What are Aquarium Stem Plants?

What are Aquarium Stem Plants?

Stem plants are the most suitable and favorite plants for a fish tank as their propagation is very easy, and they develop root systems quickly. They fill up your aquarium in a short time because they grow faster.

What are Aquarium Stem Plants? Aquarium stem plants are tall, beautiful, easy handling, and fast-growing plants that generally have 4-8 stems in a bunch. Different species stem plants have different leaf shapes, sizes, and colors that can match almost every aquarium’s layout. In addition to refreshing shades of green, there are stunning reddish stem plants in demand nowadays.

What are Aquarium Stem Plants?

If you want some greenery and beauty in your aquarium, stem plants are the best choice for this purpose.

They are ideal for a start-up phase as they are too easy to grow and handle; Also, they help prevent algae growth. You do not have to put extra effort and provide care to these plants as they do not require much effort and care.

These plants are the most beautiful background or middle-ground addition to your fish tank as they can make your fish tank into a whole natural aqua-world. You can add different stem plants in an aquarium by providing optimum environmental conditions. 

Best Aquarium Stem Plants

Aquarium Stem Plant  Care level Growth rate Height Light requirement CO2 requirement Price
Egeria densa Easy fast 18-98 inches low low $7
Hygrophila difformis Easy fast 22-32+ inches Medium low $9
Limnophila sessiliflora Easy Very fast 17-28 cm low low $8
Rotala rotundifolia Easy fast 8-14 inches medium medium $9
Ammannia gracilis Difficult to moderate fast 7-9 inches high low $8
Ammannia senegalensis difficult medium 3-5 inches Medium to high low $11
Water hedge easy slow 6-10 inches Medium to high Not necessary $13
stargrass easy medium 7-14 inches high medium $6
Limnophila aquatica medium fast 7-13 inches medium high $9
Ludwigia ovalis easy fast 18 cm Medium to high medium $12
Ludwigia glandulosa easy Medium to slow 16-38 cm medium medium $8
Cardamine lyrata easy high 22-54 cm low medium $13
Alternanthera reineckii easy medium 12-22 inches Medium  to high low $18
Whorly rotala difficult medium 8-11 inches high high $12
Cabomba aquatica easy fast 5-13 inches medium low $17
Anubias afzelii easy slow 13-31 cm medium low $9
Cabomba furcata easy slow 30-80 cm Medium to high low $14
Cryptocoryne petchii easy slow 14-23 cm medium Recommended but not essential $6
Pogostemon erectus medium medium 16-37 inches medium medium $7
Mayaca fluvviatilis medium fast 27-31 inches medium medium $8
Myriophyllum tuberculatum difficult fast 23-33 cm high high $19
Myriophyllum mattogrossense easy fast 7-13 inch medium medium $8
Eleocharis montevidensis medium slow 13 inches medium medium $6
bacopa monnieri easy fast 3-11 inches medium low $14

Egeria densa

Egeria densa is Brazilian waterweed having large flowers and is native to warm-temperate South America. It is widely present in southeastern Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay. It is a better choice of aquarium stem plant for beginners as it grows steadily.

It absorbs a large number of nutrients from the water that helps in preventing algal growth. Also, in unfavorable conditions, the plant color turns to light.

Hygrophila difformis

Hygrophila difformis or water wisteria belongs to the acanthus family and present in the marshy habitat. It is native to Indian subcontinents and present in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal.

The leaves form narrow protrusions all along their length and are bright green. It gives your tank greenery, and you can also grow it as a carpet where they become home for bottom dwellers. An inadequate supply of micro-nutrients can result in pale leaves.

The plant provides many benefits to the aquarium; It gives shelter to fish and helps keep the water clean and supply sufficient oxygen into the water.

It is undemanding and hard and can bear changing water conditions. It can tolerate common fish-keeping mistakes and is suitable for both beginners and experts. You can add this to both acrylic and glass aquariums.

Limnophila sessiliflora

Dwarf Ambulia, Ambulis, and Asian Marshweed are the other names of Limnophila sessiliflora. This plant belongs to the family Plantaginaceae.

