How to Plant Freshwater Aquarium Plants

Although some types of artificial aquarium plants look just as good as the real thing, they do not carry the same benefits. Live plants in a freshwater aquarium offer a natural habitat for fish and help to improve the quality of the water in the tank. Plants draw in carbon dioxide from the tank environment and expel oxygen into the water during the day. Planting freshwater aquarium plants also will cut down on algae growth in the tank and reduce dangerous nitrates.

Create a mental image of how you want your aquarium to look. Roughly, map the image out on a piece of paper to use as a guide for planting the freshwater aquarium plants.

Line your freshwarer aquarium with a 2-inch layer of sand or fine gravel substrate. Set your rocks, driftwood and other decorations in place.

Fill the freshwater aquarium with water three to four inches above the substrate. Pour the water in slowly so you do not stir up the tank. The water will make planting easier.

Grip the roots of the first plant with a pair of aquatic tweezers. Insert the point of the tweezers on a slight angle, into the substrate, securing the roots of the plant. Open the tweezers, releasing the plant in the substrate.

Continue the process with the remaining plants. Work your way from the foreground towards the back of the tank. Fill the aquarium with water, which will stand all of the plants erect. Trim the tops of plants that you feel are too tall, with a pair of scissors.


Keep the foliage of the plants above the substrate line after planting.


Do not use plants from ponds or lakes in your aquarium. Only use plants purchased from an aquarium store or those that you have propagated yourself. Keep in mind that you must place an air stone in the tank. In the evening live plants take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide, the air stone will ensure that an abundance of carbon dioxide does not overtake the tank. Fish hovering at the top of your tank are a sure sign that you need an air stone.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper
  • Substrate
  • Rocks, driftwood and decorations
  • Water
  • Aquatic tweezers
  • Air stone
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About the Author

Jonae Fredericks started writing in 2007. She also has a background as a licensed cosmetologist and certified skin-care specialist. Jonae Fredericks is a certified paraeducator, presently working in the public education system.