Buying an aquarium carpet plant is a risky business because the wrong decision could kill your fish.
Yes, it’s true.
When you don’t have all the information about a carpet plant, it may die under your watch. And rotten plants are very toxic to fishes.
There’s also the risk of getting a plant and being unable to control its growth rate. The result is that they deprive your fish of much-needed nutrients and sunlight.
The ONLY way to avoid these problems is information.
You need to know all about the best aquarium carpet plants in the market and how to take care of them.
There are several carpet plants, and it might be confusing knowing the ones to choose, so we have compiled a list of the best carpet plants. Check out their features, benefits, pros, and cons in this wholesome review. We’ll also highlight the species with the following unique features:
- Best low-light conditions
- Best for beginner
- Best low maintenance
- Best without CO2
Let’s begin, shall we?
What Are Aquarium Carpet Plants?
Here is our simple definition.
Aquatic carpet plants are live vegetation that lay on the substrate’s surface to form a natural carpet in the aquarium.
Apart from adding a lot of beauty to your aquarium, you can derive many more benefits from keeping them, including making your tank environment healthier for your fishes.
Suitable for Beginners/ Care Level
Ideal pH and Temperature Range (oF)
(Best Low-light Conditions)
6.0 – 8.0
68 – 82
6.5 – 7.5
72 – 79
No/Medium – Difficult
6.0 – 7.5
68 – 75
Cuttings and by runners
(Best Low Maintenance)
6.0 – 7.5
68 – 77
(Best Without CO2)
5.5 – 7.5
68 – 77
Cutting daughter plants off and splitting
6.0 – 8.0
64 – 77
Producing runners/ Stolond
No/ Medium – Hard
6.5 – 7.5
72 – 86
6.5 – 7.5
72 – 80
Vegetatively through runners
Java Moss Carpet(Overall Best)
5.0 – 9.0
59 – 90
Splitting and cutting daughter plant
2021’s Reviews of Top Aquarium Carpet Plants
Java Moss Carpet (Overall Best)
Java Moss (Taxiphyllum Barbieri) is a popular plant in aquariums because of its resiliency and beauty. It grows fast and propagates easily, and is also great for beginners.
You can quickly identify this plant with its stringy branched stem attached to a cluster of small round-shaped green leaves. Just like other mosses, it uses rhizomes as its roots by attaching itself to surfaces. The leaves help it survive by absorbing all the nutrients it needs to live.
This plant propagates through division, which means you can break pieces of the plant and attach them to surfaces to grow. It requires a pH of 5.0 – 9.0, a temperature range of 59 – 90oF, and a water quality ranging from soft to hard.
- Helps in the process of filtering the tank
- Serves as an excellent breeding spot for egg-laying fish species
- Great foraging place for tiny fish, juvenile fish, and invertebrates
- Helps to oxygenate the water
- Doesn’t need CO2, fertilization, or additional light
- Inadequate nutrients can cause discoloration
- May be susceptible to algae growth rate
Java Moss is one of the easiest plants to take care of and is perhaps one of the most versatile plants that can survive in any condition.
What Customer Says
“Came as described. In only a week, it’s already giving me impressive results! Great purchase!”
Pygmy Chain Sword (Best Beginner)
Pygmy Chain Sword (Echinodorus tellenus) grows naturally in the Americas, where you will find it partially or fully submerged in ponds, streams, marshes, and other similar habitats. This plant is popular among beginners, and its unique ability to change its color based on the light intensity of your tank is perhaps its greatest feature.
The plants overlay each other in the tank because of their feathery appearance and feel. They have thin leaves of about 5mm and could grow to heights of 5 – 10 cm. They are one of the fastest-growing carpet plants when conditions are optimal.
Don’t confuse this for the Dwarf Sagittaria. You may want to watch out for the thinner leaves and slightly duller green color of the Pygmy Chain Sword.
This plant propagates through its seeds which get produced naturally in immersed plants. It requires a pH of 6.5 – 7.5, a temperature range of 72 – 79oF, and a water quality ranging from soft to hard.
- Grows fast without the need for CO2.