It is a less demanding plant that is recommendable to beginners as it grows in any aquarium. When you provide it a well-controlled environment, it expands extremely fast and you have to trim and replant aquarium plants.

Rotala rotundifolia

Rotala rotundifolia, or Dwarf rotala, is a plant that many people confuse with Rotala Indica, but they are different species. It is widely present in India, Taiwan, Laos, China, and Vietnam.

It is a Latin name that means the plant with round leaves, but only some varieties have round-shaped leaves. Generally, it has long, narrow leaves and requires good light to produce red color in leaves.

Ammannia gracilis

It a part of the family Lythraceae and is native to Africa. It has blunt-tipped, lance-shaped wavy leaves that range from blush red to pale green color. The stem is branching and prostrate that roots at the nodes, and the small beautiful flowers are purple containing four or eight stamens.

They form beautiful background accents when you contrast them with green foliage. When you provide them sufficient light, they grow tall faster and require an adequate amount of micro-nutrients to maintain color.

Ammannia senegalensis

This copper leaf ammannia is native to Western Senegal. The leaves of the plant start with green color but later turns reddish as they grow. Also, the leaves are broader in the early stages, and with the growth, they become narrow.

These red leaves turn out to be a stunning display when contrasts with green foliage. These wavy-edged oval leaves also give the shade of orange and yellow coloration. Carbon dioxide injection helps it to grow faster, and high iron content brightens red tones. 

Didiplis Diandra

Didiplis Diandra or water-hedge is present along the shores of ponds, lakes, and streams throughout the US.

It contains small pink capsules at the stem inter-nodes and has thin, needle-like leaves having bright red tips. It is preferable to grow it in groups or bunches to get the bushy effect.


Stargrass is another name of the plant Heteranthera zosterifolia, and it originates from South America. It is a rare aquarium plant having narrow, lanceolate, bright green leaves.

It requires an adequate amount of light to grow and changes color depending upon the presence of light.

Limnophila Aquatica

This Gaint ambulia belongs to the family Plantaginaceae and grows naturally in Asia, Sri Lanka, and India.

It has thin, soft, bushy, pine-like leaves that look attractive under favorable conditions. It creates a focal point due to leave texture and intense coloration.

Ludwigia ovalis

This plant has alternate leaves rather than opposite as in other species and exhibits lovely, unusual orange-red color.

The plant is too attractive due to its striking red, pink, and orange coloration. It can further change to a brighter red color under higher light and proper supplementation. 

Ludwigia glandulosa

This plant is amphibious and originates from the southeast US, and belongs to the family Onagraceae.

It grows relatively slow and requires a sufficient amount of carbon dioxide for proper growth. The leaves can turn green due to inadequate light.

Cardamine lyrata

Japanese cress and Chinese ivy are the other names of Cardamine lyrata that belong to the mustard family. It grows in China, Siberia, Korea, and Japan.

Its trailing growth form and much smaller leaves make it a decorative piece. 

Alternanthera reineckii

This plant belongs to the plant family Amaranthaceae and is an ornamental plant that grows well in soft and hard water. The plant has purple color leaves that turn red when they get good light.

It forms shoots that require sufficient nutrients and light. When you place these plants in the background, they beautifully accent the green shades of other plants.  

Whorly rotala

Rotala wallichii or Whorly rotala is a creepy herb having prominent spikes with purple and pink flowers. It exists in China, India, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, and Taiwan. It is a quite demanding plant that needs the best nutrition to grow well.

It has a color-changing stem and is a red-stemmed bunch plant that looks extremely beautiful. The leaves are usually a combination of red and brown, and the whole plant with different color shades gives an aquarium a perfect touch of life and nature.

You can place them in the middle of the tank or spread them all around to create maximum effect. 

Marsh mermaid weed

Marsh mermaid weed is the common name of Proserpinaca palustris. It is a beautiful flowering plant of the watermilfoil family and grows in America, the Caribbean, and Central America.

