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Top 5 Best Plants For Goldfish 2020 (Detailed Buyer’s Guide)

As a goldfish owner, you’re probably already aware of the species’ greedy and destructive habits. This can pose a problem for planted aquariums as they will happily munch away your live greenery, much to your dismay! 

While you might think all aquatic live plants are a definite no-no in goldfish tanks, there are a few species that can work well. These types of plants are hardy enough to withstand a few nibbles, or have an unappetizing taste altogether.

To help you find out more about the best plants for goldfish, I’ve provided a lot of useful information and tips below.

I’ve also gone into detail about some specific aquarium plants, which are my personal recommendations for goldfish tanks.

After considering all the options our top picks were…

Review Summary

Best All-Rounder

Anubias Barteri

Anubias plants are one of the best plants for goldfish as they are extremely hardy and are very unlikely to be nibbled on. This is because of their thick, rubbery leaves, which aren’t very appealing to goldfish.

Anubias Barteri

Out of all the goldfish plants I’ve looked at, this one is my overall recommendation for the average goldfish tank.

Anubias plants are one of the best goldfish plants due to their resilience. If you’re new to keeping fish or live aquarium plants, any type of anubias is a good option. 

Most goldfish don’t like to eat their rubbery, hard leaves, so they aren’t at risk of being destroyed. The plant doesn’t need to grow in substrate as it prefers to have its roots uncovered.

Best on a Budget

Java Fern

This Java fern is an incredibly affordable plant to use in goldfish tanks. They have sturdy leaves that are bitter in taste, so they are unlikely to be eaten by your fish.

Java Fern

This goldfish plant is the most affordable option out of all the plants I’ve reviewed.

Java fern is one of the best live plants for goldfish as it has bitter tasting leaves. A lot of goldfish won’t like to eat this plant, so it’s likely to be left alone. 

The plant is very easy to keep, but can grow quite slowly. It can’t grow in substrate, so it will need to be attached to driftwood or a rock.

Editor’s Choice

Java Moss

One of my personal favorite plants for goldfish is java moss. While it’s not completely unappealing to goldfish, it is relatively fast growing and one of the easiest plants to care for.

Java Moss

My personal favorite aquarium plant that also works well in goldfish tanks.

This goldfish plant is incredibly easy to keep as they don’t need a huge amount of care. Some goldfish like to eat java moss, but the plant grows quick enough to withstand a few nibbles every now and again. This aquarium plant doesn’t need substrate and can be left to float in the water. You can even attach them to decor.

Live Versus Fake Plants For Goldfish

Using live aquarium plants or artificial plants in your goldfish tank mostly boils down to personal preference, but there are positives and negatives with either one. 

Live aquatic plants obviously look more natural than fake plants and create a more organic habitat for your goldfish. They also provide oxygen and nutrients, as well as help keep nitrite and nitrate levels down.

Live Plants Needs to Be Maintained

However, live plants require a fair bit of maintenance to keep them looking healthy. Decaying or dead plants can do more harm than good, as they will quickly pollute your tank water.

Another drawback with real plants is that they can deplete oxygen from the water…

Another drawback with real plants is that they can deplete oxygen from the water. In the daytime, plants take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. At nightime, the complete opposite occurs. 

This is an issue heavily planted tanks can face, so it’s important to use a powerful filter or airstone to add ample aeration to your goldfish tank. Additionally, a lot of live plants are likely to be a tasty meal for your goldfish, which can impact their growth.

Artificial Plants

With artificial plants, you don’t get any of these problems. They don’t need regular maintenance, won’t get eaten, and can’t potentially starve your fish off oxygen. You also don’t need to worry about your goldfish eating them. 

If you want a very low-maintenance setup, then fake plants are a great choice…

If you want a very low-maintenance setup, then fake plants are a great choice. Although, they aren’t as visually appealing as live plants. They also don’t keep nitrites/nitrates down or provide your aquarium with any nutrients.

Furthermore, you have to be careful with plastic artificial plants in goldfish tanks. Sharp or pointy edges could tear your goldfish’s fins and tails. Silk plants are a better alternative for this reason.

Do Goldfish Like Driftwood?

Driftwood can be a stunning bit of decoration in your goldfish tank, especially if you’re going for a natural setup. You might be wondering if your goldfish will appreciate some driftwood in their aquarium, and the short answer is yes!

You might be wondering if your goldfish will appreciate some driftwood in their aquarium, and the short answer is yes!…

Firstly, various holes and nooks in driftwood act as cover or a safe area to retreat to when your goldfish is feeling stressed. Algae also tends to grow on driftwood, which your fish will no doubt enjoy snacking on.

Lastly, driftwood serves as a great surface to attach aquatic plants on. This is especially helpful if you own plants that have a tendency to float.

