5 Best Aquarium Plants For Goldfish (And How To Care)

Aquarium plants can make all the difference in a goldfish tank, but choosing compatible species is key. In this guide, I’ll share with you the best aquarium plants for goldfish revealing how to pick beautiful, durable options tailored to your fish’s needs.

Ready to uncover which green companions your golden pet will love (but won’t eat)? Read on!

The Importance of Live Plants in Goldfish Aquariums

Live plants provide goldfish with habitat, play areas, and even a source of food. In addition, plants help recreate the natural environments goldfish thrive. Plants absorb harmful toxins from the water and add oxygen through photosynthesis. This makes the aquarium healthier for goldfish.

Advantages of live plants

Live plants come with many great things for your goldfish tank.

  1. They offer hiding spots for goldfish.
  2. Goldfish like nibbling on soft plant leaves. They love the taste!
  3. Live plants take in carbon dioxide and give out oxygen, which is good for the fish.
  4. Moss balls are a cool choice; goldfish won’t eat them, and they need little care.
  5. Pothos, a home plant, also works well in a fish tank and uses nutrients in the water.
  6. Plants help lower nitrate levels, aiding in keeping safe water conditions for the goldfish.
  7. Anubias are easy to find and do just fine with goldfish around.
  8. Plants make your tank look nicer and more real.
  9. High-light plants can slow down algae growth by taking up excess nutrients from the light.
  10. Fast-growing plants help keep water clean by soaking up extra waste products faster than slower-growing ones.
  11. Having different plant sizes adds depth to your aquarium look.

Disadvantages of live plants

Live plants in a goldfish tank can be tricky to keep. Here are some challenges you might come across:

  1. Goldfish love to nibble plants. They may chew and uproot your waterweeds.
  2. Some plants will hurt your pocketbook. When goldfish eat expensive aquatic plants, it’s not funny.
  3. Stem plants are risky bets. A goldfish likes to pull them out from the ground.
  4. We all know terrestrial plants like Pothos cannot live underwater, right? So, they’re off the menu.
  5. A goldfish swimming around is full of mischief – nipping at the substrate, wrestling with plant roots, and pushing decor pieces.
  6. There’s no such thing as fish-proof aquarium plants! Your goldfish might pick a favorite that ends up half-eaten.

Tips for Choosing the Perfect Aquarium Plants for Goldfish

In finding the best plants for goldfish, consider factors such as their compatibility with fish, their durability and growth rate, and the specific light and substrate requirements they need to thrive.

Compatibility with Goldfish

Goldfish eat a lot of plants. This may cause some problems if you want live plants in your tank. Yet, there are some types they don’t like to chew on. Anubias and Java ferns work well with them because goldfish do not eat these kinds of plants often.

Moss Balls also suit them as these balls are too hard for fish to bite into. So, fake plants can be an option instead of live ones! These will make the tank look great without worrying about the fish eating them up.

Another good kind is Hornwort because it doesn’t taste nice to goldfish so they ignore it.

Durability and Growth Rate

I look for strong plants that grow fast. Quick growers like Hornwort and Duckweed are great. They keep up with the nibble-happy goldfish! These plants need little care, too. The fact is, slow-growing plants won’t last long in a tank full of hungry fish.

And if the plant is tough, it’s even better! Anubias fits this bill quite well – hardy and not easy for goldfish to eat. Moss balls also hold up well under constant grazing by my lively swimmers.

Light and Substrate Requirements

Many plants have different light and substrate requirements compared to goldfish. It’s important to create optimal conditions for both.

  1. Your aquarium should have strong light. Goldfish like bright places. Some plants need it too for better growth.
  2. Pick an LED light made for aquariums. It gives the right amount of light and doesn’t heat the water.
  3. Make sure to turn off the light at night. Both fish and plants need dark time to rest.
  4. As for substrate, use quartz gravel or small pea gravel (2 – 3mm). This is best for goldfish tanks with live plants.
  5. Also, remember that some plants are heavy eaters! They need rich soil to grow well.