Cabomba Aquatica

It is a perennial aquatic stem plant that belongs to the family Cabombaceae and lives in freshwater, lakes, and rivers. The green Cabomba is pretty tricky but is best for beginners; It requires liquid fertilizers for rapid growth.

Anubias afzelii

It originates from West Africa and requires gravel for better growth and stability. It is ideal for background placement as it is a rhizome. 

Cabomba furcata

This aquarium stem plant has common names, red Cabomba and forked fanwort, and belongs to the water shield family. It bears beautiful little purple plants with bushy leaves and looks like a bottle brush.

The leaves are very soft, delicate, and silky in appearance and the roots are white, thin, and stringy that can tear or break easily. 

The plant requires fertilizer and root tabs to get iron and other essential nutrients. It likes to live in clean and gently moving water, and excessive water movement can damage the plant.

Cryptocoryne petchii

This aquarium stem plant originates from Sri Lanka and has slightly fluted leaf margins that look very pretty. Leaves have a stunning dark olive-brown color with violet undersides. The leaf color and shape largely depends upon the environmental conditions of an aquarium.

Pogostemon Erectus

The plant looks like a coniferous forest when you place multiple in the background. It can grow In both soft and hard water with a sufficient supply of carbon dioxide and light.

Its growth rapidly increases when you provide fertilizers because the nitrogen contents promote growth.

Mayaca fluviatilis

This bog moss has needle-shaped leaves with too soft and flexible stem. It is preferable to place it in the background as it contrasts beautifully with darker or broad-leaved plants in the middle or on the front. It lives in clean water and stable environmental conditions of the aquarium.

Eleocharis montevidensis

This giant hairgrass is a carpet plant that is preferable for the background as it gives a whole grass-carpeted look to the aquarium.

It resembles the grassy field with its tall leaves and is suitable for driftwood layout that creates an impression of natural ambiance. It lives in its natural habitat as it grows organically.

Myriophyllum tuberculatum

This beautiful red milfoil has red-brown fine and whorl leaves and a dark, hardy stem. This red coloration excellently contrasts with other green plants.

These narrow leaves having oxygen bubbles require an adequate supply of all nutrients for the growth.

Myriophyllum mattogrossense

The plant has pinnately-divided leaves that grow sideways and forms a beautiful thicket with a smooth gradient outline.

It usually turns white, and the stem becomes hard with time as the roots start getting out of the substrate.

Bacopa monnieri

This plant is best for beginners and is also the most selling aquarium stem plant because it requires very little attention.

It has beautiful dainty white, pink, or purple flowers and a bright green stem that is eye-catching. It grows vertically under optimum conditions and clean water. 

Nutritional and environmental requirements of aquarium stem plants

These plants require optimum nutrition conditions along with sufficient light, carbon dioxide, and fertilizers. By providing all these requirements, the plant can reach the aquarium’s height within a few days.

Carbon dioxide

The plants require carbon dioxide for their survival and growth. Add a bubble counter and diffuser to maintain an adequate supply of carbon dioxide as it is necessary for the process of photosynthesis.


Fertilizers further fasten their growth and provide them nutrition, so add liquid fertilizers or powdered fertilizers. Use fertilizers that contain appropriate levels of nitrate, phosphate, potassium, iron, and other nutrients essential for plant growth.

Fertilizers facilitate photosynthesis, and the trace elements present in them improves the color of leaves. This is helpful if your aquarium is growing without the soil.


An appropriate supply of light is necessary as it directly impacts plant health and growth. Due to lack of adequate light, the leaves do not grow properly, and the stems grow pointing-upward and spindly, which results in unattractive bushes.

Also, the plants having red leaves can turn green if the light is inadequate. You should properly anchor aquarium plants in gravel.

Planting stem plants

Usually, when you buy aquarium stem plants, they do not have roots, and it becomes hard to keep them in the substrate. So it is better to plant them individually rather than making a stem mass to ensure their stability. Some people use sand or gravel for a planted aquarium.

Make a hole of 2 inches in your substrate and place them into the substrate but keep holding them until you push the substrate into the hole. Pack the substrate down around the plant but do not crush the plant, and your stem plant is ready to glow up the aquarium’s look.

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