Ideal Freshwater Aquarium Plants For Your Shrimp

For all aquarists, freshwater aquarium plants are an essential part of your tank, and not just because they make it look nice and give your shrimp and fish a good place to hide. Live aquarium plants also do some very important work – they keep the tank clean, oxygenate the water, and maintain the correct pH balance in the water.

You need plants in your aquarium, but which live aquarium plants do you choose? Some plants can be very difficult to care for, requiring the right degree of light and special care to stay alive, while others can be very easy to look after. Simply plant them in the tank and forget all about them.

So let’s take a look at some of the most common freshwater aquarium plants and see what we need to do to care for them.

Java Moss

These are very popular freshwater aquarium plants, and are also a firm favorite of shrimp lovers as they provide great places for them to hide in. Java moss is best attached to ornaments in your tank, such as driftwood or rocks. To do so, you’ll need to use rubber bands or something similar to give the live aquarium plant a hand while they slowly root themselves to the ornament.

Java moss plants like slightly dimmed light. Indeed, they will absolutely flourish in lower light, but beware if the light is too strong or the opposite effect will happen. Bright light will stunt the growth of Java Moss and could see it being plagued by green algae.

Java Fern

Similar to Java moss, the Java fern is another freshwater aquarium plant that is popular with shrimp. These plants also prefer low light, and they grow best of all when their rhizome (green stems which the leaves grow from) are tied around the rock or ornament they are attached too. If you have larger size Java Fern, then you can instead bury its roots underneath the gravel, but you have to be careful when you do this that the rhizomes are not buried.

Java fern are easy live aquarium plants to grow, as they release spores from the tips of their leaves when ready to propagate. These spores will simply float around until they find something to attach themselves too, and then they will grow very rapidly.

Anubias & Anubias Nana

These freshwater aquarium plants are probably the most common plants for aquarists, because they are so easy to keep, cheap to buy and extremely abundant. The most popular variety is the Dwarf Anubias, or Anubias Nana, although the most interesting are amongst the number of larger varieties.

Anubias are similar to Java fern – their habits and method of planting themselves are very similar. One of the key differences though, is that it’s possible to take cuttings from rhizome of these live aquarium plants when they begin to propagate.

Extremely popular, Anubias freshwater aquarium plants are almost invincible to being eaten by the creatures in your tank, thanks to its large, rubber-like leaves that even the most hostile of aquarium inhabitants can’t stomach.

Cryptocorynes

Generally referred to as Crypts for short, these live aquarium plants can vary wildly in shape, size and color. Crypts come in all different kinds of varieties, from scruffy looking Wendtii, to the pink-shaded Petchiis, yet no matter how they look, they are all very popular with our shrimp.

These live aquarium plants are considered by experienced aquarists to be the “next step up” from Anubias and Java fern. They still prefer dimmed light, but they need a little more care due to their complex roots – they need to be buried at a depth of 2 inches deep on the gravel, though you must take care to ensure that the crown (where the leaves are), is kept well above the gravel.

You need to be careful with Crypts as they are quite vulnerable freshwater aquarium plants. They can experience what is known as the “Crypt Melt” condition, which usually occurs when you first introduce them into your aquarium. What happens is the sudden parameter change of the water often shocks the Crypts, and the result is that they often lose all of their leaves. Try not to worry though; this is very common and almost never fatal for the plant.

Dwarf Lilies

These are very fragile plants, and very slow-growing. Although shrimp seem to like them, they can easily be damaged so it may not be a good idea to plant these if you have too many shrimp running around.

Dwarf lilies look like small arrowheads, and their thin stems can break very easily. If you do want dwarf lilies in your tank, you would be better off buying older ones that have had time to grow. This way, they will be less likely to break and you’ll also avoid buying any freshwater aquarium plants that are sterile.

Vallisnera

Simply known as “Vals”, these are very tall, grass-like live aquarium plants. It can be good for your shrimp if you have a whole bunch of these, as it provides a great place for them to hide in. When fully grown, Vals are often much likened to green onions, due to the bulb like crown which develops at the head of these freshwater aquarium plants.

Note that Vals can be quite difficult to look after, because they are so tall. Their leaves are not easy to trim, simply because cutting their long leaves will harm them, and so they cannot be recommended for smaller aquariums, except for the smallest variety known as the Corkscrew Val, which are very intriguing live aquarium plants. Certainly, unless you have a very large tank, you should stay well away from Jungle Val, which are known to grow in excess of 20 inches tall.

Water Wisteria

These live aquatic plants are known as “bunch plants” and are very common with shrimp keeping aquarists because they root into the gravel of your tank and make nice interesting places for our shrimp to explore. Water Wisteria is especially well loved for the shape of their leaves, which are most intriguing. Water Wisteria has very loose lighting requirements and will thrive in almost any condition so long as they have plenty of oxygen and they root well.

Water Wisteria is also one of the easiest freshwater aquatic plants to propagate, as all that you need to do is snip off a nice long stem and bury it in around 3 to 4 inches of gravel, and the plant will do the rest for you, quickly taking root by itself.