How to Grow Aquarium Plants from Seeds (The Beginner’s Guide)

Did you know that aquarium plants are the superheroes of tank life? Why you may ask?

  • Beautify your fish tank and serve as a source of food for some fishes. 
  • Contribute to the oxygen levels in the tank and
  •  Remove harmful elements like phosphates and nitrates. 

Hence, it’s vital to know how these plants grow from seeds.You have the option of growing your aquarium plant from seeds or purchasing already grown plants from the store and transplanting them. Among the several methods of plant propagation, those methods (seeds and transplants) are two of the most convenient for beginners.

If you choose to go the route of growing your plants from seeds, you might be confused about how to go about it. This guide will tell you everything you need to know about growing aquarium plants from seeds, including grass plants.

Types of Plant You Can Grow in Your Aquarium – With and Without Seeds

Plants vary by different metrics, making some more appropriate for certain environments and conditions than others. There are three main categories of plants that can grow excellently in a fish tank.

Let’s find out!

Rooted Plants

These plants propagate through their runners rather than seeds and are perfect for background plantation. If you want to plant these in your fish tank, you need to ensure their roots are planted in gravel firmly but only to the base of the crown.

Examples of this vegetation are Sword Plant, Elodea, Eel Grass (Vallisneria), and Farnworth (Cabomba).

Bunch Plants

You typically plant these in groups or bunches – hence the name. You should have no growth problem with them, as they’re fast growers so long as you supply enough light. You would plant it, with each strand having its hole.

Examples of these plants are Ambulia, Bacopa australis, and Anacharis.

Floating Plants

You don’t need to anchor floating plants to the gravel as they take root in your aquarium water. However, they respond to a lot of light, so the more light you give them, the faster they grow to become lush and attractive. Be careful because they could easily take over your fish tank.

Examples are Anacharis, Hornwort, and Crystalwort.

Step-by-Step Guide to Growing Aquarium Plants from Seeds

Follow our guides below to successfully navigate the process of growing an aquarium plant from seeds and planting aquarium grass seeds.

General Steps for Growing Aquarium Plants from Seeds

  1. Purchase the seeds of the plant you intend to grow from online marketplaces or your local fish stores.
  2. Only bring the plant seeds out of the packaging when you have prepared a seedbed for them, or you can keep them in a container filled with clean water while you prepare the seedbed.
  3. Make the seabed by getting a garden pot or any container with holes at the bottom and fill it with peat or garden soil. 
  4. To ensure the soil is always wet, put a saucer or plate filled with water below it. Spread the potting media to ensure water touches all the spots and water the peat.
  5. Once the seedbed is ready, remove the seeds from the holding water or packs and place them in the bed. Put them slightly above the potting media, and if the seeds are very small, you can leave them uncovered; otherwise, cover them a bit.
  6. Leave for some days so the seeds will germinate before transplanting into your tank.
  7. Once they are about 2-3 inches tall and have a well-developed root system, you can transplant them into your tank. If your fishes prefer plants in their diet, make sure to feed them before transplanting.
  8. Depending on the species, provide the plants (seeds) with the conditions and nutrients they need to grow, including carbon dioxide, light, and fertilizers.

Steps for Planting Aquarium Grass Seeds in a Fish Tank

  1. Put approximately 0.06 ounces of macro fertilizer in a bottle of water with a sprayer. Set out about 0.03 ounces between the sprayer and bottle before spraying properly.
  2. Pour the bottle of water that has fertilizer around the tank. Place your plant seeds in a bowl, then use your hands to spread across the substrate so they’re even on the surface.
  3. Spray the solution in the sprayer into the tank until you have covered all the spaces in the substrate.
  4. Place a transparent plastic on the top of your tank to release evaporation, expose the tank to light, and leave it for about 7-10 days.
  5. During the period while you’re leaving the setup to germinate, keep checking it every day. If you see that the substrate is too dry, take away the plastic cover and spray the fish tank some more before putting the plastic back.
  6. As soon as the live plants or seeds have grown and established themselves in the tank, you can set up other aspects of the aquarium. Add water gradually as the plant develops.

