Top 10 Best Carpet Plants for Aquarium

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If you have a planted aquarium, adding carpet plants is a must. Although these plants fill the aquarium foreground only, they can create an entire environment for fish.

Carpet plants are regarded as the lawn of aquariums. They allow other plants to grow from them. This way they add both filtering and oxygen properties to the water.

Picking the right carpet plants is of great importance for the look and health of your fish tank. Of course, you want to choose the best carpet plants for your aquarium.

Carpet Plants
Source: @dakuaquatics

There are a variety of aquarium carpet plants on the market. Some grow rapidly but require a lot of maintenance, while others can’t thrive without high-intensity lighting.

Keep reading to find species that suit your needs and are a good fit for your fish as well. In this post, we will show you the best options, including low-growing plants and easy carpeting species.

Besides, you will also learn how to grow and maintain your carpeting plants. Here we go!

What Are Aquarium Carpet Plants?

As the name suggests, these plants represent dense green foliage that covers the floor of aquariums. They can be seen in aquascaped aquariums in particular.

These plants can be used in just about any aquarium for creating this effect. Carpeting plants (aka carpet plants) come in different colors and forms.

The most popular ones are low-tech plants like mosses and epiphytes that cover the floor by spreading laterally. Unlike most other plants that are rooted in the aquarium substrates, they cover hardscape materials in different ways.

Carpeting plants can be used in various aquascape styles, such as diverse biotope and nature-style setups. They are also significant minimalist aquascapes like Iwagumi.

What Are the Benefits Of Growing Carpet Plants?

When buying carpet plants, most people do it to improve the appearance of their fish tanks in the first place. Without any doubt, they look great.

However, carpet plants also offer many other benefits to aquariums. Some of the most significant benefits include:

  • Oxygenation – Dissolved oxygen can increase water quality. By releasing oxygen molecules into the water, carpet plants can stimulate fish to grow in aquariums.
  • Assimilation of nitrate – Carpet plants grow by using ammonia and nitrates. Thus, they effectively remove harmful compounds from aquariums. This is a great way to turn your fish tank into a green, healthy environment.
  • Habitat creation – Small aquarium animals (such as shrimps) find carpet plants an excellent habitat for hiding. These plants also make ideal spawning grounds, allowing fish to lay their eggs.

Top 10 Aquarium Carpet Plants

Now that you know what carpeting plants are, it is time to find the best ones for your freshwater aquarium. It’s not an easy task at all.

When choosing plant species for a planted fish tank, you need to consider numerous factors, including:

  • Lighting requirements
  • Carbon dioxide requirement
  • Flow rate
  • Temperature range
  • Type of substrate
  • Planting technique
  • Care level

Are you looking for easy carpet plants? We will narrow down your choices to help you pick the best carpet plant for your aquarium with ease.

If you’re looking for low-tech carpeting plants, you are in the right place. Here, you will find easy-to-manage plants that are great for both beginners and experienced aquarists.

Here are the 10 best aquarium carpeting plants that are easy to grow and maintain:

  • Dwarf Hairgrass (Eleocharis parvula)
  • Monte Carlo (Micranthemum tweediei)
  • Micro Sword (Lilaeopsis brasiliensis)
  • Four Leaf Clover (Marsilea hirsuta)
  • Glosso (Glossostigma elatinoides)
  • Java Moss (Vesicularia dubyana)
  • Dwarf Sagittaria (Sagittaria subulata)
  • Christmas Moss (Vesicularia montagnei)
  • Rio Cristalino (Staurogyne repens)
  • Dwarf Baby Tears (Hemianthus callitrichoides)

Let’s cast some light on these plants and discover them!

1. Dwarf Hairgrass (Eleocharis parvula)

Dwarf Hairgrass (Eleocharis parvula)
Source: @aquajungle

This easy-growing plant has moderate nutrition and light requirements. Supplementation of carbon dioxide is needed for better growth.

Because of a fast growth rate, frequent pruning is required. If you don’t trim it regularly, your tank bottom will be entirely covered and it will look untidy. Eleocharis parvula will cover up other plants as well.