1. Java Fern: Best Overall

The Java Fern is an excellent plant for goldfish aquariums. This attractive plant has wide, lush green leaves that provide ideal hiding spots. Java Ferns add beauty with their tropical look. They are also durable and goldfish tend to leave them alone.

However, Java Ferns prefer low light. They need to be attached to hard surfaces like rocks or wood instead of planted in substrate. Direct planting in gravel can harm them.

While Java Ferns have many positives, they can turn brown if light is too intense or water quality is poor. Their normal vibrant green hue suffers.

Overall, Java Ferns are a great choice. They add beauty, hideouts and thrive with goldfish. Just be mindful of their lighting and substrate needs for best results. Their many benefits make Java Ferns a top plant for goldfish tanks.

Features & Description

Java Fern grows well and does not need soil to grow in. You can tie Java Fern to rocks or wood, where it will then hold on with its roots. Its leaves are strong, so they won’t get torn up by the goldfish who like to nibble at them.

This fern helps to make the tank feel more like home for the fish. In time, you might find baby plants growing off of the big ones. These little plants can be put elsewhere in the tank or used to start new ones! All these features make Java Fern an ideal pick for your aquarium environment.

Pros & Cons

Java Fern, a top pick for goldfish tanks in 2023, has several pros and cons that are worth noting.

Java Fern is robust and can withstand goldfish’s tendency to nibble and dig.Although easy, its growth rate can be slower than some other plants.
This plant does not require substrate to thrive, making it ideal for goldfish tanks.Without CO2 supplementation, which it doesn’t require, your Java Fern’s growth might not be as lush.
Java Fern can be attached to bogwood or terracotta sticks for easy removal and cleaning.While this plant can survive a range of lighting conditions, it doesn’t do well with intense light.
This plant can reproduce quite rapidly, providing more greenery for your aquarium.Java Fern needs to establish its roots before the goldfish are added to the tank. This requires a bit of planning ahead.
Java Fern is versatile and suitable for tanks or ponds.Goldfish might uproot it if it’s not appropriately secured.

2. Anubias: Best for Beginners

Anubias is a top choice for those new to aquarium plants. This plant has lovely broad, dark green leaves. It also has an easy-care nature, making it ideal for beginner goldfish keepers.

Anubias grows slowly. This reduces maintenance needs. But some types can outgrow small tanks without pruning. Goldfish may nibble the leaves now and then, too.

Features & Description

Anubias plants can live in low light and work well in any part of the tank. You may glue or tie Anubias to rocks or wood pieces, but you can also put it in gravel.

Its hard leaves stay green for a long time, making it always look nice! These traits make Anubias an ideal choice for your aquarium setup.

Pros & Cons

The Anubias plant is a popular choice for goldfish aquariums due to a range of advantages, but like any plant, it also has a few drawbacks. Here are the pros and cons of Anubias plants for your goldfish aquarium:

It’s a slow-growing plant, making it less likely to overtake your aquarium.Although it’s tough, larger goldfish may still attempt to nibble on it.
Goldfish seem to find Anubias less appetizing than other plants, which can deter them from eating it.Its slow growth also means it won’t be as efficient at absorbing excess nutrients from the water as faster-growing plants.
Anubias doesn’t require substrate, giving you more flexibility in arranging your aquarium.Its preference for low light levels might limit your options if you want to include other more light-loving plants in the same tank.
It’s a widely available plant, making it easy to source and replace if necessary.Goldfish that are not kept well-fed may still resort to eating it.

Anubias plants have many advantages. However, their success in your goldfish tank will depend on a variety of factors. They include your specific goldfish, the ability to meet the plant’s care needs, and the overall aquarium setup.

3. Hornwort: Best for Water Quality

Hornwort is beloved by goldfish aquarists. This hardy plant is prized for its water-cleaning talents. Hornwort significantly lowers harmful nitrates, creating a healthier home for goldfish.

However, hornwort grows quickly. Without trimming, it can overtake the entire tank. But this small maintenance chore is worth it. The benefits of better water quality outweigh the pruning needed.

Features & Description

Hornwort grows fast and fills up tank space quickly. The plant also floats or plants in the tank, which gives you design choices.

