five submersed aquarium plants

5 Aquarium Plants That Don’t Require Substrate

Whether you have an aquarium full of fish or you’re just starting out, there can be a lot to manage. From water balancing to acclimating your fish correctly, it can be a bit overwhelming. So, if you can cut out a step, then consider introducing underwater plants to your aquarium that don’t require substrate. As a loose term for the bottom layer of material in your tank, substrate is often used to increase the amount of beneficial bacteria. However, as with the introduction any foreign object in your tank’s water, substrate can also affect your aquarium’s water quality and can react chemically with other elements. If you’re interested in cultivating an underwater environment without it, we’ve identified five aquarium plants that don’t need substrate.


Hornwort is a plant that is quite easy to care for. It can thrive in almost any lighting condition, and does well in either soft or hard water conditions (pH 6.0-7.5). Hornwort also grows quickly, and can reach lengths of 2 to 6 feet. As it can be floated in the water, Hornwort is an ideal aquarium plant that doesn’t need substrate. Because of this, Hornwort makes a safe hiding place for small fry (baby fish) in large tanks with adult fish. In a new aquarium, or one with water quality issues, Hornwort aids with filtration since it’s capable of soaking up nitrates and handling ammonia spikes.


Java Moss is a very popular aquarium plant that doesn’t need substrate. Java moss thrives with lots of light, temperatures between 70-75 degrees (Fahrenheit), and basically any salinity (pH 5-8).  It is also a great beginner foliage because of its easy planting and care. You can attach the plant to most aquarium decorations, including (but not limited to) rocks and driftwood. If you are interested in Aquascaping, then Java Moss can make beautiful moss walls and carpets.


Hailing from the same area in Southeast Asia as Java Moss, Java Fern also makes an easy and substrate-free addition to an aquarium. Thriving under low to moderate lighting, Java Moss will grow best in temperatures between 68-82 degrees (Fahrenheit) with water conditions between pH 6.0-7.5. Java Fern can be attached to rocks and driftwood, and though it likes regular liquid fertilizer during water changes, it doesn’t require much else. Once Java Fern starts to grow in the tank, it will spread and remain mostly unbothered by most fish.


Anubias is a West African aquarium plant that doesn’t need substrate and is easy to care for. Anubias is a beautiful plant that is very adaptable to different aquarium conditions as it prefers moderate lighting, temperatures between 72 and 82 degrees (Fahrenheit), and a pH of 6.0-7.5. Anubias can be tied-down to rocks and driftwood, and may even float in the water column. The leaves of the Anubias provide ample hiding places for small fish, and algae-eating shrimp and snails can be incorporated to take care of any algae the Anubias may produce.


Water Wisteria is a beginner-friendly plant that provides an attractive midground or background to an aquarium. Depending on the light and water conditions, the leaves of the plant will look different. Ideal conditions for the Water Wisteria are moderate lighting, between 74 and 82 degrees (Fahrenheit), with a pH of 6.5-7.5. Water Wisteria does well with most fish, but should be avoided with Goldfish, as they will devour the plant in a matter of hours.

You can find these five aquarium plants that don’t need substrate and many more tube and tissue culture plants online when you browse through our complete catalog. We also offer many different types of aquarium decor, so you can have your aquarium vibrant and thriving in no time. So, if you’d like to learn more or inquire about our range of underwater plants and aquarium decor, we invite you to contact us today.

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