Aquarium Carpet Plants - Planted Tank Mates
Aquascape carpet plants.

Aquarium Carpet Plants

Overview

Aquarium carpet plants are typically short and placed in the foreground of your tank.  They can create a dense ground cover that mimics a grassy lawn or low spreading foliage. Most carpet plants are rooted in the soil and trimmed short, but there are ways to create that effect with moss and stem plants too. It’s achievable regardless if you have a nano tank or high tech set up, but pay attention to the details. Factors such as lighting, soil, plant species, placement and CO2 should all be considered. The right combination can create an awesome and cushy habitat for your shrimp and fish to graze.

Easy Carpet Plants – No CO2 required

These carpet plants can thrive in your tank with moderate lighting and no CO2. Plants that are rooted do better with good substrate, while moss-like plants can simply be tied to rocks, branches and even cut out mesh. While they may take some time to carpet, supplementing with liquid carbon and occasional plant fertilizer will keep it flourishing.

Microsword (Lilaeopsis brasiliensis)

Microsword is one of the easiest carpet plants for beginners. They’re relatively hardy and look like real lawn grass. Plant clusters about 1.5” – 2” apart and allow them to infill. They have roots which spread in the substrate and you can see new sprouts pop through the soil. When planting, angle into the substrate at a diagonal to minimize uplifting.

Micro Sword Aquarium Plant
Microsword – photo credit Aquarium Co-Op
Monte Carlo (Micranthemum tweediei)

Monte Carlo is another easy carpet plant, but like most will take a bit of time to establish without CO2. Their roots will go into the soil, but their runners will spread on the surface where new stems will grow. The short and bushy profile makes a great foreground look. Trimmings can be planted right back into the substrate.

Monte Carlo Aquarium Carpet Plant – available on Amazon
Java Moss (Taxiphyllum barbieri)

As the name states, Java Moss is actually a moss and is a type of plant that has no roots. Their nutrients do not come from the substrate but rather the water column. This is probably one of the most hardy and versatile plant species you can ever grow. You can tie or glue them to rocks and wood and let them create a nice foreground. Some will tie them to shaped mesh and mimic a carpet appearance on the ground.

Java Moss – available on Amazon

Medium Carpet Plants – Optional CO2

CO2 is not required for these plants but will make a difference. They can thrive without it, but you should supplement with some liquid carbon if you want a good carpet effect. At a minimum, provide good lighting and make sure they’re not placed in shady dark spots in your aquarium.

Dwarf Hairgrass (Eleocharis acicularis)

Dwarf Hairgrass look like Microswords but are much more thin and fine in appearance. These can create a nice and compact grass appearance in any foreground. Without CO2, they will grow much slower and a little sparse. Strong lighting will help it densify and fine soil will prevent uprooting.

Hair Grass aquarium plant
Dwarf Hair Grass – available on Amazon
Hydrocotyle Japan (Hydrocotyle tripartita)

The clover-like appearance of this plant creates a unique carpet experience. It’s very hardy, undemanding and can quickly cover your foreground. High lighting will help Hydrocotyle plant grow low and spread. Insufficient lighting will have the clovers reaching for the sky. CO2 again will help with density and compactness.

Hydrocotyle Japan (Hydrocotyle tripartita).
Hydrocotyle Japan Aquarium Plant – available on Amazon

Advanced Carpet Plants – CO2 required + Good Lighting

The finer carpet plants usually require CO2 and high lighting to root, spread and be successful. If lighting is poor, the plant will grow tall instead of spreading across your landscape. Tall carpet plants are normally a good indication of insufficient lighting. Also, aim to provide 6-8 hours of lighting.

Dwarf Baby Tears (Glossostigma H.C.)

Dwarf Baby Tears look very similar to Monte Carlo, but smaller and finer in size. Unfortunately, their finer appearance requires a balanced combination of soil, lighting and CO2. They are very demanding initially, but will be less work once established in your tank.

Dwarf Baby Tears - Aquarium Carpet Plant
Dwarf Baby Tears – available on Amazon
Glossostigma Elatinoides

This is another popular carpeting plant in aquascaping. The leaves are bigger than Dwarf Baby tears and their requirements are nearly identical. To create a strong perspective, you can place the larger Glossostiga Elatinoides in the front and the smaller Dwarf Baby Tears further back.

Glossostigma elatinoides (Glossostigma elatinoides).
Glossostigma Elatinoides Aquarium Plant – available on Amazon
(UG) Utricularia gramminifolia

Utricularia Gramminifolia can be an amazing and bright green carpet in your aquarium, but it must be done right. They do better in an established tank and perfect conditions can produce white flowers to look like a blooming field. If not fully stuck in the soil, it can uplift and continue to grow in floating mats. These plants are carnivorous, but won’t chomp on your fishes or shrimp. It’s mainly a threat to very small crustaceans absorbing its nutrients and protein.

Utricularia gramminifolia (UG)
UG photo credit Flip Aquatics

All Things Considered

Frequent trimmings stimulate the plant to stay low and compact through the soil. All rooted plants are contingent on the quality, density and age of your soil.  One inches of soil will not yield fast growing results. Likewise, soil that’s over 3-5 years old may lose its nutrients and can also slow down the growing process. This is where root tabs come into play or perhaps a slow change of your substrate.
You don’t need to keep the intense lighting and high Co2 at all times. Once established to the desired level, you can gradually tune it down to minimize the intense growing and trimming requirements.  Also, remember that high lighting may result in algae and high CO2 can suffocate fish and shrimp. It’s a balancing act, so observe daily, keep a log and make fine tune adjustments.

Aquascape with carpet plants and neon tetras.

2 Comments

  1. נערות ליוויJune 7, 2023

    Itís nearly impossible to find well-informed people for this topic, but you seem like you know what youíre talking about! Thanks

    Reply
    1. adminJune 7, 2023

      Thanks for the feedback! Our philosophy is to educate and provide the tools to make educated decisions.
      Glad you’re enjoying the website which is a constant a work in progress.

      Reply

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