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5 Great Aquarium Plants For Discus Fish in 2024: Reviews & Top Picks

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By Lindsey Stanton

discus fish red purple

Discus fish are often considered to be some of the most interesting, colorful, and beautiful aquarium fish. They are not overly difficult to care for, which is a big bonus indeed. One thing to keep in mind is that while discus fish do not necessarily require live plants in their tank.

Generally, large and leafy plants are the way to go for discus. aquarium plant divider

A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2024

Image Product Details
Best Overall Anubias Nana Anubias Nana
  • Easy to care
  • Inexpensive
  • Great for water purification
  • Java Fern Java Fern
  • Great for beginners
  • Hardy and tolerant
  • Excellent for water purity
  • Jungle Vallisneria Jungle Vallisneria
  • Great for water purification
  • Hard to kill
  • Inexpensive
  • Brazilian Pennywort Brazilian Pennywort
  • Unique leaf shape
  • Moderate growth
  • Tolerant to a wide range of water conditions
  • Amazon Sword Amazon Sword
  • Great for beginners
  • Easy to care
  • Good for water purification
  • The 5 Great Aquarium Plants For Discus Fish

    Here is a rundown of our favorite five plants to add to your Discus tank. Let’s take a closer look at each of them right now.

    1. Anubias Nana – Best Overall

    Anubias Nana

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    Care Level: Easy
    Light: Medium
    Substrate: Sand or gravel
    Goldfish Proof Score: 75%
    Water Purifying Score: 60%

    Now, this plant features fairly broad, wide, and rounded green leaves, which help provide some cover and privacy for discus fish. This type of fish tends to be quite shy, and they enjoy having lots of cover to hide under, which makes the broad leaves of the anubias nana ideal.

    Moreover, the broad leaves of this plant are also ideal for discus fish to spawn over and lay their eggs on. What you might like about the anubias nana is that it grows to around 7.5 inches in height at the most, and it grows quite slowly, which makes it a good background plant for smaller tanks, but it can also be used as a foreground or midground plant for larger tanks.

    Whatever the case may be, discus fish should really enjoy this plant. It is a plant with rhizomes, so it can be put in gravel substrate if you choose, but it also does really well tied to rocks or driftwood.

    In terms of care and tank conditions, anubias nana requires water temperatures between 72 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit, with a pH level between 6.0 and 7.5, with a water hardness level between 3 and 8 dGH. Anubias nana does not require all that much light, which is a bonus. It’s a hardy and resilient plant that should do fine in any discus tank.

    Benefits
    • Easy to care for and hard to kill
    • Inexpensive
    • Hardy and tolerant to a wide range of conditions
    • Great for water purification

    2. Java Fern

    Java Fern

     

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    Care Level: Easy
    Light: Medium
    Substrate: Sand or fine gravel
    Goldfish Proof Score: 90%
    Water Purifying Score: 80%

    The java fern does make for another good option for discus fish. The reason for this is that the java fern has lots of long, thin, and pointed leaves. It kind of looks like a mix between tall grass and some sort of leaves.

    The java fern has a slow to moderate growth rate, and it can grow to around 14 inches in height, so it creates kind of a wall of grass-like leaves, which makes it ideal for discus fish because it gives them a lot of privacy, something to swim through and hide in, as well as a place to lay their eggs when spawning time comes along.

    Now, java ferns feature rhizomes instead of standard roots, and these do not like to be buried under substrate. Java ferns are best tied to rocks or driftwood using some fishing line. What is nice here is that the java fern is very easy to care for and does not require much maintenance.

    Yes, it can grow fairly tall, which means that you might need to trim it a bit if you have a smaller tank, but other than that, there is really not much maintenance required at all. The java fern will do fine in waters between 68 and 82 degreess Fahrenheit, with a pH level between 6.0 and 7.5 and a water hardness level between 3 and 8 dGH.

    Benefits
    • Great for beginners
    • Inexpensive
    • Hardy and tolerant to a wide range of water temperature
    • Excellent for water purity
    Size & Varieties
    • Medium Java Fern (4–6” tall)
    • Jumbo Java Fern (7” tall)

    3. Jungle Vallisneria

    Jungle Vallisneria

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    Care Level: Easy
    Light: Low to medium
    Substrate: Sand, soil, gravel, & quartz
    Goldfish Proof Score: 60%
    Water Purifying Score: 90%

    Another decent aquarium plant to keep with your discus fish is Jungle Vallisneria. This plant has the appearance of grass, very long and large grass with decent size leaves, which come to a point at the end. It looks like really long and tall grass that you might find in a field, but yes, of course, it is aquatic in nature.

    The important thing to note about this plant is that it does grow very large, up to 6 feet or around 2 meters in height, and it does grow at a decent pace, so if you have a smaller or medium size aquarium, you will need to trim it a lot.

    For this reason, in a smaller discus tank, it should be used as a background plant, but if you have a large tank, it could also make for a decent midground plant, especially with a bit of trimming.

