best aquarium grass

As you’re preparing your fish tank or getting an upgrade, you’re likely considering the types of plants to grow in your aquarium. Which ones will help your fish? Which will add some beauty? Which will benefit your tank in other ways? What is the best aquarium grass?

The big question is which plants are best – and are aquarium grasses among them? Are they easier than other plants?

Read below to learn all about growing grasses in your aquarium, whether you’re a newbie hobbyist or an old pro trying something new.

Benefits of Growing Grasses in Your Fishtank

aquarium grass

Why grow grass inside your fish tank? Wouldn’t it be easier to just use fake plants?

While the simple answer would be to buy the fake stuff, there are several good reasons why you should invest in live grass for your tank.

Having life plants will mean your water will be cleaner because plants remove harmful chemicals from the water and add oxygen to the environment as part of their photosynthesis. 

Author Note: The use of live grass in your aquarium requires work, but the result is an aquarium with a more personal touch that looks great. 

For fish and other water dwellers that feel shy and need a place to hide, live grass provides a perfect place for them to swim to when needed.

How To Grow Aquarium Grass Properly

We have told you why you should grow grass in your aquarium. The next important step is to learn how to properly grow the grass. Every grass is different, and some have varying water requirements.

For those new to the hobby, it is essential to pick a type of grass that you are comfortable with the conditions for growing. As you progress in experience, you can consider using more maintenance-heavy grasses for future aquariums.

Use the Right Substrate

A widespread mistake made by beginning aquarist is that you can plant the grass into any kind of substrate, and it will grow with no problem. In actuality, the substrate is what will make or break your grass surviving and thriving.

For example, carpet plants are aquarium grass are varieties that do not do well when planted in sand or gravel types of substrate.

Carpet plants and aquarium grass require you to plant them in a substrate such as aquarium soil. This is because carpet plants will grow an extensive root system in the substrate.

Gravel and sand will interfere with the plant trying to spread its roots out. Whereas soil will give the plant a better chance at extending its root system to get the nutrients it needs to survive.

Provide Proper Lighting

aquarium grass lighting

One of the most vital parts of having a healthy environment for your grass to grow is proper lighting. Each plant will need a specific type of light for its optimum growth. If you provide the right light, you will have lush grass growing in no time.

Certain grasses, such as carpet plants, will need more intense light to grow properly. If you do not provide sufficient light, the grass will attempt to grow towards the light. However, this will result in the short grass creating spindly growth instead of the normal growth.

Maintain Your Aquarium Grass

Aquarium grass needs to have trimming and maintenance work just like your lawn. This is best performed with aqua scaping scissors.

These scissors are designed to minimize any damage to the plant when they need to be trimmed. If you use scissors not intended for this job, there is a strong chance you will damage the plant with tears, which can lead to long-term health problems or even the death of the plant.

Top Tip: Another key to proper maintenance is using a specialized vacuum to remove waste inside your tank. Fish are messy. They produce waste, and whatever food they do not consume will eventually sink to the aquarium bed.

Both the natural waste from the fish and unfinished food will collect on the bottom of the tank, and if it’s not removed, it will create toxins that can kill your fish.

While plants can use some waste to help grow, algae also feed on the fish waste and can quickly grow out of control and kill your plants.

For those unable to afford an aquarium vacuum, it’s possible to use a turkey baster to gently blow wastes from the plant. Then you can siphon up the waste with the baster. 

Regardless of the method of vacuum, for your tank to remain healthy and in balance, it is best to vacuum every week when you perform the weekly partial water change for the tank.

Best Grasses for Your Aquarium

Aquatic or land-dwelling, no two species of plant are the exact same. Picking the right kind of grass is important because there are a plethora of options to choose from.

Part of this process is determining what function you wish for the grass to serve, the difficulty of maintaining the plant and making sure you have enough experience to take care of the plant you choose.

1. Dwarf Sag

  • Scientific name: Sagittaria subulata
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Growth Rate: Moderate to fast
  • Light Requirement: Moderate
  • CO2 Supplement: Not recommended

Dwarf Sag is an aquatic plant that is originally from marshes located in the Americas. It is not a true grass and is known for having long narrow leaves, which can make for a lush-looking carpet on the floor of your aquarium.

This is a plant that beginners should look at buying. It is easy to care for and when taken care of, can provide a beautiful aesthetic to the tank. 

Author Note: After Dwarf Sag is planted it wastes no time in growing quickly and spreads out runners through the tank’s substrate. It can easily reach twelve inches tall.

One trick that can help you grow the plant to optimum health is by use of light. The darker your tank is the taller the grass will grow because it will be trying to reach the light. 

This plant does not require any additional carbon dioxide supplements. This plant has no trouble growing as long as you plant it in a nutrient-rich substrate and provide liquid fertilizer. 

2. Monte Carlo

monte carlo plant
  • Scientific name: Micranthemum tweediei
  • Care Level: Easy to Moderate
  • Growth Rate: Moderate to fast
  • Light Requirement: Moderate
  • CO2 Supplement: Yes

Monte Carlo originates from Argentina. This is a hardy plant that is easy to grow, so this is a good choice for a beginner to moderate level fish keeper. Unlike other water grass, Monte Carl does not grow high but instead stay low to the ground. 

One Of the reasons Monte Carlo is popular is because of the ease in which it can be used to make a plant carpet at the bottom of a tank.

Its root system is unique in that it doesn’t need substrate, in effect you can grow this plant over rocks or other objects in your aquarium.

3. Dwarf Chain Swords

dwarf chain swords
  • Scientific name: Echinodorus tenellus 
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • Light Requirement: Moderate to High
  • CO2 Supplement: Not needed but can help the plant.

