Can Aquarium Plants Live in Brackish Water?

Can Aquarium Plants Live in Brackish Water?

The brackish aquarium is attractive that can add glamour and beauty to your room. Many people try to all sorts of aquarium plants to brackish water aquarium. 

Can Aquarium Plants Live in Brackish Water? Yes, several aquarium plants can adapt to or live in a brackish water aquarium. These plants can tolerate the different salt concentrations in the brackish aquarium and can grow in it. You have to maintain consistent water parameters such as pH, temperature, and salinity to help grow aquarium plants.

Establishing a brackish aquarium is not easy as it requires knowledge of the habitat of species that can live in it. Not all fish and plants can survive in this water, and you have to maintain the environment consistently to ensure the survival and health of inhabitants.

Can Aquarium Plants Live in Brackish Water?

The aquariums can be of different habitats depending upon the nature of water. The most common types are saltwater, freshwater, and brackish water. 

In nature, brackish-water forms when rivers and seas intersect and result in a mix in the form of estuaries, salt marshes, and mangrove swamps.

The brackish aquarium is a dream come true for people who love oceans, rivers, lakes as it is a combination of saltwater and freshwater. It is an ideal choice for people who want to jump from freshwater aquarium to saltwater aquarium. You can leave aquarium plants in pots for better results.

What is the brackish water aquarium?

Brackish-water aquarium is unique in terms of its habitat and water chemistry. It is a mixture of two types of water that are saltwater and freshwater. It contains higher salinity than freshwater and lowers then saltwater aquariums.

You can convert your freshwater aquarium to brackish by adding some amount of sea salt in your freshwater aquarium, considering the specific gravity. The optimal water conditions are 70-86 degrees Fahrenheit temperature, 7.2-8.3 pH, and 1.006-1.015 specific gravity. The salt concentration lies between 0.5 to 35 ppt in a brackish aquarium.

It is the ideal habitat for many fish, invertebrates, and plants that naturally live in saline water. The water clarity ranges from clear white to cloudy as It is a middle-ground between freshwater and marine habitat.

Fish for brackish aquarium

Many fish can grow and live in brackish-water, as they can tolerate salinity and survive a naturally changing environment. Some of them are:

  • Gobies- knight, bumblebee, skunk, butterfly leaf
  • Fiddler crabs
  • Black sailfin molly
  • Mono argentus
  • Mono sebae
  • Scats- green, red, silver
  • Archerfish
  • Puffers- figure 8, spotted, fugu, Ceylon, golden
  • Target fish
  • Colombian shark catfish
  • Datnoids
  • Indian glassfish
  • American flagfish
  • Chromides- green, orange
  • Shrimps- Amano shrimp, glass shrimp
  • Olive nerite snails
  • Black mollies

Acclimation of plants to brackish conditions

Plants acclimate gradually to a brackish-water environment, and placing them directly from freshwater to brackish-water can result in their death. Generally, plants can not adapt to this water instantly, and you have to maintain water conditions and atmosphere consistently to adjust them into this environment. 

Most plants can withstand specific gravity of 1.004 or barely 1.008, so you need a smooth transition into brackish-water. Sudden and frequent changes can kill the plants.

Start with fully cycled, planted freshwater plants as they are habitual to aquarium conditions. Slowly increase salt content for ten days using sea salt. Gradually move to the desired brackish environment as it will help the plants to adjust themselves in it. 

After reaching the desired brackish level, the goal is to maintain stability by reducing drastic water condition changes. Avoid shocking the plants with sudden fluctuations as it may lead to the death of plants.

Salt concentration in the brackish aquarium

The typical specific gravity of a brackish aquarium ranges from 1.006 to 1.015. You can achieve this level by adding real sea salt or synthetic sea salt to the tank. Do not add aquarium salts or table salts, as they do not contain minerals and trace elements. These minerals are essential for both plants and fish, and marine salt is an excellent source.

A general recommendation is to add 1/8 cup per each gallon of water to avoid extreme fluctuations. Measure and check the specific gravity using a hydrometer or refractometer. Also, check and maintain pH regularly to avoid harming plants and fish. 

How to set-up the brackish aquarium?

The size of the tank varies, but its minimum capacity should be 20 gallons. The larger the tank, the larger fish and plants you can introduce in it. Usually, the larger tank needs more care and maintenance but looks greater in terms of beauty.

Requirements of the tank:


In the tank, you must add the filter to maintain and enhance water quality. Also, filtration is necessary to avoid salt deposits in the tank that can be harmful. For brackish tank hang-on-the-back, mechanical or bio-wheel filter are preferable.

It is not suitable to place the filter under the gravel as it will not work. If your tank size is greater than 20 gallons, you must use two filters for ten times water-turnover in an hour.


Use a submersible heater to distribute or spread the heat in the tank. A brackish tank must have a heater because of the salt content. The size of the heater should correspond to the aquarium’s size. A general rule is to provide 5 watts of heat per gallon of water. 

Thermometer and hydrometer

A thermometer and hydrometer are necessary equipment for an aquarium. You require these to stabilize and maintain water conditions for the survival and health of inhabitants. A thermometer helps you maintain the temperature, while a hydrometer is essential to measure salinity.

Water conditioner

To remove hardness, you require a suitable water conditioner that removes all hard substances such as chlorine and chloramine from your tank. Use the one that is preferable for brackish-water.

