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Best Plants for Turtle Tanks Reviewed

Have you ever tried to decorate your turtle’s tank and ended up creating a sandy desert or a green swamp full of grass, plants, and algae? Well, you can’t be blamed for cramming your turtle’s house with plants as you didn’t have access to the right information. Nonetheless, that changes today!


Decorating a turtle’s tank is like art sprinkled with a little science. And, if you want to make your turtle’s tank look like its natural habitat, you need to use the right plants. The reason behind this is that plants are known to affect the color and purity of the tank’s water substantially. 


To help you choose the right plant for your tank, we have compiled a list of plants considering their benefits and aesthetic appeal. As these plants come in different shapes and sizes, you must find plants that fit in your tank well without taking up too much space or creating an obstruction. 

Best Plants for Turtle tanks: 

There are two types of plants that you can pick for your turtle’s tank i.e. live and plastic plants. Normally people choose one of the both (mostly plastic), but we recommend that you decorate the tank with a combination of both. 

Greenpro Dwarf Hairgrass Live Aquarium Plants:

Pros
  • Soft blades that do not cause any harm to turtles
  • Clean and sterile
  • Can be stored for later use
Cons
  • Has an elaborate installation process


Cover the bed of your turtle’s tank with lush green grass from The Greenpro Dwarf Hairgrass that makes it look like a real river bed. It may seem like any other lawn grass, but it has some exceptional features that give you excellent value for money. 


The Greenpro Dwarf Hairgrass has been cultivated in a lab using the advanced technique called tissue culture. This technology keeps the grass sterile and ready to be planted in the tank directly. 


It comes coated with a special gel that keeps it safe from algae, disease, pest, and snails. The grass develops a good substrate in the tank and makes it soft for the turtles. Due to its tasteless property, it doesn’t catch the interest of turtles. 


The grass does not need much light or CO2 to grow, and its slow growth makes it suitable for tank beds and does not create any obstruction for turtles. The grass does not necessarily require mud to grow. 

Aquatic Arts Java Moss – Live Aquarium Plant Large:

If you don’t want your turtle’s tank to be leafy and grassy, you can give it a coral-like makeover with the Aquatic Arts Java Moss. The plant has an excellent growth speed, and it causes no harm to the turtle even if eaten.

Pros
  • Grows even in low light
  • Grows fast
  • Tasty and serves as treats for your turtle
  • Provides hiding places and security for the young turtles
  • A source of biofilm
Cons
  • Pest snails often nest here


Its commendable survival abilities enable it to grow with less light and carbon. Moreover, it can grow in any kind of mud, gravel, or driftwood. In the process of growing, the plant forms mats of moss that can eventually cover the tank’s bed.


The Java moss also aids in the filtration of the tank as it breaks down dust accumulation and algae formation in the tank. Overgrown Java moss can make the tank more habitable and playful for turtles.

  
When ordered, the plants might arrive in a slightly brown shade this can be due to the temperature or dryness in the climate. It can be fixed by putting the saplings in water, and the color of the moss will turn green soon.


Key Features: 

  • Comes in small loose portions
  • Quality saplings
  • Does not require mud for growth

Aquatic Arts Moneywort Live Aquarium Plants:

When it comes to adding aquatic plants to an aquarium, the first plant that comes to the mind of the decorators are Moneyworts. The beauty of this aquatic plant lies in the way it grows and blooms in the aquarium. 

Pros
  • Beautifies the turtle tank
  • Is tasty and can be eaten by turtles
  • Don’t need excessive nurturing
Cons
  • Can take a lot of space


Its tall shoots make that tank more homely for turtles, and they are not harmful even when eaten by turtles. If you wish to cover the entire tank with these plants you don’t have to buy them in large quantities. These plants can grow abundantly within a short span of time and cover the tank easily. 


The Moneywort is not like the aquatic plants above; it needs a good amount of sunlight and CO2 to grow well. You don’t have to nurture the plant at all, as it can grow well with your turtle even in gravels, driftwood, and small stones. 


Moneywort’s most remarkable quality is its ability to trap the dirt floating around in the tank and keeping the water clean. A Moneywort and Java moss in one tank can relieve a turtle owner of frequent cleaning concerns. 


Key Features:

  • The plant can keep the tank clean for a longer period
  • It grows at an exceedingly fast pace and covers the tank with ease
  • Moneywort can be used in all kinds of aquarium 

Aquatic Arts Live Hornwort Plant:

If you own a small tank with a little turtle, a plant-like Moneywort might not be an ideal choice. You need a plant that can grow up to small heights and gives you more interaction with your little reptilian buddy. A Hornwort can be an optimal choice for such small tanks. Let’s go through its features and benefits. 

