Top 7 Nano Aquarium Plants

Top 7 Nano Aquarium Plants

A Nano aquarium is a small-sized miniature aquarium that ranges from 1 to 10 gallons (4 – 40 litters) in size. So, if you are planning to start a planted Nano tank but do not know how or where to begin, I will tell you the best choices to start with. In this article, I will discuss the 7 top plants for freshwater aquariums available on the market today.

Actually, this article is the second part of the series that I started on the Top plants for your shrimp tank. The short and informative description will help you to choose a plant, which will suit you best.

If you are looking for plants for your Nano aquarium, you will have to consider some features like: 

  • Size – They should be small/medium, and shouldn’t grow too big over time.
  • Growth rate – Plants shouldn’t grow too fast, so you won’t have to worry about them outgrowing the aquarium.
  • Friendly – The plants should be compatible in the aquarium environment and add to the quality of its atmosphere.
  • Beneficial to your fish or shrimp tank (read my detailed guide “How to breed shrimp” ).
  • Low-maintenance – So you won’t have to worry about taking care of them.
    Note: If you are still planing to use fertilizers in a planted tank, but do not know which one is shrimp safe. Read my articleHow Copper Affects Dwarf Shrimp“. There is a list of safe fertilizers, according to manufacturers.

My top 7 list of the best plants for the Nano tank consists of:

  1. Anubias nana petite
  2. Cryptocoryne parva
  3. Marimo Moss Balls
  4. Monte Carlo
  5. Red Tiger Lotus
  6. Contortion Vals
  7. Java Fern Windelov

1. Anubias Nana Petite

Anubias nana petite (Anubias barteri )Anubias nana petite also known as the dwarf Anubias belongs to the family of Araceae which includes aquatic and semi-aquatic plants. They grow in rivers and streams and can reproduce flowers underwater.

This compact plant with green leaves and a short-stem is a great plant for your Nano aquarium. They appear best for mid-ground or fore-ground plants for your aquarium.

Anubias nana petite has dense growth and leaf arrangement and forms clusters around its stem. Their root is long which can easily stick into the rocks, driftwood, and the substrate of the aquarium.

They are great for Nano aquarium as:

  • They need a lot of time to grow, so you might need to get a lot of them to fill in your aquarium space.
  • They are among some of the rare plants that are not always eaten by the herbivore fishes.
  • Famous for its beauty, versatility, and compact size, an Anubias nana petite does not grow too tall.
  • These plants are great especially for the beginners and they bring beauty and life to your Nano aquarium.
  • They help control the nitrate levels in your aquarium and by oxygenating, help remove the pollution.
  • Anubias nana petite is one of the best beginner plants in the entire hobby other than Moss.
  • This plant is great for a shrimp tank. The leaves will provide a lot of surface area for biofilm and algae. It will make your shrimp happy. 

Quick Notes about Anubias nana petite

Common Name Anubias Nana Petite
Other Names Dwarf Anubias
Scientific Name Anubias barteri var. nana
Difficulty Easy
Lighting Low to medium
Optimal pH 6.5 – 7.5
Optimal GH 2 – 17
Optimal Temperature 22 – 26C (72 – 80F)
Temperature Tolerance: 12 – 30C (54 – 86F)
Substrate Not needed
Growth Rate Slow
Height 5 – 7 cm (2 – 3 inches)
CO2 Not needed – Low
Propagation Cutting the Rhizome

Description:

They have dense leaf structure and form clusters based around the stem. These small plants can only grow 5 cm in their tallness. But, on rare occasions, they might grow up to 7 cm tall.

Origin:

They are native to the tropical Western and Central Africa. The Anubias plants are found in the rivers and streams and commonly grow in shady places.

Habitat:

Anubias plants thrive in the wild, the rivers and streams. They do not need a lot of light and nutrients to survive. These freshwater plants also provide a great environment for the bottom-dwelling fishes.

Planting:

The beautiful Nana Petite does not require sand or soil to grow.