Marine or sea salt

A marine or synthetic salt is preferable for a brackish tank, but do not add it directly into the water as it can shock or burn plants and fish. Make a salt and water mix, and then add it to the tank.


Choose a substrate with crushed coral leaves for your tank as it performs well in the tank. A fine sand substrate is best to avoid clogging of the filter and along with coral leaves. Using crushed coral gravel or coral sand helps maintain pH and alkalinity. Few aquarium plants can grow without soil.


Water-pump is necessary to dissolve salt efficiently and mix it in the air. It helps in maintaining water conditions and the environment.

Setup the tank

Once you gather all the equipment, install them in the tank and start making the salt and water mix. 

Take a bucket and add sea salt in freshwater, mix it well to dissolve the salt. 

Then heat the mixture to reach a temperature between 23-29 degrees C and slowly add this mixture into the tank and stir. 

Wait for 20 minutes and stir again. Measure the salinity with a hydrometer before adding the mixture into the tank. 

The amount of salt you add depends upon the level of brackishness you want to achieve. It is preferable to start with low specific gravity (1.000-1.005) to make it tolerable for plants and fish. 

Once the plants and fish adapt to the tank environment, you can gradually increase salinity up to the desired level. You must monitor everything, otherwise, few aquarium plants can kill fish.

How to maintain a brackish aquarium?

After establishing the full tank, the next important thing is the maintenance of water conditions and parameters.

It is preferable to change 15% water every week and removes all the contaminants, debris, residues from the tank using a net. Again dd salt-and-water mix to the tank to maintain salinity.

Water change is necessary because the aquarium becomes too salty with time due to evaporation. Deeply clean your tank every month for its maintenance. Clean all the equipment weekly and sterilize the tank using UV lights to kill pathogens. Scrub off all the algae from the glass daily using a stiff brush.

Best plants for brackish water

Several plants live in a brackish habitat that makes them suitable for such an aquarium, and some of them are:

Sago pondweed

It is an extremely adaptable species worldwide, thriving in fresh, acidic ditch waters. It is a beautiful and attractive aquarium plant that can also live in alkaline and hard-water conditions.

Its adaptability to a wide range of tank parameters makes it ideal for brackish-water. It can survive high salinity of up to half-strength seawater and can tolerate the hottest to near-freezing temperature.

Cryptocoryne wendtii

This aquarium plant can live in swampy jungle streams and can tolerate mild salinity. The reason behind its choice for brackish-water is that it is not demanding and can survive in a broad range of light. It may lose some leaves in the beginning when you place it in a tank but adjusts itself in the environment with time.

Bacopa monnieri

Bacopa Monnier is a good option for a brackish aquarium as it is hardy, undemanding, and some species naturally grow in a brackish environment.

It can tolerate a mild concentration of salt and acts as an accent middle-ground plant for the aquarium.


Vallisneria species are hardy aquarium plants that can tolerate changing water conditions and are suitable for a brackish aquarium. They grow well in the tank having a temperature range of 60-85 degrees F.

It typically produces long, eel-like, thin leaves and is present throughout the world. They are not demanding in terms of light but do require nutrient-rich substrate for growth.

Samolus valerandi

Samolus valerandi or seaside brookweed lives and grows in the seaside that makes it tolerant to high salinity. It requires a high amount of light and temperature below 77 degrees F, which resembles your brackish tank aquarium.


Sagittaria species require moderate to bright lighting along with nutrient-rich substrate and grow up to 24 inches tall. They grow well in marshy areas and are therefore suitable for brackish tanks.

They produce leaves of an arrowhead shape and can tolerate the tank conditions. The two most common species of Sagittaria are Sagittaria lancifolia and Sagittaria subulata.


Mangrove is the most suitable plant for the brackish tank as it grows naturally in brackish marshes and is adaptable to such conditions. It is an aquarium plant that can also grow in the saltwater-aquarium and have long roots to absorb water and nutrients.

Also, they excrete salt from their leaves, so you have to wash them with fresh water every few days. The only concern about this plant is that it can not survive fully-submerged. You have to keep leaves above water in the tank when you decide to add them.

Micro sword

Its natural habitat is the brackish area that makes it suitable for a brackish aquarium as it can survive and tolerate such conditions naturally. It is demanding plants that require sufficient light, substrate, and fertilization. 


Watersprite grows well in brackish water as it can tolerate salt but sometimes turn brown and slow their growth in this condition. It produces delicate, lacy-pattern leaves and looks stunning in the tank.

Java fern

Java fern is the best choice for brackish tanks as it grows in a similar habitat. It is an inhabitant of a swampy, flooded jungle environment that makes it tolerant to tank conditions. It is incredibly resistant to changing the aquarium’s environment.

Java moss

It is not habitual of the brackish environment, but when you acclimate carefully, the plant adjusts itself and starts growing well. It requires regular trimming to prevent a lack of oxygen supply in the middle parts. 


Anubias is another better choice for the brackish tank as it is not demanding and can tolerate a wide range of water parameters. It is easy to grow and care for and produces lush green arrow-shaped leaves.  

Can water lilies grow in brackish water?

No, Waterlilies do not tolerate saline water and are not suitable for a brackish aquarium. They live in freshwater, where they require at least 6 hours of sunlight, and ideal pH ranges from 6.5 to 8.

If you add water lilies they may not grow in brackish water, so it is better to get aquarium plants that can sustain the water conditions.

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