Pros
  • Adds to the tank beauty
  • Survives in different harsh conditions
  • Is tasty and can be eaten by your turtle
Cons
  • Needs to be cleaned thoroughly before putting it back in the water


The plant has a unique aesthetic appeal owing to its captivating blend of bright yellow and green making it a beautiful upgrade against plastic plants. Hornworts shrubby stems trap the dirt and fungi to keep the tank clean. 
It can be placed anywhere in the tank as its small size and soft stems bend easily even with a little pressure, which ensures a hassle-free experience for your turtle. Moreover, it does not need any special care for growth. 
Hornwort can survive in aquariums without CO2 and direct sunlight. It also has a distinctive taste and makes a great snack for turtles. 
Key Features:

  • Reduces or eliminates water changes
  • Uses waste and pollutants in the water to grow 
  • Fast growth pace
  • An ideal choice for beginners as it does not any special care 

Java Fern Bare Root:

Cleaning a turtle tank can be very time-consuming, and if you have too many plants in your tank, it can take several hours to get the tank ready for use again. You can save yourself from this ordeal by planting a Java fern Bare Root instead. 

Pros
  • Easy to care for
  • Lives for a long time
Cons
  • Takes up a lot of space


Java Fern Bare Root is a big-sized leafy aquatic plant that can add a lot to the beauty of your turtle tank. One young plant can grow about around 4-6 inches in height. If you own a small to medium-sized tank, one plant is more than enough. Meanwhile, large-sized tanks can use two plants. 


The plant grows in any conditions with less sunlight and CO2. Moreover, it does not need any kind of special mud to grow. Since it grows with minimal roots, you have to anchor the plant to a rock or a line to ensure that it doesn’t keep floating in the tank. 


It also works as a great water filter, as it traps the dirt in its huge leaves and keeps the tank cleans for your turtle. 


Key Features: 

  • Has large leaves that cover the entire tank
  • Keeps the tank clean
  • Perfect for tanks of any size

Aquatic Arts Dark Red Ludwigia:

Among the many plants that are used for turtle tanks, the Red Ludwigia is a widely preferred plant by decorators due to many reasons. The primary reason behind this specific choice is- low maintenance. 

Pros
  • It grows nicely and looks excellent
  • Removes excess nutrients
  • Prevents gas pockets
  • It also provides shelter and hiding spots for turtles
Cons
  • White leaves
  • Can get flimsy sometimes
  • Takes up a lot of space


Red Ludwigia does not require any special nurturing such as nutrients, lighting, or aeration, as it can extract them from the water in the tank. It is a tall plant and can occupy a lot of space. To prevent overstuffing of your turtle’s swimming area you just need a few plants to cover an entire tank. 


The plant is not harmful to turtles in any way; they can even eat the leaves of the plant while swimming around. While the turtles eat the leaves, you don’t have to worry about the plant’s depletion. It grows back to the normal size in no time.  


It does grow well without lighting, but if you keep the plant in a sunny area, you can get a richer shade of red on the leaves.


Key Features: 

  • Bright and healthy
  • Very fast-growing and low maintenance plant
  • Does not need special or high-intensity lighting
  • Can be kept in any freshwater aquarium 

Water Lettuce:

Pros
  • Makes the tank look beautiful
  • Keeps the tank clean
  • Can reproduce on its own
Cons
  • Can block sunlight and heat
  • Not suitable for small tanks

Now that we have covered plants, shrubs, and moss, it’s time we take a look at novelty. As aquatic plants do not offer a pleasing sight from the top view, a couple of water lettuces work like magic. 


Water lettuces have velvety ribbed leaves that are bright-green to blue-green. Under this beautiful rosette of leaves is a network of feathery roots that hang freely underwater. These plants are known to produce small white flowers it reproduces vegetatively by creating miniature copies of itself. 


Adding this plant to your turtle’s tank can be a great idea as the plant will not only make the tank look beautiful but also act as a food source for your turtles.

These plant pods get their nourishment from the water and therefore contribute to the cleanliness of the tank. 


Water Lettuces can grow rapidly in warm temperatures which means if you have a heater in your tank, you can expect an increase in the number of water lettuces in the tank.

It is very important to control the number of water lettuces in the tank, as you will have to dispose of the extra pods. 
Key Features: 

  • Grows Fast
  • Needs very little care
  • Not harmful for turtles 

Water Hyacinth:

Pros
  • Prevents algae build-up
  • Adds to the aesthetic beauty
  • Edible for turtles
Cons
  • Excessive Growth
  • Can attract insects

Water Hyacinth is a basic alternative for water lettuce. The two plants share many common traits, but the most notable one is their ability to float on the surface of the water. While water hyacinths don’t have the whimsical leaves like water lettuces, its glossy leaves make the tank look rich.


It doesn’t need any kind of special care for growth, and its nourishment process also contributes to algae control in your turtle’s tank. The plant has a rapid reproduction process and can multiply in tanks within a short period. 


Water Hyacinth serves as a snack for the turtles, and it does not pose a threat to their health in any way. The plant also blooms cute looking flowers that add to its beautiful appearance.

Just like most aquatic plants, Water Hyacinths can grow without any kind of special mud. 


