10 Best Artificial Aquarium Plants in 2023 – Reviews & Top Picks
We all want a beautiful aquarium, and many types of fish and invertebrates appreciate a planted, secure tank. However, not all tanks are great candidates for live plants. Obviously, plants need light, but many plants also need nutrient supplementation and may even need CO2 supplementation. Not to mention that most plants tend to grow best without fish that constantly uproot or attempt to eat them. We’re looking at you, goldfish.
The good news for anyone who wants a planted tank but can’t pull it off for one reason or another is that fake aquarium plants come in a huge range of colors and sizes, from whimsical to realistic. With the exception of routine cleaning and the occasional reseating within the tank, fake aquarium plants require none of the time and effort that real plants do.
We’ve put together reviews of the 10 best fake aquarium plants to help you find the right faux plants for your tank. Whether your goal is to provide shelter to fry or brighten up your tank, there’s something here for you!
A Quick Look at Our Favorites in 2023
|Best Overall||Otterly Pets Aquarium Plants||
|Best Value||GloFish Plastic Aquarium Plant||
|Premium Choice||Marineland Bamboo for Aquariums||
|biOrb Easy Plant Sets||
|CNZ Aquarium Green Lifelike Underwater Plastic Plant||
The 10 Best Artificial Aquarium Plants
1. Otterly Pets Aquarium Plants – Best Overall
The best overall pick for fake aquarium plants is the Otterly Pets Aquarium Plants. These faux plants are vibrant shades of green, blue, and purple, and they bring both whimsy and realism to your tank. This pack contains eight plants that are between 4-12 inches tall.
These fake plants are made from environmentally safe plastic, so they are made from nontoxic and non-metallic plastic. This means that they are unlikely to rot during the life of your tank and they will not alter the pH of your aquarium water. These have built-in ceramic pedestals that have enough weight to help them stay in place, although these pedestals are not heavy enough to keep determined fish from moving them around.
The number and size of plants in this pack makes this an ideal option for tanks that are 20 gallons and larger, but they will likely be too large for tanks less than 20 gallons. While these are environmentally safe, they are not eco-friendly, which means that they will still add to the overabundance of plastic in landfills, especially if you do not intend to keep them long.
- Vibrant and colorful
- Pack has eight plants from 4-12 inches tall
- Environmentally safe, nontoxic plastic
- Will not alter aquarium pH
- Built-in ceramic pedestals help keep them in place
- Best for tanks that are 20 gallons and larger
- Environmentally safe but not eco-friendly
2. GloFish Plastic Aquarium Plant – Best Value
The best fake aquarium plants for the money are the GloFish Plastic Aquarium Plants. These plants are available in 10 colors and varieties, most of which are available in multiple sizes from small to extra-large, which roughly measures from 5-15 inches in height.
These plants are made to fluoresce underneath the GloFish tank lights and while they are each colorful in their own right, the lights will bring out different, interesting colors. Some options are solid-colored, and others are multicolored. They each have a built-in, stone-look base that doubles as a weight to hold them in place. These fake plants are made to move and sway with the water’s flow, giving them a natural, realistic movement. Each plant has wire framing within the plastic, allowing them to be bent and shaped to your liking.
The GloFish plants are only available to be purchased individually, so you will need to purchase more than one item to stock a tank. Even with the weighted bases, it’s recommended to bury them in your tank’s substrate to help keep them in place.
- Available in 10 colors and varieties and there are 4 sizes
- Made to fluoresce under GloFish lights
- Colorful, even without lighting
- Stone-look bases
- Natural movement and positioning
- Can only be purchased individually
- Recommended to bury the bases
3. Marineland Bamboo for Aquariums – Premium Choice
The premium choice for fake aquarium plants is the Marineland Bamboo for Aquariums. This pack is only one piece, but it has five stems of faux bamboo attached to the same base. The longest pieces of bamboo in this pack measure 36 inches, but there are multiple lengths attached to each piece to enhance the realism of the design.
This faux plant design includes a weighted base that can be buried under the substrate or the bamboo can be removed from the base and allowed to float in the tank. The long, flowing lengths of bamboo follow the natural water current in the tank and create a great hiding place for shy fish and fry. The leaves and stems are made from soft plastic that is free from sharp edges, making this product safe even for long-finned fish like fancy goldfish and bettas.
If you intend to use this faux plant attached to the base, then you will likely need to bury the base to keep it into place.