  • You need to plant it on to the substrate or attach it to driftwood or rock. You can use a nylon string (cotton sewing thread or even a zip tie) to tie it with the rock or driftwood.
  • While planting them you must break them into 2.5-inch pieces (5 cm) and, also make sure that the rhizomes must be an inch apart (~2.5 cm) from each other. This will make them grow slowly without overtaking each other. Do not cover and take care of the rhizomes when planting in the substrate.
  • Their root system is so versatile that they easily wrap around and grow where ever you plant them. Later, when their root system is developed, you can remove the nylon string and they will do just fine holding on their own.

They flow nicely with the water movements and are loved dearly for Nano aquascapes because of their small size and slow growth.

Care:

  • Anubias Nana Petites are popular for their low maintenance. They do not require higher levels of light and grow and thrive pretty well with low to moderate light levels.
  • Moreover, for their health and nourishment, a little amount of fertilizers and CO2 can be used now and then (but not required).
  • However, they require trimming of the leaves so that the new leaves can grow properly.
Anubias nana petite – check out the price on Amazon

2.  Cryptocoryne parva

Cryptocoryne parvaCryptocoryne plants are typically easy to maintain as aquarium plants, and this is no exception. Cryptocoryne parva is a very easy, extremely slow-growing, tiny little plant. It is the smallest of all the Cryptocoryne (crypt) species. If you let it mature, it forms an extremely dense carpet. However, it will take months and even years!  Therefore, if you are looking for a beginner type carpeting plant and you have a lot of patience this is definitely the one for you.

Quick Notes about Cryptocoryne parva

Common Name Cryptocoryne parva
Scientific Name Cryptocoryne parva
Difficulty Easy-Medium
Lighting Medium – High
Optimal pH
5.5 – 7.5
Optimal GH 1 – 20
Optimal Temperature 15 – 28 C (59 – 82 F)
Substrate Needed
Growth Rate Very slow
Height 3 – 6 cm (~1 to 2.5 inches)
CO2 Not needed – Low
Propagation Splitting, cutting off daughter plants

Description:

The Cryptocoryne parva is a petite freshwater aquatic plant. The tips of their leaves are round in shape and they resemble the seagrass. They make the best foreground and mid-ground plants.
This plant has a long and narrow oval leaves that do not change the shape or color throughout the life of the plant.

Origin:

The Cryptocoryne parva originates from the central highlands of Sri Lanka near Kandy city.

Habitat:

Cryptocoryne parva grows in dense colonies on riverbanks. When there is a dry time, they lose all their leaves and retain all the nutrients into the roots and the base of the plant. When conditions are favorable they grow back again. They are tolerant and adaptable freshwater plants.

Planting:

  • For planting, you need to stick your Cryptocoryne parva into the substrate.
  • Make sure you do not plant it too deeply.

Care:

  • Cryptocoryne parva is very easy to maintain.
  • It grows sooo slow that there is no need to trim it.
  • This is a plant that does benefit from iron and potassium.
  • Enriched substrate (for example ADA Amazonia aqua soil (read more), etc) is preferable.
  • This plant does not require CO2. However, it can help a little bit (not much, just a little) with the growth.
  • In spite of its tiny size, Cryptocoryne parva has a huge root system. So, once planted, it will be hard to move without making a mess around.
  • Cryptocoryne parva does not like shadows and needs more light than most other Cryptocorynes. Without light, it can lose its leaf plate under water. Therefore, it must never be overshadowed by taller
  • Because of very slow growth, it is prone to green spot algae. However, in a shrimp tank with Nerite snails, it will be only a good thing.
Cryptocoryne parva – check out the price on Amazon

3. Marimo Moss Balls

Marimo Moss Balls (Aegagropila linnaei) and shrimpThe beautiful algae, ball-shaped Marimo Moss Balls has a long life-span. In Japan, they are regarded as good luck charms. These fresh deep green Moss balls can be an interesting addition in your live aquarium.

  • Marimo balls are unique and are even given as love symbol on the weddings. Children love to pet them as well.
  • Marimo balls belong to the family of Pithophoraceae in which algae grow in the shape of balls having a silky smooth appearance. They grow on the shady side of the rocks. It is prohibited in Japan to collect them directly from the Lake, so mostly the European origin of Moss balls is sold in the shops and aquariums.
  • Freshwater shrimp and snail tanks have great compatibility with these Moss balls. The shrimp loves searching, cleaning and munching on these balls, whereas the snails don’t harm them at all.
  • Popular for their size and ball shape, Marimo Moss ball are great little plants for your Nano aquarium.
  • For their uniqueness and beauty, they were also presented in the world-champion aquascapes.
  • They make lovely Nano aquarium decoration and are best for snails and shrimp tanks.
  • Moreover, they do not require any special system of CO2 and light levels.
  • They grow simply by absorbing phosphates, nitrates, and other organic waste in your aquarium.
  • They purify the life of your Nano aquarium.

