What Are the Best Aquatic Plants for a Turtle Tank?

Aquariums not only hold water, fish, and turtles, but they also provide a healthy environment for aquatic plants. When it comes to creating a vibrant and healthy turtle tank, aquatic plants play a pivotal role. They contribute to the ecosystem by purifying the water, providing food, and creating hiding spots for the tank’s inhabitants. They have an aesthetic appeal and can turn any plain-looking aquarium into a miniature underwater Amazon. This article will explore the best aquatic plants for a turtle tank and shed light on how to grow them in your aquarium.

Java Fern: A Low-Maintenance Aquatic Plant

Java Fern, a popular choice among aquarium enthusiasts, is an ideal plant for a turtle tank. Its hardy nature and low light requirements make it easy to maintain. This plant has a unique ability to grow in both water and on decorations, which can make your turtle tank look lush and lively.

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When introducing Java Fern in your turtle tank, you don’t need to bury it under the substrate. Instead, you can attach it to any rock or piece of driftwood in your tank. The plant will latch onto this surface and start growing.

Java Fern plants are not only easy to grow but also beneficial for your turtles. They provide an excellent hiding place for them. Moreover, these plants also contribute to the tank’s water quality. They help control the levels of nitrate, a waste product from fish and turtle excretion, making the water safer for your turtles. Also, these plants are not a preferred food for most turtles, meaning they would last longer in the tank.

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Amazon Sword: A Star Among Aquatic Plants

Amazon Sword is another stellar choice for turtle tanks. This plant thrives under medium to high light conditions and can grow up to 20 inches tall, providing an excellent background ornament for your tank.

These plants come with broad, bright green leaves that not only add a dash of color to your aquarium but also offer a perfect resting and hiding spot for your turtles. These plants are also known for their hardiness, and if properly cared for, they can live for several years.

Growing Amazon Sword in a turtle tank does require some attention. It’s essential to plant Amazon Sword in a nutrient-rich substrate. They are heavy root feeders, meaning they absorb most of their nutrients from the soil through their roots. Regular trimming of dead leaves is also crucial to keep the plant healthy.

Anacharis: The Easy-Grow Aquatic Plant

Anacharis is a fast-growing, low-maintenance aquatic plant making it an excellent addition to your turtle tank. This plant can be free-floating or anchored in the substrate. Its dense foliage provides ample hiding spots for your turtles and serves as a buffet for fish in the tank.

Anacharis is a highly adaptable plant that can survive under various light and water conditions. It is also a robust oxygen producer, which means it helps maintain a healthy oxygen level in the tank. Plus, Anacharis helps control algae growth by competing for the same nutrients.

Growing Anacharis in a turtle tank is straightforward. It doesn’t require any special substrate or additional nutrients. The most important thing is to keep the water temperature in check. Anacharis prefers cool water, and a temperature above 78F might be detrimental to its health.

Water Lettuce: The Floating Decoration

Water Lettuce is a unique and attractive aquatic plant that floats on the water’s surface. It creates a natural and appealing environment that mimics the natural habitat of turtles. Water Lettuce’s long, root-like structures reaching downwards provide a wonderful cover for turtles and fish alike.

Water Lettuce is an easy-to-grow plant and can quickly cover the entire surface of a turtle tank. It helps maintain the water quality by absorbing harmful contaminants. However, it’s crucial to keep an eye on their growth. Overcrowding can block the light for other aquatic plants in the tank.

Water Hyacinth: The Turtle’s Favorite

Water Hyacinth is another floating aquatic plant that is adored by turtles. It is known for its beautiful lavender flowers and its ability to purify water. Growing Water Hyacinth in a turtle tank can be slightly challenging, but it’s worth the effort.

Water Hyacinth requires high light conditions to thrive. It also prefers warmer water temperatures. They are fast growers and can quickly cover the water’s surface, providing a safe and comfortable environment for your turtles.

In conclusion, the best aquatic plants for turtle tanks are those that can stand up to the active lifestyle of turtles, are easy to care for, and contribute to the overall health and aesthetics of the aquarium. From the low-light loving Java Fern to the radiant Water Hyacinth, there’s a perfect plant option for every turtle tank.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Aquatic Plants for a Turtle Tank

There are several factors to consider when choosing aquatic plants for your turtle tank. One of the most important considerations is the growth rate of the plants. Aquatic plants that grow at a medium to high pace are ideal for turtle tanks as they can keep up with the active lifestyle of turtles.

Java Fern and Amazon Sword are popular choices due to their easy care and medium growth rate. These plants thrive in both high and low light conditions, making them suitable for all types of turtle tanks. Additionally, they can be bought month by month for steady delivery if you prefer to keep your turtle tank fresh with new plants.

On the other hand, Water Lettuce and Water Hyacinth are known for their fast growth rate. However, these plants require more care and attention to maintain. They may also need regular trimming to prevent overcrowding in the tank.

Another factor to consider is the preference of your turtles. Some turtles may prefer certain types of plants over others. For instance, Water Hyacinth is often a turtle favorite due to its beautiful flowers and comfortable environment it provides.

Lastly, consider the aesthetics and decoration of your turtle tank. Aquatic plants can add a touch of nature and beauty to your aquarium. They can turn a simple fish tank into a stunning underwater ecosystem. From the vibrant green of Java Moss to the floating beauty of Water Lettuce, there’s an aquatic plant for every aesthetic preference.

Where to Buy Aquatic Plants

Aquatic plants for turtle tanks can be bought from various sources. Pet stores often carry a selection of live aquarium plants suitable for turtle tanks. These may include popular choices like Java Fern, Anacharis, and Amazon Sword.

Online shopping is another great option to buy your plants. Websites like Amazon offer a wide variety of aquatic plants. You can often find plants with a “buy Amazon, month delivery” option. This is a convenient way to receive a steady supply of plants for your turtle tank without leaving your home.

Small businesses specializing in aquarium plants are another excellent source. These specialized stores often carry a wide variety of aquatic plants, including some more unique choices. Shopping at these stores also supports small businesses and promotes diversity in the aquarium plant market.

Lastly, don’t overlook the potential of plastic plants. Plastic plants can be a great alternative or addition to live plants. They are easy to care for and can withstand the active lifestyle of turtles. Plastic plants can also come in unique designs and colors, making them great tank decorations.


Creating a vibrant and healthy turtle tank involves more than just adding water and turtles. Aquatic plants play a crucial role in maintaining the tank’s ecosystem and adding aesthetic appeal. From the low maintenance Java Fern to the fast-growing Water Hyacinth, there’s a perfect plant for every turtle tank. Whether you prefer to shop at a pet store, buy Amazon, or support a small business, there are many options for acquiring these beneficial plants. With the right care and consideration, your turtle tank can become a thriving and beautiful underwater ecosystem.