If you have decided to bring goldfish into your room, you should support their ecosystem with plants. What are the best plants for a goldfish tank? They need to be durable, low-maintenance, and resist constant biting of the leaves and digging the roots by goldfish. Last but not least, the plants should also be beautiful.
So, which species? How many and how much of them? Finally, should they be live or artificial plants? Now, let’s look at the most popular species and see how you may create the right environment for the universally beloved tank fish.
Our Top 11 Best Plants for Goldfish Tank Reviews
- Anubias (Anubias barteri)
- Crypts (Cryptocoryne wendtii)
- Amazon sword (Echinodorus bleheri)
- Onion plant (Crinum calamistratum)
- Kleiner Bar
- Anacharis (and 19 More)
- Red Ludwigia
- Red Flame Sword
- Limnobium Laevigatum
Let’s come to species. As tastes differ, I will not rank them but place them in quite random order. All these plants have been tested by a large community of tank enthusiasts and proven to be great choices. From this array, you can choose plants to build your paradise garden for your goldfish!
1. Anubias (Anubias barteri)
This one goes first not simply because it starts with an A, but because it’s indeed popular among goldfish owners. Anubias prefers to grow out of the substrate, with its roots absorbing nutrients right out of the water. So, the fish just cannot dig it out.
Its wide saturated green leaves look great through a layer of water and a glass wall, making it perfect for observing. But what’s more important, fish just cannot eat these juicy leaves that are too tough to bite. In addition, goldfish look great against such a background.
It doesn’t need a big tank: the subspecies I chose can grow to 6-8 inches high. The requirements for CO2 and light are also low, which makes Anubias an excellent aquarium plant for beginners. The roots don’t have to be buried: a rock or a piece of driftwood will be enough for them to hold on to.
Even if its height exceeds the usual 8 inches, it’s not a problem: the plant will live as long as the roots are underwater.
- Easy to take care of
- Low CO2 and temperature requirements
- Looks great
- Fits in smaller tanks
- Doesn’t have to be fully submerged
- Non-edible to goldfish
- Doesn’t tolerate wrong handling
- May have fungal diseases
2. Crypts (Cryptocoryne wendtii)
And here comes a premade bundle of plants that are well compatible both with the goldfish and with each other. Along with our friend Anubias, here is Java fern (more on it later), Java moss, Anubias Barteri Broad Leaf, Micro Sword, Echinodorus Parviflorus, and Cryptocoryne Wendtii. The latter is the one to consider.
Originally from Sri Lanka, this plant (also known as water trumpet) can have various options of how it may look like. The color of its leaves varies from bright green to olive and yellow, and it has different shapes too. Yet the rosette-like form of the plant remains as if it’s a room flower. It’s great both in the background and in the foreground, making the entire setup more grounded with its low profile.
None of the plants in this bundle requires extra CO2 or artificial light. It makes it a perfect choice for a beginner. The tallest of them (Amazon Sword, which we’ll talk about later) is about 12” high, while others are lower. If you only have one tank, it can contain them all. Yet if you are already a bit into aquariums, you may already own some of these plants.
- Comes as a bundle
- The plants survive goldfish
- Compatible with each other
- Easy to tell apart
- Affordable price
- Maybe you won’t like all of them equally
- You may already have some of them
3. Amazon sword (Echinodorus bleheri)
And here it is. Indeed, the Amazon sword is one of the most popular aquarium plants, preferred not only by goldfish fans. It’s from South America, and the leaves are sword-shaped. This plant is rather tall, up to 20 inches high, so you’ll need at least a 30-gallon aquarium.
Its ease and durability made it one of the most popular tank plants among goldfish fans. Unlike Anubias, it has roots firmly in the ground, so digging it out is quite a task. That’s why the goldfish will hardly harm its roots. As for leaves, they are great as a background for other plants and food for goldfish.
As for CO2 and light, it doesn’t need any extra. What it does require is constant pruning: it grows quite fast and may overcrowd the whole aquarium if not trimmed. If rising above the water level, it can produce lovely flowers.
- Looks fantastic
- Roots down firmly
- Grows easily
- Requires no extra CO2 or light
- Blooms beautifully
- Needs a larger tank
- Watch for yellow leaves constantly
4. Onion plant (Crinum calamistratum)
From the first sight, you’ll understand where its name originates. The long green leaves of this West African plant indeed resemble an onion. Instead, they don’t stick up underwater but freely flow, making a magnificent image.
Though it’s usually placed in the background, it impacts the entire aquascape.
Even though it may grow up to 4 ft long, it doesn’t mean you need a huge aquarium, a 30-gallon one will do, and it’s okay with emersed leaves. Like other plants from our reviews, it requires less light or CO2 unless you want it to grow faster.
As for the substrate, it prefers fine gravel where it roots down heavily, though soil will also do (but not the sand). With goldfishes, though, I’d pick gravel.