Dwarf Hairgrass has thin hair-like strands, as its name implies. It is a hardy and adaptable species that usually comes in potted clusters. You can split it into several strand sections, though.

If your plants don’t get enough light and carbon dioxide, they will grow up rather than spread along the tank substrate. Therefore, it takes more time and effort to form a carpet in low-tech aquariums.

Characteristics and requirements:

  • Max height: 9 inches
  • Fast growth rate (it can grow high)
  • Temperature range: 52-84°F
  • Medium lighting
  • CO2 is needed

2. Monte Carlo (Micranthemum tweediei)

Monte Carlo (Micranthemum tweediei)
Source: @ajaquariums

Being one of the most popular carpeting plants, Micranthemum is a good fit for almost any fish tank. It can form a dense, soft carpet in an effective way.

This aquatic easy-to-maintain plant has rounded small leaves that feature a lush look. If given sufficient CO2 and light, Monte Carlo grows pretty fast.

You can grow this versatile carpet plant as an epiphyte. Simply attach it to a hardscape item like a stone or driftwood. It can adapt to different Ph and light conditions.

These characteristics make it a perfect choice for carpeting plants in any aquarium. Aside from adding a nice carpet look to your aquarium, Monte Carlo will make it more attractive to your fish.

Characteristics and requirements:

  • Medium lighting
  • Moderate to fast growth rate
  • Temperature range: 68-74°F
  • CO2 optional

3. Micro Sword (Lilaeopsis brasiliensis)

Micro Sword (Lilaeopsis brasiliensis)
Source: @yuri_is_scaping

Lilaeopsis novae-zelandiae is a grass-like plant with leaves that look like small swords. That’s why it is called Micro Sword.

Many aquarists like to grow this plant because it can make an eye-catching tank in a natural way.  With moderate feeding and lighting, Micro Sword grows at a manageable, medium rate.

While CO2 supplementation is not absolutely necessary, it can make a difference in growth. Under bright light, it grows pretty fast. On the other hand, in low-tech tanks, this plant propagates slowly.

The plants sprout from rhizomes. After replanting rhizome pieces with a few blades, they will start spreading in your tank. Break off and plant smaller pieces to make the carpet spread faster.

Characteristics and requirements:

  • Not beginner friendly
  • Easy to propagate
  • Moderate to high lighting
  • CO2 is required
  • Slow/moderate growth rate

4. Four Leaf Clover (Marsilea hirsuta)

Four Leaf Clover (Marsilea hirsuta)
Source: @courtneykeeps

This foreground carpet plant does not require any special care. It’s considered a great plant for those who are new to the hobby of keeping aquarium plants.

Marsilea hirsuta can grow under medium lighting in a form of tiny ferns. Still, it prefers aquariums with more light.

This tropical carpeting plant is fairly easy to grow and maintain. Maintenance comes down to trimming now and then. It can be fully submerged or floated.

If you want to keep it as a green carpet in your fish tank, give it enough light and CO2. Your plants will appreciate it!

Characteristics and requirements:

  • Temperature range: 67-85°F
  • Medium-high lighting
  • Moderate flow rate
  • CO2 is recommended (optional)
  • Easy skill level

5. Glosso (Glossostigma elatinoides)

Glosso (Glossostigma elatinoides)
Source: @uad.ultimateaquascapedesign

Glosso is a gorgeous carpet plant that is suitable for experienced aquarists. That’s because this plant is not easy to grow. Nevertheless, this hardy species has an extensive temperature tolerance.

The leaves of this carpeting plant can create a thick, light green carpet. To make them grow faster, you need to give them a decent amount of carbon dioxide and high light.

Glosso will grow quickly under these conditions, so frequent trimming will be necessary. Be sure to cut off and remove the overgrown parts of the plants to keep your tank tidy.

For successful planting, the roots should be buried properly. Use an appropriate substrate for planting and make sure every set is planted uniformly.

