25 Best Tall Aquarium Plants For Your Tank

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When we think of ways to add live plants to an aquarium, we invariably think of tall plants. Taller, broad-leaved plant leaves can create an aquascape that feels roomier by hiding the top of the tank, while simultaneously adding a visual element that can’t be achieved with short plants.

In this article, we’ll share 25 of the most suitable tall aquarium plants for your tank. Whether you’re a beginner who has just set up your first tank or you’re an experienced aquarist who is looking to add something different to your scape, you should find what you are looking for here!

1. Amazon Sword

Amazon Sword Paniculatus Potted Live Aquarium Plants

Scientific Name: Pterophyllum scalare

Scientific Name: Echinodorus grisebachii

Origin: Western Hemisphere (United States to Argentina)

Max Height: 20 inches

Light Needs: Moderate

Nutrition: Low to Moderate

Ease of Care: Easy

Hobbyists looking for a tall plant that can tolerate a range of water parameters will be extremely pleased with the Amazon Sword. This hardy plant is a choice for both beginners and intermediate hobbyists.

These plants can tolerate a wide range of water temperatures, they are easy to grow, and they make a great addition to almost any tank! Because they grow up to 20 inches tall, they would make excellent midground plants for a moderately-sized tank.

2. Corkscrew Vallisneria

Corkscrew Vallisneria
Image Source: aquaticarts.com

Scientific Name: Vallisneria torta

Origin: Japan

Max Height: 20 inches

Light Needs: Low

Nutrition: Moderate to high

Ease of Care: Easy

The Corkscrew Vallisneria makes an excellent choice for any planted tank. Its leaves are wavy, twisting around one another in a corkscrew pattern. The plants grow quickly, sending out runners that will eventually produce daughter plants of their own.

As plants that require a nutrient-rich substrate to thrive, we recommend introducing additional fertilizers to your daily regimen. 

3. Jungle Vallisneria

Jungle Vallisneria

Scientific Name: Vallisneria americana

Origin: North, Central, and South America

Max Height: 72 inches

Light Needs: Moderate to High

Nutrition: Moderate

Ease of Care: Easy

Yet another excellent choice for beginners, the Jungle Vallisneria is an extremely hardy plant that will put up with a wide range of water parameters.

In the wild, this plant has been known to grow up to 72 inches tall, though the casual hobbyist is more likely to produce specimens that hover between 10-30 inches in height. Regardless, this is a tall plant that will make a dramatic impression in any large tank. 

4. Creeping Primrose-Willow

Ludwigia Repens

Scientific Name: Ludwigia Repens

Origin: Southern North America, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean Islands

Max Height: 20 inches

Light Needs: Medium to High 

Nutrition: High

Ease of Care: Moderate

Those looking for a mid-sized background plant should look no further than the Creeping Primrose-Willow.

This plant is somewhat unique in that it doesn’t require CO2 injection to survive and thrive; though it does have medium to high nutrition and light requirements. You will need a good aquarium light and additional fertilizers to help this plant thrive. 

5. Blue Water Hyssop

Blue Water Hyssop

Scientific Name: Bacopa Caroliniana

Origin: Southern and Eastern USA and Mexico

Max Height: 12 inches

Light Needs: Moderate

Nutrition: Low

Ease of Care: Easy-to-Moderate

As a shade plant that requires high light but low fertilization, the Blue Water Hyssop is an excellent choice for low-tech setups with ample lighting.

A large part of aquarium plant care for these plants is to simply cut them back when the growth begins to overwhelm the specimen. As long as you do your best to ensure healthy plant root growth, these plants will grow in a more or less natural shape, creating a beautiful mound of dark green foliage.

6. Asian Ambulia

Asian Ambulia
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Scientific Name: Limnophila sessiliflora

Origin: Southeast Asia

Max Height: 15 inches

Light Needs: High

Nutrition: High

Ease of Care: Moderate

These are some of the most common aquarium plants available, as they are both attractive and easy to care for. The entire plant is a lovely shade of green, and its fern-like appearance lends some added dimension to the tank.

This plant will grow best when it is fed with an iron-rich substrate, as well as daily doses of high lighting and fertilizer. As this plant will out-compete algae, it will cut down on the need for additional aquarium maintenance.

