If your new to planted tanks, then knowing which aquarium plants are easy growers may be a good place to start. Not all aquarium plants are easy to grow, and while your learning the basics, its best to stick to the easier species.
Generally speaking, the easier plants to grow are those that have lower lighting and co2 demands. Light and co2 are the driving force behind plant growth, and the plants that need less of this are the easier ones to grow.
When working out how much light a plant needs, the classic watts per litre formula is generally a good thing to go by (assuming you are using T5 lighting):
0.25 watts per litre = low lighting
0.50 watts per litre = medium lighting
0.8 – 1 watt per litre = high lighting
The easy to grow plants fall under the 0.25 watts per litre category. They are often slower growing, less maintenance and require lower co2 levels to survive. There is more margin for error when it comes to tank & water parameters. When your starting out, finding the right balance of light, co2 and nutrients is often tricky, and sometimes a case a trial and error.
When chosing to grow ‘low light plants’, there is more margin for error, and therefore more room for success. Often low light plants do not require co2 injection, and often only light fertilization of nutrients is required.
It is important that you have healthy plant growth in order to suppress algae, and especially in new tanks, you should be planting heavily from the start.
Here’s a list of easy to grow aquatic plants:
Anubias is a slow growing plant, with thick dark green leaves. This plants is known to thrive attached to wood or rocks. Burying the roots will often lead to rotting and eventually plant death. The leaves can often last for many years. It will do well under low lighting and co2 injection is not required. One common problem with this plant is due to it’s slow growing nature, algae often forms on the leaves. If you have planted your tank heavily from the start then this will suppress algae growth and stop it from forming on the leaves. Like with all planted tanks, regular weekly water changes will help keep algae away.
Another plant that does far better when growing attached to something. Easily done by attaching with some cotton or thread. Once established you can cut the cotton and remove. Java fern is a slow grower, with long green leaves. ‘Plantlets’ often form on the leaves which can be cut off to create a new plant. The plant does well under high or low lighting.
One of the most popular aquarium plants often used in jungle style planted tanks. There are many species sold of different sizes and colours. Some species can grow up to 120cm in length. This plant does not like high levels of water flow nor does it like to be pruned. You can cut away old leaves from the crown of the plant. When planting, make sure the crown is above the substrate. It is general a cheap plant to get hold of. It propagates by runners easily.
Cryptocoryne, or Crypts for short
Crypts are excellent hardy plants suitable for growing in most water parameters. There are many types of species, to name a few popular ones we have Wendtii, Parva, Nevellii, Becketii and Balansea. The great thing about these plants is they can tolerate hard and soft water, can grow under most lighting and can last for many years. A good nutritious substrate is recommend for these plants to do well. Sometimes, crypts will often ‘melt’ when you first plant them. This is common and will grow back stronger while adjusting to your tank conditions.
A famous aquatic plant, often used as a centre piece or in the background. They have very green stiff leaves and are very tolerant to many different types of set-ups. A rich substrate is recommended, and light fertilization to keep the leaves healthy and strong.
I have added this plant to the list as in my experience, under medium light this plant will grow rapidly, sending side shoots everywhere. If you are prepared to do weekly water changes then this plant will do just fine. Compared to the others listed, this plant requires more maintenance due to rapid growth and the need for regular pruning. A great bushy tank filler for the background and certain species will often go red under good light.