Best* Aquarium Plants for Oxygenation

Find the best aquarium plants for oxygen production and attractive aquascaping.

 
 

Pet parent faves

From fast-growing substrate carpets to slow-growing standalone plants, these are some of pet parents’ favorite aquarium plants for oxygen.


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Best Fast-Growing Tissue Culture Plant
Best Slow-Growing Tissue Culture Plant
Best Fast-growing Aquarium Tube Plant
Best Slow-Growing Aquarium Tube Plant

Aquarium Plant Type Ideal Location in Aquarium Growth Rate Partially or Fully Submerged Specialty Average Customer Review*
Sagittaria subulata Tissue Culture Midground or Background Fast-growing Either Resembles grass; can survive a variety of water conditions Not Rated
Rotala wallichii Tissue Culture Foreground in larger aquariums; midground or background in smaller aquariums Fast-growing Either Grows red tips under correct lighting; tops can be trimmed and replanted in substrate 5/5
Staurogyne repens Tissue Culture Carpet Across Substrate Slow-growing Either Can attach to rocks or driftwood 5/5
Lobelia cardinalis Tissue Culture Midground Moderately Slow-growing Either Undersides of leaves develop attractive dark red color 4.5/5
Eleocharis acicularis Tissue Culture Foreground or Carpet Across Substrate Slow-growing Either Can self-propagate across substrate; thrives in variety of water conditions 5/5
Hygrophila corymbosa "Compact" Aquarium Tube Midground in most aquariums; background in smaller aquariums Fast-growing Either Grows quickly; develops brown-tinged leaf coloration under bright lights 5/5
Anubias minima Aquarium Tube Midground or Background Slow-growing Either Less likely to be harmed by fish Not Rated
Anubias afzelli Aquarium Tube Midground Slow-growing Either Can be planted in substrate or on hard surfaces Not Rated
Rosette Sword (Echinodorus parviflorus) Aquarium Tube Foreground or Midground Slow-growing Either Unique leaf shape 5/5
Anubias nana Aquarium Tube Foreground; midground or background in smaller tanks Slow-growing Either Easy to grow 4.0/5

*Ratings as of October 6, 2022


Petco Sagittaria subulata

Best Fast-Growing Tissue Culture Plant


Petco Sagittaria subulata


Aquarium plants for oxygen can serve more than one function. This fast-growing plant resembles grass and provides both visual interest for you and a comforting habitat for your fish. Not just the quality, but also the look, of your underwater habitat can be enhanced with this freshwater addition.


  • Freshwater plant
  • Fast-growing
  • Can grow partially or fully submerged
  • Best as a midground or background plant
  • Can survive a variety of water conditions
  • Resembles grass
  • Farm raised
  • Snail free

Pros


  • Fast-growing
  • Can be either partially or fully submerged
  • Can survive in a variety of water conditions
  • Can be used for midground or background

Cons


  • Does not provide a leafy foliage look to aquariums

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Petco Rotala wallichii


While it requires stronger light than some high-oxygen aquarium plants, you’ll be rewarded with an impressive visual display. Its thicket of stalks and green leaves develops beautiful red tips under bright light, which is what makes Rotala wallichii one of the best aquarium plants for oxygen and attractiveness alike.


  • Freshwater plant
  • Fast-growing
  • Requires bright lighting of minimum 2 watts per gallon (5 watts preferred)
  • Best as foreground plant in larger tanks and midground or background plant in smaller aquariums
  • Develops red tips under ideal lighting conditions
  • Cuttings can be replanted in substrate
  • Farm raised
  • Snail free

Pros


  • Develops red tips in proper lighting conditions  
  • Tops can be trimmed and replanted in substrate for propagation  
  • Can be foreground, midground or background plant depending on aquarium size  

Cons


  • Requires bright lighting

Petco Staurogyne repens

Best Slow-Growing Tissue Culture Plant


Petco Staurogyne repens


One of the best multitasking aquarium plants for oxygen is the Staurogyne repens. It can help to oxygenate your freshwater habitat and can also be used as groundcover across your aquarium substrate, but that’s not where its uses end. Thanks to its strong roots, this plant can thrive in rock crevices, on the surface of rockwork or on driftwood. And since it can flourish either fully or partially submerged, Staurogyne repens’ possibilities seem endless.


