Plants Suitable for Aquascaping

Inspired by colourful aquascapes, many a beginning scaper wants to create a layout dominated by stem plants. Plants with red, or rather, coloured leaves are often stem plants, and they offer a wide range of forms and structures. However, you should always keep in mind that such a layout requires a lot of maintenance. The more light you provide your plants with, and the more you fertilize, the faster they will grow.


A layout domineered by stem plants with a densely planted back- and middle ground requires around one to two hours of maintenance work per week just to keep the plants well-trimmed. Stem plants have to be cut regularly so they assume a nice bushy growth. Depending on the layout, you may find your own maintenance schedule, however, you will have to find time do the work one way or another. A layout whose maintenance has been put up is harder to get back into shape. If you choose fast-growing ground-covering plants like e.g. Glossostigma elatinoides you will have to trim those at regular intervals, too.


Especially Glossostigma grows like a weed when the conditions are right, and can build up several layers of runners on top of each other - as you can see, foreground plants also need regular trimming, not just the stem plants in the background. Plants that spread by runners will grow into all the surrounding plant groups and will thus provide you with a time-consuming extra amount of maintenance work. Those runners not growing in the direction you wish them have to be cut away on a regular basis. By the way, this growth pattern is the reason why Hemianthus callitrichoides and Glossostigma elatinoides should not be mixed. The fast-growing Glossostigma will overgrow the Hemianthus very soon and suppress it totally if you don't cut it back very often.

Aquascape Aquascape

Glossostigma elatinoides is an extremely fast grower. There are only four weeks between the two photos. Glossostigma will form a green carpet on the ground of your tank really fast.

You should pick a single ground-covering plant - or do the work to make sure both plant species can co-exist. If you choose the right plants, a very natural-looking foreground layout can be realised with different ground-covering plants. For aquascapers with less time on their hands a design using ferns, mosses, Anubias and Cryptocoryne would be ideal. Depending on the creator's preferences, a stem plant group or two could also be worked into this setup to vary the colours. The maintenance of such a small amount of stem plants is still manageable. Such a layout dominated by ferns and mosses does not require a lot of light. The different forms and colours of the plants we've cited above, together with the right hardscape, can give the layout design a very interesting look, and the maintenance of this kind of aquascape is not as time-consuming as the one of a scape dominated by stem plants.