Characteristics and requirements:

  • Max height: 5 cm (2 inches)
  • CO2 is required
  • Temperature range: 40-85°F
  • Medium-high lighting
  • Moderate to fast growth rate

6. Java Moss (Vesicularia dubyana)

Java Moss (Vesicularia dubyana)
Source: @kaminature

Java moss is an easy-to-grow plant that is often used in aquariums. It is often placed on the bottom of the tank and can help create a natural-looking environment for fish.

This plant can grow well just by being placed on the gravel at the bottom of an aquarium. Plus, it helps to keep the water clean by trapping dirt and other particles that might fall into the tank.

It has a high tolerance for variations in light and temperature. Java moss can be found in many different areas of the world. It can grow on rocks, trees, and other surfaces.

With this carpet plant, you can create an ecosystem in your aquarium that includes plants, bacteria, and small invertebrates such as shrimp and snails. It will help to maintain the pH balance of the water so that it stays at a healthy level for all the fish living there.

Java moss can be found in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. The plant grows well in water that ranges from cool to warm. It has a fast growth rate.

Characteristics and requirements:

  • Max height: 10 inches (around 25 cm)
  • Fast growth rate
  • Moderate flow rate
  • Low lighting
  • CO2 is not essential

7. Dwarf Sagittaria (Sagittaria subulata)

Dwarf Sagittaria (Sagittaria subulata)
Source: @bunoonoon

As an easy-to-grow species, Dwarf Sagittaria is an excellent carpet plant for those who don’t have experience with planted aquariums. The care and maintenance aren’t complicated at all.

This sturdy plant can grow in different water conditions. It can be grown under a broad range of pH and temperature values.

Even so, you need to provide your plants with a good fertilizer and a suitable amount of light. While supplemental CO2 is not needed, in combination with fertilizers, it can make plants look better.

As for the light requirements, lower lighting settings are the best choice. Dwarf Sagittaria can also thrive in high-light conditions, but the plants are shorter.

If these plants don’t obtain enough light, they may suddenly start growing tall. Sometimes they can reach 30 cm (about 12 inches).

Characteristics and requirements:

  • Fast growth rate
  • Medium lighting
  • Low flow rate
  • CO2 is recommended (optional)
  • Easy care level

8. Christmas Moss (Vesicularia montagnei)

Christmas Moss (Vesicularia montagnei)
Source: @scapersroom

Christmas Moss is a wonderful carpet over aquarium hardscape features such as lava rock and driftwood. That’s not to say you shouldn’t grow it on a fiber mat or other areas in your fish tank.

When placing this carpet plant in your aquarium, you can even choose areas with low lighting. Christmas Moss will grow just fine. That makes it an ideal choice for low-tech tanks.

This slow-growing plant can survive in a wide range of conditions. If left untrimmed, it will form a moss wall or thick carpet after some time.

That makes it a popular choice among beginner aquarists and aquascapers. Yet, there is one thing you should bear in mind if you go for Christmas Moss. It supports algae growth.

Pro Tip: Expose your plants to higher water flow. This will prevent algae from developing.

Characteristics and requirements:

  • Low-to-medium light demands
  • Supplemental CO2 is recommended
  • Temperature range: from 72°F to 82°F
  • Slow growth rate
  • Easy skill level

9. Rio Cristalino (Staurogyne repens)

Rio Cristalino (Staurogyne repens)
Source: @ps.justanaquarium

This low-tech plant usually grows between and on rocks in the fast-flowing rivers in nature. It likes spots above the waterline, especially the ones that are exposed to direct sunlight.

Staurogyne repens was introduced as a new aquarium plant in 2008. Since then, it has been used in many aquariums around the world. What makes it popular?

The care guide for this manageable plant is very simple. It requires medium feeding and light to grow.

The height of this plant is notably shorter than traditional stemmed carpeted plants. In fact, the length Staurogyne repens can reach is high compared to bladderworts.

Rio Cristalino grows slowly, meaning it’s not necessary to trim it frequently. However, this hardy plant can spread fast along the aquarium bottom when getting an appropriate light cycle.