7. Madagascar Laceleaf

Madagascar Lace Plant

Scientific Name: Aponogeton madagascariensis

Origin: Madagascar

Max Height: 20 inches

Light Needs: Moderate to High

Nutrition: High

Ease of Care: Easy

This is one of our favorite plants due to its unique appearance. Its perforated, lace-like leaves give it a unique touch, and its mid-to-tall stature makes this an excellent background plant.

The health of plants is heavily dependent on their fertilizer regimen. Regular doses of an iron-rich substrate and providing it with the cool temperature it needs will allow this plant to thrive and add a touch of elegance to any tank. 

8. Water Wisteria

Water Wisteria

Scientific Name: Hygrophila difformis

Origin: Indian subcontinent in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal

Max Height: 20 inches

Light Needs: Moderate to High

Nutrition: Low

Ease of Care: Easy

No individual plant species says “aquarium” more than Hygrophila difformis.

This plant has an impressive height-to-width ratio, making it a lovely aquarium plant for any tank looking for a focal point. Tiny leaves line the entire stem, making it fuller and lusher. With its simple needs, you can’t go wrong with this plant!

9. Roundleaf Toothcup

Rotala indica (Willd.) Koehne var. uliginosa
Image Source: commons.wikimedia.org

Scientific Name: Rotala Rotundifolia

Origin: Southeast Asia, Southern India, and Japan

Max Height: 12 inches

Light Needs: High

Nutrition: Moderate

Ease of Care: Moderate

Are you looking for something that can be used as both a mid-height or tall-height plant? Then this is the plant for you. The Roundleaf Toothcup maxes out at 12 inches in height, but forms a beautiful clump that can be left in its natural flow or pruned slightly to give it a more uniform appearance.

It prefers ideal water parameters, which means that regular water changes should be performed to keep them at their best. Under these conditions, the mother plant is more likely to propagate via runners and form a pretty little garden in your aquarium. 

10. Carolina Watershield

Carolina fanwort
Image Source: commons.wikimedia.org

Scientific Name: Cabomba Caroliniana

Origin: Southern Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Northeast Argentina, Southern and Eastern USA

Max Height: 6 feet

Light Needs: High

Nutrition: High

Ease of Care: Difficult

Found in the wild in large bodies of water, the Carolina Watershield is one of several tall-growing aquarium plants that are native to the United States. This tall stem plant can grow to a height of six feet, which makes it great for creating an impressive backdrop in the aquarium.

It does best with large tanks that have strong lighting and weekly doses of fertilizer. You can meet its substrate requirements by providing a healthy dose of iron-rich substrate. This plant prefers cooler temperatures, so keep it in a cold water aquarium, and it will reward you with its tall, elegant appearance.

11. Java Fern

Java Fern Red (Microsorum pteropus)

Scientific Name: Leptochilus pteropus

Origin: Malaysia, Thailand, Northeast India and some regions of China

Max Height: 14 inches

Light Needs: Low

Nutrition: Low

Ease of Care: Easy

The Java Fern is one of the hardiest plants on our list – so much so that it has been known to thrive in brackish water. Be that as it may, this plant does best in a freshwater setup that contains warm water, soft water, and a gravel substrate with a generous dose of iron.

The only real maintenance that you will have to perform is regularly cutting away fronds as they age – this promotes new growth, which keeps the plant healthy and full. As low light plants that can grow up to 14 inches in height, the Java fern makes an excellent mid-level or tall-level plant for tanks with low light.

12. Anacharis

Anacharis
Image Source : flickr.com

Scientific Name: Elodea canadensis

Origin: Argentina, Uruguay, and Southeast Brazil

Max Height: 6 feet

Light Needs: Moderate to High

Nutrition: Low

Ease of Care: Easy to Moderate

The Anacharis is basically a simple plant. It does not require any special attention, although it can grow up to 6 feet in height under the right conditions. The ideal substrate for an Anacharis is peat moss or sand, as these plants absorb nutrients from the water column rather than their substrate.

To meet their lighting needs, place them near the surface of your aquarium or in mid-level areas that are well lit, but not directly under the light. While this plant makes a great hiding spot for shy fish, it should be kept out of reach of casual burrowing fish that will easily uproot this plant.

13. Water Sprite

3 Water Sprite (Ceratopteris Thalictroides) Live Aquarium Stem Plant

Scientific Name: Ceratopteris thalictroides 

Origin: Southeast Asia

Max Height: 12 inches

Light Needs: Low to Moderate

Nutrition: Moderate

Ease of Care: Easy

Water sprite is an extremely popular choice for aquariums because it grows well in low to medium lighting conditions. It is an epiphytic plant, so you may choose to anchor it to the corner of your tank with some fishing line or just let it float around on its own. 