Onion plants may grow even bigger if you provide more light. With lights low, it will remain smaller (maybe that’s just what you want). The leaves will, anyway, remain too big for fish to bite. Last but not least: it’s still quite exotic, so if you like it, don’t waste a chance.
- Unusual, impressive look
- Compatible with various substrates
- One plant is enough for the whole background
- Needs a larger tank
5. Kleiner Bar
And again, we have a bundle of four plants for your tank. Along with the already familiar Anubias, Java fern (a.k.a. Narrow Leaf), and Amazon sword, there is Kleiner Bar. Another Echinodorus species (indeed a hybrid) is a minor plant with rusty red oar-shaped leaves that contrast with all these green ones.
It’s especially noticeable when positioned in the foreground or in the center to be the highlight of the aquascape. If you want it to grow tall, it will require more light than other plants, from moderate to high. If its potential 20-inch height is too much for you, turn your lights down low; it’ll still shine.
Anyway, it will need a richer substrate to grow in your tank. Kleiner Bar has no problems having goldfish around; neither its roots nor leaves are hurt. It does create a good background when these goldies appear in front of it.
As for other plants in the bundle, they are all compatible, that’s why they are sold like this. This set is enough to form an impressive floral ecosystem in your tank and let the goldfish in.
- Fully compatible bundle
- Kleiner Bar as the highlight
- Unusual leaf color
- No special conditions required
- Affordable and easy
- Requires higher lightning
- You may need less than the whole bundle
6. Anacharis (and 19 More)
Everything is bigger in Texas, and so is this bundle that offers no less than 20 various aqua plants. Along with our good friends, there is Anacharis on the list, a plant that deserves a closer look.
It’s the surviving type, ready to live nearly everywhere, so you won’t have to provide special temperature or CO2 frames for it to exist within. It’s essentially a long stem with leaves right on it and sometimes roots as well. Sometimes it has multiple stems, which look even more unearthly.
They are often held together with rubber which can damage it. It has no demands on the tank’s size, as well as light and CO2. It’s better to avoid overexposure to this plant, or it will start growing algae.
Planting it requires a particular rubber removal procedure and sticking it about 2 inches in the substrate. Let it root down well before letting the fish in. It makes the most sense to plant it in the background. Anacharis isn’t protected from goldfish’s teeth, but it grows fast enough to recover.
The overall bundle is a bit of overkill for a small or medium-sized tank; for a big one, it’s okay.
- Compatible plants
- Anacharis is very impressive
- Low requirements
- Recovers quickly
- Mutually compatible
- Planting Anacharis is a bit tricky
- The bundle is too large for a small tank
7. Red Ludwigia
The star of this bundle of 10 plants is Red Ludwigia, a.k.a. Ludwigia Palustris, a Central American plant similar to Kleiner Bar, but its leaves are even redder on both sides and thus easier to shine in the aquascape. With more light and CO2, you can make it as red as possible as the highlight of your scene.
It requires some care to form thick clumps on the bottom of the tank as it grows quickly out of shape. So trim it and keep it tight. The goldfish aren’t of any danger to it. It’s great in the background or mid-ground, not oppressing the other plants around.
And what else is there in the bundle? Well, mostly Amazon Bleheri, Java Fern, and other party plants we already know. It’s nice to see them again, though they’ll feel a bit too tight in a smaller tank.
- Unusual look
- Easy to plant
- Gives your fish a different background
- Doesn’t require a large tank
- Comes with a bundle
- Requires more light
- Requires constant trimming
Within this Florida-themed 10-plant bundle, Vallisneria is one of the stars. Also known as eelgrass, it’s one of the most popular aquarium plants ever, and for a reason. Its bright neon green color creates a form of a forest where fish can act just like earth creatures. Its leaves are vertically oriented, and they stop growing by themselves before getting emersed.
The most exciting thing about Vallisneria is that it grows differently in varying conditions, and the difference may really go far. It grows so well that you’ll have to cut it down to size. And never worry that your fish will eat it away. On the contrary, better take care that the others from the bundle have some breathing room there.
- Very easy to grow
- Looks very natural
- Isn’t demanding
- Again, it comes with a bundle
- You may dislike its ubiquity in the tank
- Requires constant trimming
9. Red Flame Sword
Oh, what a poetic name! And this impressive low plant again comes in a bundle that contains just six species. They will be fine even in a 5-gallon aquarium, and all of them require just gravel as a substrate.
As for Red Flame Sword, this is an Echinodorus again, a plant that we’ve already encountered. It looks like a brown and red bonfire under the water, and it doesn’t grow very tall (up to 11 inches), remaining a bottom pleasure. It looks the best in the mid-ground, surrounded by green mates..and goldfishes.
