Last Updated on November 1, 2020 by Anne Thynne
The shortage of open space has forced people to find an alternative way of gardening as a hobby. No doubt planted aquariums are getting so much popularity among fish lovers and plant lovers.
It is soothing to watch. Sometimes a beautifully maintained planted aquarium becomes the main attraction of your living room.
If you don’t know already, a planted aquarium is different from a traditional fish tank. It features fishes as an accessory rather than the primary focus. The aquascape is the primary focus here.
Unfortunately, not all fishes love a planted tank. That’s why this article can be your guide and provide you a thorough understanding of how you can choose the best fish for a planted aquarium.
Have fun reading!
Table of Contents
Qualities To Look For In Fish For Planted Tank
You should be very selective while picking up the best fish for a planted aquarium. It is hard to cultivate and maintain plants in an aquarium. You wouldn’t want some fish to destroy your hard work just because they don’t like it, right?
Here are some important things to consider before choosing the perfect fish. Check out.
Small to Medium Size
The size of the fishes depends on the size of your aquarium. A 5-gallon water tank is the minimum size. Anything less than this doesn’t feel natural.
Neon Tetras, Cardinal Tetras, Fancy Guppies, Endler’s livebearers, Chili Rasbora are perfect for such aquariums. Most of them are between 1 to 2 inches. Smaller fishes don’t interfere with the aesthetic look of your aquarium. They require less maintenance and can’t disturb your plants much.
If you have previous experience of aquascaping, a 20-gallon water tank will be even better. Small fishes in groups look good in bigger aquariums too. But you can also add freshwater Angelfish, Discus, etc.
If you are aiming to give your tank a busier look, you should pick a group of fish rather than just one big fish. That’s why sociability is an important factor. If the fishes you choose don’t get along and keep fighting, your plants may have to pay the price.
The Cichlids, Gouramis, and Bettas are from the order Perciformes. They like food and space. Sharing space with other fish is not their thing. They are territorial and like to be alone. Though they are beautiful and intelligent, you should not include them in a crowded aquarium.
On the other hand Guppies, Gouramis, Rasboras, Swordtails, or Tetras are more social and friendly.
Safe for plants
You should look for fish that will blend perfectly with the ecosystem of your aquarium.
Some fish eat live plants and have a habit of uprooting them. They just like open space and don’t want your precious plants to cause any hindrance.
Severums, Buenos Aires Tetras, Silver dollar fish are some of them. They require an organic diet and eat plants. Silver dollar fish can get really big and Cichlids are known as little bulldozers. They uproot everything in their way. That’s why in the pet stores you will find these fishes inside tanks with fake plants.
Top 6 Best Fish for A Planted Tank
Down below we have listed the top 6 fishes for planted tanks according to our research that will be best for a beginner.
Paracheirodon innesi or neon tetra is one of the most famous aquarium fish. It is a fish that comes into your mind, whenever you think of your dream aquarium. They can grow up to 1.2 inches and love to stay in a big group. The ideal water temperature is 72 to 76 degrees Fahrenheit and the pH level should be 6-7.
You should not release less than 6 tetras in the tank. Being lonely makes them sad and aggressive. They are very friendly and don’t stake out a territory.
Moreover, they love plants and use leaves to hide themselves. Ludwigia repens, floating plants, Vallisneria, Cryptocoryne wendtii are some of their favorites. Direct sunlight makes them scared. That’s why you should dim the lighting to make them feel natural.
Rasbora argyrotaenia or rasbora is a small freshwater fish. They are calm and love to stay in groups. Their average length is 2 inches. Rasboras are easy to feed. Try to mix brine shrimp, blood worms, tubifex worms in their diet.
Rasboras are very social and great for a community aquarium. They get nervous when they are alone. They sometimes nibble on the plants when they get angry or upset. But that’s rare. You can choose Tetras, Danios, Sword-tails, and Guppies as their tank mates. Rasboras get super intimated by predator fish.