To grow well in a tank these plants need an ample amount of heat, but if you have a tank heater, the plant will not have any problem growing. 
Key Features: 

  • Rapid Growth
  • Needs no special care
  • Blooms the entire season 

Amazon sword:

Pros
  • Fits any size aquarium
  • Exceptional growth
  • Needs no special care
Cons
  • Can introduce harmful organisms
  • Growth needs to be kept in check for small tanks

The Amazon sword is an aquatic plant that can prove to be a worthy addition to your turtle’s tank. It requires less to no maintenance and does not create any kind of obstruction for your pet. Moreover, its huge leaves cover most of the tank and make it look rich. 


Amazon sword can grow in very little sunshine and can extract the nutrients in the water to grow. This also gives it the ability to keep the tank clean and free from progressive algae growth.

The big leaves of the Amazon sword can be a great treat for the turtles and since the plant has a faster growth system, you don’t have to worry about your plant getting depleted.


You need to be careful when planting an Amazon sword in your tank, as the plant needs to grow roots within the substrate of your tank. Therefore, you will have to tie the plant to a rock in the initial stages.

 
Key Features: 

  • Excellent plant for beginners
  • Ideally planted in the background of the tank
  • Makes the tank healthy and beautiful for your turtle

Amazon Frogbit:

Pros
  • Survives in any conditions
  • Has a rapid growth cycle
  • Keeps the tank clean from algae and fungi
  • Not harmful for turtles
Cons
  • Covers entire tank quickly
  • Excessive growth can make feeding difficult

This is the one plant that you would love to have in your aquarium as it makes your tank look like a real aquatic pond. The Amazon Frogbit belongs to the floating category of aquatic plants. These plants grow leaves in batches of two or three and grow to incredible sizes.


You don’t have to spend a lot of time caring for these plants as they can grow using the excessive nutrients in the water and the heat received from the heater. It also prevents algae and fungi by trapping all the dirt in its roots.


The Amazon Frogbit grows rapidly in favourable conditions and can occupy the entire tank in no time. As it does not contain any harmful substances it can be a good snacking option for turtles. And since it does not need much care or attention, it can be a perfect pick for beginners. 


Key Features: 

  • Substrate and CO2 Supplementation is not necessary
  • Pest Free
  • Can be used in any tank 

Commonly asked questions about aquatic plants:

People who own a turtle tank and feel the need to add plants often get confused while trying to decide the right plant and how it would make their tank better. Here are some commonly asked questions that people have when buying a plant. 

Are plastic plants ok for turtles in their tank?

Plastic plants are often considered as a superior alternative to live plants, but they do have their pros and cons. Let’s start with the pros first. 
Plastic plants cost less as compared to some live plants. They are easy to clean and don’t contribute to the waste. Installation procedures are simple, and cleaning them does not take a lot of time.

Plastic plants are artsier, and they come in numerous colors that can make your aquarium look attractive.
The disadvantages of plastic plants outweigh the benefits and would make you reconsider your decision.

Most of the plastic plants contain BPA that can cause serious health problems to your turtle. Moreover, if your turtle has a habit of biting things, plastic plants can prove to be a grave danger.


Plastic plants tend to break off during cleaning exposing pointed edges that can harm your turtle. 

How can I create a pond that biofilters itself?

Cleaning the tank even though there are electronic filters that can do the job for you, but if you are looking for biofiltration, plants can help you out.
Live plants like Java moss and Hornwort are known for their dirt-holding abilities. They can trap dust, food, and turtle waste to an extent.

However, you will have to clean the tanks once in a while to the dirt of the plants. You can also add floating plants to your tank to catch food waste before it reaches the bottom of the tank. 

Are there plants that can handle saltwater?

There is a wide variety of plants that can be used in saltwater tanks. Here are a few of them. 

  • Bee balm (Monarda didyma)
  • Daylilies (Hemerocallis spp.)
  • Moss rose (Portulaca)
  • Coleus (Plectranthus blumei)
  • Ivy geraniums (Pelargonium peltatum)
  • Shrub verbenas (Lantana camara)
  • Prickly pear cactus (Opuntia spp.)

How do you get rid of algae in a turtle tank?

Algae is a common problem faced by turtle or fish tank owners. Consider it as the weed of the wet environment. They can spread very quickly and grow back no matter how much you try to get rid of them.

The growth of algae is a result of keeping the lights of the tank on for a longer period and keeping your tank in direct sunlight.

One of the best ways to reduce the overgrowth of algae in the tank is by following good aquarium hygiene and changing the water once every week.

When changing the water do not empty the entire tank, just change about one-eighth of the total amount of water in the tank each time. If algae growth persists, you can add a small amount of aquarium salt to the water. 


If you are worried about your freshwater pals getting harmed by the salt, you can add live plants to the tank. Plants like Dark Red Ludwigia and Java Fern Bare Root are known for consuming all the extra nutrients from the water and prevent algae growth.

Conclusion Best Plants For Turtle Tanks

Adding plants to your turtle’s tank can be a great way to make it beautiful and healthy. You can choose from the various plants mentioned above while considering the size of the tank and the age of your turtle. 
I hope the above article has been able to provide you the necessary information about aquatic plants for your turtle’s tank. If you have any queries or suggestions, you can write them in the comments. 

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