Best Aquarium Plants for Planted Tanks with CO2

Are you starting your journey with carbon dioxide in the planted aquarium? Are you thinking of the plant species you should choose? Here is the article showing you the collection of aquatic plants selected by our Experts with a few general words about planting and maintaining them.

Best Aquarium Plants for Planted Tanks with CO2

Firstly we need to underline that CO2 injection is always beneficial for aquatic plants. In water conditions the CO2 concentration is much lower than in the atmospheric air. This gas is essential for plants to make their own food through photosynthesis. Supplementing aquarium water with CO2 and adjusting the proper amount of light means speeding up this process which results in faster growth, healthy development and deep colouration. 

Do all plants require CO2 injection?

The answer is no although even easy aquarium plants with CO2 injection may look completely different than on the low tech site. Many of them are more likely to bloom and release new shoots. But please do not think that CO2 is the end of the success story. It’s all about the balance. We need to remember that complete and healthy development of each plants contains 3 factors: carbon dioxide supplementation, lighting and fertilising with micro and macro elements. Achieving the exact point of each factor may require a bit of experimentation, specially for more demanding plants. But hey! It’s beautiful about this hobby! Ups and downs that end up with a dense greenery and happy fish. 

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So what plant species will be great for my first CO2 enriched aquarium?

Although the world of botanics is very wide, we’d like to present you one species of each basic plant groups in  aquascaping that will do great in planted aquarium for beginners:

  • carpeting plants
  • stem plants
  • rosette plants
  • floating plants

Carpeting plants

Carpeting plants are considered as one of the most difficult to care for. This is because it’s harder for the light to reach the bottom part of the aquarium, in comparison to rosette or floating plants. These usually require high lighting and a lot of CO2 but the one described below is less demanding in terms of maintenance and water parameters. Depending on the growth rate, it’s recommended to trim your carpet plants every 2-4 months. However, trimming more often may be needed. 

Amazon sword

Although a bit big for most aquascapes, the Amazon Sword is by all accounts the king of the mid-ground plants. A robust plant and the ideal plant for a large aquatic garden. It has no problems thriving in low light conditions. The Amazon Sword is one of the most common aquatic plants available at your local fish store.

Amazon sword

Stem plants

They are the plants that dominate the aquascaping hobby as of now. From the tiny Pearlweed to the enormous Hygrophilas, every stem plant has something unique to offer the hobby. They range from very easy to difficult to almost impossible to care for. They not only boast of reds but purples, pinks, and oranges too.  

Stem plants

Myriophyllum Mattogrossense

Myriophyllum Mattogrossense comes from Mato Grosso district in Brazil. It’s a very decorative plant. Its leaves, which are light green, are 5 cm wide and the stem has 30-60cm and is slightly red. With good lighting, the leaves unfold horizontally, giving a very decorative effect. It is a perfect stem plant for the background or the centre any simple planted aquarium. Trim the plant by cutting off the upper parts at a height of about 5 cm (or depending on the arrangement needs). The cut tops can be re-planted in the substrate, obtaining an even more dense bush of plants. After trimming, the plant sprouts producing new stems with leaves from the cut site.

Rosette plants

This group of plants is characterised by very wide arrangement opportunities: they can be used in almost every part of the tank (except from the water surface ;) ). They are great for dutch style planted aquariums but also in forest style and jungle style arrangements.

Anubias nana

Nothing beats Anubias when it comes to beauty and ease of care. It is all about the leaves for this plant. Almost all Anubias are very easy to care for and Anubias Barteri Var. Nana is no exception. This variety though is significantly smaller than Anubias Barteri. Maximum leaf size would just be around 1.5-3 inches depending on light and nutrient conditions in the tank. This plant is a very slow grower, taking 1-2 weeks to grow 1 full leaf but the wait is very much well worth it. Do not plant them in substrate as they will die if their rhizomes get covered. You can glue or tie these plants on rocks or driftwood. This variety will look best when planted on rocks or driftwood.

Floating plants

These plants are great when it comes to aquariums with fish species that prefer dim lighting or occur in black waters under natural circumstances. The floating plants on the surface often make fish more comfortable and give this special mysterious atmosphere to the display.

Floating plants

Water lettuce

The water lettuce (Pistia Stratiotes) which is so-called due to its striking appearance, and also Nile lettuce due to its origin. It grows up to 10 cm. It produces fleshy, suede, light green leaves that form characteristic rosettes. Its roots are delicate, but long and dense. The plant can bloom - the flowers are tiny, yellow, growing on an inflorescence shoot. The treatment is similar to that of duckweed, from time to time you need to catch some of the plants. It grows best in warmth (optimal temperature is 25-27 ° C). It performs well in both soft and hard water. It likes humid conditions, but is sensitive to moisture that condenses on the leaves. The leaf blades can then be affected by diseases, as a result they turn yellow, brown and die. This is one of the fast growing plants with CO2 supplementation.

Water lettuce


Above we presented 4 plant species that belong to different groups of plants in aquascaping. You can see the difference easily. All of them have different arrangement purpose hence it’s good to know where to plant them and how to care for them. All of them are rather low light aquarium plants with CO2 injection therefore it’s easier to limit or even eliminate algae growth which is very important for beginners. With experience, you will be able to cultivate even the most demanding and best carpet plants for aquarium with CO2 supplementation. We suggest to start with easy species and upgrade your setup with more demanding plants with time. In the meantime, you can learn the ecosystem functioning and set the best parameters of lighting, CO2 injection and ferts. 

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