Plants for a brackish water aquarium: Switching from a freshwater aquarium to a brackish water aquarium will require some adjustments to the types of aquatic life you select to live in the ecosystem you create.
It is important to select plants suitable for brackish water. To assist you in this process, we have compiled a list of some of the finest plants for brackish fish tank environments.
Each plant has a different set of requirements. It is important to learn about the needs of specific species to ensure compatibility with your fish, tank pH and desired salinity.
Brackish water aquariums are popular and offer advantages over freshwater aquariums. The ability to accommodate a wider range of fish species that do well in brackish environments and often brackish fish species are hardier than species that require fresh water.
If you are feeling uncertain about which plants will flourish in your brackish tank setup, this article is tailored to help you select the best species.
Comparison Table of Plants for a Brackish Water Aquarium
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Plants for a Brackish Water Aquarium
Java Fern (Microsorum)
This hardy plant from the fern family is a versatile plant that does very well in brackish water aquariums. It naturally grows in flooded forests, along riverbanks, streams, and forest edges. The plant attaches itself to hard surfaces like rocks or wood and derives nutrients directly from the water.
The Java fern can take rough handling by fish in the tank and by the hobbyist. The plant can be split and attached to logs and moved around the tank without causing it too much damage.
It prefers temperatures ranging from temperate (55-65°F) to tropical (75-82°F). High temperatures exceeding 82°F are unsuitable.
The Java Fern tolerates low-light conditions. However, they do prefer plenty of light, enabling them to thrive. This makes it an excellent choice for deeper tanks and where there is competition for light from other plants. The Java fern is a low-maintenance plant option.
The Java fern does well in a range of water conditions, including soft to hard water with a slightly acidic or alkaline pH (5.5-8).
Some species of fern benefit from direct sunlight, whilst others such as the narrow leave varieties, may be sensitive to it.
This variety of plant is perfect for hobbyists looking for man easy to maintain resilient plant. It does well in a brackish water aquarium, and just as well in a freshwater aquarium.
There are many different varieties available to buy online or from the aquarium shops, ranging from affordable to rare and expensive.
Marimo Ball (Aegagropila linna)
Marimo moss balls have a unique spherical shape and do very well in brackish water conditions. They are a type of algae species known as Cladophora, with hundreds of different types found throughout the world wide ranging conditions.
Marimos found in aquariums are sort after for their decorative aspect and because they will grow with slightly elevated salt levels, tolerating salinity up to 1.015, but beyond that, they may start to deteriorate.
These algae balls are naturally found in cool waters and prefer temperatures around 77°F. Higher temperatures can cause them to deteriorate. They do best between a pH range of 7.0 and 8.0.
Maintaining Marimo moss balls is easy. They adapt well to changes in water depth, provided the transitions are gradual. They do best in indirect light and should be kept away from direct sunlight and intense lights.
These are visually striking plants that require minimal lighting and are easy to maintain, making them a perfect addition to aquarium landscapes
Like the Java fern, the Anubias barteri is a tall plant that attaches to hard surfaces. It is found in flooded forests, along edges, streams, and forest edges. The plant is slow-growing and safe for fish consumption.
This water plant can also grow out of the water, making it an excellent choice for brackish tanks housing mudskippers. Its broad leaves provide hiding spots and protection.
Anubias barteri can adapt to various light conditions and has a wide tolerance for water temperature. It will take slightly cooler temperatures and thrives in tropical environments.
The Anubias barteri is useful for filling empty spaces in the aquarium. It is an ideal option if seeking a very hardy plants for a brackish water aquarium.
Another highly resilient plant is the Anubias. It flourishes in a wide range of water and lighting conditions. These will take a small amount of salt if acclimatization is done gradually.
Online stores and aquarium suppliers will stock various types of Anubias. Some species exhibit a greater tolerance to salt levels than others. Anubias barteri (see image above) is probably the hardiest and most common type, while Anubias nana stays compact and may be a good choice for smaller aquariums.
Anubias are slow-growing plants that are best attached to rocks or driftwood rather than being planted in the substrate.
The hardiness of Anubias make them suitable for beginners in aquarium keeping.
Java Moss (Taxiphyllum barbieri)
Java moss is a bright green leafy plant that forms compact, carpet-like clumps. It is considered one of the easiest plants to grow and often found thriving in brackish water aquariums.
