Looking for fast growing aquarium plants?

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Tired of waiting ages for your aquarium plants to thrive? Skip that step and plant fast growing aquarium plants instead. To get you started, I’ve covered five of the best in this article.

You’ll also find a brief summary covering the living conditions each plant requires so you know exactly what to do! 

In this article, I recommend the following aquarium plants and will cover them in detail. 

If you need info on how to grow and care for these plants I’ve included that info as well at the end.

Recommended Fast Growing Aquarium Plants

Amazon Sword

One quality I love about the powerfully named Amazon sword plant is its ability to thrive in any freshwater aquarium. Thanks to this, there’s no need to spend hours researching its compatibility with the other plant species in your tank. 

There are various varieties of Amazon Sword. Some such as Echinodorus martii are smaller and slow growing. So if you want a large fast growing Amazon Sword make sure you opt for Echinodorus amazonicus or grisebachii

Echinodoruses grow immersed in freshwater and are known as marsh plants. They’re a common choice in aquariums because they require very little maintenance and grow well within just two weeks. You won’t need to spend time removing and replacing Amazon swords to promote growth either.

The Amazon sword is also a great choice for large, 10-gallon-plus aquariums due to the height this plant can reach.

If you are particularly interested in aesthetics, this plant can help create a real feature tank. Due to its size it is best suited to the background of an aquarium.

  • Care level: Easy
  • Growth rate: Fast
  • Water pH: 6.5–7.5
  • Temperature: 72–82 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Maximum size: 24–25 inches

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Hornwort

Hornwort’s feathered branches resemble miniature Christmas trees and this unique feature makes for a lively base in any aquarium. This particular species is Ceratophyllum demersum and it’s grown specifically for tanks, not ponds. Note that many species on the market are actually pond hornwort, which is texturally different.

While beautiful to look at, hornwort is more than a pretty addition — it’s particularly helpful to the small animal species and invertebrates in your aquarium as its wispy leaves provide resting and hiding spots. 

In terms of aesthetics, the vibrant green color makes hornwort a colorful talking point and brightens up dull waters.

Hornwort’s low maintenance and fast-growing properties have been proven on a global scale — the only region it hasn’t spread to is Antarctica! This veracity, paired with its height (up to 10-feet in the wild) makes it ideal for a variety of freshwater aquarium sizes. Hornwort is also compatible with most other tank plants.

Lastly, Hornwort has allelopathic qualities that help keep your tank free from harmful bacteria and reduce the likelihood of cyanobacterium (blue, green algae) appearing.

  • Care level: Easy
  • Growth rate: Fast
  • Water pH: 6.0–7.5
  • Water temperature: 58–59 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Maximum size: 24–72 inches

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Giant Hygro

Giant hydro, or Hygrophila corymbosa, is a fast-growing, low maintenance plant that reaches seven to eleven inches in height. These beautiful, vibrant green plants are comprised of long leaves and thin stems, making them ideal for aquarists looking for swaying plants.

The highest level of maintenance giant hygro demands is regular pruning. This simply involves trimming the branches and leaves in order to promote constant, regular growth. When the plant grows after pruning, it will become bushier and create a more dynamic aquarium environment.

Bushier leaves create enticing homes for your smaller and larger fish and any invertebrates in your aquarium. 

While giant hygro provides attractive environments for your aquarium’s fauna species, this plant also helps maintain aquarium health. Many aquarists swear by giant hygro’s ability to reduce the likelihood of algal and bacterial growth.

Giant hygro survives well when fully submerged inside the aquarium. However, when left to grow outside of water, this plant will produce beautiful purple flowers.

You should plant hygro in the sediment with sufficient space between the roots to allow ample grow space. Giant hygro will also benefit from additional CO2 in the tank and a well-lit environment.

  • Growth rate: Fast
  • Care level: Easy
  • Water pH: 5–8
  • Temperature: 64–86 degrees Fahrenheit 
  • Maximum size: 11 inches

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Duckweed

Lemna minor, aka duckweed, is a little different from the previous, rooted aquarium plants we’ve covered so far. In contrast, this fast-growing plant floats on the surface.

One interesting quality duckweed has is its dividing properties (cell division). As the plant grows, the individual leaves divide, creating more and more of the bright green ovals. These range from one to eight millimeters in length and are around 0.6 millimeters wide. 

Although it appears to be fairly easy-care, duckweed requires a little more maintenance than the other aquarium plants we’ve looked at. 

Due to duckweed’s small size and lightweight build, the plant tends to gather in clumps on the surface of the water. This can leave a lot of water uncovered and may leave room for algae growth. On the other hand, too much surface cover may lead to depleted oxygen levels in the water.

To keep duckweed healthy, you’ll need to maintain an adequate balance of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus in your aquarium. It’s also best to introduce duckweed to narrower aquariums to prevent huge buildups of the plant.

Lastly, and possibly one of the most convincing reasons to bring duckweed into your aquarium environment, is its bioremediating abilities. In this context, bioremediating means the plant helps remove heavy metals including arsenic, lead, zinc, and copper.

