I love floating plants. Beside their nice look, floating plants are very beneficial in guppy aquariums. They will help keep the water clean and their roots will provide hiding place for guppy fry.
In this article I will highlight some of the benefits of having floating plants in your guppy fish tank. Will also help you choose the right floating plant for your guppies.
Benefits of Floating Plants in Your Aquarium
Floating plants can give lots of benefits to an aquarium. Here are some of the main benefits you should consider keeping floating plants in your guppy fish tank:
Low Maintenance and Easy to Grow
I would not say that all floating plants are low maintenance, but there are some which do not require much attention.
For example duckweed is not low maintenance, because it grows really fast, and need to be removed from the tank. Otherwise it will suffocate the aquarium.
Floating plants are very easy to grow. Most floating plants will not require fertilizers at all. They will consume the nutrients from the water column and will extract nitrates too.
Floating plants are very hardy and excellent for beginners, who have no experience with aquarium plants.
Lots of Cover for Guppy Fry
Most floating plants grow huge root system under water. Their roots are fluffy. This is perfect place for small guppy fry to hide from their parents.
These roots will also give home to microfauna such seed shrimps, copepods and other small creatures, which is a great source of food for small fry.
So the roots of floating plants will not only provide cover, but also food for the guppy fry.
Helps Clean the Water
Floating plants grow really fast. In order to grow, they use up a lot of nutrients from the water.
Floating plans are able to remove the nitrates, which is the final waste product of fish poop and decomposing organic matter in the aquarium.
Nitrate in low quantity is harmless for the fish; however in larger quantities it can kill your fish.
Some fish keepers use floating plants to reduce nitrate level and skip on water changes.
Though this might sound very tempting, but I don’t recommend skipping on water changes.
Combat Algae without Chemicals
Lots of beginners struggle with algae. Most of them use powerful chemicals to combat algae. This is not a long term solution to get rid of algae. Chemicals can kill off algae quickly, but it is not good for fish and plants.
Algae need light and nutrients to develop and grow in your aquarium.
Floating plants are the perfect solution to combat algae in aquariums for two reasons:
- provides shade, so the tank will get less light
- removes nitrates and excess nutrients from the water
So, floating plants basically steal the light and the nutrients from the algae.
This process to combat algae is slower, but once the floating plans are established, algae will not be able to grow anymore.
Good Food Source
As mentioned before, the roots of the floating plants are great for microfanua to develop. But this is not the only food source these plants can provide.
For instance, duckweed, the fastest growing floating plant, is rich in vitamins A and B and has a 35-43% protein content and up to 30% fiber. (source)
You can collect duckweed and prepare food for your guppies. You can blend up duckweed with other food such as vegetables or raw shrimp. You need to dry out the blend first. After the blend is dry, you can crush it up into small flakes, which are perfect to feed your guppies with.
In this video, Mark shows you how to prepare food from duckweed:
Duckweed can also be feed to larger fish directly, without blending it. Goldfish and cichlids will consume duckweed as it is.
Provides a Natural Look
Most guppy breeders like to keep their tank as clean as possible. They avoid using substrate and plants in their tanks.
In my opinion, this is bad practice. I understand that is easier to control water parameters without having substrate and live plants. But at the end of the day, we want to breed and raise beautiful fish, providing them with the best habitat we can.
Floating plants are just a great choice if you want to provide a natural look to your aquarium. As mentioned before, they are easy plants, do not require much maintenance, and really good to keep stable water parameters.
How to Choose Floating Plants for Your Tank?
In the following I will teach you how to choose the best floating aquarium plant for your setup. There are few things to consider before choosing a floating plant:
- light condition
- type of fish
- aquarium size
- water flow
- level of maintenance
Does Your Aquarium Have Artificial Light?
Just like other plants, floating plants require light in order to photosynthesize and grow.
Some of them require a lot of light, while other can grow in low-light conditions.
If you don’t have artificial lights on your tank, you should choose a floating plant that can grow and survive in natural light.
If your aquarium has artificial light, you can choose basically any type of floating plant.
If you keep plants in your aquarium, I highly recommend getting some good lights. I found these LED lights on Amazon being very good in growing both floating and submerged plants.
What Type of Fish Are You Keeping?
Do you keep only guppies in your aquarium? If so, you can choose any type of floating plant.
If you keep guppies and goldfish together, most floating plants will survive, because goldfish tends to eat them. In this case you need to select a fast growing floating plant, which can overcome the hunger of goldfish.
Also consider that other livebearer fish such as mollies and platties, which eat algae, will also nib on the roots of the plants. Plants with gentle roots can suffer from this.
What is The Size of Your Tank?
Some floating plants can grow really big and they can have really huge roots.
In a smaller tank, this is less than 10 gallon; you can’t keep huge floating plants. It will overgrow your whole tank and you will not have enough space for the fish.
In smaller tanks choose floating plants that do not grow very big and do not have huge roots.