- Unusual color
- Fits into smaller tanks
- Easy to grow and propagate
- Comes with a good bundle
- You may prefer other Echinodoruses
10. Limnobium Laevigatum
It is also known as Amazon Frogbit. And yes, as its leaves appear on the surface and float there, it’s hard not to see phantom frogs sitting on them (even if there aren’t any in your aquarium). If all your other plants live within the layers of the water, this fine stroke on the surface will make your tank look more natural, like a village pond.
This lifestyle makes Limnobium Laevigatum invulnerable to goldfish’s bad manners. As its roots hang in the water, they can’t be dug out. And biting these plants will harm neither plants nor goldfish.
Like other tropical plants, it prefers warm water. However, the maintenance is just as easy as for other plants here.
- Grows on the surface
- Immune to goldfish attacks
- Adds the final stroke to the picture
- Doesn’t require a big tank
- Not if you want the surface clear
- Can’t stand cold
Also known as Java fern, this Asian plant with long narrow leaves is the perfect epitome of “seaweed.” The leaves float around underwater yet remain firmly embedded in the bottom ground. Its leaves are tripartite, which gave it its colloquial name, “Trident.”
But we place it among the best plants for goldfish aquarium because its leaves steadily resist all the attacks by these little critters.
Being about 6-12 inches high, it will fit well in most fish tanks. The temperature required for them is 68° – 82.4° F, but a degree up or down will not do much harm.
As for the light, it doesn’t require much of it either, and that’s what many goldfish enthusiasts appreciate in it.
Many breeds of it share the best qualities of the species but look pretty diverse. The main difference is the shape of its leaves: while they remain blade-shaped, they vary in length, width, and grouping. That’s why I recommend this bundle, as it features four various breeds. To enjoy them all, you’ll need a bigger tank.
- Elegant, stylish looks
- Very durable
- Grow slowly but steadily
- Doesn’t require much light
- Many breeds available
- Comes as a bundle
- Need constant water cleaning
- Needs trimming
Plants for Goldfish Tank Buyer’s Guide
As we know, the best goldfish plants will hardly do any harm to fish but should be immune to aggression too. Their leaves should be either unbitable or recover quickly, and their roots shouldn’t suffer when exposed. There are certain requirements for the best aquarium plants for goldfish, met by both live and artificial plants.
Best Live Plants for Goldfish Tanks
All the plants from the reviews are excellent in their own way. So, among them, the best live plants for goldfish tanks are easy to choose: these are the ones you like the most. To make a more grounded choice, I’d recommend you order a bundle, see the plants with your own eyes, and then decide which ones you prefer.
Best Fake Plants for Goldfish
When you hear about fake plants, you think of plastic ones, which are more popular. They cannot be damaged by water or polluted (being macro-objects). They carry no parasites, their cells don’t die, and they can, in theory, stay as long as you want.
But it’s not like unicorns and rainbows in the plastic kingdom. The main issue with them is that fish can damage themselves against it. Eventually, it will learn (maybe), but getting hit is still no good. As for me, the best fake plants for goldfish are the silk ones. With all the advantages of plastic ones, they are softer and unlikelier to harm the fish.
Live vs Fake Plants
Decorating an aquarium with fake plants is not such a poor idea. Artificial plants are made of plastic and thus are (almost) neutral to the environment. They have no requirements for light, CO2, and water flow. Finally, they are non-edible and don’t attract the fish. So it’s not such a bad idea if you want to focus only on fish.
On the other hand, live plants can be an additional food source for the fish, filter the water, and they are harder to grow. They cannot damage the fish as plastic ones can. And they are… yes, alive. It makes creating an ecosystem a finer art and thus more fun.
Even if you prefer living plants, I wouldn’t dismiss fake ones but rather treat them as a decoration. With it, you can create floral compositions that would be incompatible with natural ecosystems.
FAQ on Plants for Goldfish Tank
If there are still questions, here are some answers. Take this as a flashback to the basics.
Do goldfish need plants in their tank?
Not necessarily, but plants make the water healthier. In addition, they provide some extra nutrition (if edible). Tastes differ, of course, but I prefer looking at the fish when they run around in an environment that at least feels natural. So yes, my goldfish do need some plants to feel better.
What are good plants for goldfish?
The best plants for goldfish tank are those that prefer the same conditions and are invulnerable to threats posed by the fish (that adore eating leaves and digging at the roots). All the plants on our list qualify. Which of them are the best? You decide.
What plants benefit goldfish?
Edible ones that grow faster than get consumed (especially if you often leave them for indefinite periods). Also, these plants should be relatively independent of conditions like light or CO2.
There’s No Gold without Green
Now you see how to choose the best aquatic plants for goldfish. So why wait? In our turbulent time, you need some place to meditate. And there is hardly any better company for that than goldfish. If you have noticed, I didn’t rank these plants this time; you can call it a Zen ranking.
Which plants do you prefer? Have you ever had any trouble growing them, and how did you solve them? I’d like to hear your stories in the comments!