Being very decorative, java moss can be used in aquascapes to create free-flowing structures to protect fry, shrimp, and other small fish species. Not only does it offer a micro-ecosystem, but it also provides abundant food for fish larvae.
Java moss does not tolerate high temperatures. It does best at temperatures around 77°F. The plant is not demanding in terms of specific water conditions, and it will grow in a large range of lighting conditions.
When acclimating this plant to brackish water, do so gradually by increasing the salinity over time. By regularly trimming the plant you’ll prevent oxygen depletion and browning of the middle part of the leaves.
Java moss is a good choice for beginner aquarists. It has a slow growth rate and does not require a lot of space. In addition, they are relatively low maintenance, making it an ideal plant for a brackish aquarium.
Moneywort (Bacopa monnieri)
This stem plant, like others, require plenty of light and benefits from the addition of fertilizers. The Moneywort is well-suited to brackish tanks with low salinity.
Aquarists like the Moneywort because it has a vibrant green color, together with its resilience, and ease of care. Keeping this plant in an aquarium is very easy. It thrives in reasonably clean, nutrient-rich water with moderate lighting. With these conditions it grows quickly and vigorously.
A healthy moneywort plant makes for an excellent accent species for the mid-section of the aquarium. It contributes to an aesthetically pleasing display by framing rocks or decorations,
The moneywort is a recommended beginner plant for brackish water aquariums.
Seaside Brookweed (Samolus valerandi)
Seaside brookweed will take very saline conditions. In its natural habitat it can be found growing along seashores. It is a versatile plant with a compact growth pattern making it an attractive choice for decorative foregrounds in aquariums.
The Seaside Brookweed is a stunning plant. The bright green leaves make a captivating contrast against stones or aquarium driftwood. This contrast adds visual interest to the aquarium.
The plant is slow growing. Growth can be stimulated through careful trimming. However, don’t get carried away with pruning as it can hinder its development.
By providing ample lighting and by keeping the tank temperature below 77°F, the plant will grow well.
Seaside brookweed will enhance the aesthetic appeal of your brackish aquarium with its bright contrasting colors.
Anacharis (Egeria densa)
If you are looking for a fast-growing plant that can reduce nitrates in an aquarium, then the Anacharis would be an excellent addition.
Anacharis earned the name “waterweed” for a reason… under ideal conditions, it grows vigorously. The benefit of this, is that it will outcompete algae and help in water quality improvement.
It requires lots of light for the plant to thrive. They are suitable for shallow low-grade brackish aquariums.
When purchasing Anacharis, it may come bundled with rubber bands or a sponge to hold the stems together. It is important to remove these bonds and plant the stems separately.
Depending on the aquarium substrate used, the cuttings may uproot and float freely. Good lighting will promote root growth and prevent uprooting.
Due to its rapid growth, Anacharis benefits from regular pruning. It looks stunning in the aquarium, especially when contrasted with rocks, other plants, and driftwood. It also does well in fish ponds.
Our last choice for a versatile plant that can thrive in brackish water conditions is the Cryptocoryne wendtii. This plant is well-suited for well-maintained brackish aquariums where salinity levels replicate it’s natural environment (ideally levels up to 7 ppt or 1.005 sg).
This species has a wide tolerance for lighting and water conditions. Cryptocoryne wendtii prefer warmer temperatures, but not exceeding 80°F. The leaves may display differences in shape and color depending on light intensity.
Cryptocoryne wendtii grow from tubers. When it produces new growth from their tubers, it will look to be modest to begin with. However, this plant has the potential to form a lush underbrush on the tank bottom, providing cover for bottom dwelling species such as eels or dragon gobies.
When adjusting to a new environment, the plant may shed its leaves. These will regrow but it may take a while.
Cryptocoryne wendtii is an excellent choice for brackish aquariums. Give them amble light and watch them flourish!
Some of the Best Plants for a Brackish Water Aquarium
We have introduced you to what we consider to be the best plants for a brackish water aquarium. Our selection are easy care varieties with aesthetic appeal, guaranteed to enhance your tank and provide a healthy ecosystem for your fish and invertebrates.
By carefully selecting the most suitable plants, you can create a visually appealing display highlighting the substrate and ensuring the well-being of your aquatic inhabitants.
A brackish habitat can be successfully replicated in an aquarium. The key is to choose plants that thrive in low concentrations of dissolved salts.
We wish you success with incorporating these plants into your brackish water tank.
You may be interested on reading our article: Most Popular Saltwater Plants for an Aquarium