Characteristics and requirements:

  • Slow growth rate
  • Easy to grow and maintain
  • Moderate light requirements
  • Moderate nutrition
  • Optional CO2 supplementation

10. Dwarf Baby Tears (Hemianthus callitrichoides)

Dwarf Baby Tears (Hemianthus callitrichoides)
Source: @naturalenvironmentaquatix

Reaching 3-5 centimeters in size, this is one of the smallest aquarium carpet plants. It originates from Cuba. The tiny leaves resemble tears, hence the name.

When placed on the tank bed, Dwarf Baby Tears look like a green thick carpet. The plant has equal growth. By producing small runners and spreading through them, the plants can create a dense carpet.

However, this takes a while since they don’t grow fast. A strong nutritional foundation can support growth and cause plants to grow faster.

Dwarf Baby Tears plants require intense and bright lighting. They also need a strong concentration of carbon dioxide. CO2 injections can reinforce the development of Baby Tears’ carpet.

Characteristics and requirements:

  • Slow-to-moderate growth rate
  • Supplemental CO2 is required
  • Temperature range: 67-75°F
  • High light demands

Tips on How to Grow and Care for Carpet Plants

Once you have chosen the plant you wish to grow, use the following tips for optimal results. It is worth reading before getting started!

Pick the Proper Substrate

Substrate matters indeed! Most carpet plants don’t thrive well in gravel or sand.

Each plant does its best when planted in an enriched soil substrate. That being said, choosing the proper substrate is of critical importance.

This will cause your plants to form the lush foundation of your tank while reaching their full potential at the same time. For example, the clay granules allow aquatic plants to develop strong roots without being too compact.

With larger root systems, they will be able to spread out faster. This will result in the production of extra nutrients for your carpet plants.

Use the Right Planting Technique

People use different planting techniques. For instance, some prefer using tissue culture plants for their planted carpets. If you choose this technique, make sure the substrate is slightly moistened after you complete planting.

Others would rather opt for the dry start method (DSM). How does this technique work?

Once you’ve placed the substrate in your empty aquarium, you will have to deal with the hardscape. Simply moisten the soil afterward.

Your plants will start growing emersed till they establish strong root systems. Then you should place a layer of cling film or saran wrap over the tank top to retain the moisture inside.

Install a proper lighting system and make sure there is always enough CO2 to promote quick growth. That’s it!

Not every plant species is suited for this growing method. It is only suitable for plants that are grown emersed, such as:

  • Dwarf hairgrass
  • Java moss
  • Dwarf baby tears
  • Monte Carlo

Provide a Good Light Source

Light is also an important factor. The intensity and type of light source can make a difference in maintaining a healthy plant carpet.

While each species has specific requirements, they all require light to thrive. They generally grow denser and shorter when exposed to intense lighting. That’s what you should aim for.

On the other hand, carpeting plants grow taller by stretching up in low light, thereby getting closer to the source of light. This is an undesirable trait when growing an aquarium carpet!

So, make sure your plants get enough light for optimal growth. Provide them with a suitable light source that is specially designed for planted aquariums. That could include everything from fluorescent to LED lighting.

Trim and Shape Your Plants

It should be a part of the regular maintenance of your aquarium. Trimming will keep it looking good and neat.

Besides, it will promote root development and lateral growth as well. This can make your carpet plants stronger and healthier.

When should you start trimming?

For the first 3-4 weeks, you are advised to keep it to a minimum, especially if your plants tend to spread horizontally. Once they start piling on the upper areas of each other, you should begin to trim and shape them.

It is best to use aquascaping curved scissors. This will make it easier for you to trim your carpeting plants at a right angle and create neat edges.

Extra Tips: For Dwarf Baby Tears and Monte Carlo, the floating clippings can be used to fill in carpet gaps. Remove plant trimmings when you are done. Otherwise, they may spoil in your aquarium and affect water quality.

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Final Thoughts

Although each of these plants is visually appealing, it takes some practice and time to form a lush carpet with them. However, it will be beneficial to your aquarium after doing that.

Having aquascaping skills is not necessary, since these plants can create a carpet on their own. Even so, they need some help to spread and grow properly.

If you’re a beginner, look for easy-to-grow plants that are flexible in terms of substrate and light requirements. Make sure the plant you choose goes with the theme of your aquarium and is suitable for your fish.

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