How To Anchor an Aquarium Plant

When you don’t want to use seeds, you will need to anchor certain plants. Here are the different ways to anchor aquatic plants in your tank:

Plant Anchors

These are some dedicated equipment for anchoring plants. They are bendable and soft lead strips you can wrap around your plants to keep them in place. You may get these from your local aquarium store or online marketplaces.


You can use heavy rocks in your tank and place them around the base of your plant. This will weigh them down and keep them in place.


We recommend you tie the plants to any driftwood pieces in your tank. You can put the entire plant under a fragment of driftwood. The wood will keep the center of the plant down while the other parts float.

Leave in their Pots

If you got your plants in pots, you could leave them inside or place them in a small clay pot yourself.

Nylon Mesh

If you have smaller carpeting plants or mosses, this will be the perfect option for you. The mesh will cover the plants, hold them down, and give them something they can hang on to and stay in place.

Growing Aquarium Plants on Top of the Fish Tank

There is the hydroponic growing aquarium, allowing the plants to grow on top of the tank.

The appropriate way to

  • Handle this to set up a tank under a light source. 
  • Plant the seeds in oasis or Rockwool cubes. 
  • As soon as the plants germinate and seedlings start growing, put them in holes made from a polystyrene board.
  • Place the board at the top of your tank so it can drift along the water surface. 

A typical size that should work is 1-inch square holes in the board with a spacing of six inches apart. This makes it comfortable to grow six different lush plants in your aquarium simultaneously.

How Long Does it Take the Seeds to Grow?

Seeds could vary vastly in their speed of growth. However, germination should take place between 7-15 days, with the average being ten weeks.

From germination, a seed could take several months to become a full-grown plant, depending on the species it falls under.

The growth of your seeds is also dependent on other factors like the conditions. Generally, If you give aquarium seeds sufficient lighting, carbon dioxide, and fertilizers, they will grow faster.

Growing Information and How to Care for The Aquarium Seeds

Taking care of aquatic plants and their seeds isn’t challenging, especially if you choose low-maintenance plants. You have to focus on the following and keep them in check.


Fertilizers seeds plant the nutrients they need to grow.

The major aspect you have to take note of with fertilizers is using the appropriate amount – too little, too much, or wrong fertilizers could have unpleasant effects on your plants, seeds, and aquarium as a whole.

Check the pH and light levels before putting any fertilizer in your tank, and remember that liquid fertilizers will require more doses than tablets.

However, the frequency of fertilization will depend on plant size, water temperature, and type of soil. Warmer water temperatures mean more growth, so your seeds will need more fertilizers. Hence, always keep track of the temperature in your tank.


Since plants cannot get lighting from the sun for photosynthesis in a tank, you need to provide artificial lighting.

This isn’t just light from any source, as it should be the red and blue light spectrum. You can use fluorescent, LED lighting, and metal halide to recreate these two spectrums. The lightning strength varies by the aquarium, but two watts of light per gallon is recommended.

You should leave the light on for about 8-12 hours in a planted aquarium. This also varies according to the needs of an aquarium. A light timer can help you set a schedule so you can keep track of how much light you expose your plants to and the reaction.


Plants use carbon dioxide alongside light for the process of photosynthesis and release oxygen as a byproduct.

This makes CO2 a necessity for seeds to grow, and if there isn’t enough in your tank, they’ll take from what the fishes and bacteria release naturally in the tank.

Compressed CO2 is the best way to give your plants and seeds the additional gas they need to complete photosynthesis.

However, most easy-to-care beginner plants and seeds don’t need a lot of carbon dioxide, and more advanced plants will need some more. 

If you notice reddish-orange or bright red colors, it might mean iron and carbon dioxide deficiency. Examples of plants that need only a little are Lilaeopsis, Water Wisteria, and Java Moss.


The substrate is the material at the bottom of tanks that typically affects the filtration, water chemistry, and survivability of the fishes and plants in your aquarium.

