The Advanced Guide on Best Plants for Goldfish Tank

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Nothing can enhance the living conditions and the aquatic environment of a goldfish tank better than plants. Don't make the mistake of thinking the plants as a tool for beautification; they can improve the water quality to a great extent too.

So, do goldfish need plants? It's not mandatory, but it is a beautiful thing to have.

But wait, will the goldfish eat the plants?

Yes, they will. It doesn’t matter whether the plant is a direct food for them or not. The fish will often take a bite off the plants. The good news is that some of the plants can serve the purpose of being food as well.

So, what are the best goldfish tank plants? Why are they suitable? And How you can choose one?

Hold your horses; you will have answers to all the questions here!

​1. Wisteria – (Hygrophila difformis)

Wisteria

When you are considering plants for the goldfish tank, you should consider the survivability more than anything. The tougher the plant is, the better it is for the goldfish.

The best thing about the Wisteria is that they don’t mind light nibbling, which your goldfish will definitely do.

Moreover, you will fall in love with the tender lush green color of them. They definitely stand apart from other live plants in terms of looks.

The Characteristics Table – Wisteria

Considering Factors

Traits

Why Is It Suitable for Goldfish?

  • ​- Grow quickly
  • ​- Good survivor
  • ​- Doesn’t mind nudging and light nibbling​​​​

Lights

​2-3 watts/gallon

Placement

​Back or in the sides of the aquarium

Rooting Requirement

​Within substrate

Fertilizers

​Iron-rich fertilizers

Additional Tips

​Prune regularly

​2. Amazon Sword – (Echinodorus bleheri)

Amazon Sword

Don't worry; Amazon Sword is not a sharp blade! The name probably comes from the sword-like shape of the leaves.

Most of the fish keepers prefer this plant for the goldfish for robust growth and survivability. Moreover, this plant helps to improve the water quality to a great extent as it eradicates the pollutants coming from the nitrogen cycle.

The Amazon Sword has two varieties – small and large. The large ones can grow up to 2 feet in height while the smaller ones can reach up to 8 inches. So, you should probably consider them planting in a large tank. I believe the plant greatly compliments the comet goldfish tanks.

The Characteristics Table – Amazon Sword

Considering Factors

Traits

Why Is It Suitable for Goldfish?

  • ​- ​Has deep roots
  • ​- ​Good survivor
  • ​- ​​Doesn’t mind bums in the root and light nibbling​​​​

Lights

​About 2 Watts/gallon

Placement

​In the middle or in the back without shadowing other small plants

Rooting Requirement

​3 to 4 inches in the substrate without burying the root crowning

Fertilizers

​Not mandatory

Additional Tips

​Should keep the substrate level 4 to 5 inches thick

​3. Java Fern – (Microsorum pteropus)

Java Fern

Well, I don’t need to get you introduced to the ferns. Almost everyone loves the fern for the wild shapes. Java ferns are especially suited for the goldfish tanks.

Their maximum height of 8-inches makes them a perfect candidate also.

But that’s not the best part!

Goldfish generally don’t take a bite of the Java ferns for goldfish. So, you will not have to worry about your plants being eaten by the fish.

What more can you expect?

The Characteristics Table – ​Java Fern

Considering Factors

Traits

Why Is It Suitable for Goldfish?

  • ​- ​Great survivor
  • ​- ​​Can thrive in low lights
  • ​- ​​​Slow growing
  • ​- ​​​​Goldfish don’t eat the fern leaves

Lights

​Low, can live in a darker environment

Placement

​In darker corners or in the shades of larger plants

Rooting Requirement

​Don’t bury the roots as it will rot off the rhizomes

Fertilizers

​Not necessary

Additional Tips

​Don’t overcrowd the tank with Java fern as it will reduce the swimming area for the fish

​4. Java Moss – (Taxiphyllum barbieri)

Java Moss

Some say that the moss is the underwater grass, and Java Moss will actually serve the purpose of the grass in your aquarium.

Having the thorn-like leaves, goldfish will try not to eat the Java Moss. However, if they are in shortage of food, they will chomp off the moss leaves too.

So, with the ample supply of green vegetables, you can prevent the goldfish from eating moss.