Since it can grow up to 12 inches in height, water sprite makes a great mid-level or background plant for smaller tanks with low light. It is often used as part of live aquatic DIY terrarium setups because of its easygoing nature and minimal requirements.

14. Brazilian Pennywort

Brazilian pennywort
Image Source: flickr.com

Scientific Name: Hydrocotyle leucocephala

Origin: South America

Max Height: 24 inches

Light Needs: Moderate

Nutrition: Moderate to High

Ease of Care: Easy

Brazilian Pennywort is a simple and easy plant that thrives in moderate lighting conditions – although it can handle higher levels of light without difficulty. 

One thing to note is to keep this plant away from snacking fish, as its leaves are susceptible to damage or destruction. Species of fish such as bumblebee gobies and dragonfish love to chew on pennywort leaves, so keep an eye out for them if you have any in your tank.

15. Green Foxtail

Foxtail ‘Green’
Image Source: www.liveaquaria.com

Scientific Name: Setaria viridis

Origin: Eurasia

Max Height: 4 feet

Light Needs: Moderate to High

Nutrition: Moderate

Ease of Care: Easy

Green foxtail plants can grow up to 4 feet in height under optimal conditions. Because they are such strong growers, it’s advisable to use fishing line or other similar materials for anchoring these plants into your planting substrate. 

The leaves of this plant will grow to about 2 feet in length and 3 inches in width. Though this plant has the ability to grow to 4 feet, it does so at a moderate growth rate of approximately 1-2 inches per week. 

16. Temple Plant

Temple Plant
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Scientific Name: Hygrophila Corymbosa

Origin: Southeast Asia

Max Height: 15 inches

Light Needs: Low

Nutrition: Low to Moderate

Ease of Care: Easy

Temple plant is one of the most common aquarium plants sold today. They are relatively easy to care for and will grow in most lighting conditions. If you would like to anchor your temple plant, make sure to use a nutrient-rich aquarium substrate such as Miracle-Gro Aquarium Soil for planted tanks.

If you would like to grow a temple plant with a thicker stem and leaves, make sure that you provide adequate lighting conditions by keeping it within 5 inches of your aquarium light fixture.  

17. Ruffled Sword Plant

Aponogeton crispus
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Scientific Name: Aponogeton Crispus

Origin: Southern India and Sri Lanka

Max Height: 12 inches

Light Needs: Moderate 

Nutrition: High

Ease of Care: Easy

Ruffled sword plants grow and spread quickly and easily, making them a good option for beginners. 

The leaves of the ruffled sword plant are thick, sturdy, and teardrop-shaped. They can grow up to 12 inches in length with a width of 2-3 inches. They have high nutritional needs and require frequent doses of fertilizers in the water column in order to grow optimally.

18. Water Trumpet

Cryptocoryne wendtii
Image Source : flickr.com

Scientific Name: Cryptocoryne Wendtii

Origin: Sri Lanka

Max Height: 10 inches

Light Needs: Low to Moderate

Nutrition: Low to Moderate

Ease of Care: Easy

The Water Trumpet grows up to 10 inches in height and is perfect for a medium-size aquarium. Its leaves resemble an arrowhead and are dark green in color. 

Though this plant may not be picky when it comes to light, its ideal environment is one that has a temperature of 72-82 degrees Fahrenheit. Otherwise, this plant is relatively easy to care for and will grow quickly if the tank environment is favorable.

19. Hornwort (aka Coontail)

Hornwort

Scientific Name: Ceratophyllum demersum

Origin: Native to all continents except Antarctica

Max Height: 6.5 feet

Light Needs: Moderate

Nutrition: High

Ease of Care: Moderate

Hornwort is a very common aquarium plant that can be found in most parts of the world. It has long, thin leaves and can grow up to 6.5 feet in length under the right lighting conditions. The rate of Hornwort’s spread is much faster when it is planted directly in the substrate, but it can also be attached to decor.

In addition, this plant also makes an excellent oxygenating plant that thrives in most water types, including the freshwater aquarium. It grows best in moderate to bright lighting conditions and can filter out excess nutrients from your tank water as it grows.

