Getting Started with Aquarium Plants

Live plants add so many benefits to an aquarium, such as natural beauty, water purification, and enrichment for your fish. However, it can be a bit daunting to set up your first planted tank. Not to worry – follow our step-by-step guide to learn all about aquatic plants and how to care for them.

Step 1: Choose Your Aquarium Plants

We recommend that you start with easy, beginner-friendly plants that don't need a lot of light. These species are more forgiving of beginner mistakes and also require less maintenance in general.

Step 2: Choose a Light for Aquarium Plants

Once you have found your favorite plants, it's time to choose the light. Your plant selection will impact whether you need high lighting or low lighting, so research the needs of your plants and then watch the following video that explains how to pick the right planted aquarium light. We also have an LED Aquarium Lighting Guide that recommends specific products based on the size of your fish tank.

Step 3: Choose a Substrate for Aquarium Plants

Your plant selection also affects what type of substrate or ground covering you need for the bottom of your tank. Some plants like anubias and java fern don't require any substrate, whereas others like sword plants and cryptocoryne plants need nutrients in the substrate for their roots to consume.

Step 4: Set Up Your Planted Aquarium

Once you have finished the research phase and gathered the necessary materials for your planted tank, it's time to put all the pieces together. Before you get started, watch this video from beginning to end to make sure you have everything you need.

Step 5: Feed Your Aquarium Plants

Congrats on setting up your first planted aquarium. Now let's focus on what it takes to keep the plants alive. In general, plants need sufficient lighting and nutrients to grow, so learn how to create a happy and healthy environment for them to thrive.

Step 6: Minimize Algae in Your Planted Tank

Algae is a common issue that pops up in all planted aquariums, even those kept by the most veteran aquascapers. While algae is a natural part of the aquarium ecosystem, most people don't like the way it looks. Find out the best ways to get rid of algae and minimize its growth in the long term. 

Step 7: Address Any Plant Nutrient Deficiencies

If you find that your plant growth is stunted, the leaves are discolored, or the stems keep melting away, your plants may be missing certain nutrients. Learn how to spot the symptoms and fix the deficiencies to grow healthy plants.