The Java Moss for goldfish needs little to no additional care, so you can call it a winner considering this fact.

The Characteristics Table – ​Java Moss

Considering Factors

Traits

Why Is It Suitable for Goldfish?

  • ​- ​​Doesn’t need too much care
  • ​- ​​Good survivor
  • ​- ​​​Goldfish avoid eating them if supplied with enough green vegetables

Lights

​Low to medium

Placement

​Anywhere in the tank, even float on the water layer

Rooting Requirement

​Doesn’t have root

Fertilizers

​Not needed

Additional Tips

​Grows quicker in a colder environment

Anacharis or Brazilian Waterweeds

The Brazilian Waterweeds or the Anacharis is a great example of floating plants for the goldfish tanks.

These light-loving weeds are great at removing the toxins from water, especially acts strongly against ammonia.

The only negative side that I can think of is that the goldfish love attacking Anacharis. You will often see them taking a bite off the leaves and the branches. Still, it survives strongly in a goldfish tank. 

The Characteristics Table – ​Anacharis or Brazilian Waterweeds

Considering Factors

Traits

Why Is It Suitable for Goldfish?

  • ​- ​​Hardy aquatic plant
  • ​- ​​Removes toxins like ammonia
  • ​- ​Can survive the nudging and light nibbling

Lights

​Prefers light-rich aquatic environment

Placement

​You can place them anywhere but floating them on top of the water can stop occasional nibbling

Rooting Requirement

​Doesn’t have root

Fertilizers

​Not needed

Additional Tips

​If the plant dies immediately remove it from the tank

​6. Duckweed (L. Lemna Minor)

Duckweed

If you are a fish keeper, you must have heard the name of the duckweeds at last once. This is one of the few the smallest flowering aquatic plants in the world.   

Most of us use the duckweeds as a green vegetable that you can feed to the goldfish. However, you can use it as a beatifying plant in the goldfish tank too.

In this way, the duckweed will serve a dual purpose.

The Characteristics Table – ​Duckweed

Considering Factors

Traits

Why Is It Suitable for Goldfish?

  • ​- ​​Grow quickly
  • ​- ​​Can be used as vegetables too
  • ​- ​​​High propagation rate

Lights

​Thrives better in a high level of light, but can survive in low light condition too

Placement

​Floating on top of the water level

Rooting Requirement

​Doesn’t have root

Fertilizers

​Loves trace minerals

Additional Tips

​If the growth outbursts, the fish can face an oxygen shortage

  • 7.  Hornwort Goldfish Plant (Ceratophyllum demersum)

  • Hornwort Goldfish Plant

    This is one of the most popular options among the fish keepers due to their budget-friendly pricing. Moreover, this plant is widely available that you can find in almost every single pet shop.

    So, even your goldfish eat off the leaves of the Hornwort, you will feel hurt that much. Furthermore, it can survive in a wide temperature spectrum from 59°F to 86°F.

    Hornwort mainly attracts the fish keeper with the memorizing beauty. This is one of the most beautiful aquatic plants that you can get for your goldfish tank.

    The Characteristics Table – ​Hornwort Goldfish Plant

    Considering Factors

    Traits

    Why Is It Suitable for Goldfish?

    • ​- ​​Budget-friendly
    • ​- ​​Availability
    • ​- ​​​Low maintenance​​​​
    • ​-​ Fast-growing​​​
    • ​-​ Doesn’t mind nudging and light nibbling​​​

    Lights

    ​Low to medium light, will die in an overlit environment

    Placement

    ​You can leave it floating on the water surface, stick it in the substrate or other objects

    Rooting Requirement

    ​Doesn’t have root

    Fertilizers

    ​Requires a small amount of regular fertilizers

    Additional Tips

    ​Grows too fast so make sure it doesn’t over-run

    8. Water Sprite (Ceratopteris thalictroides)

    Water Sprite

    Do you want to make your aquarium look like a beautiful forest? Then, you better get some Water Sprite for your goldfish tank.

    The Water Sprites look awfully like the bamboo. The best part of the water Sprite is that they purify the water to a great extent and almost impossible to kill naturally.