It doesn’t need soil or extra CO2 to grow well. Goldfish don’t like to eat it much, too! If you want more hornwort, just cut a stem and replant it! It’s that easy with this plant.

Pros & Cons

Hornwort is a plant often recommended for goldfish tanks, mainly due to its ability to improve water quality. However, like any plant, it also has its drawbacks.

Improves water quality by absorbing excess nitrates.Can grow too quickly and take over the tank if not pruned regularly.
Provides a natural habitat for goldfish.Sheds needles if water conditions are not ideal.
Goldfish enjoy playing around with it, providing mental stimulation.May not be as aesthetically pleasing as some other plant choices.
Very easy to grow and maintain.Can become dislodged from the substrate if goldfish dig around it.

Is Hornwort a good fit for your goldfish tank? It offers many benefits but also requires some care and maintenance. The choice will depend on what you want for your aquarium. A low-maintenance plant that provides excellent water quality benefits? Or a plant that offers more aesthetic value?

4. Vallisneria: Best for Background

Vallisneria is an excellent choice for a background plant in your goldfish tank due to its tall, grass-like appearance and rapid growth rate. Also known as tape or eelgrass, this aquatic plant thrives in various lighting conditions and in most substrates.

One of the pros of Vallisneria is it serves as a perfect hiding spot for your goldfish while helping maintain ideal water quality by absorbing harmful nitrates. However, their fast-growing nature could be considered a con if not regularly trimmed back.

Once established properly within the aquarium environment, you’ll find that Vallisneria adds depth and texture to your aquascape while offering beneficial space for fish hideouts and territory definition!

Features & Description

Vallisneria is a great plant for your goldfish tank. It grows fast and easily. It also spreads well in both tanks and ponds. What I love about Vallisneria is that it’s not tasty to most fish, including our goldfish pals! This helps the plant last longer underwater without getting nibbled on too much.

Vallisneria also makes good fish shade spots while adding nutrients to the aquarium water. Most importantly, this plant helps make their home feel more natural, allowing them to act like they would in the wild!

Pros & Cons

Vallisneria, also known as tape grass or eelgrass, is a favorite among goldfish keepers due to its hardiness and rapid growth rate. But like every plant, it has both advantages and disadvantages. Let’s delve into the pros and cons of Vallisneria.

Vallisneria is a robust plant that can withstand the playful nature of goldfish, including their nibbling, pulling, and digging.They are fast growers and can quickly overtake a tank if not properly managed.
Goldfish enjoy playing and hiding in Vallisneria, making it a great addition to their habitat.Some aquarists find that Vallisneria’s rapid growth rate can be difficult to control, making tank maintenance more demanding.
It helps to enhance the water quality by absorbing excess nutrients and providing oxygen for the goldfish.Due to its fast growth rate, Vallisneria may require added nutrients in the form of root tabs or liquid fertilizer for optimal growth.

Choosing the right plants for your goldfish aquarium can make a huge difference in both its aesthetic appeal and overall health. While Vallisneria is a great choice, it’s essential to consider its pros and cons to ensure it’s the right fit for your aquarium.

5. Duckweed: Best Floating Plant

Duckweed is a top pick for floating aquarium plants. This plant thrives with minimal care. Under good conditions, it spreads rapidly. Duckweed has tiny lime-green leaves that float attractively on the water’s surface.

However, duckweed can take over without careful management. It reproduces quickly. The pros are plentiful oxygen and hideouts for fish. The main con is its potential to become invasive.

Features & Description

Duckweed is a type of plant that floats on top of the water. It has pretty leaves with lace-like designs. This gives it an attractive look. Its bright green color can make your goldfish stand out in the tank.

This plant is not picky about where it lives. It can grow in sand or gravel, but it grows best if you use root tabs or soil underneath it. Duckweed loves light and would grab lots of sun if given a choice.

It is hard to kill, which makes maintenance easy for you.

One important thing about Duckweed is how well it cleans water in a tank with goldfish! Another cool fact: Duckweed can get very big and fill up much space over time.

