled as the world’s smallest flowering plant. They are incredibly unique in their appearance.

Existing only in free-floating form, they have very small clover-shaped leafs that spread out in clumps and cover the surface of the water.

Duckweed naturally exists in regions of Africa, Europe, North America and Asia in freshwater ponds. 

Much like the Hornwort, Duckweed does not need any extra attention in order to thrive! They can handle a range of conditions, specifically when it comes to the water and light.

We do want to note that they tend to grow at a quicker rate when placed in an environment with higher temperatures. 



Found in the Arum family, Pistia stratiotes is a peculiar looking floating aquatic plant. Their leaves have wavy edges with prominent veins down the middle, looking incredibly similar to lettuce. Don’t let this fool you.

These individuals are not related in the slightest to cabbage! The leaves sit on top of the water, while the long, feathery string-like roots hang down.

Surprisingly, we don’t really know the origins of this plant other than the fact that it was first documented in Florida during the 18th century. 

The Dwarf Water Lettuce isn’t too difficult to maintain, but they do prefer to be placed in a room that has fairly high humidity. They can also be somewhat sensitive to water pH, temperature, and a lack of nutrients. All that aside, they make for great free-floating plants!



Bluebolt shrimp on Amazon Frogbit roots

Limnobium laevigatum, or Amazon Frogbit might have a comical name, but they’ve made their way onto this list for a few reasons!

The leaves are round and a bright green color that sit right on top of the water with the occasional white flowers during blooming season.

They were first found in the freshwater lakes of Central and South America back in 1814. You may have heard of the South America Spongeplant. That’s the same species!

The Amazon Frogbit is an easy plant to keep alive. They are quite hardy, being able to grow in a number of circumstances. These individuals will grow at a steady pace when given moderate lighting.

One aspect is that they may need to be trimmed back every once in a while to promote healthy growth. 



Found in the mint family of flowering floras, the Water Wisteria (Hygrophila difformis) is most certainly among the top ten floating aquatic plants. Native to regions surrounding India, these plants thrive in shallow water that is warm.

Just as with Hornwort, they can be anchored to the substrate or lie flat on the surface. The roots will hang down into the water if you choose to have it be a free-floating plant. 

Unlike the other plants previously mentioned, Water Wisteria does need a little more help in terms of nutrients. If you consider the amount of dilution that occurs in a tank, it wouldn’t be hard to assume that fertilizer should be added anyhow.

They also do well in tanks that get a fair amount of light. 



Green Centella Asiatica

Although somewhat confusing, Pennywort can be used to describe a general group of plants that have round leaves. The true Pennywort, or Centella asiatica, was originally found within the wetlands belonging to Asia.

In fact, it is commonly used as a common culinary vegetable or medicinal herb. They can be a floating or anchored plant, depending on what you prefer!

These floras are extremely easy to keep happy. They don’t need a lot of light, and aren’t particular about the water that they’re held in. When given enough nutrients and attention, Pennywort will grow to be quite big in a short amount of time. 



Another well sought after freshwater tank plant, Water Sprite, or Ceratopteris thalictroides, readily available in most stores.

The leaves are thin with a web-like pattern that makes them look like an underwater fern.

Interestingly enough, individuals that are set on top of the water to float will take on a wider appearance compared to the delicate, anchored variety. They are naturally found thriving in the slow-moving tropical waters of India.

Water Sprite plants aren’t as easy to care for, even if they make for a great free-floating candidate.

When not having their needs met, those leaves curl inward and turn brown. They prefer to have medium to high levels of light, and the occasional fertilizer dose for better growth. 



Yamato Shrimp on Java Moss

Taking on the appearance of a clump of moss-covered stems that overlap, the Java Moss (Vesicularia dubyana) is a popular choice for freshwater aquariums.

The Java Moss plant is known for being quite versatile. They are technically labeled as an aquatic plant, but can be found growing on damp terrain. You would find this flora in areas of Southeast Asia. 

Known for being rather hard to kill, the Java Moss is a great contestant for the top aquatic plants. They will grow in just about any water, though they like it to be slightly more acidic than the other plants on this list. Tanks with warmer water will help the growth rate. 

All of these plants are among the best plants to have in your freshwater tank without cluttering up the space. If you’re unsure about the needs of such floras, consider looking at our article pertaining to aquatic plant care



Plants are an essential when it comes to a tank, both for you and your fish. We’ll discuss the reasons why later on. Let’s first look at the two different types of plants that are typically used in this aquatic environment, and pinpoint why floating plants are overall easier to manage. There are two main reasons why we’d recommend floating aquarium plants. 



Tanks can be a lot of work when it comes to the overall care. You need to routinely clean the entire aquarium, as well as make sure that the water is properly aerated, doesn’t grow too much algae, and many other considerations.

Opting for plants that are easy to keep alive can save you from frustration later on. Anchored plants need to be held down in some way as the water can quickly uproot them.

This typically involves using a Nylon mesh, wrapping them around driftwood, or simply burying them in the substrate deep enough. Floating plants simply need to be added to the top of the tank and they’ll do the rest!


Space Savers

Once you’ve placed all of the rocks, substrate, filtration system, and décor, the tank can get pretty cramped.

Although adding plants on the bottom of your aquarium can look pleasing to the eye, you may not have the proper room.

Free-floating floras offer all of the same benefits that any plant would while also taking up less space.

Besides, some individuals prefer the overall look of a plant that floats on top of the water since the tank looks less cluttered! 



We had briefly brought up the fact that adding plants to your aquarium can be beneficial. Let’s take a closer look at all of those in regards to what it do for you new scaly friends, and even for you in some instances! 


Cover for your Fish

No matter where they are within the aquatic environment, plants are a huge part in reducing the stress of your fish. They will use foliage to escape from anything that might be too much for them to handle at the moment.

It’s even been noted by some tank enthusiasts that certain species seem less stressed when provided free-floating flora as opposed to anchored plants. 


Removes Toxins

Toxins such as ammonia and nitrate can build up in your tank. If left untreated for a long time, the fish in your tank could become poisoned. Plants actually take these toxins and absorb them through their roots.

Eventually, the toxin moves through the plant’s body until it is absorbed within the stems and leaves to become a less toxic substance. By having plants in your personal tank, your fish will be better off!


Better Aeration

A successful tank will have plenty of air within the water. This is why tank owners will invest in the proper filter to their personal aquarium. Plants can actually take care of this job on their own.

The process of photosynthesis is all about releasing air back into their environment. This then helps your fish be able to breathe. We still suggest that you have a good filtration system in addition to the air that your plants will provide. 

Now that you know about why free-floating plants are pivotal to have in your tank, let’s look at the candidates for the best floating aquarium plants! Here is list of top floras before we focus on plant in greater detail. 

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