Quick Notes about Marimo Moss Balls

Common Name Marimo Moss Balls
Other Names Conidiophore ball, Lake ball
Scientific Name Aegagropila linnaei
Difficulty Easy
Lighting Low
Optimal pH
6.5 – 8.0
Optimal GH 2 – 17
Optimal Temperature 18 – 22C (64 – 72F)
Temperature Tolerance: 12 – 25C (54 – 78F)
Substrate Not needed
Growth Rate Slow
Height 4 – 6 cm (1.75 to 2.25 inches)
CO2 Not needed – Low

Description:

They are ball-shaped algae with a velvety appearance. The water movements cause them to shape like a ball, hence the name. Marimo balls age around 8 to 15 years, 1.75 to 2.25 inches (4 – 6 cm) in diameter. They grow very slowly, normally 5 mm every year.

Origin:

They originated in Iceland and Japan and popularly grow in the home lake called Lake Akan. Most commonly found in the cold waters, shallow lakes, and lakes in the Northern Hemisphere.

Habitat:

Proffered habitat is water with moderate or high calcium levels.

Planting:

Marimo Moss Balls are the easiest and the cutest Nano aquarium plants.

  • Just place them in your freshwater aquarium and they will float around.
  • You can buy them from amazon in the best conditions, ensuring that the Marimo ball is all free of pests and other contamination.

Care:

  • Marimo Moss Balls are easiest to care for.
  • They require a water temperature of 22 – 25 C (72 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit); you need to maintain that for your aquarium.
  • To take care of the flat spots, just roll your lake ball gently into round shape every other week.
  • They purify your aquarium, and, in that process, they suck up a lot of filth, which often becomes too much for them to masticate. Therefore, every time you change the water of your tank you need to gently squeeze it a little and then sink it back.
  • Moreover, they float over the surface of your aquarium and then sink back on their own. Therefore, they do not need to be anchored on the substrate.
  • Keep in mind that too much light can turn them brown.

Tip: To remove the brown color, put them in colder water with lower light. If it does not help, you can add a pinch of aquarium sea salt. 

Marimo Moss Balls – check out the price on Amazon

4. Monte Carlo

Monte Carlo (Micranthemum Tweediei)This plant is beautiful in every little way. It brings more life to your nano aquarium.

  • Monte Carlo has brightly green, round-shaped leaves. The leaves spread on the stalks.
  • This plant is good for the submerged dry tanks of the aquarium.
  • Micranthemum Tweediei belongs to the family Phrymaceae.
  • These aquatic plants are similar to the Hemianthus aquatic plants used for carpeting aquariums.
  • These plants are beautiful and fast-growing aquatic plants. They are best for carpeting your nano aquarium.
  • Monte Carlo can survive in wide range of water parameters. It makes this plant suitable for beginners who are trying makes freshwater aquascape.
  • This plant will create lots of hiding places for your baby shrimp or molted shrimp.

Quick Notes about Monte Carlo Plant

Common Name Monte Carlo
Other Names New Large Pearl Grass, Bacopita
Scientific Name Micranthemum Tweediei
Difficulty Medium
Lighting Medium – High
Optimal pH
5.5 – 7.5
Optimal GH 2 – 15
Optimal Temperature 20 – 25C (68 – 77F)
Temperature Tolerance: 15 – 30C (59 – 86F)
Substrate Needed
Growth Rate Moderate
Height 3 – 6 cm (1 to 2.25 inches)
CO2 Preferable but can grow even without it
Propagation Splitting, cutting off daughter plants

Description:

Their creeping stalks have cheerful green leaves on them and they form a carpet on the foreground of your aquarium. Their fairly round bright green leaves are around 4 mm in diameter. This aquatic plant is similar to another aquatic plant called Hemianthus, commonly known as dwarf baby tears.

Origin:

They originate from Argentina and New Zealand.

