Goldfish are notorious for munching on or digging up aquatic plants, which is a shame because live plants are both beautiful and beneficial, capable of consuming the toxic chemicals produced by fish waste. Thankfully, we’ve found several plant species that are not only easy to care for but also hardy enough to stand up to your goldfish’s curious nibbling.
This slow-growing bulb plant is known for its long, crinkly leaves that can grow up to 4 feet (1.2 m) long. Like goldfish, it does well in higher pH and harder water. Because the plant is so tough and thick, it does not get damaged when goldfish bump or chomp into the leaves. Unlike most of the other plants in this list, crinums are planted into the substrate and therefore risk being uprooted by your fish. Therefore, considering protecting the newly planted bulb by surrounding it with a ring of rocks or putting it in the middle of a large stone with a hole in the center.
When you first get your crinum, it may look a little sad with melting leaves because it’s not used to your water conditions. However, if you give it low to medium light and keep it from being moved, it will become well-established and produce ruffled, flowy tendrils that reach the surface of your aquarium.
Anubias plants are a very popular beginner plant because of their ease of care, low light requirements, and wide assortment of shapes and colors. Aim for the larger types like Anubias barteri, Anubias coffeefolia, and Anubias congensis because they have bigger leaves and thicker rhizomes that can take a beating. Because anubias don’t require substrate, an easy way to plant them in a goldfish tank is to tightly wedge them between rocks or attach them to wood using sewing thread or super glue gel. You can also simply drop the anubias with its plastic pot inside an Easy Planter decoration to prevent it from being knocked over.
Place your anubias inside an Easy Planter decoration to prevent fish from digging up your plants.
This velvety green orb is actually a kind of algae that maintains its round shape by being bounced around at the bottom of lakes. Just place it in your aquarium and let your goldfish kick them around for fun. They grow extremely slowly, enjoy cooler waters, and prefer low amounts of light. If their fuzzy surface starts collecting bits of detritus, just swish it around in a bucket of aquarium water to clean it off. For more details about their requirements, read our care guide here.
Java ferns are very similar to anubias in that they are a great beginner plant that don’t require high light or substrate to grow in. While they don’t come in as many varieties, the most popular ones include regular java fern, Windelov (or lace) java fern, and narrow leaf java fern. Simply attach them to driftwood or rock, or place the plant with its plastic pot inside an Easy Planter decoration. You can easily propagate them either by 1) cutting the rhizome into two pieces or 2) trimming off a leaf, floating it in the aquarium, and letting little plantlets sprout from the black dots on the leaf.
Also known as the African water fern, this beautiful species has textured, emerald green leaves that are not commonly seen in other aquatic plants. It hails from Africa like the Crinum calamistratum and therefore also enjoys waters with higher pH and water hardness. Much like anubias and java fern, the bolbitis fern likes to be attached to hardscape or aquarium decorations so that its rhizome is not buried or covered. If you offer low to medium lighting and some liquid fertilizer, it will gradually grow into an impressive bush that can even live with some monster fish.
Give these plants a try, and eventually your goldfish will realize that they can’t or don’t want to eat their leaves. Plus, you can help distract them by feeding them plenty of foods that contain plant matter and algae so they won’t be as tempted to take a bite. Have fun planting your goldfish aquarium, and enjoy nature daily.
For more information about how to house, feed, and care for your fancy goldfish, read this care guide next.
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