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Putting an incompatible plant in a coldwater aquarium can kill it and ruin the water for your fishes. Please don't do it!

Granted, having live aquarium plants is necessary to keep fish happy in a tank. However, buying the wrong plant could do a lot more harm than good. The dead plant matter is toxic to the inhabitants of any aquarium.

If you have a coldwater aquarium and you're wondering which plants to buy, we have compiled a list of excellent options for you. This guide is complete with all its features, benefits, pros, and cons.

We will also highlight the species that stand out according to these criteria:

  • Best Low light
  • Best Beginner
  • Best Decorative
  • Best Versatile

7 Best Coldwater Aquarium Plants Reviews 

Coldwater Plants &

Suitable for Beginners/ Care

Ideal pH & Temperature Range (oF)

Propagation mode

Salvinia natans

(Yes/Easy)

6 – 8

54 – 86

Splitting or vegetative fragmentation

Marimo Moss

(Yes/Easy)

7 – 8

43 – 75

Splitting and rerolling

Amazon Sword

(Yes/Easy)

6 – 8

72 – 82

Adventitious plantlets/Splitting at the crown

Java Moss

(Yes/Easy)

5 – 9

59 – 90

Cutting the daughter plants and splitting

Ludwigia Repens

(Yes/Easy)

6 – 8 

68 – 82  

Cutting off the top shoots

Java Fern

(Yes/Easy)

6 – 8

68 – 82

Rhizome division

Red Root Floater

(Yes/Easy)

6.5 – 7.5

72 – 80

Cut from branch or stalks

Marimo moss is a unique plant because of its round shape, which is unlike any other aquarium plant. 

Key Features

It needs relatively little care or attention and doesn't require a light with high intensity. Sunlight will be sufficient for photosynthesis. However, be careful as they can sustain damage from the plecostomus, crayfish, and goldfish.

Marimo Moss propagates by splitting, and you can reroll them to sprout new plants. It requires a pH of 7.0-8.0, a temperature range of 43 – 75oF, and a water quality ranging from very soft to very hard.

Pros

  • It doesn't add waste to the tank because it doesn't shed leaves
  • You can make creative features in your tank with the balls
  • They have beneficial bacteria that helps cycling
  • Small fish and inverts can graze on this plant
  • Although at a slow rate, it reduces nitrates

Cons

  • The balls could change color if it becomes unclean or gets excessive light
  • Algae might attach to it and make it slimy

Our Thoughts:

These plants are perfect for tanks without any substrate as they get all their nutrients from the water.

What Other Keeper Say:

"This is the second batch I ordered. The first has been growing wonderfully in my tank after several months."

Amazon Sword (Best Low Light)

Amazon Sword (Echinodorus grisebachii) is one of the most popular plants in aquariums.

Key Features

The plant is a low-light plant and should be okay with 2 watts light/gallon. It grows to great heights, and its broad leaves tend to spread out in different directions. It is most appropriate in the center of your tank. Amazon Sword is a hardy plant that will thrive well in almost any water condition.

This plant propagates through splitting at the crown or through its adventitious plantlets. It requires a pH of 6.0-8.0, a temperature range of 72 – 82oF, and a water quality ranging from low to high-conc mineral content.

Pros

  • Serves as an excellent source of biofilm for shrimplets and new fry
  • Keeps the tank in check by reducing excess nutrients
  • Has a root system that prevents gas pockets
  • Serves as a great focal point for jungle aquascape
  • Offers a good hiding place for the weaker aquarium fishes

Cons

  • Excessive light and adverse water condition encourage algae growth
  • Very hard to move around because of its deep roots

Our Thoughts:

This plant is mainly helpful for decorative purposes and can survive for up to two years in good condition.

What Other Keeper Say:

"It has strong roots and revitalized my tank. Looks very pleasing."

Java Moss (Best Versatile)

Java Moss is perhaps the most popular plant in aquarium practice because of its versatility and ease of growth.