Is the Water Flow Strong or Slow?
Floating plants can grow in still water or slow moving water.
In aquariums with strong water movement, where an external filter or a strong internal filter is pumping huge amount of water, floating plants will struggle.
They will not be able to grow their root system; constantly splashing water will damage their leaves and will slowly die off.
What Level of Maintenance Can You Afford?
Most floating plants grow very quickly. Some of them can cover the entire fish tank in just a week.
If you have the time to do weekly maintenance on your fish tank, then you can choose any type of floating plant you like.
However if you can’t clean your tank regularly, you should choose a slow-growing floating plant.
5 Best Floating Aquarium Plants for Guppies
Now I will guide you through my 5 favorite floating plants, which I recommend keeping in a guppy fish tank. Certainly there are several other floating plants out there, but these are my favorites:
Frogbit is a very easy to keep floating plant, which reproduce at a significant rate. It does not grow superfast where it becomes impossible to control it.
The plant shoots out runner, where a new plant will develop. Once the new plant reaches a certain size, the runner will die off and the two plants will separate from each other.
Frogbit grows long roots and fluffy roots, which is a great hiding place for baby guppies. Roots can some-time reach the bottom of the aquarium.
Unfortunately snails can damage or eat this plant. So if you keep snails in your guppy fish tank, this plant might not work for you.
Dwarf Water Lettuce
Dwarf water lettuce is very similar to frogbit, will reproduce the same way and looks very similar too. Its roots can grow pretty long, reaching the bottom of your tank.
This is a smaller plant compared to frogbit, though it can grow pretty large in aquariums where the water flow is not very high.
Water lettuce grows very quickly. It can spread and cover the whole water surface of your aquarium. It requires good light, at least 10 hours a day in order to grow healthy.
It is more finicky compared to frogbit, but it is still an easy to keep plant.
There are multiple types of salvinia plants such as: salvinia natans, salvinia auriculata and salvinia minima.
This plant grows at a medium rate and requires very high and strong light. It is a very invasive plant and can grow in such way that it will block all light from the other plants.
Salvinia grows like a vine and shoots leaves to the side. It can grow very long. The propagation of this plant is very easy: just cut off or break the stem with few leaves.
Its roots do not grow very long. Its leaves are cup shaped and are covered by tiny hair, which helps in remaining on the water surface.
Salvinia looks gorges in open aquariums.
Red Root Floater
The red root floater is another great and beautiful floating plant. This plant can be found in the wild in Central and South America.
The plant can reach a size of 1 inch (2 cm). Grows and reproduces at a fast rate. It is more like a creeping plant, will grow mostly in length like a vine, and will produce off-shoots.
The name red root floater got his name from its red colored roots. When certain conditions are met (really good light and nutrients) and the plant matures, the roots will turn red.
This plant does not grow very well in tanks with too much surface agitation.
The red root floater will start melting away in the absence of good light. If you want to keep this plant, you need artificial lighting on your guppy tank. Too much light can also cause issues with this plant, especially when the light is too close to the plant.
This plant requires iron in order to develop its pinkish red roots. So time-to-time add some aquarium fertilizer to your fish tank. If the plant gets all the nutrients it needs, it will produce some very nice small white flowers too.
This plant is great if you want to add some colors to your tank and do not require weekly maintenance.
It is not an easy to grow plant, but it is not very hard either.
For most people, duckweed is just a nuisance. However, I consider duckweed a great floating plant mostly for beginners.
Duckweed is a very invasive plant and grows super-fast. This plant multiples every 24 hours. The growth and reproduction rate of duckweed can explode when the right nutrients and lights is present.
It is a very easy plant, but requires regular maintenance. Because it grows very fast, it can cover your entire aquarium in just one week, suffocating all other plans, blocking light and oxygen exchange.
Their leaves are very small. Each leaf has a tiny root, which grows up to 1 inch (2 cm).
Duckweed is great for fish tanks that have a nutrient problem. In general, all floating plants will remove a lot of nutrients from the water and will help in combating algae, but duckweed is the most effective in this.
If you have an algae problem, duckweed will take care of it for sure. It removes nitrates from the water at a very good rate, making your water cleaner.
Duckweed is also a super-food. It contains 40% or proteins and lots of vitamins and minerals. You can use this plant to prepare home-made food for your guppy fish. In my other article you can learn more on how to prepare fish food from duckweed.
Floating plants are a great addition to guppy aquariums and to fish tanks in general. They look good and can help remove nitrates from the water, making it cleaner. I highly recommend keeping floating plants, especially because most of them are easy to care for.
Some floating plants can be used for breeding guppies, because their root system will provide enough coverage and hiding spaces for guppy fry.
Please keep in mind, that floating plants need some maintenance. They usually reproduce at a fast rate and will cover the whole water surface of your guppy fish tank. Time-to-time a part of your plants have to be removed in order to allow good oxygen exchange at the surface of the water.