Two Goldfish Side by Side inside Fish Tank
Two Goldfish Side by Side inside Fish Tank

Which Plants Will Goldfish Avoid?

As you might already know, there isn’t much a goldfish won’t eat. This, unfortunately, extends to live plants. All is not lost though, as there are a few species that can work well in a goldfish aquarium or for other greedy freshwater fish species. These include:

  • Java Moss
  • Crypt
  • Amazon Sword
  • Java Fern
  • Anubias
  • Onion Plant
  • Hornwort
  • Pennywort
  • Duckweed
  • Sagitaria 
  • Water Sprite

I’ve provided more in-depth information on some of these goldfish friendly plants further down, including best tank conditions and water parameters. 

Is There a Way to Prevent Goldfish from Destroying Your Aquarium Plants?

Unfortunately, there isn’t really a method to stop your goldfish from destroying your aquarium plants. Using goldfish friendly plants can help stop the destructive behavior of your fish, as these species typically have unappetizing and sturdy leaves.

Alternatively, you could opt for fake plants. While these aren’t as attractive as live plants, there’s no risk of them being eaten. If you want a natural aquarium without live greenery, then silk plants are a good option as they can look very realistic. They’re also softer than plastic decor, so they won’t rip your goldfish’s delicate fins and tail.

Quarantining Your New Plants

Before you add any live new plants to your goldfish tank, it’s a good idea to quarantine them beforehand. This will help prevent any snail eggs, bacteria, or diseases that might be present on the plants being transferred to your goldfish tank water.

Before you add any live new plants to your goldfish tank, it’s a good idea to quarantine them beforehand…

There are a few methods to quarantining tanks, such as isolation and dips using bleach, aquarium salt, alum, or potassium permanganate. 

The former involves putting your live plants in a quarantine tank for at least 2 weeks to check for any abnormalities. 

The latter, on the other hand, can seem a little intimidating, but it’s a much quicker approach to quarantining your plants than isolation. The steps are a little different depending on which ingredient you use to dip the plants in.

Bleach Dip

For example, for a bleach dip, mix a solution with 1 part bleach to 19 parts water. You don’t need anything fancy, just simple chlorine bleach will do the trick. Soak your plants in the bleach water (use gloves!) for a maximum of 3 minutes (2 minutes for sensitive species) and then wash them thoroughly in dechlorinated water. 

TIP

If the plants still smell strongly of bleach even after you’ve rinsed them, then submerge them in dechlorinated water before washing them again.

Goldfish Swimming at the Bottom of an Aquarium
Goldfish Swimming at the Bottom of an Aquarium

How to Attach Your Goldfish Plants

Attaching your goldfish plants to driftwood or rocks is fairly simple and doesn’t involve a lot of mental gymnastics. All you need are scissors, fishing line, rock/driftwood, and the aquarium plant you want to attach. Before you attach any goldfish plant, make sure it doesn’t require substrate to grow in.

First,place the plant in your desired position on the surface (rock, driftwood, etc) tie it up using a bit of fishing line. Make sure you tie it quite tightly so the plant stays firmly in place and won’t break loose in your goldfish tank.

RECOMMENDATION

 I recommend using a hard surface (like lava rock or driftwood) for attaching plants as smooth surfaces don’t allow the plant to root effectively. 

Next, cut off the excess fishing line to prevent your goldfish from getting trapped. It’s also a good idea to ensure that the knot is on the bottom of the surface for this reason.

Finally, place the plant inside your goldfish tank.

Plants or Food?

As goldfish are greedy and destructive little pets, they will often see your aquatic plants as a tasty snack. You have a couple of options here. The first one is to choose plants that are hardy or don’t taste very nice to your goldfish.

Your second choice is to provide your goldfish with plants that rapidly grow so they are unaffected by your goldfish’s eating habits. An example of this type of plant is duckweed, which multiplies extremely quickly. In fact, duckweed is often a nuisance for a lot of fishkeepers due to its rapid growth, which often results in being overrun with the stuff!

Temperature 

Most goldfish require temperatures around 68° to 74° F, with some species preferring cooler waters. The best aquatic plants for your goldfish are species that can live in water of these temperatures. 

Some tropical plant species don’t do well in a goldfish tank as they prefer warmer water. Make sure you check the specific requirements/water parameters of the goldfish plants you want to use before you add them to your tank.

Goldfish inside Aquarium
Goldfish inside Aquarium

Placement

Where you place your aquarium plants in goldfish tanks is important. Due to how destructive goldfish are, plants can be easily uprooted. Personally, with my goldfish, I wake up each day to a variety of plants floating at the tank surface. Part of my morning routine involves replanting my tank’s greenery!