Key Features

Java Moss is excellent for a coldwater tank set-up because it can grow and thrive, thanks to its extensive temperature range. It is also effortless to maintain as there is no need for fertilizers, special lighting, or CO2 injections. Just put it in your tank and trim it periodically, and you should be fine.

Java Moss propagates by splitting, or you can cut off the daughter plants to replant. It requires a pH of 5.0 - 9.0, a temperature range of 59 – 90o F, and a water quality ranging from very soft to very hard.

Pros

  • Filters the tank through chemical and biological means
  • Excellent foraging place for fishes
  • Significantly improve your tank aesthetic
  • Aerates the water through its activities
  • Encourages the growth of biofilm

Cons

  • Discoloration when there is inadequate light or nutrients
  • Without proper care, algae growth may become a challenge

Our Thoughts:

This is perhaps the cheapest, most versatile, and low-maintenance plant for aquariums.

What Other Keeper Say:

"It was delivered faster than I expected. Even though this is my first try, I am impressed and considering adding another one to my set-up."

Ludwigia Repens (Best Decorative)

Ludwigia Repens has several other names, including Red Repens, Red-Leaf Ludwigia, Ludwigia repens Rubin, etc.

Key Features

The plant is popular because of its distinct leaf colors, brown, deep red, or green. You can plant it in your aquarium background to give it an excellent aesthetic appeal with the bright colors or leave it to float around. It will be great in almost any aquarium as it can withstand an extensive range of water parameters.

You can propagate this plant by cutting off the top shoots and replanting in the substrate. It requires a pH of 6.0-8.0, a temperature range of 60 – 86oF, and a water quality ranging from low to high mineral concentration.

Pros

  • Excellent for breaking up anaerobic pockets
  • Fosters the growth of biofilm
  • Has a lot of options for color variety
  • Helps in ridding the tank of nitrates and excess nutrients
  • Excellent addition for aquascape enthusiasts

Cons

  • Deficiency might result in white leaves or holes
  • Prone to lose the lower leaves when tall

Our Thoughts:

This plant will add a great deal of beauty to your tank; however, stay away if you have hostile or aggressive fish species.

What Other Keeper Say:

"This is now my new favorite aquarium plant. It gave my aquarium a whole new look, and now I can't stop looking at it."

The Salvinia natans has many names; Floating Fern, Floating Watermoss, Water Butterfly Moss, and Floating Moss. As you might already tell from the above terms, this is a floating aquarium plant because its roots don't need to attach to the soil.

Key Features

Salvinia natans is a fast-growing plant that is easy to maintain. It can survive in diverse water conditions, and the hair on its leaves prevents the growth of algae. You don't even need fertilizers for it to thrive in your tank.

This plant propagates by splitting or vegetative fragmentation. It requires a pH of 6 - 8, a temperature range of 54 – 86oF, and a light intensity ranging from moderate to high.

Pros

  • Reduces the level of nitrates in the tank
  • Excellent hiding spot for a fish fry 
  • Gives shades for aquarium inhabitants and other plants that do not like light
  • Shrimp can graze on this plant
  • Inhibits algae growth 

Cons

  • Not a good source of nutrition for the other aquatic creatures
  • If it covers the water surface, there might be an oxygen depletion in your tank

Our Thoughts:

We see this plant as ideal for a water garden because it loves humid environments.

What Other Keeper Say:

"I'm very impressed with what I got. From the packing down to the plants in the box. It's money well spent!"

Java Fern (Microsorum Pteropus) is excellent for low-tech aquarium set-ups and unheated tanks. 

Key Features

It is slower than most of the other plants on this list, especially initially, but it will take a beautiful shape fast when it becomes accustomed to the tank. Java Fern is also undemanding and will require little attention or fertilizers.

This plant plays well with aggressive fishes because the leaves are bitter and hard so that they can resist their nibbling.

