5 Best Floating Plants for Guppies & Main Benefits

Floating plants are a much-needed addition to any fish tank. I’ve personally seen the difference between a plant-free aquarium and one with vegetation. The fish are much happier and live longer with plants around.

Guppy fry will find the perfect hiding spots in these plants, giving them extra safety from their hungry parents. Floating plants also keep the water clean in various ways. But that’s not all. Floating plants serve a more extensive role in an aquarium.

Floating Plants and Their Benefits in A Fish Tank

Here are some of the main benefits of having floating plants in your guppy fish tank:

– Offers Cover for Guppy Fry

When you bring plants into your aquarium, they’ll grow root systems in the substrate, under the water. These roots being fluffy and welcoming, they are the perfect hiding spots for guppy fry. The small nuggets don’t want to be eaten by their parents or other guppies, so they’ll hide anywhere they can. By bringing live plants into the aquarium, you give your guppy fry a chance at life.

Live plants are also the breeding grounds of microfauna like copepods, seed shrimps, and other bits of food that guppy fry love. The roots of these plants offer both safety and nutrition, so what’s not to like? I highly recommend getting a few plants for your aquarium, as they can substantially increase the expected lifespan of guppy fry.

– Easy to Maintain

Many floating plants are easy to grow and maintain. You won’t need to fertilize them because they get the required nutrients from the water. Plants will also consume nitrates and convert them into beneficial compounds that are harmless to fish. If you’re a complete beginner in raising fish, then floating plants will boost your efficiency multifold.

Indeed, there are floating plants that are very hard to maintain. Take the duckweed, for instance. This plant grows extraordinarily fast and will rapidly suffocate the aquarium with its outgrows. You’ll need to remove it from the tank after a while and replace it with something less invasive. So, you shouldn’t normally get duckweed for your aquarium, unless you like working overtime. But it has its advantages, as you’ll see later on.

– Beneficial for the Water

Floating plants grow at a fast pace in aquarium water by absorbing the nutrients in it. You won’t even realize how fast aquarium plants grow until you’ve seen it with your own eyes. But this vegetation doesn’t just consume endless amounts of nutrients without giving something back. Floating plants will also consume nitrates, which is basically fish waste that’s toxic to fish (ironically).

Nitrates also come from live feed that the fish hasn’t eaten. It’ll start decomposing and release all these noxious nitrates that may even kill your guppies. To naturally reduce nitrate levels, I suggest using floating plants instead of changing the water all the time. Though, don’t skip on water changes either, as they are very important toward keeping a healthy aquarium for your fish.

– Eliminates Algae

I’ve had my fair share of problems with algae during my beginning years as a fish enthusiast. And I also used chemicals to eliminate them when, in fact, the solution was much simpler. Floating plants will combat algae like it was second nature. Using chemicals to kill them is efficient, indeed, but also toxic for your fish. Unless you have no alternative, I wouldn’t recommend using chemicals in your fish tank.

What do algae need to grow? Light and nutrients, right? Care to guess what plants will do with light and excess nutrients? That’s right, floating plants will provide shade, which offers less sunlight for algae to grow. Not only this but plants will also consume all the excess nutrients and nitrates in the aquarium, leaving almost nothing for algae to grow. While this process is much slower than chemical extermination, it’s a healthier, long-term solution that doesn’t harm your fish.

– Contains Nutrients

Remember that I said duckweed is hard to maintain and I wouldn’t recommend getting it for your aquarium? Scratch that. While it’s hard to maintain, duckweed offers another advantage that you may want to focus on. Duckweed is rich in vitamins B and A, and it also has a protein content of 35-43%. Its fiber content is also quite rich, up to 30%. I’m talking about feeding duckweed to your fish, of course.

Guppies are omnivores that will eat a good salad at any time. They don’t need meat on an hourly basis. But you could make a blend of shrimp and duckweed to feed your guppies, for instance. I recommend drying out the blend until it has the consistency of flakes. Then, simply feed these flakes to your fish and watch them thrive! All those vitamins A, vitamins B, proteins, and fibers will help your fish stay strong and healthy.

