What are the different types of aquatic plants?

Aquarium plants grow well in aquatic conditions. They are of different kinds, some of them are alike normal land plants while other types of plants are different. Often aquatic plants can be seen in gardens or nurseries. People grow most of aquatic plants in pots at home. People can keep them indoor or outdoor based on nature of plant & intensity of light they need for growth. Often people mistakenly keep non aquatic plants in aquarium but later discover that they either die, or grow slowly, or their life span has tremendously reduced. Make sure you do not accidentally add non aquatic plants to your aquarium. If you are having difficulty in recognizing which plants to keep & which one to avoid then you can have a look at our article which shows 10 top non aquatic plants that are usually sold at hobby shops & people mistakenly keep them in aquarium. 10 top non aquatic plants to avoid in aquarium

Aquatic plants are categorized into four different types based on their habitat & tolerance to water such as some plants lives under water through out their entire life while others stay on top of water surface with their roots only submerged in water. In this article we will discuss in detail the four categories of aquatic plants with some examples.

Types of aquatic plants
Types of aquatic plants


1. Emergent Aquatic Plants
2. Submerged Aquatic Plants
3. Floating Leaved Aquatic Plants
4. Free Floating Aquatic Plants


1. Emergent Aquatic Plant:

These plants have their roots inside water (at bottom or floor) but unlike submerged plants, they need direct sunlight & have most of their vegetation above aquarium water.

Emergent Aquatic Plant: Flowering Rush
Emergent Aquatic Plant: Flowering Rush


Emergent plant can grow in water but their upper part needs to be kept outside water. Emergent plant leaves can photosynthesize efficiently when they are kept outside water. People keep this plant in aquarium because they are able to grow in more water. Examples of emergent plants include The reed, Cyperus papyrus, flowering rush & wild rice.

Watch a simple video on how to setup a nano planted aquarium below. Aquarium has changed a lot since this article and you could always see the growth of plants in my latest video on Youtube channel.

Setup a low budget nano plant aquarium


2. Submerged Aquatic Plant:

These plants have their roots in water (at bottom or floor) & most of their vegetation is inside water. These plants exhibit thin & narrow leaves.

Submerged Aquatic Plant: Myriophyllum Spicatum
Submerged Aquatic Plant: Myriophyllum Spicatum


This plant can grow when fully submerged in water. It is a rooted plant with flaccid or limp stems & majority of the vegetable mass is submerged in water, although some parts of this plant may be outside water level. Examples of submerged aquatic plants include Myriophyllum spicatum & Ceratophyllum demersum.


3. Floating Leaved Aquatic Plant:

Such plants are not connected to the bottom or floor of aquarium but their roots absorb water. These plants can grow in fresh or salt water aquariums or ponds. These plants have firm leaves that are flat in nature for absorbing more sun light.

Floating Leaved Aquatic Plant: Water Lily
Floating Leaved Aquatic Plant: Water Lily


Such plant is floating on the water surface. Floating leaved aquatic plant has its root attached to the substrate or bottom of water body with leaves that float on the surface of water. Water lily & pondweed are common floating leaves plant.


4. Free Floating Aquatic Plant:

Free floating plants are not directly connected to the body of water & they are able to grow like normal plants. They may gain height & can produce seeds that help grow colonies of same species.

Free Floating Aquatic Plant: Water Cabbage
Free Floating Aquatic Plant: Water Cabbage


Free floating is an aquarium plant that is suspended on the surface of water with its root not attached to water substrate or sediment or bottom of the body of water. Such plants have low requirements & they are pretty easy to grow in aquarium. Examples of free floating aquatic plants include water cabbage & water lettuce.

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