Pothos in Aquariums: Are Pothos Plants Good for Aquariums?


Scientific NameEpipremnum Aureum
Common NamePothos plant, Golden Pothos, Devil’s Ivy, Money Plant, Taro Vine
OriginNative to Southeastern Asia
GrowthUp to 40 feet
Temperature70-85 degrees Fahrenheit

What is a Pothos Plant?

Pothos Plants are  tropical, trailing, leafy, vining plants that can grow up to 40 feet in length in the wild, and nearly that long indoors. They are an evergreen plant with thick, waxy, green, leaves that are heart shaped, and have splashes of yellow color. Some species of this plant have different color variations, but they all grow long, flowy vines. The leaves of the Pothos Plant can grow up to 12 inches if kept in optimum conditions.

It is a hardy plant that is described as having attractive foliage, and requiring minimum maintenance. As a houseplant it is grown as a hanging plant so that its long vines can grow. If planted outdoors, it will climb up onto trees and grow by anchoring itself to them. Purchasing and propagating Pothos Plants for your aquarium is a great way to improve the quality of life inside your aquarium for both your fish and your plants.

There are many different varieties of the Pothos Plant that also come in a wide variety of colors.

Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)

Are Pothos Plants Good for Aquariums?

Pothos Plants are a popular plant that many people use in their homes for its toxic air purifying properties. It has also become a common plant that is used in aquarium setups. They are very beneficial, and they are easy to propagate.

The Pothos Plant can provide your aquarium with oxygenation. If you plant your Pothos into your aquarium substrate, it will aerate the water as it uses up the carbon dioxide the fish expel and then it releases the oxygen back into the water. They provide more oxygen and absorb more nitrates than other plants.

Pothos plants can provide excellent biological filtration for your tank, as well as providing long roots for fish to hide in, and huge leaves to provide fish with shade. They will grow into a beautiful vine that extends outside of your tank. Pothos Plants grown in your aquarium will not flower. The Pothos Plants grown in cultivation are considered to be in their juvenile phase, and flowering requires the plant to be fully mature. In the wild, the Pothos Plants will produce the flowering stalks together once they reach maturity. 

Another benefit of having a Pothos Plant in your aquarium is that they will help keep algae growth down. Algae growth can happen when the level of nitrates and other waste gets too high. Your Pothos Plant will help keep the nitrates that algae bloom on at a low level, making the environment inhospitable for algae growth.

Pothos Plants are great for filtering out nitrate levels, but they cannot filter out particles floating in the water. The Pothos Plant when planted in your aquarium can mean less water changes which in turn will help keep your fish happy and healthy.

Given enough time, your Pothos Plant will grow into a long vine, which you can grow upwards out of the tank, wrap the vine around decor in your home, or around your tank. The long stringy roots of the Pothos Plant will grow and create a nice jungle for your fish to swim in and out of, plus you can always trim the roots if they get too dense for your tank. These roots are also beneficial for anchoring your substrate in place. The stems of the Pothos Plant are very strong and are not affected by filtration water flow.

An amazing trait of the Pothos Plant is that it is very easy to propagate by cutting off a stem or a leaf and placing it in another aquarium to grow. Cuttings of the Pothos Plant can be placed directly in water, as long as the roots are submerged, and the leaves are above the water.

The Pothos Plant can do extremely well in low level light, or indirect sunlight. Keep in mind that too much sunlight will harm your Pothos Plant. Too much sunlight can stunt its growth, and can cause the leaves to turn yellow or brown. It is not unheard of to see algae growing on the roots of your Pothos Plant in a thin layer. If this happens, just move your Pothos Plant out of direct sunlight.

Are Pothos Plants Toxic to Fish?

If you are wondering if Pothos Plants are safe for your aquarium, the answer is yes. Whereas Pothos Plants are toxic to cats and dogs, there are no reports of them being toxic or harmful towards fish. In fact, if you see your Pothos Plant isn’t doing so well, a quick fix could be to simply add some more fish to your tank.

Pothos Plants even provide spawning fish with places to lay their eggs, and harbor them until they hatch.

Can Pothos Grow Underwater?

Pothos Plants can grow in water, but not fully submerged in water. The leaves of the Pothos Plant cannot take nutrients from the water like true aquatic plants can. Pothos Plants need to have some of their vine with leaves hanging out of the water. If the leaves become submerged, they will shrivel up and die.

When planting a Pothos Plant in your aquarium, you have to let the roots grow out 4 to 5 inches, and then transfer into your tank setup. You will have to anchor the roots until they can settle into the substrate. Pothos Plants are a type of ivy. The vine will grow and can drape over the sides of the aquarium, and provide you with a beautiful and helpfully functional decor.

How to Hang Pothos in the Aquarium

If you are planting a Pothos Plant in your aquarium, you will first want to make sure that your plant has long enough roots to place in the substrate and still have enough vine leftover to hang out of the tank. It is important that the leaves of the Pothos Plant are not fully submerged in the water. If you have fish in your tank that will not harm the Pothos Plant, you can let the roots and stem float in your tank until it anchors itself into the substrate, just be sure to let the leaves hang out of the water.

How to put Pothos in an Aquarium Filter

Putting your Pothos in your aquarium? Then you can look no farther than your tank filter. This is especially helpful if you have plant eating fish. You can place your Pothos Plant in the back of the tank hanging filter in a position that is far away from the motor so that the roots won’t grow into the impellers of the motor seizing it up, or damaging the plant itself.

Pothos in your Aquarium Turning Yellow

When you first put your Pothos Plant into your aquarium, the roots may die off, and the leaves may shrivel up, turn yellow, and fall off the plant. The roots will regrow as they adjust to being aquatic. The leaves of the plant will grow back in the adjusted lighting. 

Pothos in Aquarium Sump

When thinking of placing a Pothos Plant in your aquarium sump, there are a few things you would need to consider. The first thing you should think about is the lighting for the plant. If placed in a sump, your plant may not grow properly. There may not be enough air flow, and that could cause your Pothos Plant to mold. The restricted airflow could also cause your plant to have a stunted growth rate which would make it so the plant doesn’t do as much filtering of the water. There are some reports of people being able to successfully grow their Pothos Plants in their sump, but it seems it is mostly an effort of trial and error. If you are new to keeping aquarium plants, you may want to try an easier method of growing your Pothos Plant.

Pothos Submerged in an Aquarium

Pothos Plants can grow with their vine and roots submerged in your aquarium, but the leaves will not survive being fully submerged under the water.

Can Pothos Survive in a Saltwater Aquarium?

Pothos Plants cannot survive in a saltwater aquarium. Most plants will tolerate saltwater on their leaves and stems, but if they drink it from the substrate, it will cause the plant to dehydrate. If the plant doesn’t dehydrate, it will be poisoned by the salt in its system. Though searching online you will find many people asking the same question if it would be good in a saltwater aquarium, it is recommended that you experiment with this hardy plant, and have fun with it as there are many benefits to keeping this beautiful plant in your tank setup.

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Fish Laboratory was created by fishkeepers for fishkeepers. Since 2013, we have been publishing expert content to help aquarists and breeders grow some of the most robust specimen and keep their fish stock healthy.

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