To work around this dilemma, you can attach your plants to driftwood or rocks. Alternatively, you could keep your aquarium plants in pots or choose species that don’t need any substrate to survive. Two examples of goldfish plants that don’t require substrate are duckweed and java fern. 

Best Live Plants For Goldfish Tanks

Best All-Rounder

Anubias Barteri

Anubias plants are one of the best plants for goldfish as they are extremely hardy and are very unlikely to be nibbled on. This is because of their thick, rubbery leaves, which aren’t very appealing to goldfish.

Anubias Barteri

Anubias plants are one of the best plants for goldfish as they are extremely hardy and are very unlikely to be nibbled on. This is because of their thick, rubbery leaves, which aren’t very appealing to goldfish.

There are a lot of different types of anubias plants, but I particularly like the anubias barteri variety due to broad, thick, dark leaves. Any one of the anubias plant types are a great match for goldfish, so it doesn’t really matter which variety you opt for.

As anubias plants are very hardy, they are an ideal choice for beginners. You can keep them at temperatures between and PH levels between 6.0 to 7.5. They tend to do well in an aquarium with low to moderate lighting.

I have a few anubias barteri plants in a couple of my goldfish tanks and I’ve never had any issues with them being eaten or destroyed. Even in my low-tech setups, the plants are thriving, which shows just how little maintenance they need.

These goldfish plants grow fairly quickly and can even produce tiny flowers. Anubias plants don’t need any substrate to thrive, and actually prefer to have their roots uncovered. 

This particular goldfish plant comes in a 2-inch pot. It can be a little on the small side and could carry bacteria or parasites. Make sure you quarantine the plant first before you add it to your goldfish tank.

Care Requirements

PH: 6.0-7.5

Temperature: 72-82 °F

Lighting: Low to moderate

Care Level: Easy

Pros

  • Doesn’t need substrate
  • As a rule, goldfish don’t like to eat the leaves
  • Very easy to keep
  • They grow pretty quickly

Cons

  • This particular plant can be a bit small and carry bacteria

Best on a Budget

Java Fern

This Java fern is an incredibly affordable plant to use in goldfish tanks. They have sturdy leaves that are bitter in taste, so they are unlikely to be eaten by your fish.

Java Fern

This Java fern is an incredibly affordable plant to use in goldfish tanks. They have sturdy leaves that are bitter in taste, so they are unlikely to be eaten by your fish. 

My favorite feature about Java fern plants are their hardiness. They are easy to care for and thrive in low light conditions. The temperature range for this goldfish plant is between 60 °F and 83 °F, and PH should be between 6.5 and 7.5.

An important thing to note about this plant is that they can’t be grown in substrate. You need to anchor them to a surface, such as a piece of driftwood. It can also take a while for the plant to grow.

Personally, I really like the look of this plant and have a couple in a natural goldfish tank. Even though my tank light isn’t very powerful, I’ve never run into any problems with the plant growing in my goldfish tank. 

I have noticed that they can be a bit fiddly to attach to surfaces and can often break loose. It’s a little frustrating that you can’t simply place them in your tank substrate.

This Java fern, in particular, is a bare root that is approximately between 4 inches and 6 inches in height. Most variants of Java fern can reach up to 12 inches.

For the most part, the plant is healthy, but it can be a little on the small side. The leaves can also carry snail eggs, so it might be a good idea to quarantine the plant before you add it to your aquarium.

Care Requirements

PH: 6.0-7.5

Temperature Range: 60-83 °F

Lighting: Low

Care Level: Easy

Pros

  • Easy to care for
  • Very hardy
  • Thrive in low-light conditions

Cons

  • Slow growing
  • Cannot be grown in substrate
  • This specific plant can carry snail eggs

Editor’s Choice

Java Moss

One of my personal favorite plants for goldfish is java moss. While it’s not completely unappealing to goldfish, it is relatively fast growing and one of the easiest plants to care for.

Java Moss

One of my personal favorite plants for goldfish is java moss. While it’s not completely unappealing to goldfish, it is relatively fast growing and one of the easiest plants to care for.

It can be left floating in your tank water or you can attach it to rock, driftwood, or even substrate as a carpet. I especially like using java moss on a chunk of vertical driftwood to give the illusion of leaves in my tank.

Java moss is incredibly beginner-friendly as it is extremely hardy. It can tolerate temperatures of 70-86 °F and PH levels between 5.0 and 8.0. You can keep it in either low light or high light conditions.

This specific java moss comes in a 2-inch cup. The plant seems to be healthy for the most part, but the amount you get isn’t always huge. Make sure you quarantine it before you add it to your goldfish tank as it could harbor bacteria or parasites. 