Pros & Cons

Duckweed is a unique aquatic plant that can bring many benefits to your goldfish aquarium but also has drawbacks. Here are the pros and cons of adding duckweed to your goldfish tank:

Duckweed provides essential nutrients to goldfish, promoting overall health.Duckweed can quickly multiply and cover the entire surface of the tank, potentially causing problems with light accessibility for other aquatic plants.
Goldfish enjoy interacting with duckweed, and it provides a unique aesthetic to your aquarium.Regular removal of duckweed may be necessary to prevent overcrowding and to maintain the balance of the tank’s ecosystem.
Duckweed provides shade to the tank, reducing stress on goldfish.Duckweed can be difficult to completely eliminate from a tank if it becomes excessive, requiring frequent maintenance.
As a floating plant, duckweed doesn’t require specific substrate or lighting levels, making it easy to care for.If your tank houses delicate frondy plants, duckweed may not be suitable as it could overshadow them and impede their growth.

Caring for Your Aquarium Plants

Caring for aquarium plants can be simple or complicated. Depending on what you do. Important steps include quarantining and properly securing new plants. Understanding each plant’s unique lighting and fertilizer needs is also crucial.

Merely placing a plant in water is not enough. Diligent care creates a thriving environment where fish and flora prosper together. Dedication to meeting plants’ needs allows them to enhance water quality and provide shelter. This enables the whole aquarium ecosystem to flourish.

Quarantining New Plants

I always put my new plants in a separate tank first. This is called quarantining. I do this for about two weeks. It helps me see if the plants are sick or have bugs on them. If there’s a problem, I work to get rid of it before putting the plants with my goldfish.

Quarantine also gives the plant time to get used to its new home conditions. Doing all these things keeps my fish and their home safe and clean.

Attaching Plants in The Aquarium

Firstly, clean the plants before you put them into the tank. Next, decide on the best place for each plant. Big plants should go at the back and small ones at the front. Stick or tie plants with big roots to wood or rocks.

Use long tweezers to push rootless plants into your tank’s gravel or sand until they stand up by themselves. Don’t bury them too deep! Otherwise, rhizome plants like Anubias might die if their stem gets covered too much!

Lighting and Fertilization Needs

Keeping your goldfish tank light and feeding your plants is important. Here are some tips for doing it right.

  1. Use good aquarium lights. Your plants need about 8 hours of light each day.
  2. Choose easy-to-care-for plants. These types don’t need extra fertilizing.
  3. Some plants like Java fern do well in low light, while others like Vallisneria love lots of light.
  4. If your tank is big, add more than one lamp.
  5. Don’t use full-spectrum daylight lamps as they can be too hot for the fish and plants.
  6. Use plant fertilizers for their growth, but check if they are safe for your goldfish.

Do Plants Give Goldfish Oxygen?

Yes, plants indeed give goldfish oxygen. The process is called photosynthesis. Plants take in light from the sun or a lamp to turn water and carbon dioxide into food. This process makes oxygen as a side product.

Goldfish then use this oxygen to breathe underwater. Moss balls, Duckweed, and Hornwort are great examples of plants that make lots of oxygen for goldfish.

Do Goldfish Eat Plant Leaves?

Yes, goldfish do eat plant leaves. They are known to nibble on most kinds of aquarium plants. But some types of plants can stand up to them better than others. For example, Moss balls and Hornwort are usually safe because goldfish don’t like how they taste.

On the other hand, delicate and frondy plants often don’t last long in a tank with hungry goldfish. So, it’s best to stick with robust and sturdy ones for your goldfish tank!

How Can I Prevent My Goldfish from Destroying the Plants?

You need to pick strong plants to keep your goldfish from ruining the plants. Hornwort and Vallisneria are good options because they grow fast and goldfish don’t like their taste.

You can also use moss balls since they’re tough and not a food choice for goldfish. Another option is Pothos, which lives outside the water but dangles roots in it to soak up nutrients.

Be sure to feed your fish enough so they won’t want to munch on the greenery too much!


Everyone can have a wonderful and healthy goldfish tank with the right plants. Choose tough plants that grow fast, like Java Fern, Anubias, Hornwort or Vallisneria. Keep in mind to also care for your plants as you do for your fish.

Happy fish keeping!

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