    Of course, this plant is more than ideal for discus fish, as it does create a tall and fairly thick wall of what is more or less grass, therefore providing discus fish with plenty of hiding spots and places to lay their eggs.

    In terms of care and tank conditions, Jungle Vallisneria can survive in waters between 64 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit, it does fine in pH levels anywhere from 6.0 to 9.0, and it does not need too much light either, all of which works just fine in any discus fish tank. This is a rooted plant, so you will need some aquarium gravel in order to allow the root system to properly develop.

    Benefits
    • Inexpensive
    • Great plant for beginners, hard to kill
    • Hardy and tolerant
    • Great for water purification

    4. Brazilian Pennywort

    Brazilian Pennywort

    Care Level: Moderate
    Light: Low to medium
    Substrate: Any or none
    Goldfish Proof Score: 55%
    Water Purifying Score: 70%

    Now, this is quite an interesting plant because it features thin green stems with rounded leaves growing off those stems. However, the really neat part is that while this is a rooted plant, it can also be used as a floating plant.

    Yes, the roots will grow, and they can anchor in substrate, but they can also be tied to rocks or driftwood, but at the same time, you can also let this plant float at the top of the water, which then creates some cover for fish below.

    Discus fish tend to like Brazilian Pennywort because no matter if it is rooted at the bottom, used as a background or foreground plant, or floating at the top, the broad leaves provide them with good cover, and they can be used to lay their eggs on as well.

    Brazilian Pennywort has a pretty moderate growth rate, and it will continue growing towards the light, so if you have a smaller tank, you may need to trim it on occasion.

    In terms of water parameters and conditions, this plant requires water temperatures between 68 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit, with a pH level between 6.0 and 7.8, and they don’t require all that much light either. This is a nice plant to go with as it is quite adaptable and can survive in a variety of tank conditions.

    Benefits
    • Moderate growth, will not overrun an aquarium
    • Tolerant to a wide range of water conditions
    • Unique leaf shape
    • Good for water purity

    5. Amazon Sword

    Amazon Sword

    Care Level: Easy
    Light: Low to medium
    Substrate: Sand, gravel, & quartz
    Goldfish Proof Score: 90%
    Water Purifying Score: 60%

    The final aquarium plant that works super well for any discus tank is the Amazon Sword plant. This plant is ideal because it features very large, wide, long, and broad leaves, which is why it has the name Amazon Sword—each leaf looks kind of like a little sword.

    The reason why it makes for a good plant for discus fish is that these long and broad leaves provide lots of opportunities for hiding spaces, privacy, and for places for the discus fish to lay its eggs in as well. Keep in mind that this is a rooted plant, and in order to grow well, it does require the proper substrate to allow its root system to develop properly.

    With that being said, the Amazon Sword plant is not all that difficult to care for, but it does require the proper tank conditions to survive and thrive. In terms of tank conditions, this plant requires water temperatures between 60 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit, a pH level between 6.5 and 7.5, and a water hardness level between 8 and 15 dGH, which coincides with the needs of discus fish.

    Do keep in mind that the leaves of this plant can grow to 16 inches in height, so it is best used as a background plant in smaller tanks but may be used as a midground plant in larger fish tanks as well.

    Benefits
    • Easy to care for and hard to kill
    • Great for beginners
    • Hardy and tolerant
    • Good for water purification

    aquarium plant divider

    Plants To Avoid Putting In Your Discus Tank

    When it comes down to it, most plants will work just fine in a discus tank. However, there are some plants that are best avoided.

    First and foremost, discus fish water does need to be quite warm, so any aquarium plants that do better in cold water, as opposed to warm water, should definitely be avoided. This includes plants such as Amolus Parviflorus, Amoracia aquatic, and Bacopa Caroliniana.

    Also, discus fish do require a whole lot of room, so you may want to avoid aquarium plants that grow really fast and need a whole lot of maintenance, plants such as ones from the Hygrophila family, Ludwigia family, Rotala family, and large Vallisneria family.

    Do Discus Fish Eat Plants?

    No, discus fish will rarely, or really never, feed on aquarium plants. Discus fish like real protein, meaty foods such as bloodworms, white worms, mosquito larvae, brine shrimp, earthworms, and really any kind of meat protein that is small enough to put in their mouths.

    Discus fish are very rarely known to even so much as nip at aquarium plants, so you should be fine in this regard (we have also covered a complete Discus care guide, you can check it out here).

    discus fish
    Image Credit: Juan Carlos Palau Díaz, Pixabay

    wave tropical divider

    Conclusion

    At the end of the day, as long as you find large and leafy plants, ones that don’t grow out of control and ones intended for warm water tanks, you should be just fine in choosing an aquarium plant here.

    Just remember that discus fish are shy, so they do like lots of hiding spots, and they like to lay their eggs on or near plants as well. As long as the plant requirements meet the needs of the discus fish, and they can both survive in the same water parameters, you shouldn’t have any problems.


    Featured Image Credit: Rethinktwice, Pixabay

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