Habitat:

Exposure to good light and an ample amount of CO2 let them thrive. They also grow in shady water beds.

Planting:

  • Once you have removed the plant from the pot, you need to cut the plant into 6 to 7 pieces depending on the size of your space.
  • Then, trim it off to 10 mm and place it right in the substrate.
  • You can anchor Monte Carlo with a ball of rock wool to keep it to your ideal place.
  • Finally, it will produce runners, and the stems will grow along the substrate.

Care:

  • The main care for this aquatic is trimming. Because when the plant grows up it forces to lift the plant off the substrate.
  • Planting Monte Carlo for the first time requires at least two weeks to settle down before trimming it off.
  • You can note that, if the plant is growing yellow leaves, that indicates it lacking nutrients.
  • Excess of CO2 might make it grow upwards faster than normal. Of course, it will give you better results in a CO2 rich tank. However, Monte Carlo is highly adaptable and easy to grow even without CO2, it will just take more time and require more light.
Monte Carlo – check out the price on Amazon

5. Red Tiger Lotus

Red Tiger Lotus (Nymphaea zenkeri)The beautifully striped, Red Tiger Lotus can be a colorful contrast among the green aquatic plants in your nano aquarium.

  • Keep it trimmed to make it a wonderful fore-ground and background plant in your space.
  • Tiger lotus has firm bulbs, lives on the surface of the substrate.
  • Its unique shape and red leaves are quite attractive and charming.

Quick Notes about Red Tiger Lotus

Common Name Red Tiger Lotus
Other Names Nymphaea Lotus, Tiger Lotus
Scientific Name Nymphaea zenkeri
Difficulty Easy-Medium
Lighting Medium – High
Optimal pH
5.5 – 7.5
Optimal GH 2 – 15
Optimal Temperature 22 – 28C (71 – 82F)
Substrate Needed
Growth Rate Moderate
Height 15 – 60 cm (5 to 25 inches)
CO2 Not needed – Low
Propagation Dividing the bulb or from seeds

Description:

Their bulbs are beautiful, and they spread lily pads and flowers on the surface of the water. Tiger lotus has firm bulbs, lives on the surface of the substrate.

Origin:

They originate from Southeast Asia and West tropical regions of Africa. They are found growing in the ditches of stagnant water, the side-lines of ponds, and lakes. Some population is also found in Europe and the hot springs of Northern Romania.

Habitat:

They can thrive in habitats with increased temperature as they are quite accepting of the temperatures of the water. Tiger lotus is also tolerable towards light and CO2 levels in the water.

Planting:

  • For planting, you just have to place the lively, firm bulbs on the surface of the substrate and let the root system develop underneath the well-fertilized substrate.
  • It is important not to plant it near the sensitive plant in your aquarium because tiger lotus takes most of the nutrients from the water columns in your tank.

Care:

  • Red Tiger lotus is quick to grow and takes most of the space of your aquarium. Therefore, you need to trim it and keep it under good surveillance to control its rapid growth.
  • To be efficient in growth control and keeping it compact, you can place the bulb in a plastic container. Put in a container with a substrate and fertilizer root and then cover it with netting fabric.
  • Another way of controlling its fast-growth is to cut the surface leaves and trim the flowers before they wilt, in this way the seeds will not spread in the tank.
  • If you do not want your Red Tiger Lotus to grow tall, trim it down and it will become “bushier”.
  • Maintain the light levels to control its growth. In high light levels, the Tiger lotus remains below the top surface of your tank but in low light level, it reaches the top surfaces, which makes it acquire a whole lot of your nano aquarium.
  • Ideally, try to maintain the nutrient, CO2 and light levels balanced to help tiger lotus thrive best. However, do not supply a lot, otherwise, it can grow huge.
  • Red Tiger Lotus does not like cold water an can go into dormancy and drop all of its leaves.
Red Tiger Lotus – check out the price on Amazon

6. Contortion Val.

Contortion Vals (Vallisneria sp.)Popular for their beautiful tall leaves, they make a nice hiding place for the shrimp and shy fishes in your tank.

  • The tips of their leaves are round in shape and they resemble the seagrass.
  • Their seagrass like appearance makes them an alluring addition in your Nano aquarium.