- Sports an extensive root system that prevents gas pockets from forming
- Can form dense carpets quite easily in your tank
- Helps to absorb toxins from the water
- Makes for an excellent decorative piece for your tank
- Its extensive root system makes it difficult to transfer
- Needs a high nutrient substrate and high lighting to thrive
This is a great plant for beginners and experienced hands alike to beautify their plant. Mixing it up with other vegetation can help compliment the green colors and make your tank more beautiful.
What Customer Says
“You will be amazed by how fast this plant grows. I would advise you to stay away from it if you don’t have a large tank that can accommodate it.”
Dwarf Sagittaria (Best Low-light Conditions)
Dwarf Sagittaria (Sagittaria subulata) is a bright plant that looks like grass and is excellent for foreground planting in freshwater aquariums. It doesn’t need a lot of work, which puts it at an advantage over other foreground aquarium carpet plants. It’s a great choice for beginners who can maintain all of the conditions for their well-being.
Dwarf Sagittaria is quite sizable foliage with bright green colors. It grows to lengths of about 10 – 15 cm, making it ideal for those with large tanks that can accommodate their fast growth rate. You can easily recognize the leaves as they are narrow and stiff, usually about 5 mm.
These carpet plants will form a thick mat mass on your aquarium substrate. However, you have to note that high lighting is not favorable, as the plant may start to melt.
This plant propagates by sending off runners that will eventually branch off on the substrate. It requires a pH of 6.0-8.0, a temperature range of 68 – 82oF, and a water quality ranging from soft to hard.
- Sets properly in the substrate
- Grows fast in the proper conditions
- Durable and hardy
- Flourishes in low light conditions
- Can survive in cooler weather and temperatures
- Requires some trimming
- Challenging to move from the emersed form to the submersed form
This is an ideal carpet plant in almost all situations. Its average size means it will be great in the middle-ground as well as the foreground of tanks.
What Customers Say
“The color is very vivid, and I was pleased that there were no worms or snails in the packet.”
Marsilea Hirsuta (Best Low Maintenance)
Marsilea Hirsuta is a plant species that naturally grows in Australia. It’s common among beginners because of its undemanding nature. It is a great choice for decorating your aquarium’s foreground because of its rigid size, carpeting plant’s ability, and slow growth rate.
This plant has various leaf structures and forms, which are always exciting to discover. If you have a gravel or sand substrate, the plants will need many fertilizers to keep them growing as they should. They generally grow slowly, but CO2 can help improve the speed greatly. They can grow to heights of 10 cm.
If you’re getting this plant, look at it carefully because you might mistake them for another species because of its small size. This plant propagates from its rhizomes that creep up on the substrate and spread quickly. It requires a pH of 6.0 – 7.0, a temperature range of 64 – 77oF, and a water quality ranging from soft to hard.
- Doesn’t need a lot of care or attention
- Develops into excellent looking carpets
- Grows well in low light conditions
- Requires small quantity of CO2
- Anchors well into the substrate of the tank
- Grows slowly compared to other plants on this list
- Runs the risk of melting when you move it from the emersed form to the submersed form
Putting this plant in your aquarium can immediately give it a luxurious look at an affordable price. It’s an easy-to-grow plant that beginners should have no problems with.
What Customers Say
“Exactly as described on the website! It only took a couple of days for it to start blossoming and fill up my tank beautifully.”
Monte Carlo (Best Without CO2)
Monte Carlo (Micranthemum Tweediei) is a small plant with a light green color. The leaves are round, and it has creeping stems. You might mistake it for Dwarf baby tears, with the main difference being that it has bigger leaves, and the Monte Carlo is easier to maintain and grow.
This plant is relatively new to the scene, but it makes a perfect addition to freshwater tanks, even for beginners. You can identify this plant from its attractive light green color that runs through the plant and its small, round leaves that measure up to 1 cm. You need not worry about the lighting conditions except in low lights, making the stem turn yellow. Overall, this plant should reach heights between 3 – 6cm.
This plant easily propagates from its runners that branch off horizontally on the substrate. You can also split the mature stems and cultivate them to propagate this plant. It requires a pH of 5.5 – 7.5, a temperature range of 68 – 77oF, and a water quality ranging from soft to hard.
