Aquarium plants Articles

Nano planted tank | 6 tiny aquarium plants!

May 29, 2016
nano planted tank

A nano planted aquarium can be a great option for anyone short on space and money or if you’re just looking for a different kind of challenge. Despite their small size, they can still look just as lush as larger aquascapes and really brighten up a room.

When setting up your nano aquascape you may run into one problem, though: which aquarium plants fit in there? Keep reading for a list of 6 tiny plants that will look great in even the smallest tanks!


If you’re wondering how to stock a nano aquascape, have a look at these nano fish.


Anubias nana varieties

Anubias a very easy, low-light plant that requires little care. This has made it one of the most popular aquarium plants available. Because the most common variety, Anubias barteri, can grow quite large, you may want to go for one of its smaller cousins for a nano planted aquarium: Anubias nana. This ‘dwarf’ version has smaller leaves and more compact growth, which means it shouldn’t outgrow your nano tank anytime soon. Just tie it to some rock or driftwood and it will do great in a wide variety of water values and conditions. You can buy Anubias nana online here.
You can find a full Anubias caresheet here.

Cryptocoryne parva

While some Cryptocoryne varieties can reach dazzling heights and easily grow to the top of an aquarium, Cryptocoryne parva stays very tiny at a maximum height of around 2.5 inch (6cm). This makes it the smallest Crypt and very suitable for a nano planted aquarium.

It’s a little different than we’re used to from most Crypts, as it needs stronger lighting to maintain its compact shape and, similar to water cabbage, grows quite slowly. It’s still not a difficult plant at all, though, and you should be able to grow it under most conditions. You can buy Cryptocoryne parva online here.

Water cabbage (Samolus valerandi/parviflorus)

Samolus valerandi (Habitus) by Ixitixel

Samolus valerandi (Habitus) by Ixitixel

Water cabbage is naturally found in marshes all over the world (emersed version pictured to the side), but hasn’t been around in the aquarium hobby long and can be a little hard to find. Its leaves grow in small rosette shapes that resemble a head of cabbage and stay very small: around 4 inch/10 cm when provided with plenty of light. This makes it a great foreground plant that can be used even in the smallest setups.

It will grow quite slowly, but it’s an easy plant suitable for beginning aquascapers due to its undemanding nature. An unheated aquarium is not a problem: water cabbage is actually on the list of 6 easy coldwater plants and will do great at room temperature or as low as 15 °C/59° F.

Dwarf hairgrass (Eleocharis parvula)

Dwarf hairgrass is a very low carpeting plant that resembles terrestrial grass, which gives a great effect in your aquarium. Due to its tiny size, dwarf hairgrass can be used as a carpet in even the smallest nano aquascapes!

Contrary to many other carpeting plants, which are known for being quite challenging to grow, dwarf hairgrass actually makes a great beginner plant and you shouldn’t have too much trouble with it. Although it does require a little extra maintenance to remove any dirt that might get caught in it, it should grow in most water conditions. In ideal circumstances with plenty of light, Co2 and nutrients, it will spread very fast and form a dense carpet. You can buy dwarf hairgrass online here.

Hydrocotyle verticillata

Unlike most Hydrocotyle species, Hydrocotyle verticillata doesn’t grow vertically, but trails across the bottom of the aquarium. This means it will stay quite low, especially when provided with the relatively strong lighting it needs, and also gives it a lovely toadstool-like appearance!

This is definitely one of my personal favorite plants, and luckily it’s not too difficult to grow either as long as it gets plenty of light. Plenty of Co2 and fertilizers are appreciated and will really help it grow faster and stay nice and green, but they are not a must and you should be able to grow Hydrocotyle verticillata without it as well.

Because Hydrocotyle types are naturally found emersed in marshes, it can be grown out of the water as pictured to the side as well.

Staurogyne repens

Staurogyne repens is a plant usually used in the foreground of aquascapes, but in very small nano aquariums may actually make a good mid-ground choice. If the tops are regularly cut the plant will assume a low, creeping form; if you leave them alone, it will grow into a more bushy and slightly higher shape.

Like the other plants on this list, Staurogyne repens does well in a wide variety of water- and pH values. It’s quite hardy and should usually continue growing well even in low light conditions and without much extra Co2. You can buy Staurogyne repens online here.

Aquascaping-minilandschaft-lennart

Aquascape with Staurogyne repens by Lennart Jöhnk


When setting up a nano aquascape, it can definitely be a bit challenging to find plants that look balanced and won’t outgrow the tank. This list contains a few great options, so hopefully it has inspired you to take the step and set up that nano yourself. For a great example of a beautiful nano aquascape, have a look at this article!


If you have any more questions about nano plants or want to share which plants worked well in your own nano planted tank, be sure to leave a comment below. Happy fishkeeping!


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