  • Care level: Medium
  • Growth rate: Fast
  • Water pH: 6.5–8
  • Water temperature: 42–91 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Height: N/A (floating plant)

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Guppy Grass

The spindly and finger-like Najas guadalupensis is commonly known as guppy grass. This fast-growing plant grows well submerged and reproduces seasonally. I love that these plants are so versatile and can be rooted or left to float on the water’s surface. 

The plant itself requires little to no maintenance and is wonderful for those looking for a self-regulating aquarium that takes care of itself and the surrounding water. Guppy grass is known for its cleansing properties in the aquatic environment and eliminates toxins and heavy metals from the water. This reduces your need to buy a toxin filtration system.

Chemically, your aquatic environment will benefit from this fast-growing aquarium plant. Guppy grass promotes an oxygen-rich environment, as well as providing plenty of hiding and nesting spaces for your smaller species. 

This particular plant grows extremely fast, intaking huge amounts of nutrients from the water, thus removing toxins and harmful bacteria in the process. 

If you own a breeding aquarium or a nursery for smaller fish or shrimp, guppy grass makes an excellent, easy-care addition.

  • Care level: Easy
  • Growth rate: Fast
  • Water pH: 6–7
  • Temperature: 72–84 degree Fahrenheit
  • Height: 23–35 inches

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Things to Keep in Mind With Fast Growing Aquarium Plants

The fastest-growing aquarium plants can require some extra care to keep the growth healthy and under control. Here are a few key considerations:

Trimming/Pruning

Fast-growing plants undoubtedly require regular trimming or pruning. Trimming the leaves, or stems (as directed by each plant’s individual care needs) can aid cell turnover which leads to swifter growth. 

Pruning also helps maintain plant health and keeps the tank looking good. If you’re unsure how to trim aquarium plants, take a look at this handy video:

Nutrient Requirements

In order to grow, plants require CO2, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium and get their energy from the sun’s rays. One of the best ways to ensure a plant’s nutrient requirements are met is by adding fertilizer.

Usually, fertilizer can be added as a liquid directly into the tank’s water, or via nutrient pellets placed in the aquarium’s sediment.

Light Requirements

A fundamental requirement for any plant to grow is light and aquarium plants are no different. However, outdoor plants obtain their light energy directly from the sun whereas aquariums are generally indoors where sunlight cannot reach the plants in large quantities.

To promote great growth rates, light quantity and quality must be adequate. One solution to this is a full-spectrum LED light specifically designed for aquarium use. These emit rays from the visible light spectrum, allowing your plants to grow naturally, just as if they were outdoors.

Plants use light and specific chemicals (most importantly Chlorophyll) in their leaves to photosynthesize. Data from NASA and others shows that LED lights provide the red, blue, green, and far-red light ranges that plants require to thrive.

Tips for Increasing Growth Rates

Now that we’ve looked at five of my favorite fast-growing aquarium plants and gone over some general care considerations, here are some useful tips for further boosting growth. Let’s start with the base of your aquarium.

Use a Good Substrate

Aquarium substrate is the substance at the base of your aquarium tank that provides a nutrient-rich grounding you can root your aquarium plants into.

A sturdy, compact base that’s not too thin nor too thick provides ample stability for plant roots to grow. Commonly used substrates are aquarium soil, sand, very fine gravel or a mix of these.

For fast growing plants its best to use a high quality aquarium soil. Other inert substrates like sand or gravel can be used but will need fertilizer.

Keep Good Water Flow

Water is, of course, the core element in your aquarium. Water quality dictates whether your aquatic life will thrive or die. Although all the plants inside your aquarium require water to live, they will not respond well to stagnant/still water. 

In the wild, ponds and oceans are subject to regular water movement thanks to tides, currents and surface winds. But your aquarium doesn’t naturally receive the same stimuli prompting water flow. 

There are a few ways to tackle this, primarily through the use of a water filter or powerhead. Turning your water filter to a higher speed can help rid the water of toxins and generate flow. 

A powerhead works much like a fan but underwater. Depending on where you place your powerhead, this mini, subaquatic turbine creates a faster flow of water near the base or surface of the tank.

Heat or Cool

Certain fast-growing aquarium plants require specific temperatures to really bolster growth (check the plant-specific recommendations above).

The difficulty with aquariums, no matter which continent you live in, is that it can be tricky to get the temperature just right. This is why purchasing a thermometer and a heating/cooling machine for your tank is always a smart move.

Luckily, many of the fastest-growing aquarium plants grow well in a range of temperatures, so the temperature won’t need to sit at an exact degree. Just make sure you’re aware of the correct temperatures your plants need.

CO2 Levels

Plants need CO2 to live and, as we saw with giant hygro, some aquarium plants benefit from additional CO2 levels in the water. As a general rule of thumb, the bigger your aquarium, the greater your need for a CO2 pump. 

Be sure to check the specific growth requirements for each plant before introducing additional CO2.

Takeaways

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about fast-growing aquarium plants and are feeling confident in your decision to purchase some. Follow the care tips and plant-specific information on these pages and you’ll do a good job of keeping your plants healthy and thriving. 

Your aquarium fish and invertebrates will thank you, and the overall health of your aquarium can greatly improve with fast-growing aquarium plants.

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