– Natural Look

You may be tempted to think that it’s pointless to grow floating plants in the aquarium. They only occupy space without doing anything, right? Wrong. Substrate and plants are very important to mimic the natural habitat of guppies. What, you think guppies live in plant-free ponds in nature? Of course not. If you want to raise healthy guppies, you want the best habitat for them.

And you get the best habitat by having floating plants in it. They not only make the habitat look natural but also offer plenty of advantages like discussed above. Essentially, live plants maintain the water parameters at an optimum level, so you need to put in less work. And who doesn’t want to work less?

But…

What Are the Criteria for Choosing the Right Floating Plants?

It’s not enough just to understand how plants can enrich your aquarium. It’s also essential to understand how to choose the right floating plant for your fish tank. In this section, I’ll talk about five of the most important criteria when choosing plants:

– Type of Fish

The type of fish you want to keep in the aquarium directly correlates with the type of floating plants you can bring. For instance, if you want to keep a guppy-only aquarium, then any floating plant is fine. But if you want to add goldfish to the equation, then everything changes. Goldfish are known for devouring most floating plants, especially if they grow slowly.

So, to prevent your goldfish from exterminating the plants, you’ll need to select a fast-growing floating plant. What’s more, other fish species like the platties and mollies may nibble away on the roots of your plants. So, if the plants have gentle and feeble roots, they may even die if the fish are voracious enough.

– Sunlight or Artificial Light

Do you have access to artificial lights in your aquarium or is sunlight the only light source? For sunlight-only conditions, you can’t choose any floating plant. Some need low-light conditions to thrive, while others are the complete opposite. So, document yourself before choosing a plant. I recommend having an artificial light system in place, so you can choose any floating plant you want.

– Tank Size

As you might know, some floating plants grow to impressive proportions with huge roots. If you’re not careful, the plant will occupy most of the aquarium, and the fish won’t fit in anymore. If your tank is on the smaller side of things, I recommend choosing a smaller floating plant with tiny roots. That way, both the fish and the plants will have enough space to do their business.

– Strong or Weak Water Flow

Floating plants generally prefer a weaker water flow to grow. Preferably, it should be a still flow but they can survive a slow-moving flow. If your aquarium has a strong water movement because of water filters, the plants will have their work cut out for them. The water currents may even destroy their roots and damage the leaves, effectively killing them. So, do something to weaken the water flow, so the plants can survive!

– Maintenance Level

Some plants require almost no maintenance, while others will need constant attention. In general, fast-growing plants will require more attention on your part. You don’t want them to grow out of control and overcrowd the tank or stop sunlight from penetrating the water surface. If you don’t want to do all that non-stop maintenance, I recommend slow-growing plants. You won’t have any problems with them.

5 Best Floating Plants for Guppies

Enough avoiding the main topic. I’m here to make a list of the 5 best floating plants for guppies and that’s what I’ll do. Later on, I’ll also give you a couple of criteria for choosing floating plants for your aquarium. But for now, here’s the list:

– Frogbit

When it comes to easy-to-maintain plants, Frogbit takes the cake. It’s a floating plant that reproduces constantly. What’s more, it doesn’t grow at a super-fast rate, either, helping you keep it under control. The reproductive process is quite fascinating but I won’t into too many details. Suffice it to say that one plant shoots out a runner, which creates a new plant. When the new plant grows up, the runner will wither and die, and the two plants will separate.

Frogbit also has strong and fluffy roots, which means guppy fry will love it. The roots may even reach the bottom of the aquarium, so that’s how strong they are. But you’ll need to be careful about snail activity in your aquarium. Frogbit has one mortal weakness, namely snails. These oozing shelly creatures will eat Frogbit like a delicacy in an instant.