    Just like the duckweed, you can use the Water Sprites as goldfish food. So, let the goldfish take occasional bites – the Water Sprite will not mind!

    The only that should concern you is the insanely high growth rate. If you don't trim off the plant regularly, you will end up with a cramped aquarium.

    The Characteristics Table – ​Water Sprite

    Considering Factors

    Traits

    Why Is It Suitable for Goldfish?

    • ​- ​​Great goldfish food
    • ​- ​​​Has a high survivability rate
    • ​- ​​​High growth rate​​​​
    • ​- ​Purifies the water​​​

    Lights

    ​Needs a lot of light

    Placement

    ​Rooted in the substrate or floating on top

    Rooting Requirement

    ​Bury the root in 2 to 3 inches of gravel or sand

    Fertilizers

    ​Need high-quality fertilizers

    Additional Tips

    ​Keep an eye on the growth rate

    ​9. Anubias (Anubias barteri)

    Anubias

    The Anubias is a rather dark green colored plant compared to other tender green colored plants. The color is close to the sap green tone.

    Why am I so concerned about the color of this plant?

    Well, being darker in color, the goldfish typically avoid eating the plant off. So, you can expect the plant to live for a long time in a goldfish tank.

    It is rather small in size compared to the others. You should use it as a secondary plant in the tank with large plants giving it shade. In this way, you can maintain the dark lighting setup that Anubias prefers.

    The Characteristics Table – ​Anubias

    Considering Factors

    Traits

    Why Is It Suitable for Goldfish?

    • ​- ​​Goldfish avoid eating it
    • ​- ​​Looks beautiful
    • ​- ​​​Hard to kill
    • ​- ​Easy maintenance​​​

    Lights

    ​Low light, preferably dark

    Placement

    ​Planted in the substrate under the shade of a larger plant

    Rooting Requirement

    ​Don’t bury the roots, just simply leave it on the substrate. Otherwise, the roots will rot

    Fertilizers

    ​Not needed

    Additional Tips

    ​Make sure to clean the tank regularly, Anubias will die in dirty water

    ​10. Parrot Feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum)

    Parrot Feather

    Goldfish love hiding behind objects from time to time. The large leaves of the Parrot Feather create ample room for the goldfish to play hide and seek in the tank.

    This the biggest plus point of having them in your aquarium.

    The naughty goldfish will occasionally bite off the leaves of the Parrot Feather. But due to the affordable price tag, you will not worry that much.

    Typically, these plants love growing in flocks. Thus, it creates a nice forest-like environment.

    The Characteristics Table – ​Parrot Feather

    Considering Factors

    Traits

    Why Is It Suitable for Goldfish?

    • ​- ​Cheap
    • ​- ​​Great survivability rate
    • ​- ​​​Creates room for the fish to hide behind the leaves
    • ​- ​Doesn’t mind nudging and light nibbling​​​

    Lights

    ​Needs a lot of bright light

    Placement

    ​Place the flock of the plant in the back of the tank

    Rooting Requirement

    ​Bury the roots 2 to 3 inches deep in the substrate level otherwise the fish will nudge the root

    Fertilizers

    ​Low amount of good quality fertilizers is appreciated

    Additional Tips

    ​Trim the flock occasionally

  • 11. Water Trumpet (Cryptocoryne)

  • Water Trumpet

    Water Trumpets are one of the most common options as an aquatic plant. There are several species of the Water Trumpets available, so you are getting an abundance of options with this plant.

    Water trumpets have almost similar looking long leaves compared to the Amazon Swords. A flock of this plant looks like a shrub or a bush and looks spectacular in a tank.

    It might take some time to grow initially, but they are quite hardy and can sustain the constant nudges from the goldfish as they search for food in the goldfish tank substrate.

    It is another type of small plant that you can grow alongside other large plants. However, it requires a bit more attention from you if you want to see it thriving.

    The Characteristics Table – ​Water Trumpet

    Considering Factors

    Traits

    Why Is It Suitable for Goldfish?