Dwarf Chain Swords has similar needs as Dwarf Sag. Due to how quickly this plant grows it is important to make sure you perform maintenance on the plant, otherwise your tank bottom will look like a lawn with grass that has overgrown. 

Author Note: This plant does best when planted in substrate and is provided with ample carbon dioxide.

This plant will spread by sending out runners across your entire tank, resulting in a dense carpet of water grass.

4. Micro Sword

micro sword plant
  • Scientific name: Lilaeopsis novae-zelandiae
  • Care Level: Moderate
  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • Light Requirement: Moderate to high.
  • CO2 Supplement: Recommended use

This plant looks very similar to lawn grass, but this plant grows from a single rhizome. It is possible to split the rhizome and plant individual grass blades from that leaf.

Due to how fast this plant grows it won’t take long for all of the blades to grow and spread.

This plant does best when provided with ample light and CO2 supplements. With the right levels in your tank, this plant can grow upwards of seven inches.

5. Dwarf Hairgrass

dwarf hair grass
  • Scientific name: Eleocharis arcicularis 
  • Care Level: Moderate
  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • Light Requirement: Medium to High
  • CO2 Supplement: A moderate amount

Dwarf Hairgrass forms runners close to its parent plant. They are typically planted in small batches close to each other in order to help form a solid mass of foliage.

Top Tip: In order for this plant to reach its full potential, it is important to provide it with enough light and additional CO2 in the water.

With the right conditions, this plant can grow to ten inches in height. It is often planted as a foreground plant in tanks. This plant grows quickly and will spread out runners all through your tank.

It is important to pay attention to how fast it grows because proper trimming is needed to prevent the plant from taking over your entire fish tank.

6. Glosso

glosso plant

Glosso is a plant that is known for being demanding. In order to survive, much less grow, requires significant effort to ensure the plant has enough carbon dioxide, proper lighting, and plenty of nutrients.

If you do not provide adequate nutrition then the plant will struggle to compete with algae for resources.

When Glosso is being properly taken care of it will reach about two inches in height. Due to being short, it is important that the plant does not have its light blocked by tank decorations or taller plants.

If Glosso doesn’t have enough sunlight it will start to overgrow and take on an unpleasant scraggly look.

The reward for all of this hard work is how well Glosso looks in a tank. It creates a vivid green carpet of shoots.

7. Dwarf Water Clover

dwarf water clover
  • Scientific name: Marsilea minuta
  • Care Level: High
  • Growth Rate: Slow
  • Light Requirement: High
  • CO2 Supplement: High

Dwarf Water Clover is a slow-growing plant known for requiring attention to detail. It requires exact care in order for it to reach its maximum height. This plant needs plenty of light and carbon dioxide supplements.

A way to tell if your plant is not getting enough care, it will not produce its normal four-leafed leaves, instead of making single or doubled leaves.

As it grows it will send runners across, not through, the substrate. As it grows it will become a pale green carpet spread across the bottom of your fish tank. 

8. Dwarf Baby Tears

dwarf baby tears

Dwarf Baby Tears is known to be one of the smaller aquarium plants used. It slowly spreads across the bed of your aquarium and will create tiny millimeter wide leaves. The maximum size the stems will get is two inches tall.

Due to how small the leaves are, it is frequently used as a foreground plant in smaller-sized aquariums. It is not uncommon for this plant to colonize the bottom of your tank, rooting across rocks and driftwood.

Top Tip: This is a plant that requires high maintenance. It will not grow well unless it is provided with plentiful amounts of CO2, light, and nutrients.

In addition, it needs to have a water temperature right around 75 degrees Fahrenheit, or lower. If the temperature goes up past 75 then your plant will not be able to cope and will die.

FAQs about Aquarium Grass

Can lawn grass grow in an aquarium?

Lawn grass is not an aquatic plant and will not take root or grow if submerged in water. Aquarium “grass” is a name used for aquatic plants that have leaves akin to blades of grass.

With the appropriate care and attention to detail, it is possible to turn the bottom of your fish tank into a lawn.

Why is my aquarium grass turning brown?

Aquarium grass has the same needs as nonaquatic plants. The plants that live in water need to have proper nutrients and a source of light.

Author Note: Some fishkeepers use their grass as a sort of test – to ensure that the water is safe because the grass will start to become sick before the fish in your tank.

If your aquatic plants start to look unhealthy then it is important to test the water and see if the water has too much nitrite, nitrates, and ammonia.

In addition, checking the pH level and the temperature of the water will help identify problems.

However, if the water in your tank is fine, then there are some steps to take.

If the plants are not getting enough light then you can get a more powerful source of light. Other possible solutions include providing the fish with liquid fertilizer or more carbon dioxide.

How long does it take for aquarium grass to grow?

Just as different grasses have different needs, Every grass requires a different amount of time to grow. 

For example, most of the hair grass species will require around seven or eight weeks. During this period of time, the hair grass will develop its initial root system.

After the plant is rooted it sill begin to send out runners that will spread through the substrate. The runners will take a few weeks to settle in and require the plant to have optimum water conditions, enough light, correct nutrients, and carbon dioxide. 

Final Thoughts

There are many good reasons to use live grass in your tank. The grass can act as a way for shrimp, fry, and bottom-dwelling fish to have a play to hide or play in. These plants allow for a surface that good bacteria and biofilm can grow.

However, one of the main reasons fish keepers use this grass is because the plant can provide an aesthetic.

The right kind of grass for your tank can offer a stunning display that sets your work apart from other fishkeepers.

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