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Aquarium Plants to Avoid

Updated on September 19, 2014

Plant Images

mondo grass
mondo grass | Source
Aglaonema | Source
Planted Tank - Fish Tank Pictures
Planted Tank - Fish Tank Pictures | Source

Planted Aquarium

A planted aquarium, no doubt, can create a very beautiful scene. However, if you are not knowledgeable about fish plants or aquatic plants in general, this beautiful scene that you have spent all your time creating can turn out be short-lived or even a horrible disaster!

Many pet stores often sell several plants as aquatic plants but they are really not. Usually, the only way you can tell that these plants are not underwater plants is after leaving them submerged for a period of time. Whereas aquatic plants will grow for a very long time underwater without dying, non-aquatic plants do not grow for long submerged. In fact, they start to show signs of failure to thrive very early, and will eventually ended up polluting your fish tank when they die.

Non-Aquatic Plants to Avoid

These plants below are among some of the commonly available non-aquatic species:

  • Mondo Grass(Ophiopogan Japonion species)
  • Aglaonema(Rhizomatus evergreen species)
  • Brazilian Sword(Spath phylum tanson species)
  • Cherry Hedge
  • Princess Pine(Draceana species)
  • Green Hedge
  • Palms(Draceana species)
  • Sandarian(Draceana species)
  • Pine(Lycopodium species)
  • Red Crinkle(Liriope muscani)
  • Aqua Fern(Trichomanes javanicum species)
  • Arrowhead(Syngonium podophyllum species)

A Brief Description of Some Non-Aquatic Plants

Mondo Grass: This grass looks very attractive year-round, however, when it gets to late winter, the leaves may become ragged looking. The regrowth of new leaves usually occurs during early spring. This species tend to compete well with the roots of other plants. They are frequently found growing healthily along the banks of streams and also around garden ponds. Mondo grass is commonly known to be invaded by the fungal disease -- anthracnose.

It is often confused with Red Crinkle(Liriope muscari). However, its leaves tend to be narrower than those of liriope, the smaller flowers are camouflaged by the leaves. If you should take a closer look at both, you will notice that the fruits of mondo grass are blue compared to the black fruits of liriope.

Aglaonema(Chinese Evergreen): These are species of rhizomataus evergreen plants, a native of the tropical swamps and rainforests of southeastern Asia. They are popular household plants, and are commonly used to beautify offices and shopping malls. Aglaonema are among the easiest houseplants to grow and they tend to thrive better in places where there is indirect light and partial shade. Cuttings from these plants will easily root in a glass of water.

The Brazilian Sword: A Rosette plant, that originates from tropical America and may reach a height of 16 inches when fully grown. Although often used in planted aquarium, this plant was never intended for submerged growth.


For those who are especially new to the fish keeping world and are interested in the idea of a planted aquarium, one thing you should be aware of is that most pet stores will either intentionally or unintentionally sell non-aquatic plants as underwater plants. The latter may due to the fact that these plants were also sold to them as aquatic plants and they themselves had no way of distinguishing these pseudo-aquatic plants from real aquatic plants.

Quite often, we the fish plants buyers are the ones who usually discover that these plants are not what these pet stores said they were initially. After using these plants in our aquariums we have soon come to realize that they do die after a short period of time. Over time, we have become the experts in distinguishing between plants that were meant to be grown submerged and those that weren't.

Because these plants are very beautiful and can really add a bit of life to your planted aquarium, if you would like to use them in your fish tank, my advice to you is that you should only use these often debatable fish plants temporary, or with the expectation of replacing them after a short period. You shouldn't wait until they are completely dead and start to rot before replacing them. If you wait for this happen, this can lead to water pollution which may disrupt the perimeter of your aquarium -- something you definitely wouldn't like to occur! You may find more information on aquarium plants at

By I. McFarlane 9/2012


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    • mackyi profile image

      I.W. McFarlane 4 years ago from Philadelphia

      Hey angryelf, it's amazing what a little research can do. I personally didn't even know what plants were bad or good for an aquarium environment until I did a bit of research.

      In regard to saltwater aquarium - yes, it involves a lot of work. Thanks for stopping by as usual.

    • angryelf profile image

      angryelf 4 years ago from Tennessee

      I have seen tons of these plants, and my mother used them in aquariums as well. I never remember them actually lasting, which only proves your point. We've not kept a fish tank in quite some time; but if I should ever have one, I definitely want a saltwater aquarium. Tons of work, but such fascinating fish. So beautiful!!!! Kudos on this hub, mackyi!

    • mackyi profile image

      I.W. McFarlane 4 years ago from Philadelphia

      You are certainly welcomed Ingenira.

    • Ingenira profile image

      Ingenira 4 years ago

      Very useful information. Thanks for the tips !

    • mackyi profile image

      I.W. McFarlane 5 years ago from Philadelphia

      Thanks for the feedback midget38. There is so much to know about these little beauties! If you don't have most of the information that you need for breeding or keeping them, they can easily die. It's a pleasure sharing with you as always!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      For those who have less experience rearing fish, I think this is great information. It explains why they pass on for no apparent reason when you look in the tank the next day, as is what happened to my mum's fish. It's probably the plants she introduced! Thanks for the tips!

    • mackyi profile image

      I.W. McFarlane 5 years ago from Philadelphia

      Thanks for stopping by Mhatter99, to be honest with you, if it hadn't been for the simple fact that I have been doing a lot of research for my website on discus fish, I wouldn't have learned the name of all these plants. It's a pleasure sharing -- we are here to share and also learn from each other!

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for this information. Though I have tended my aquarium for 22 years, I don't know the name of the plants in it.