    • ​- ​Different variations are available
    • ​- ​​Good survivor
    • ​- ​​​Doesn’t mind nudging

    Lights

    ​Prefers low to moderate light

    Placement

    ​Should be placed in the substrate under larger plants

    Rooting Requirement

    ​Need nutrient-rich substrate with 2 to 3 inches of thickness

    Fertilizers

    ​Small amount of high-quality fertilizers

    Additional Tips

    ​It is low adaptability so it might take some time to grow initially

    ​12. Vallis (Vallisneria)

    Vallis

    Arguably, Vallis is one of the most spectacular looking aquatic plants that you can get. So, certainly, if the goldfish took a bite off it, it will break your heart! Some prefer having this plant just to enhance the beauty of the backdrop of the tanks.

    The sad thing is that your goldfish definitely bite off the leaves!

    But due to the high growth rate, the nipping will not kill off this plant. Moreover, Vallis will never over-crowd your tank as it takes very little space.

    The Characteristics Table – ​Vallis

    Considering Factors

    Traits

    Why Is It Suitable for Goldfish?

    • ​- ​​Amazingly good looks
    • ​- ​​High growth rate
    • ​- ​​​High Survival rate​​​​
    • ​- ​Low maintenance​​​
    • ​- ​Take very little space​​​

    Lights

    ​Low to moderate light

    Placement

    ​Should be placed in the back of the tank and rooted in the substrate

    Rooting Requirement

    ​Don’t cover up the crowning of the root

    Fertilizers

    ​Not necessary but little amount of fertilizers will certainly help

    Additional Tips

    ​Regularly trim off the tip of the leaves

    How About Getting Some Fake Plants for Goldfish?

    SunGrow Plastic Leaf Plant

    No matter which type of live plant you choose, it will require a certain level of maintenance. If you have a busy schedule and often find yourself swarmed by work, you should consider getting fake plants.

    There are some great options for fake plants available in the market.

    It's true that it will never be as good as having a live plant, but it can be the better option occasionally.

    Here are some lucrative features that might you go for the fake ones –

    • ​Almost life-like look with pet-safe silk leaves
    • ​Suitable for all kinds of fish
    • ​Comes in different sizes and shapes
    • ​Doesn’t pollute the water

    The Buying Guide to Choose the Best Plants for Goldfish

    When it comes to choosing a plant for your goldfish tank, things are not as easy as it seems. If you are not careful, things can go south pretty easily.

    So, what should be your move?

    Be precise; take every single thing to your consideration before rushing the decision.

    Make sure to read the buying guide carefully – these are the things that I learned the hard way!

    More: Do Goldfish Tank Need Heaters?

    ​These Are Not Just Plants; They Are Snacks for Your Goldfish!

    Imagine spending weeks to find the perfect plant for your fish tank. And then, seeing your goldfish making it the perfect dinner within hours!

    Wouldn’t that hurt?

    That's what happened to me the first time I put a live plant in the tank.

    You need to remember one thing – no matter the type of the plant your putting in the tank, your goldfish will see it as food.

    So, rather than going for an exotic looking plant, you need to be smart about it — the key finding a plant that has thicker leaves or thorn-like leaves.

    This is a great solution to prevent the goldfish from eating off all the tender green leaves in the aquarium.

    There is another solution that you can incorporate. Include green in every meal, just toss out some finely chopped fresh lettuce.   

    This way, you can save the plants in the aquarium as well as provide them enough amount of fresh-greens to your goldfish. There is a small problem with this strategy, though. You will end up with a lot of wastes in the tank.

    So, make sure to clean the tank regularly and use good mechanical filters.  

    Should You Consider Putting Fake Plants?

    Some of the veteran fish keepers think that adding fake plants can save you from the problem of the goldfish eating off the plants.

    Yes, it is a smart idea.

    But there is a lot of strong logic against the idea too. You see, it's a trade-off situation where both of the decisions have some pros and cons.

    I will leave this decision up to you while elaborating on all the positive and negative sides of both scenarios.

    ​Fake Plants: Should You Fool the Fish?

    Pros

    • ​Requires zero to no maintenance
    • ​Abundance of options available with different shapes and sizes
    • ​The synthetic “lush green look” will never fade
    • ​Have total control

    Cons

    • ​Can never create the true natural living environment
    • ​Chance of injuring your fish
    • ​Has to be cleaned regularly to prevent bacteria or parasitic infestation

    ​Live Plants: Should You Embrace Nature?