For 4 Harlequin Rasboras, a 5-gallon tank is suitable. But if you intend to increase the numbers, opt for a 20-gallon aquarium.
3. Guppies And Other Livebearers
No planted aquarium is complete without a group of guppies. Poecilia reticulate or the Guppy is the most interactive aquarium fish. Guppies or the rainbow fish have flashy fins and grow up to 2 inches. Since plants are a natural element of their environment, they blend perfectly with the setting of a planted tank.
Guppies and other livebearers look good in both small and large tanks. They get along fine with other fish. But it is wiser to not have bigger fishes in the tank that can intimate guppies.
Don’t add more than 2 guppies in a 5-gallon tank. If you want to have more than 4 guppies, a 10+ gallon tank is more suitable.
Keep the water warmer (76 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit) and pH level to 7.0. Testing the water weekly for enough magnesium, calcium is a good consideration.
Pterophyllum Scalare or freshwater angelfish is the most popular choice for aquariums. Their long and thin fins, eye-catching colors give a colorful and happy vibe to the planted tanks.
The water temperature needs to be between 75 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit. They are very sensitive to the water condition. Make sure that the pH level is 6 -7.5.
They prefer meat in their diet. But they eat plants when they are bored. That means with a proper diet you can discourage their leaf-eating habits. Another way is cultivating plants that angelfish can’t eat. Amazon sword, Java moss, Wisteria, Water Sprite are some of these leaves. Angelfish can lay eggs in these leaves or hide behind them easily but can’t eat them. Freshwater angelfish are peace-loving. But sometimes very small shrimp or fish become their prey.
Fundus heteroclitus or Killifish is generally 5 to 6 inches long. There are about 1270 species of killifish available. But stripped killifish and mummichog are the most famous. They have rounded back and belly with bright colors (mostly orange and yellow), a dorsal fin at the back, a small mouth, and a flat-head.
They are friendly and like to live peacefully. The males are sometimes aggressive towards each other. Try to keep only one male in the group.
They don’t like direct sunlight. Dimming the light is a good consideration.
A 20-gallon aquarium is suitable for a pair of killifish. Make sure that the temperature of the water remains between 72 -75 degrees. Killifish loves plants especially floating plants. For a densely planted aquarium, killifish can be a great pick.
6. Freshwater Shrimp
Macrobrachium rosenbergii or freshwater shrimps can grow up to 7cm in their maturity. Don’t underestimate them due to their smaller size. They are probably the busiest creature in the tank. They eat the leftovers of other fishes, slime, floating planktons, etc. They also eat algae without hurting the plants and keep your tank clean.
They require plants and woods to hide. The water temperature should be between 24 to 26 degrees Celsius. Also, they are quite sensitive to water change. So don’t go for large water changes if you have shrimps.
Most shrimps live happily with other tropical fishes. But don’t add smaller shrimp groups to a large tank with cichlids, angelfish, or discus. They may become the prey of larger fish groups.
We recommend Bumblebee Shrimp, Tiger Shrimp, Babaulti shrimp, Caridina shrimp, and of course, neocaridina shrimps.
Tips For Keeping Fish In A Planted Tank
- It is better to choose a fish and then arrange a perfect aquarium for it. After you have already grown the plant, it becomes difficult to find a fish that will love the setting.
- Balance is the key for a thriving planted aquarium. You need to find the balance between CO2, Light and Fertilizers in your planted tank. With proper balance you will find less algae outbreak.
- Regular water change and maintenance is essential. Don’t forget to trim your plants.
- In a planted tank keep your bioload as less as possible. Just because you have a large tank doesn’t mean you should load it with fish with the tank’s max capacity.
- Finally, check the pH, temperature, nitrite, nitrate etc. from time to time.
Planted tanks are not only pretty to watch, it makes the fish feel at home. We know it can be overwhelming to choose the best fish for a planted aquarium. But in the end, it is worth all your hard work.
After all, nothing is more beautiful than a happy fish swimming around a green planted tank.