Aquarium Plants

Goldfish are avid plant eaters but there are a few plants that can resist their attacks.

Goldfish are omnivorous so aquarium plants can, unfortunately, be eaten to help fill their dietary requirements. It is very frustrating planting up an aquarium only to find a few stems left the next morning.

Below is a selection of common plants and their uses that can be used in a Goldfish aquarium.

Vallisneria (Eelgrass, tape grass)

Vallisneria, a popular aquarium plant that resists Goldfish attack.Vallisneria
Corkscrew Vallisneria, a popular aquarium plant that resists Goldfish attack.Corkscrew Vallisneria

One of the more popular aquarium plants, these tall fast growing plants are used in the background.  They are useful for hiding filter plumbing.

The leaves are tough and strong, so they are not normally eaten by herbivorous fish.  This plant is easy to propagate using runners, which are prolific if the substrate provides sufficient food.

In the recent past there has been confusion regarding what species of Vallisneria exist, and what varieties come under each species.

In 1982 two independent botanists came to the same conclusion; there are only two species:

  • V.Americana and
  • V.Spiralis.  The term spiralis refers to the long spiraling stalk of the female flower that reaches upwards to the water surface, not the shape of the leaves.

Both species have two varieties, one that grows its leaves in a corkscrew shape, and the other in flat ribbon like leaves.  There are several hybrids and variants available.

The most common varieties used are:

  • Corkscrew Vallisneria.  The leaves of these varieties grow in the form of a corkscrew, and grow 12-20 inches in length.  Some newer dwarf varieties only grow 6" tall.
  • Giant Vallisneria.  The leaves can grow 6 foot long, so this variety is more suited to very tall aquariums or deep ponds.
  • V.Americana or V.Spiralis with flat ribbon like leaves hence the name tape grass. The most commonly used form with the leaves reaching between 3-4 feet long.

Vallisneria has a pH tolerance of 6-9.5.  Temperature range 68-82F (20-28C)

Blue Hygrophila

Blue Hygrophila, a popular foreground plant that resists Goldfish attack.Blue Hygrophila

This plant is mainly used as a foreground plant.  It is a bog plant that can adapt to complete immersion in water.  It is sold as a cutting. It is a fast growing plant in conditions of good light and an algae-free environment.

Under ideal conditions, it can grow to the top of the aquarium. The leaves are often chewed by goldfish during spring and autumn or if they are very hungry. It tolerates a wide pH and temperature range.

Hygrophila Difformis

Hygrophila Difformis, a popular foreground plant that resists Goldfish attack.Hygrophila Difformis

Used for creating interest. Fast growth helps prevent algae because the plant absorbs a large amount of nutrients from the water. A shortage of micro-nutrients leads to pale leaves, which may be an indication that the aquarium needs fertilizer. It has a pH tolerance of 5-9.

Ludwigia Arcuata

Ludwigia Arcuata, a popular foreground plant that resists Goldfish attack.Ludwidia Arcuata

Used for creating interest.  It requires a relatively large amount of light before forming a red stem and red leaves.  It thrives best in slightly acidic water.

The most decorative effect can be achieved by planting it in groups. 

Red Hygrophila

Red Hygrophila, a popular foreground plant that resists Goldfish attack.Red Hygrophila

Again used for creating interest.  This plant comes from South America and is a marsh plant.

It is slow growing and needs algae-free conditions to prosper.  It is hard to propagate from a cutting, has a soft delicate stem easily bruised, and can easily rot back even though it has been planted with a rooting node.

It needs good light.  The cuttings start green on top and red underneath, but new leaves are ruby red and very decorative.

The temperature and pH ranges are well within those experienced within the aquarium.

Red Bacopa

Red Bacopa, a popular foreground plant that resists Goldfish attack.Red Bacopa

Again used for creating interest.  The plant comes from Southern USA and Central America. Its leaves are quite fragrant.  Cultivation is done by rooting stem cuttings.  It requires good light and an algae-free environment.

Goldfish will generally not chew on this plant.  The leaves, completely green initially, get quite a red tinge to the underside.

Its tolerance levels for pH and temperature are well within the levels experienced in the aquarium.

Aquarium plants do add a natural feel to the aquarium as well as absorbing nutrients which aids algae control.

Aquarium Plants Suitable As Goldfish Food

Elodea Crispa is a water plant favored by Goldfish.Elodea Crispa

If you want to give your goldfish a treat or need to increase green matter in their diet, use Elodea Crispa or Elodea Canadensis, both also known as oxygen weed. They love it!

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