Care Requirements

PH: 5.0-8.0

Temperature Range: 70-86 °F

Lighting: Low to high

Care Level: Easy

Pros

  • Beginner-friendly
  • Tolerates a wide range of water parameters
  • Can grow quite fast

Cons

  • Goldfish might still try to eat it
  • The amount you get for this specific moss isn’t huge

Amazon Sword

The Amazon sword is an incredibly beautiful plant for your aquarium. With proper care, it can grow vibrant and large green leaves that will liven up any tank.

Amazon Sword

The Amazon sword is an incredibly beautiful plant for your aquarium. With proper care, it can grow vibrant and large green leaves that will liven up any tank. Amazon sword roots grow pretty long, which can help prevent toxic gas pockets from developing in your substrate.

These plants are normally fast growing and can reach heights of up to 2 feet. They do well in moderate to high light conditions and can withstand temperatures of 72 °F to 82 °F. PH should be between 6.5 and 7.5.

Amazon sword aquarium plants are heavy root feeders, so using root tabs are crucial for providing them with enough nutrients. Interestingly, these goldfish plants can help purify the water in your fish tank.

The Amazon sword is tastier than some of the other species in this list, but they grow quite quickly. Even if your goldfish takes a bite of it every now and again, it shouldn’t impact the plant’s growth or health. 

This specific aquatic plant is around 6 inches in length. It also comes with a 7-day survival guarantee. If it dies within this period, then you are given a replacement or a full refund.

Care Requirements

PH: 6.5-7.5

Temperature Range: 72-82 °F

Lighting: Moderate to high

Care Level: Easy

Pros

  • Visually appealing
  • Can help prevent toxic gas pockets and purify tank water
  • Can grow quite fast
  • Easy to care for

Cons

  • Requires root tabs to thrive
  • Needs moderate to high light
  • Goldfish might still nibble on the leaves

Water Sprite

Water sprite is a lovely aquarium plant that can grow fairly big and propagate amply. With time and proper care, this plant can make your tank appear like a forest.

Water Sprite

Water sprite is a lovely aquarium plant that can grow fairly big and propagate amply. With time and proper care, this plant can make your tank appear like a forest. 

It has fragile, lace-like leaves that can add a lot of beauty to your fish tank. These are a little more inviting to goldfish, but the plant is a fast grower, so it should bounce back quickly.

Water sprite helps purify your water and is relatively easy to look after due to its hardiness. It thrives in low to moderate lighting, and can tolerate temperatures between 68-82 °F. PH should be around 6.0 to 7.5.

If you’re a fan of floating plants, then water sprite is a good option. This aquarium plant can also be placed in substrate or attached to decor.

This particular water sprite comes in a bundle of 3, with each plant being around 4 to 8 inches in height. They can be a bit on the small side and can sometimes be in poor health. Fortunately, the plants come with a AOA (Alive On Arrival) guarantee, and you are given a replacement if this isn’t the case.

Care Requirements

PH: 6.0-7.5

Temperature Range: 68-82 °F

Lighting: Low to moderate

Care Level: Easy 

Specs

Pros

  • Hardy
  • Beautiful, lace-like leaves
  • Versatile placement
  • Fast growing

Cons

  • Has more appetizing leaves than some species
  • This specific plant can arrive small or in poor health

Conclusion

Here’s a quick recap of all our top picks.

Best All-Rounder

Out of all the goldfish aquarium plants I’ve looked at, I think the best one to use in your goldfish tank is Anubias Barteri. Most goldfish don’t like to eat the plant’s thick and rubbery leaves, so it’s unlikely to be destroyed or nibbled on.

The plant looks great in any aquarium and is very easy to keep. It can grow quite quickly and is tolerant of a wide range of water parameters, so it’s very hardy. 

The anubias plant does not need substrate to grow in, and can be placed in a bare-bottom goldfish tank. 

If anubias barteri doesn’t seem like the right match for you and your fish, then either Java Fern or Java Moss are great options. Both are suitable goldfish plants, but goldfish are slightly less likely to eat java fern. 

Best on a Budget

This is because of the plant’s bitter leaves, which most fish don’t seem to like. The fern works well in any aquarium as it has long, narrow leaves that create hiding places for fish. It is a hardy plant that is very easy to care for. 

However, the fern can grow slowly, so it might take a while for it to fill up the space in your tank. Additionally, it can’t grow in substrate, so make sure you attach aquarium decor, such as driftwood. 

Editor’s Choice

Java moss is my personal favorite plant for a goldfish tank as it allows for creativity. The moss can float freely in your tank water or it can be attached to aquarium decor. It can even be used as a carpet for your substrate. 

The moss is one of the best plants for new fish owners due to its hardiness. It thrives in a lot of different water parameters and is quite quick to grow. For the most part, fish and goldfish don’t tend to eat java moss. Even if your goldfish or fish nibble on it, it’s unlikely to do much damage.

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