  • Freshwater plant
  • Slow-growing
  • Can attach to rocks and driftwood
  • Can be grown in rock crevices
  • Works well as a carpet across substrate
  • Does best with moderate lighting, CO2 and fertilizer
  • Farm raised
  • Snail free
review speaker

“Arrived healthy and has done well both planted in gravel and floating!” –ColoradoBlues 


Pros


  • Strong roots can attach to rocks and driftwood
  • Can be used as carpet across substrate
  • Strong lighting not required

Cons


  • Very slow growth rate

Petco Lobelia cardinalis

Petco Lobelia cardinalis


High-oxygen aquarium plants don’t need to be big or bulky. The Lobelia cardinalis has delicate, rounded leaves that almost resemble watercress, but these little leaves can help oxygenate your underwater habitat. They also tend to develop a deep purplish-red color on their undersides, which can serve to make your aquarium more visually striking.


  • Freshwater plant
  • Moderately slow-growing
  • Works best as a midground plant
  • Undersides of leaves turn dark red as it matures in aquarium
  • Farm raised
  • Snail free
review speaker

"Attractive and bright green. Arrived quickly and in great condition." –Ugly Biker


Pros


  • Attractive oval leaves
  • Leaf undersides turn dark red
  • Can be fully or partially submerged

Cons


  • Leaves may only develop red coloration under specific conditions

Petco Eleocharis acicularis

Petco Eleocharis acicularis


Creating a rich carpet of high-oxygen aquarium plants doesn’t require laborious planting. If you plant a few Eleocharis acicularis cultures in various parts of your aquarium substrate, they’ll propagate on their own and soon you’ll have a lush lawn covering the floor of your habitat. Just be prepared to be a little patient, as these aquarium plants for oxygen are on the slow-growing side.


  • Freshwater plant
  • Can grow fully or partially submerged
  • Works best as foreground plant or as carpet across substrate
  • Slow-growing plant
  • Can thrive in variety of conditions
  • Farm raised
  • Snail free

Pros


  • Spread on their own; a few plants can turn into substrate carpet
  • Grass-like effect
  • Lush green appearance

Cons


  • May need to be trimmed frequently

Petco Hygrophila corymbosa

Best Fast-Growing Aquarium Tube Plant

Petco Hygrophila corymbosa "Compact"


Some of the best aquarium plants for oxygen give you the look and feel of a large, leafy plant without taking up a lot of space. This type of Hygrophila grows to only about a quarter of the height of the typical version of this plant, but it still provides plenty of living space for your fish. Just make sure to avoid putting it in habitats with cichlids and goldfish, which may nibble your Hygrophila’s leaves.


  • Available in sizes Small and Medium
  • Freshwater plant
  • Grows to about 6 inches tall
  • Best as a midground plant in most aquariums or a background plant in small aquariums
  • Avoid using in aquariums with cichlids and goldfish
  • Farm raised
  • Snail free
review speaker

“This plant arrived in perfect condition and it is beautiful. I planted it into sand substrate with some tablet fertiliser, and it is already growing in size after just 1 week. Would definitely purchase again.” –Lucyny 


Pros


  • Grows quickly 
  • Can be used as background or midground plant depending on aquarium size 
  • Shorter, smaller version of plant’s typical form

Cons


  • Requires brighter lighting than some plants
  • Not recommended for habitats containing cichlids or goldfish

Petco Anubias minima

Best Slow-Growing Aquarium Tube Plant


Petco Anubias minima


While some aquarium plants can’t be used in aquariums that contain certain types of fish, the Anubias minima is unlikely to be harmed by the inhabitants of your underwater habitat, making it one of the best oxygen plants for goldfish and cichlids. Since it grows well attached to logs, large rocks and other hard surfaces, it provides plenty of opportunities for aquascaping, too.


  • Available in size Small
  • Freshwater plant
  • Slow-growing
  • Less likely to be harmed by fish
  • Grows best on hard surfaces such as rocks and logs
  • Farm raised
  • Snail free

Pros


  • Less likely to be harmed by fish
  • Can grow on large rocks, logs and other hard surfaces
  • Can be used as midground or background plant

Cons


  • Slow-growing
  • Less ideal for planting in substrate

Petco Anubias afzelli

Petco Anubias afzelli


A versatile plant that can take root in substrate or on hard surfaces such as rocks and driftwood, Anubias afzelli is one of the aquarium plants for oxygen that can bring both form and function to your aquatic habitat. As a member of the Anubias genus, it’s also less likely to be damaged by fish than other types of oxygen-producing plants for aquariums.


