Nano Aquarium Plant Guide


Nano aquarium plants are an essential part of enjoying a small underwater ecosystem. There are many things to consider when placing an aquarium plant in a small tank.

First, not all aquatic plants are suitable for nano aquariums because of their size and other requirements. In addition, because nano tanks are limited in size, you may not be able to place many different types of plants in the aquarium. You may be required to choose one or two of your favorite plants.

These unique requirements make choosing a nano aquarium plant a interesting challenge.

Best Plants for Nano Aquariums

Finding the best plants for nano aquariums can be a challenge. Even if the plant physically fits in the tank, you wouldn’t want a plants that overtakes the entire tank. In a nano aquarium aquascape, plants with smaller leaves are generally preferred. It helps create an illusion of a larger space. If done right, a natural aquacape can be achieved even in a nano tank. Even if it is small in size, these nano aquariums can be a source of relaxation.

Aquarium Moss

Best Low Light Plants for Nano Aquariums

Many nano tanks are setup without strong lights. This is especially true for many betta fish tanks because they do not like exposure to bright light all day. If your aquarium is not brightly lit, consider these low light plants.

Java Moss

Java moss are one of the easiest aquarium plants to grow. They grow in moist tropical climates, and are known to attach themselves to rocks and driftwood. If they are not attached, they will float around in the water until they find a rough surface to attach themselves to. They do not have roots, so they absorb nutrients through its stems and leaves.

They have very little requirements, including lighting requirements. Even in low light environments where other plants wouldn’t survive, Java moss will thrive. In fact, if they are exposed to too much light, algae can outgrow them and cover the entire moss.

While Java moss does not grow very fast, they can start to grow slightly faster once established. As with most other plants, different nutrient levels in the water can affect the growth rate of java moss significantly.

In regards to maintenance, some trimming may be necessary occasionally.

Cryptocoryne wendtii

Cryptocoryne wendtii, or crypts, are one of the most common aquarium plants in the hobby. Their popularity is most likely due to their hardiness and ease of care, even in low light environments.

Crypts grow leaves ranging from 5 to 18 inches in size. They do not grow fast, and will take several months to develop into a full sized plant.

While these plants are very hardy, they are actually sensitive to changes in the water conditions. Sudden changes in the water condition may cause the plant to ‘melt.’ While it may look like the plant have suddenly died, in most cases they develop new leaves as long as the root system is healthy.

Best Background Plants for Nano Aquariums

Even in nano aquariums, adding taller plants in the background is important. It helps create a sense of depth and space. If done right, it can make the small space feel light a larger natural environment.

Java Fern

Java fern is a classic to the aquarium hobby. They are slow growing plants, but very hardy and easy to care for. They have a tolerance for a wide range of water parameters, making them great for many beginners.

These plants grow in the jungle of South East Asia, and are typically found attached to rocks and driftwoods. The rhizome of the plant acts as the anchor. They can grow fully submerged in the water or partially submerged. The long leaves can reach heights of 13 inches in length.

The long dark leaves are great for making the foreground plants and the fish swimming in the front stand out.

Rotala Rotundifolia

Rotala Rotundifolia is another plant that will grow in low light. They are undemanding stem plants that will continuously grow towards the light. In a small tank, they would need to be trimmed frequently because they do grow fast. If left untrimmed, they may reach the water surface and flower.

While they do not require a lot of light to survive, the green plant will show a red coloration when exposed to more light. The red coloration will deepen if the there’s low nitrate levels (5ppm and below).

Best Carpet Plants for Nano Aquariums

Carpet plants are the equivalent to the grass on your front yard. A healthy carpet plant can make the entire aquarium look lush and vibrant. It has the potential to cover a lot of floor space, so it is no surprise that it can have a significant impact on the look of your aquarium. For nano aquariums, carpet plants with small fine leaves are most desirable.

Monte Carlo

Monte Carlo, scientific name Micranthemum tweediei, is carpeting plant that is great for nano tanks. They grow rather quickly, and it creates a beautiful lush ambience to your aquarium. It grows along the bottom substrate, and only reaches 1-2 inches in length. It does prefer moderate to high light. If planted in a low light environment, it will increase its vertical growth in efforts to capture more light. CO2 injection will help encourage growth, but it is not required.

Since the plants has small roots, choose a fine-grain substrate for the best results. If the plant is not able to attach itself to the substrate properly, it may become detached. If the plant does come out of the substrate, simply push the plant back into the substrate a little deeper. With proper care and time, the plant will be able securely root themselves.

Other known issues for this plant is browning. After a period of growth, the plant may form a thick mat. Such growth will inhibit the light from reaching the bottom layers of the plant, causing the plant to turn brown. If this happens, it is time to trim the plant.

Monte Carlo looks great in a nano tank, but they are also loved by many common inhabitants of nano tanks such as cherry shrimps, neon tetras, and cardinal tetras.

Fish Laboratory

With decades of collective fishkeeping experience, we are happy to share the fish care tips that we've picked up along the way. Our goal at Fish Laboratory is to keep publishing accurate content to help fishkeepers keep their fish and aquarium healthy.

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