- Can grow blissfully in tanks without any CO2 injection
- Forms dense carpets in tanks without much effort.
- Does not need to get trimmed constantly
- It is undemanding
- Can grow excellently in most light conditions
- Can be challenging to attach sturdily to the substrate.
- May melt when you have just started planting it
Some might wrongly believe this plant is difficult to maintain and cultivate like other aquarium carpet plants. But the Monte Carlo is one of the exceptions to this as it will be a favorite in any beginner’s aquarium.
What Customer Says
“Even with no experience with this plant whatsoever, I was pleasantly amazed by its performance. I will be recommending it to everyone I know.”
Brazilian Micro Sword
Brazilian Micro Sword (Lilaeopsis brasiliensis) is a plant species naturally from South America. You can generally find it in streams, wetlands, and ditches. The source of its name is the leaves, which have a narrow shape like a sword.
The Brazillian Micro sword can thrive in many living conditions and is a great choice for beginners that are just getting the hang of handling carpet plants. It grows up to about 7 cm in length and is a great foreground choice for planted tanks. It’s better to put it in nutrient-rich substrates to allow it to grow and sprout properly.
This plant propagates as it will cover your whole aquarium substrate at a quick pace, thereby forming grass lawns. It requires a pH of 6.0 – 8.0, a temperature range of 64 – 77oF, and a water quality ranging from moderate to hard.
- Great shelter spot for bottom-living fish and shrimp
- Propagation is very easy
- Great for any lighting condition
- Easy to plant
- Doesn’t demand as much as other plants maintenance-wise
- Grows slowly without CO2
- Might melt after moving from an emersed form to a submersed form
I think this plant is great for making your aquarium look bigger than it is because of its small and delicate leaves. Keep in mind that you’ll have to keep its CO2 levels high for it to grow fast.
What Customer Says
“Make sure to keep all of the CO2 levels as required, or you might not notice a lot of growth. Other than that, purchasing it has been a great decision.”
Glosso (Glossostigma elatinoides) is a green plant with a natural abundance in New Zealand and Australia, where you can find it growing in marshes, bogs, or shallow water bodies. It’s a versatile plant that can survive in various conditions and forms dense mats on tank foregrounds.
To get the best results from Glosso, you should keep it in a substrate that is rich in nutrients because the root system might take some time to develop. The tiny leaves have the shape of a tongue and glow bright green.
They typically don’t exceed a size of 6 mm. It favors high light conditions and will not grow fast without adequate sunlight, fertilization, and CO2. Make sure to keep it trimmed, or the old leaves will start to rot from the bottom.
This plant propagates fast by sending off its lateral shoots or runners. It requires a pH of 6.5 – 7.5, a temperature range of 72 – 86oF, and a water quality ranging from soft to hard.
- Easy to grow in the ideal conditions
- Looks very attractive, and its green leaves are pleasing to look at
- Keeps its compact form
- Remains one of the smallest carpeting plants
- Needs CO2 and intense light for proper growth
- Requires regular trimming
This is a demanding plant that beginners should leave to the experts. However, if you’re up to the task and give it all the attention and conditions, it makes for an excellent carpet plant.
What Customer Says
“I have been looking for something to beautify my tank, and boy, am I glad I stumbled on this! Will be coming back for more.”
Dwarf Hairgrass Carpet
Dwarf hairgrass (Eleocharis Acicularis) is a plant with a favorable reputation in all parts of the world. Its natural habitat is at the edge of slowly moving swamps, lakes, rivers, and ponds. It’s ideal for tanks that have a low water level.
As the name suggests – Dwarf hairgrass, this plant has grass-like properties and usually grows in rosettes. It can grow to heights of 10 – 15cm quickly (faster in high light conditions). Its leaves have a hair-like structure and more at home in nutrient-rich substrates. The runners of this plant tend to form small tufts of green, delicate, and slender stems.
This plant propagates by sending off runners that will eventually spread all around the tank and start growing too. It requires a pH of 6.5 – 7.5, a temperature range of 50 – 77oF, and a water quality ranging from soft to hard.