Quick Notes about Contortion Vals

Common Name Contortion Vals
Other Names Vallisneria, Eelgrass, Tape grass
Scientific Name Vallisneria sp.
Difficulty Easy-Medium
Lighting Medium
Optimal pH
6.5 – 8.5
Optimal GH 2 – 15
Optimal Temperature 17 – 27 C (63 – 82 F)
Substrate Needed
Growth Rate Moderate
Height 15 – 60 cm (5 to 25 inches)
CO2 Not needed – Low
Propagation Dividing the bulb or from seeds

Description:

The Contortion Vals are charming freshwater aquatic plants. The tips of their leaves are round in shape and they resemble the seagrass. They make the best foreground and background plants.

Origin:

They originate from Asia, Africa, and North America and Europe tropical and subtropical regions.

Habitat:

They are tolerant and adaptable freshwater plants. They spread easily along with the runner and rise in clusters. Sometimes these Contortion Vals form meadows underwater.

Planting:

  • For planting, you need to stick your Val into the substrate.
  • Make sure you do not plant it too deeply.
  • Especially take care of the sensitive, light part, known as the crown while planting.
  • Stick iron infused root tabs near the substrate to make your lovely Val thrive. However, mostly it is placed in the background of your aquarium due to its heights.

Care:

  • Vals are the easiest to grow and maintain.
  • Hard, alkaline waters are ideal for their growth.
  • Once your Val is all settled and developed its root system, it will start to grow dense. Later, you can cut a few off, and re-plant or remove them.
  • CO2 is not need but as with most plants appreciated.
Contortion Vals – check out the price on Amazon

7. Microsorum pteropus

Java Fern Windelov (Microsorum pteropus )Java Fern Windelov is one of the best easy to grow plants in the aquarium hobby, especially in low light conditions. They appear best for mid-ground or back-ground plants for your aquarium.

Quick Notes about Microsorum pteropus

Common Name Java Fern Windelov
Scientific Name Microsorum pteropus var. “Windelov”
Difficulty Easy
Lighting Low – Medium
Optimal pH
6.0 – 8.0
Optimal GH 1 – 12
Optimal Temperature 15 – 28 C (59 – 82 F)
Substrate Not Needed
Growth Rate Slow to Moderate
Height Up to 30 – 40 cm (~ 12 – 14 inches)
CO2 Not needed – Low
Propagation Separate by Rhizome, cutting off daughter plants

Description:

Java Fern Windelov is a beautiful and undemanding species. It is also one of the most durable ornamental plant in the hobby. This plant has a long, bright green leaves which separates into a bunch of fancy forks providing an attractive aquascape.

Origin:

Java Fern Windelov originates in tropical Southeast Asia (from southern China to the Indo-Malayan area). However, it was also recorded in Japan and the Pine Barrens of the New Jersey coast.

Habitat:

Java Fern Windelov grows on the waterline of mountain streams, rivers and waterfalls, as a wild grass in tropical rain forests, and even in coastal brackish areas.

Planting:

  • Attach Java Fern Windelov to driftwood or rock. You can use a nylon string (cotton sewing thread or even a zip tie) to tie it with the rock or driftwood. After some time the root will firmly attach themselves to the desired surface.
  • Make sure you do not plant it too deeply.

Care:

  • Java Fern Windelov does not like its roots to be buried or it will rot and recede.
  • This plant has a moderate rate of growth and will thrive in a low light environment.
  • Does not require fertilizers and CO2 but it will increase the growth.
  • High intensity lighting can melt the leaves or cause transparent patches on them.
  • This plant will be a great addition to any shrimp or fish tank. Java Fern Windelov will be an important refuge and grazing area for shrimp and fish as well as fry.
  • In addition, hard leaves make it unappetizing to fish.
Java Fern Windelov – check out the price on Amazon

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Content

link to Brine Shrimp: Life Cycle, Benefits & DIY Hatchery

Brine Shrimp: Life Cycle, Benefits & DIY Hatchery

Brine Shrimp (Artemia Salina) are saltwater organisms which are quite popular because of their great economic importance in the aquaculture industry. The brine shrimp is one of the typical filter-feeding plankton. They are small members of the fairy shrimp order Anostraca, they are characterized by their tiny structure, size and unique features essential for adaptability […]