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5 Aquarium Plants You Should Try in Your Next Terrarium or Paludarium

Did you know that many of the aquarium plants we know and love to grow in our fish tanks can also be grown emersed or above the water’s surface entirely? In fact, many of the plants we carry at Aquarium Co-Op are grown out of water at the farms from which they come. We take the time to begin the process of converting them to their submersed or underwater form for you to enjoy in your fish tanks. But many hobbyists are looking for emersed-grown aquarium plants to use in their enclosed glass container ecosystems, planted terrariums for their pet frogs or other amphibians, and paludariums that consist of both water and land environments. If you’re looking to add some more greenery to your humid terrarium or paludarium, look no further than this list of aquatic plants that can be grown out of water.

Bacopa Species

bacopa with small flowers


Moneywort (Bacopa monnieri) and Bacopa caroliniana are excellent candidates for a paludarium-type setup. These plants don’t mind growing underwater, but if you leave them to their own devices, eventually the stems will reach well above the water’s surface anyway. Bacopa species will also grow very happily in a terrestrial setting as long as they get water regularly and are not left to dry out for long periods. They are exceptionally easy to grow since high humidity and intense lighting are not required. This is a great way to observe the delicate, little flowers that bacopa produces.

Java Moss and Other Mosses

moss grown out of aquarium


Much like the moss-covered trees and rocks in the woods, Java moss can also thrive outside of our aquarium boundaries. Though it does require high humidity and pretty much constant moisture, Java moss can be a beautiful addition to a moist, terrestrial environment. It will spread and cover any surface it is attached to, creating a soft, luscious carpet. It loves to grow half in and half out of water as well, which can create a nice effect.

Brazilian Pennywort



Brazilian pennywort or Hydrocotyle leucocephala is just a fun plant to grow in general. When planted underwater, this plant produces umbrella-like leaves, which create little areas of shade inside an aquarium. However, when the plant is grown out of water, this effect becomes even more dramatic. The leaves tend to grow more densely, and the stems are more rigid, creating a little bush of umbrella greenery that is perfect for little critters to take shelter. Brazilian pennywort can even produce small, white flowers when it grows emersed. If left to its own devices though, this plant will grow quite large and spread across a wide area fairly quickly. So, if you have it in a small container, be prepared to do some regular trimming.


anubias grown out of water


In its natural habitat, anubias can often be found in semi-aquatic environments with many individuals growing in terrestrial soil near the bank of a river or stream. While it doesn’t like to be overly dry, species in the genus Anubias will very happily grow outside of our fish tanks in a terrestrial setting. They do prefer high humidity and plenty of water but are otherwise exceptionally easy growers. Their growth rate is comparable to that in an aquatic environment — slow and steady. Growing anubias and mosses together not only looks exceptionally beautiful, but the moss can actually help keep the roots of the anubias moist as they grow together. What a charming pair! 

Scarlet Temple

scarlet temple grown out of water


For another great choice with a pop of color, why not try scarlet temple or Alternanthera reineckii planted outside of an aquarium? Not outside in the literal sense, but this plant would be quite happy in a terrarium or any similar type of humid container or environment. Provided it has plenty of accessible water and high humidity, terrestrial scarlet temple will thrive out of water. It produces stunning, pinkish-red leaves just as it does under water, making it a lovely centerpiece or accent plant to brighten up an all-green backdrop. It’s even common for scarlet temple plants to be grown out of water at plant farm facilities before they make their way to end users.

If you’re looking for a new project or just a fun experiment, consider growing some of these plants out of your aquarium. You just might be surprised at what you’re able to create and at how differently the same plants can appear when grown in a different environment. The options are not exclusive to this list either — a great many of the aquatic plants we know and love can thrive even if they’re nowhere near a fish tank. For more information about aquarium plants, see our collection of planted tank articles. 

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