7 Best Aquarium Plants That Stay Small

Last Updated on 2023-08-30

If you don’t have much space or money, or if you just want a different kind of challenge, a small or nano aquarium can be a great choice. Even though they are small, they can look just as lush as bigger aquascapes and really make a room shine. There are also benefits and drawbacks when you’re keeping a small aquarium, and you’ll need to make some adjustments to the types of plants you keep there. There are a wide variety of plants that are naturally small and can remain that way, so you’ll have no problem making your tank beautiful. 

What Aquarium Plants Stay Small?

If you’re looking for a new challenge but are limited by space or finances, a small planted aquarium may be the way to go. They can bring a room to life and can look just as vibrant as larger aquascapes, despite their smaller size. Read on for a list of seven miniature plants that will thrive in aquariums of any size.

1. Anubias Nana Petite

Anubias Nana Petite is a flowering plant with thick, dark green leaves. Instead of putting the plant’s roots in soil, you should attach it to something like a piece of driftwood or rock. This plant grows slowly, but it’s very hardy and doesn’t require any extra CO2.

2. Water Cabbage

Water Cabbage leaves remain very small, at around 4 inches in size, and grow in a rosette shape that resembles a head of cabbage. It grows slowly, but its low maintenance requirements make it a good choice for beginner aquarists. Water cabbage can thrive in temperatures as low as 15 °C/59 °F, so an aquarium without heating is not a problem for it.

3. Dwarf Hairgrass

The dwarf hairgrass gives the impression of real grass growing on land. Dwarf hairgrass’ small size makes it ideal for use as a carpet plant in even the tiniest aquariums. Dwarf hairgrass, unlike many other carpet plants, is relatively easy to care for, making it an excellent choice for starting aquarists.

4. Bucephalandra

Like the Anubias, Bucephalandra can withstand harsh conditions. It is visually appealing because it is one of the plants that blooms tiny flowers beneath the water. If you want it to grow well, don’t bury its roots in the substrate.

5. Hydrocotyle Verticillata

This plant is great for decorating the bottom of your tank because it does not grow vertically but rather trails across the substrate. Most aquarists consider this plant to be among their favorites, and it’s easy to take care of them as all it needs is a lot of light to thrive. A healthy dose of carbon dioxide and fertilizer will speed up growth and ensure a lush, green appearance.

6. Java Moss

Java moss is by far the most common type of moss. It is great for spicing up your aquarium with a variety of textures and colors, so it truly is a must-have for an aquarium.  You can attach it to the wood or rocks in your tank with a fishing line or superglue, or you can just let it float around.

7. Cryptocoryne Parva

The Parva crypt, at a maximum size of 2.5 inches, is the smallest of the crypt species. This crypt plant is a little different from the others because it grows more slowly than the other crypts and requires more lighting to keep its compact form. Even so, it’s not a particularly challenging plant; you can successfully cultivate it in a wide range of environments.

A green beautiful planted tropical freshwater aquarium with fishes

How Can You Keep Your Aquarium Plants Short?

Plants that grow slowly are a good option if you don’t want them to take over your aquarium. Plants that are kept at a manageable height are less likely to overheat and damage themselves. However, there are other ways you can limit the growth of your aquatic plants. Here are some ways to keep your aquarium plants from getting too tall.

1. Trimming

Each plant has a distinctive growth rate, and consequently, each is trimmed in a different way. Because it could upset the delicate ecosystem of the aquarium, regular, light trimming is recommended. In this way, the aquarium can look the same all the time.

2. Nutrient Control

If you change a plant’s nutrients, you can slow its growth. When plants don’t get enough of the nutrients they need, they tend to grow more slowly. There are even a few kinds of aquatic plants that get reddish in color when there aren’t enough nutrients because chlorophyll takes longer to form.

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What Are The Best Plants For a Nano Aquarium

Tanks come in many different sizes and shapes, and each one has its own pros and cons. Along with that, it is very important to choose the right plants for your tank, especially if it is small. If you have a nano aquarium and are looking for suitable plants, here are seven plants to consider.

1. Staurogyne Repens

It’s one of the plants that can be used in both big aquariums and small ones. It is a good plant because it is small and compact and grows slowly and stays that way. The only thing you need to remember is to prune the plant regularly to shape the plant in a creeping form.

2. Rotala Indica

Commonly referred to as “Indian tooth cup”, Rotala Indica is a plant that is usually partly submerged because its rooted stems protrude just right above the water’s surface. This plant is perfect for a nano tank because of its long green stems and bright red and pink leaves. Remember that this plant is delicate, and avoid housing it with aggressive fish. 

3. Alternanthera Reineckii Mini

The Alternanthera Reineckii Mini plant is a great option for rookie aquarists because it requires little care and maintenance. This plant is great for a nano tank because it grows slowly and stays compact. In addition, it does wonders for the tank’s oxygen levels.

4. Corkscrew Vallisneria

The Corkscrew Vallisneria is a very low-maintenance plant because of its exceptional flexibility in terms of water conditions, especially in terms of temperature. Although it has the potential to reach a height of 20 inches, this plant develops at a snail’s pace. Also, it requires little effort on your part, making it a fantastic option for aquarists that are just starting out.

5. Monte Carlo

The Monte Carlo has recently gained a lot of traction in the aquarium hobby. Many aquascapers use Monte Carlo as a carpet plant due to its small size and slow growth. Monte Carlo requires a substantial amount of food and carbon dioxide to stay healthy.

6. Marimo Moss Ball

You can’t go wrong with a Marimo Moss Ball if you put it in your aquarium. Since it is essentially an algae, this plant is extremely resilient and adaptable. With a maximum height of only 12 inches, Marimo Moss Ball is perfect for a small aquarium.

7. Dwarf Hygrophila

One of the most hardy and simplest to grow aquarium plants is the Dwarf Hygrophila. When kept in bright light, the plant’s long green leaves may take on a tinge of red. Make sure to check this fast-growing plant every once in a while, as its growth can sometimes be impeded by snails before it gets established.


What Is the Smallest Aquarium Plant

There are several small aquatic plants, and Dwarf Baby Tears is one of the smallest. If the plant gets enough light and food, you can see visible bubbles of oxygen coming from it.


If you have to work on a small scale, it’s important to put things in the right order. Small aquariums may seem easy, but they need special care and a little bit of extra attention to do well. Even though small aquariums can be cute and nice, you should always double-check what you put in them. It is also important to choose small plants that will do well in your small aquarium, like Anubias Nana Petite, Bucephalandra, and Monte Carlo. Taking care of a small aquarium is ought to be fun, so give it some thought and try taking your time before you start.

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