  • Available in size Medium
  • Freshwater plant
  • Slow-growing
  • Does best as a midground plant
  • Less likely to be harmed by fish
  • Can be planted in substrate, on larger stones or on driftwood
  • Farm raised
  • Snail free

Pros


  • Less likely to be harmed by fish
  • Can be planted either in substrate or on hard surfaces
  • Can grow in a variety of water conditions

Cons


  • Plant may not thrive if buried too deep in substrate or if roots are not fully submerged in water

Petco Rosette Sword (Echinodorus parviflorus)

Petco Rosette Sword (Echinodorus parviflorus)


There’s plenty of variation in the appearance of aquarium plants for oxygen, so you can keep your habitat oxygenated without losing the opportunity for artistic aquascaping. The Rosette Sword’s vibrant green color and intricately textured leaves make it a visually pleasing aquarium addition that’s sure to stand out among your other aquarium plants. Just make sure to provide it with high lighting and nutrient-rich substrate so it has the chance to flourish.


  • Available in sizes Small and Medium
  • Freshwater plant
  • Slow-growing
  • Bright green, textured leaves
  • Avoid using in aquariums with cichlids and goldfish
  • Needs strong lighting and nutrient-rich substrate
  • Farm raised
  • Snail free
review speaker

“I bought a couple plants a month ago and this plant has been my favorite it’s so cute and new leaves have grown every week and it also shot out this new stem with little baby plants! Can’t wait to harvest them” –Em04


Pros


  • Foreground or midground plant
  • Unique leaf texture
  • Provides hiding places for fish

Cons


  • Requires high lighting and nutrient-rich substrate or its growth will be stunted

Petco Anubias nana

Petco Anubias nana


If you’re new to freshwater aquascaping, the Anubias nana is one of the best aquarium plants for oxygen you can buy. It’s relatively low-maintenance, can be grown on a variety of surfaces and is less likely to be harmed by nibbling fish than some other types of high-oxygen aquarium plants. It doesn’t require much specialized care, can be further propagated from rhizome cuttings and looks attractive as part of many types of aquarium design. What more could you want from your plants?


  • Available in size Large
  • Freshwater plant
  • Slow-growing
  • Can grow 8 inches wide or more
  • Less likely to be harmed by fish
  • Can grow on logs and large rocks
  • Farm raised
  • Snail free
review speaker

“I'm new to live aquarium plants, so I picked up an Anubias Nana from Petco because I'd heard they were very hard to kill. It turned out to be two decently-sized plants in one, and I LOVE them! They are gorgeous, healthy plants that have each put out new leaves in just the three weeks I've had them. No fertilizer or fancy lights required! And their leaves are huge for their size so they seem to do a great job sucking up the nitrates in the water. I've heard that some aquarium plants not grown in water have an ugly duckling phase while they adjust to underwater life, but I haven't observed that with these plants. I love them so much I picked up a medium-sized one to add to my tank at work. It's also healthy and no snails that I've seen. Will definitely buy again.” –mightytangelo


Pros


  • Less likely to be harmed by fish
  • Can grow on large rocks or logs
  • Can be used as a foreground, midground or background plant depending on aquarium size
  • Easy to grow

Cons


  • Leaves may grow algae under certain conditions

*Based on petco.com sales data.

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Learn More About Aquarium Plants for Oxygenation

Yes, live plants can help oxygenate aquariums—and they can be a highly effective method of doing so. While providing oxygen to their underwater environment, aquarium plants for oxygen can also provide a habitat and hiding place for your fish and other aquarium-dwellers. And, of course, the wide variety in appearance among oxygen-producing aquarium plants means there’s plenty of room for artistic expression as you aquascape your underwater habitat.

Depending on the needs of your particular aquarium, your underwater plants may not be enough to provide all the oxygen required for your fish to thrive. The size of your aquarium, the number and type of fish and other aquatic life dwelling in it and other factors can all affect how much oxygen is needed. Talk to a Petco Pet Care Center aquatic specialist to find out whether your aquarium is likely to need additional oxygenation.

The number of plants required to oxygenate your aquarium depends on a variety of factors, including the size of your aquarium, the number of fish that live in it and the types of plants you use for aquascaping. Because of this, there is no set rule for the exact number of high-oxygen aquarium plants needed to properly oxygenate an aquarium. In general, freshwater aquarium fish require oxygen saturation in their water at about 8 parts per million (ppm). An aquarium oxygen meter can help you see whether your aquarium water has sufficient oxygen levels, and you can tak to a Petco Pet Care Center aquatic specialist for personalized guidance.

The best aquarium plants for oxygen include several species sold by Petco, such as those in the Saggitaria, Rotala and Hygrophilia genii. These and other high-oxygen-producing aquarium plants are not only good for an aquarium’s oxygen levels but also highly varied in appearance, meaning that you can create a visually interesting underwater habitat while also making good choices for your water-dwelling pets’ needs.

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