20. Italian Vallisneria

Italian Vallisneria

Scientific Name: Vallisneria Spiralis

Origin: North, Central, and South America

Max Height: 3 feet

Light Needs: Moderate to High

Nutrition: High

Ease of Care: Easy to Moderate

Italian Vallisneria, also known as spaghetti plant (and sometimes even spaghetti grass), has long leaves that resemble thin noodles. It can grow up to 3 feet in height and thrives in most water types, including the freshwater aquarium.

A member of the tapegrass family, the Italian Vallisneria is fairly easy to care for in the aquarium environment, as long as you make sure that it receives the right nutrition levels.

21. Moneywort

Groundcover, Creeping Jenny ~ Moneywort ~ Lysimachia nummularia ~ Trailing plant
Image Source: flickr.com

Scientific Name: Bacopa monnieri

Origin: India and Southeast Asia

Max Height: 13 inches

Light Needs: High

Nutrition: High

Ease of Care: Easy to Moderate

Moneywort is a creeping plant that has small, round leaves and reaches only 13 inches in height at maximum. This plant likes to attach itself to decor within the aquarium or can be planted directly into the substrate of your tank.

It loves bright light over moderate lighting conditions, which makes it an excellent option for planted tanks with high lighting needs. This plant also thrives in nutrient-rich water, making it an excellent option for freshwater planted tanks. 

22. Onion Plant

Onion Plant

Scientific Name: Crinum calamistratum

Origin: West and Central Africa

Max Height: 48 inches

Light Needs: Medium to High

Nutrition: Moderate

Ease of Care: Easy to Moderate

The onion plant is a beautiful aquatic plant that has long, leafy leaves and can grow up to 48 inches in height under the right lighting conditions. It also filters out nutrients like ammonia and nitrates, which makes it a great choice for your planted tank.

This particular aquarium plant thrives in moderate to bright light, but will also do well in low-lighting conditions. The bulbous base of this plant also lends it a distinctive look!

23. White Egyptian Lotus

White Egyptian Lotus

Scientific Name: Nymphaea Lotus

Origin: Africa and Europe

Max Height: 12 inches

Light Needs: Low

Nutrition: Moderate to High

Ease of Care: Easy to Moderate

The White Egyptian lotus is a beautiful flowering plant that has dark green leaves with large white flowers. It has the ability to spread out across the top of your tank quite quickly if the right conditions are met.

As a plant that’s relatively easy to care for, the White Egyptian Lotus is perfect for beginners looking to add a striking plant to their aquarium.

24. Red Tiger Lotus

Red Tiger Lotus

Scientific Name: Nymphaea zenkeri

Origin: Africa

Max Height: 31 inches

Light Needs: Medium to High

Nutrition: Low to Moderate

Ease of Care: Easy

The red tiger lotus is the largest of the Nymphaea lotus family, growing up to 31 inches in height. Though this plant is known for its bright red leaves, some species also feature green leaves with red variegation.

Beautiful as the tiger lotus may be, it requires a little more pruning than most other types of plants due to its large, tall floating leaves.

25. Banana Lily

Banana lily

Scientific Name: Nymphoides aquatica

Origin: Southeastern United States from Texas to Maryland

Max Height: 6 inches

Light Needs: Moderate to High

Nutrition: Low

Ease of Care: Easy

Last but not least, we have the yellow banana lily. This particular plant can grow up to 6 inches, and features long, round leaves that are bright green in color. Like the tiger lily, it features long, floating leaves, but these leaves emerge from a bulbous base rather than a stem.

This plant’s unique appearance makes it a great addition to any aquarium, especially if you’re new to the hobby!

Conclusion

Whether you’re a seasoned aquarium hobbyist or you’re just getting started with your first tank, these tall aquatic plants are sure to add some color and life to your underwater world. From tall, leafy varieties to attractive flowering lilies, there is a little something for everyone here on this list.

We hope we didn’t miss any cool tall aquatic plants on this list! If you have first-hand experience with any of the plants listed here, we’d love to hear from you in the comments section below. And if you know someone who’s looking for a tall aquarium plant, please share this list with them!

Thank you for your support, and happy fish-keeping!

Wanda is a second-generation aquarist from the sunny tropics of Malaysia. She has been helping her father with his freshwater tanks since she was a toddler, and has fallen in love with the hobby ever since. A perpetual nomad, Wanda does her best to integrate fish-keeping with her lifestyle, and has taken care of fish in three different continents. She loves how it provides a nice break from the hustle and bustle of life.

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