    Pros

    • ​Goldfish thrive more with live plants in the tank
    • ​Live fish enrich the water by removing the toxins and releasing oxygen with the right oxygen plants for goldfish
    • ​Way better looking than any fake plant
    • ​Some variants are also easy to maintain

    Cons

    • ​You can’t stop the occasional nibbling and biting
    • ​Goldfish might uproot the plants while digging through the substrate
    • ​Plants can outgrow the tank reducing the swimming regions
    • ​Dead plants and leaves will deteriorate the water quality
    • ​You need to put extra care if you want your plants to thrive

    You can never create the reality that a live plant can offer to the tank. However, having a live plant means tons of extra works. So, ask yourself if you can manage to put the extra effort.

    If the additional maintenance activities don’t bother you, you should go for the live plants.

    ​Maintaining the Right Temperature Matters

    ​Fish keepers often ignore this step while adding greens to the tank, which is a big mistake. Remember, you will have two types of alive components in the tank –

    - The goldfish and,

    ​- The plants

    Each of them requires a specific temperature to be in a healthy and thriving condition.

    For example, a goldfish will prefer a colder environment that is somewhere between 68°F to 74°F. Most of the tropical plants will struggle in such a cold temperature.

    They love being in a 70°F to 80°F temperature spectrum.

    It leaves you in a critical situation as you have a narrow temperature window that you need to maintain for both the fish and the plants.

    I would suggest you keep the aquarium temperature from 72°F to 74°F if you want to create the perfect environment.

    Where Should Place the Plants?

    You can’t just put the plant in the tank anywhere you wish. You will face two problems if you do so –

    ​- End up having a messier aquarium

    ​- Your fish will uproot the plants

    While selecting the right spot for your plant, make sure that the plant will get enough light and heat. Also, make sure that your goldfish have some hiding place in the leaves and branches.

    Moreover, I think growing the plants in a different pot for a few weeks is a smart idea. In this way, the plant will have a stronger root and adapt to the confined living space of an aquarium.

    After the plant shows steady growth, you can put the whole plant in the goldfish tank.

    Proper Lighting Is Crucial, Very Crucial!

    If you are planning to keep a live plant in the tank, you must consider having the lights. It doesn’t matter whether you opt for the natural sunlight or the artificial light.

    So, why are the lights so important?

    In a single word – photosynthesis!

    With light, the plants can't produce food for themselves and will die eventually. So, you will be starving them to death without a light setup.

    I would suggest you have a synthetic light setup, no matter the amount of sunlight the tank gets regularly. It might not be sufficient enough.

    Here are my reasons –

    • ​Have total control over the amount of light to the tank
    • ​Can offer 15 hours of light regularly (for tropical plants)
    • ​Manipulate the cycle 
    • ​Prevent over-photosynthesis

    You need to consider four factors for selecting the correct light –

    ​1. Wattage – signifies the amount of energy

    2. Kelvin – signifies the warmth

  • 3. Lumens – signifies the brightness

  • 4. PAR (Photosynthetically Active Radiation) – signifies the amount of light for plants to grow
  • The following table should help you pick the right light setup –

    Considering Parameter

    Ideal Value

    ​Wattage

    2 to 4 watts/gallon

    ​Kelvin

    ​6500K to 7500K

    ​Lumens

    ​40 lumens/gallon

    ​PAR (Photosynthetically Active Radiation)

    ​Depends on the plant

    Fertilizers

    ​Not mandatory

    Additional Tips

    ​Should keep the substrate level 4 to 5 inches thick

    ​Considering the parameters, you can choose any of the following types of light –

  • ​- Incandescent
  • - Fluorescent
  • - LED​
  • Conclusion

    Clearly, there is an abundance of options for plants that you can choose for your goldfish tank. It's quite hard to pick a winner in this case. However, you can choose any of the live plants if you have enough time to invest.

    Still, I would put the crown on the Anacharis being a plant that actively removes the toxins with almost zero maintenance.

     I would call the Water Sprite the runner-up of the contest as you can use them as goldfish food too.
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