- A great shelter for bottom fishes and fry
- Removes excess nutrients by absorbing toxins and heavy materials from the water
- Inhibits gas pockets by breaking up anaerobic pockets in the soil substrate
- Can survive in cooler temperatures
- Easy to cultivate and makes for stunning lawns
- Greatly susceptible to the growth rate of algae
- Has a slow growth rate without CO2
- Can clog up with debris fast
Even though Dwarf hairgrass has a delicate appearance, this plant is very strong and can withstand different temperature ranges. You only need a few in your tank, and they’ll spread in no time!
What Customers Say
“What came in the pack was more than expected – had to give some to a friend. Overall I’m very pleased with this Dwarf hairgrass.”
Dwarf Baby Tears
The Dwarf baby tears (Hemianthus Callitrichoides) are among the smallest and most outstanding carpet plants for recreating foregrounds in many planted tanks. The glowing green plant has small, round leaves that have a light texture. The creeping stems spread quickly to tank bottoms and get deep in the substrate to get nutrients.
This Dwarf baby tears is easy to grow but generally has a small structure between 3 and 5cm in height. The roots are also tiny and have a distinct white color that sets them apart from other carpet plants. You will, however, need to keep giving it CO2 injections and keep it away from hard water so it keeps growing properly.
You can propagate this plant by cutting off or splitting the mature stems away from the thick carpet, thereby allowing you to grow them on the substrate. It requires a pH of 6.0 – 7.5, a temperature range of 68 – 82oF, and a water quality ranging from soft to medium.
- Maintains its small shape
- A great forage ground for shrimps because it improves their survival
- Adds oxygen to your tank through its natural activities
- Creates an environment where fishes can mate and hide
- Absorbs nitrates from the water and inadvertently helps filtration
- Requires fertilizers and consistent doses of CO2
- Needs high lighting conditions to thrive
- Tends to create challenges when you try to plant and attach it to the substrate
Although Dwarf Baby tears are a versatile species, they are also unpredictable. It might be challenging for beginners to take care of and would be better off with professionals.
What Customer Says
“Even though it took about three weeks to get my delivery, I got it in perfect condition without any discolorations, and it has been a great addition to my tank.”
FAQs and Additional Tips
How to Grow Aquarium Carpet Plants?
Here are tips for growing carpet plants in your tank.
Substrate: Put nutrient-rich substrates in your tank that will support the plants. You can prepare the substrate yourself, but we would recommend buying a prepared one.
CO2 Injections: This is necessary for some plants to grow fast and thrive.
Lighting: Regulate the lighting of your aquarium based on the needs of your carpet plants.
Planting: Separate the plants and wash them properly before planting them in your tank. Keep a space of one inch between them; also, make sure the roots are planted firm and the leaves have access to light.
Fertilization: Regular doses of liquid fertilizers can promote your plant’s growth rate.
How to Clean Your Tank with Carpet Plants?
Run a vacuum and hover around the carpet plants’ surface so it can cuck the debris out. You can also use a fan to blow on the carpet plant and use your hand so the filter will take up all the waste. Feel free to clean the remaining parts of the tank the same way.
Do All Carpet Plants Need CO2 Injection?
Even though all plants need CO2 for photosynthesis, they don’t all need CO2 injections. While some require them to grow well, others will do just fine without them.
Can You Put Lawn Grass in an aquarium?
No, lawn grass isn’t proper in an aquarium. It will drown then rot in the tank. Also, since grass needs soil, this could be a challenge as it would mess up the tank.
All of the above aquarium carpet plants are excellent additions to any tank, and they all have aspects where they excel more than others.
However, if we were to choose one, it would be the Java Moss because it isn’t demanding. Also, it’s easy to get. The plant’s versatility allows you to change it up as a floating plant if you wish.
Pygmy Chain Sword is the fastest grower on this list, so if that is all you care for, it makes an excellent choice as it is also great for beginners.
Above all, irrespective of the one you choose, remember to keep up with all the carpets plants’ requirements, including the lighting, CO2, and proper maintenance.
In case you are also looking for floating aquarium plants, we wrote a review about that on our page.