Propagation Java Fern is easy. Split up the rhizomes into smaller sizes and attach them to the surface with a binder. Alternatively, the Java Fern can produce plantlets naturally, and you detach from the parent plant. It requires a pH of 6.0-8.0, a temperature range of 68 – 82oF, and a water quality ranging from low to high amounts of mineral ion concentration.

Pros

  • Keeps the conditions in the tank stable
  • Very versatile
  • Hardy and easy to maintain
  • Bushes give cover to smaller fishes
  • Absorbs substances that are harmful to fishes

Cons

  • Excessive lighting may lead to brown spots
  • Transferring the plant can make it melt

Our Thoughts:

Java Fern is excellent for beginners or experts and is also inexpensive.

What Other Keeper Say Say:

"I'm so glad it arrived without any pests or worms. It's been in my tank for two weeks now, and so far, no complaints."

Red Root Floater (Phyllanthus fluitans) is a brightly red-colored aquarium plant known for its fast-growing nature. It is an excellent choice for beginners since it doesn't require much care.

Key Features

It's best to keep the Red Root Floater in open-top tanks since it can't withstand excess moisture or humidity. The unique red coloration of this plant will come out when you keep it in a highlighting condition.

Red Root Floater propagates itself when it branches from the side shoots. You can also divide the mature stalk between leaves and roots' clusters or split the daughter plants. It requires a pH of 6.5-7.5, a temperature range of 72 – 80oF, and a water quality ranging from soft to moderate hardness levels.

Pros

  • Great filter for diffusing bright light
  • Gives your tank a natural and beautiful look
  • Highly effective against algae growth
  • Great breeding space for dwarf shrimp and egg scatterers
  • Oxygenates the tank water

Cons

  • Deficiency can cause holes or discoloration
  • May overcrowd your tank in a short time

Our Thoughts:

This is an excellent addition if you want to add a shade of red to your tank. It doesn't need a lot of attention and will work with most tank set-ups.

What Other Keeper Say:

"I ordered just two of this plant, and they've grown very nicely, beautifying my tank."

FAQs and Additional Tips

Do aquarium plants need warm water?

Many aquarium plants have their origin in tropical areas, so it's safe to say they prefer warmer water conditions. Also, a lot of plants found beside freshwater bodies have the water temperature change with the season. However, every plant is unique, with conditions peculiar to each one, and there are many different types of them.

What are the benefits of putting plants in cold water aquariums?

  • Encourages your fishes to spawn and acts as a sheltered spot for new fishes.
  • Give oxygen in daylight hours for the fishes to use. In turn, the fishes then produce CO2, which the plants need.
  • Improve the water quality and use up the nutrients from leftover food, organic debris, and fish waste to prevent algae growth.
  • Give your fishes a level of safety.

Can aquarium plants grow in cold water? So, What is the ideal temperature for your aquarium plants?

Yes, aquarium plants can survive and thrive in low temperatures, just like the ones listed above. The ideal temperature for a coldwater aquarium that plants can thrive in is 60 – 75oF.

Final Verdict (Which is the Best)

If you don't have any special requirements, you can choose any of the above plants for your coldwater aquarium, and they'll all perform excellently. 

The overall best plant on this list that ticks all the right boxes is the Java Moss. There's a reason why it's one of the most widely used plants in aquarium practice, especially aquascaping. It grows fast, can survive in most water conditions, needs minimal care, and looks good in aquariums.

Other great options are Marimo Moss which is excellent for beginners, and the Ludwigia Repens, which gives you decorative freedom to make your tank look amazing.

Remember to take note of the ones that aren't compatible with aggressive fishes so you can choose one that matches your tank inhabitants.

And if you're looking for some carpet plants to diversify your aquarium, we have a guide on picking the right plants for you.


About the author 

erictoth595

My name is Eric. I'm the owner of snugaquarium.net and a writer with a passion for aquariums and fish-keeping. I love to watch the three different species of freshwater fish floating around in my homemade aquarium in my spare time.

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