Selecting the proper substrate is key in keeping a healthy plant and aquarium. The three main types of the substrate are:


This is ideal for aquariums with only fishes and does not need a lot of maintenance. If you intend to have plants in your aquarium, use this substrate as only a top layer.


If you have many plants in your aquarium, this is the best option because it is rich in nutrients. They also lower the pH levels in the tank and help the absorption of the nutrients.


This is the cleanest of all the substrates and won’t put a lot of work on the filter. It is a great choice for aquarium seeds, and you can choose between play sand or sandblasting material.

Maintaining the Aquarium Plants

Maintaining the aquarium plants includes cleaning them, trimming, and removing algae & snails from them. Proper maintenance keeps them looking healthy.


Make a solution with 10% bleach (44 tablespoons) in one gallon of water. Remove the plants from the aquarium and place them in the solution five minutes before soaking in regular water.


Keeping your plants trimmed ensures they don’t take up all the space in your aquarium, especially for fast-growing plants.

Removing Algae

This is the same bleaching process as cleaning the plants. Instead of just putting it in the bleach solution, rub it gently to remove the algae.

Removing Snails

You need a Potassium Permanganate solution to remove snails from your aquarium plants. Add water till it turns pink and soaks the plants inside for 10-20 minutes before rinsing the plant off in dechlorinated water. You can also use aquarium salts to remove snails.

Handling an Established Aquarium

You can grow plants from seeds in an established aquarium without transplanting, even though that is the easiest way. This will entail adding the seeds in a complete setup without fish or water and just a wet planting substrate such as seachem fluorite black gravel.

If you have an empty fish tank that you just evacuated because of an infestation, this method is easier to perform.

Allow the plant seeds to germinate for about ten days before adding water to the tank, slowly ensuring the plants don’t get submerged.

When you’ve given it enough time, and you believe the seedlings will survive when it is submerged fully, you can add more water and fill up your tank. Then proceed to add the other tank inhabitants, such as the fishes and decorations.


Can lawn grass grow in an aquarium?

No, lawn grass isn’t categorized as an aquatic plant, and it cannot grow while submerged in water. A great alternative that has a semblance to lawn grass is any species of aquarium grass. These are low-growing aquarium vegetation that looks like blades of grass, and you can use them to create a lawn in your aquarium.

How do you grow grass from seed?

Step 1

Get a cup or container and make holes big enough for water to drain through beneath. Fill the container with peat or soils to a minimum of 1-inch thickness.

Step 2

Put the carpet seeds at the top of the soil gently. Carpet grass seeds are very small and similar to dust particles so take extra care while handling them.

Step 3

Look for a medium-size container compared to the size of the container with your soils and fill it up with water. Ensure the water isn’t deeper than the container with your soil.

Step 4

Place the cup with your grass seeds inside the container that has the water. While placing it, ensure the water does not enter the cup from the top, only the bottom.

Step 5

Place the setup under a light source and leave it for about 7-10 days until the seeds germinate.

How do you plant aquatic plants in an aquarium?

  • Firstly, try to limit the number of plants, especially if you have a small tank so the fishes will still have space to swim around smoothly.
  • Add 2-3 inches of substrate to the bottom of the tank
  • Apply fertilizers according to the directions on the package
  • Fill the fish tank up to half of its volume with water
  • Set the plants in the gravel so they’re up to the stem bases. If you have plants with bulbs and tubers, cover up the bulb with substrate until the growing tip.
  • Add decorations to the tank and fill up the tank with water.

Should I use fish waste and water for plants?

Yes, fish waste and water are useful elements that you shouldn’t just dispose of because they are useful to the aquarium seeds and vegetation. Fish poop can act as fertilizer as one of the most popular fertilizers (fish emulsion) as one of the main ingredients.

You can also use the water from your tank to irrigate plants as it has rich nutrients that could benefit plants. However, this only applies to freshwater tanks.


There you have it!

We should have answered most (if not all) of the questions you might have about growing aquarium plants from seeds.

Follow our step-by-step guide to growing the plants from seeds, and you shouldn’t have any issues. Also, it is important to keep the vegetation and aquatic life conditions maintained so your plants and seeds remain healthy.

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