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The Best Carpeting Aquarium Plants

All right, let's talk about a game-changer for your underwater setup – carpeting aquarium plants.

You know, those lush, green mats of foliage that look like something out of a tropical paradise?


Yeah, those.

Today, I'll guide you through the best carpeting plants to elevate your aquarium.


Why Even Bother with Carpeting Aquarium Plants?

Before we get into the plant choices, let's explore why carpeting plants are a fantastic addition to your aquarium:

  • Carpeting plants can transform your aquarium into a beautiful and natural-looking underwater landscape. They create a lush green carpet that contrasts with other aquatic elements, such as rocks and driftwood.

  • Just like other aquarium plants, carpeting plants contribute to oxygenation by releasing oxygen during photosynthesis. This process helps maintain optimal oxygen levels for your fish and other aquatic inhabitants.

  • Carpeting plants help filter out excess nutrients, such as nitrates and phosphates, from the water. This reduces the risk of algae overgrowth and creates a healthier aquatic environment.

  • Shelter for Fish and Invertebrates: Many fish and invertebrates appreciate the cover and hiding spots provided by carpeting plants, making them feel more secure and reducing stress.

    Now that you know the benefits, let’s look at some of the best carpeting plants for your aquarium.

    Heads up though, these are all high- mainteneace plants. You need to have a good lighting, fertilization, and co2 system going, or you're just in for a world of disappointment.

    Get it right, and boy, they look amazing.

    Dwarf Baby Tears (Hemianthus callitrichoides)

    Dwarf Baby Tears, sometimes referred to as HC, or DBT online, is among the most popular dense carpeting plants in the hobby.

    They are known for their small and delicate leaves that form a dense, lush carpet. You'll see these used in a striking iwagumi-styled aquascape.

    To succeed with DBT, provide high light and a nutrient-rich substrate. CO2 supplementation is also pretty much a given. You'll just have tears and algae otherwise.

    Monte Carlo (Micranthemum 'Monte Carlo')

    Monte Carlo is an excellent alternative to Dwarf Baby Tears, especially for those who are new to carpeting plants.

    It's slightly easier to maintain and grows well in moderate light conditions. You'll still need co2 to get it done correctly, though.

    The above photos are what it looks like in a dry start set up. The leaf structure becomes smaller and thinner when it is submerged underwater.

    Here's what it looks like submerged:

    Glossostigma (Glossostigma elatinoides)

    Glossostigma is another visually striking carpeting plant that adds a unique touch to your aquarium. It features tiny, round leaves and spreads quickly, creating a dense carpet.

    This plant benefits from high light and CO2 supplementation, but can still grow in moderate lighting conditions if it is otherwise well taken care of.

    Dwarf Hairgrass (Eleocharis parvula)

    Dwarf Hairgrass is known for its thin, grass-like leaves that form a lush carpet.

    Relatively speaking, it is one of the most undemanding carpeting plants on this list. It can survive in lower light and lower-tech setups, but  it won't be happy.

    You'd really be better off getting a decent carpet by growing it with moderate to high light and CO2 injection.

    Micro Sword (Lilaeopsis brasiliensis)

    Micro Sword is super similar to the aforementioned dwarf hairgrass. It might be alright in a lower tech setup for a while, but it won't really carpet well for you unless you give it that nice high light, co2, and ferts.

    It has thin, flat, pointed leaves, and spreads just like grass, sending out new runners in all directions. It reminds me of a tiny Jungle valisneria.

    While tiny, it eventually forms a beautiful carpet over time.


    Okay, now that you're a little more familiar with carpeting plant options, let's reiterate:

    1. Light It Right: Make sure your aquarium gets the right amount of light for your chosen plant. How many lumens will depend on how deep your tank is. A shallow 8" lowboy can get by with far less than a deeper 40 breeder will need. Get an adjustable aquarium light if needed, so you can adjust as you go.
    2. Bed of Nutrients: Give your plants a comfy bed with a nutrient-rich substrate or poke in some root tabs. For this kind of high- tech setup, you should probably skip our usual suggestion of a Walstad-style dirt and sand substrate. These guys need a dedicated, commercial, quaity substrate with a larger grain size for roots. These plants grow quickly, and need a substrate to keep up.
    3. CO2 Is Your Friend: Sorry, but Co2 is going to be a given here. The plants just won't carpet well enough for you otherwise. Plus, placing these under high light with great fertilization, is just a sad algae disaster waiting in the wings for you.
    4. Trim and Prune: Regularly give your plants a haircut to keep them in shape and prevent them getting tall and gangly. Carpets need to be dense and compact. You may be able to re- plant some of those trimmings too!
    5. Plant Food: Feed your plants with a balanced liquid fertilizer to keep them well-fed. Some scapes will need a combination of liquid fertilizer in the water column, and actual root tabs pressed under the substrate for heavy feeders. 
    6. Algae Watch: Keep an eye out for any unwanted green invaders and take action, like adjusting light, nutrients, and doing water changes. Constant vigilance! 

    Carpeting aquarium plants are the ticket to an awe-inspiring underwater world. Those are the tanks that really set an aquascape apart.

    Don't let their high needs scare you – dive into the colorful world of aquascaping, and watch your aquarium transform into a captivating aquatic paradise.

    And hey, if it doesn't work out, keep trying! Every tank is an experiment, so sometimes we win, and sometimes we learn.

    Happy scaping!

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