– Dwarf Water Lettuce

Quite the name on this one. In terms of appearance, the Dwarf Water Lettuce looks very similar to Frogbit. It even has the same reproductive behaviors and processes. Its roots are very long, too, reaching all the way to the bottom of the aquarium in many cases. So, guppy fry will be very happy to use this plant as a hiding spot.

Unlike Frogbit, the Dwarf Water Lettuce is smaller, hence the name “dwarf”. However, if the water flow is not that high, this plant can grow up to become pretty large. What’s more, a Dwarf Water Lettuce has a very rapid growth cycle. If the conditions are met, this plant can completely cover up the surface of the aquarium in no time. Though, it should have constant access to sunlight, at least 10 hours per day.

– Salvinia

Salvinia floating plants are very invasive and needy. It needs a ton of sunlight to grow to its full size, but once it does, it’ll cast shade on any nearby plants like a selfish prick. Sunlight can’t go anywhere else because of reasons. Now, you should know that there are three different types of Salvinia plants – Salvinia minima, Salvinia natans, and Salvinia auriculata. The differences between all three plants are minimal at best.

Salvinia plants have vine-like vegetation and it grows to impressive lengths. However, it doesn’t have long roots, so guppy fry won’t have too many spaces for hiding. Salvinia leaves are cup-shaped and covered in tiny hairs that help the plant remain afloat on the water surface. When fully grown, Salvinia plants offer a unique visual impression on your aquarium.

– Red Root Floater

A Red Root Floater is a beauty worth having. Its natural habitat is in Central and South America, where it has access to a good amount of light and nutrients. If the plant grows to its full potential, its roots will turn red, hence its name. When fully grown, Red Root Floaters reach a size of 1 inch (2cm). It reproduces fast and its growth cycle is even faster if its nutritional intake is optimal. Similar to the Salvinia, the Red Foot Floater is like a vine, and its growth perfectly mimics that.

If there’s insufficient access to light in the aquarium, the Red Foot Floater will slowly wither and die. I recommend a lightbulb or another form of artificial lighting if you want the plant to thrive. However, don’t overdo it because too much light can burn it to a crisp. Let’s just say that, when it comes to light, the Red Foot Floater is very picky. You’ll also need to provide aquarium fertilizer rich in iron to the plant. All in all, the Red Foot Floater is kind of in the middle when it comes to maintenance.

– Duckweed

Here it is, the most controversial aquarium floating plant – Duckweed. Most fish keepers would shun upon hearing its name, let alone putting it in their home aquariums. That’s because Duckweed is a real jerk – it’ll grow up super-fast and invade the entire aquarium. If you provide it with enough light and optimal nutrients, this plant will multiply incredibly fast.

So, you’ll need to keep its growth cycle under control. Otherwise, it’ll grow to epic proportions and suffocate every other plant in the aquarium. Red Foot Floaters won’t live too long near these weedy vampires. Duckweed takes away all sunlight and all the oxygen from other nearby plants. But there’s one good thing about this sucker – duckweed removes nutrients from the water like no other plant.

It’ll clean up your aquarium from nitrates ultra-fast. And the plant is super nutritious, as well. Guppies love eating Duckweed for its high protein, vitamin, and mineral content. Duckweed acts as the perfect ingredient for homemade guppy food, in fact.

Conclusion

Floating plants are very beneficial for aquarium-bred guppies and other fish. The fish tank is much cleaner and more breathtaking with vegetation inside. Plants will eliminate most nitrates in the water, preventing fish poisoning. Many plants, if sturdy enough, will help guppy fry survive and prevent them from becoming food to other fish. But you may need to maintain the aquarium more often if you have fast-growing plants around.

In any case, plants are a great addition to any fish aquarium and I can tell from personal experience that the fish are much happier and live longer with vegetation around.

Guppies   Updated: September 16, 2022
avatar I’m Noah, chief editor at VIVO Pets and the proud owner of a playful, energetic husky (Max). I’ve been a volunteer at Rex Animal Rescue for over 2 years. I love learning and writing about different animals that can be kept as pets.
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