- Each pack has five stems
- Stems can be detached from the base and floated
- 36 inches in length
- Provides shelter for fish and invertebrates
- Natural movement
- Recommended to bury the base
- Only one base per pack
4. biOrb Easy Plant Sets
The biOrb Easy Plant Sets come in two options, dual sets and multi-part sets. The dual sets feature two coordinating plants while the multi-part sets contain plants and other décor like faux rocks and shells. The dual sets are available in nine varieties while the multi-part sets are available in three varieties. The multi-part sets are the most premium priced item on the list.
These faux plants range from hyper-realistic to brightly colored and playful. The plants feature rounded bases that prevent them from falling over. The bases appear to be planters and there are small, detailed pieces of faux plant material that sticks out from the base around the lower stem of the plant for a realistic appearance. Depending on the variety of faux plant pack, you can find plastic or silk leaves based on the needs of your tank. These plants all create excellent hiding places for fish and fry.
These fake plants cannot be detached from the base and they are not able to float. Since these are made specifically for the biOrb products, which have a modern look, the rounded bases may look odd or unrealistic in a normal aquarium.
- Two pack sizes available
- Multiple options for both pack sizes
- Non-tip bases
- Realistic look
- Provides shelter for fish and invertebrates
- Cannot be detached from the base
- May look unusual in non-biOrb tanks
- Large packs are most premium priced item reviewed
5. CNZ Aquarium Green Lifelike Underwater Plastic Plant
The CNZ Aquarium Green Lifelike Underwater Plastic Plant is available in a 10-inch and a 13-inch option. The different height options are also two different plants, allowing for variety.
These fake plants are seated into a ceramic base that helps weigh them down. The base is made to be seen and features attached plastic roots, making this a good option for bare bottom tanks. The stems have metal wiring in them to allow for positioning and the leaves are made from soft plastic. These plants are primarily green and are made to look realistic.
The height and width of these plants make them a good pick for tanks 20 gallons and larger, but they may be too big for smaller tanks. Sometimes, these will arrive with metal wire ends poking out, so they should be checked thoroughly before use. Otherwise, these ends may injure fish or rust.
- Two size and variety options
- Ceramic base with plastic roots
- Metal wiring allows for positioning
- Leaves are soft plastic
- Made to look realistic
- Best for tanks that are 20 gallons and larger
- Should be checked thoroughly for metal wires
- If metal wires are left exposed, they may rust or injure fish
6. COMSUN Artificial Aquarium Plants
The COMSUN Artificial Aquarium Plants come in a pack of 10 plants ranging from 4-4.5 inches in height. These plants come in a variety of solid and multi-colored options.
These fake plants are seated on rock-look, ceramic bases that help weigh the plants down. The stems cannot be removed from the base, but the leaves can be removed from the stems, making for easy cleaning. The range of colors that these plants are available in gives variety and offers realistic and playful color and design options. The leaves are made from soft plastic that should not harm fish.
The color combinations in each pack are random, so it’s possible that you may not receive the exact faux plants that are pictured. The size of these plants makes them a good option for small tanks, but they are likely too short and not full enough for tanks over 10 gallons.
- 10 plants per pack
- Rock-look bases made from sturdy ceramic
- Leaves can be removed from the stems for easy cleaning
- Variety of colors and designs
- Soft plastic leaves should not harm fish
- May not receive color options pictured
- Not a good option for tanks over 10 gallons
- Cannot be removed from bases
7. MyLifeUNIT Artificial Aquariums Plants
The MyLifeUNIT Artificial Aquariums Plants range from 3.9-12.6 inches in height. There are seven plants per package, and they come in a variety of colors and designs.
These plants have soft, PVC plastic leaves that should not harm long-finned fish. The stems can be removed from the included bases to make cleaning easy. There are multiple base colors and designs that come with these plants, creating a more natural look. The short and full plants are great for invertebrates like dwarf shrimp, while the tall plants are good for fish that prefer swimming cover, like tetras.
These plants may be deformed after shipping, but they can be soaked in hot water and you can attempt to reshape them. They may get knocked over easily and these plants may be too tall or full for tanks less than 10 gallons.
- Height variety in each pack
- Seven plants per package in different colors and designs
- Soft leaves
- Stems can be removed from bases for cleaning
- May become deformed during shipping
- Can be knocked over easily
- Too large for most tanks less than 10-20 gallons
8. Marina Betta Pink Orchid Aquarium Plastic Plant
The Marina Betta Pink Orchid Aquarium Plastic Plant is a good budget pick for small tanks. It only measures 3.6 inches in height and is only available in one color and size option.
This plant includes a rock-look, hollow base that hides a suction cup attached to the bottom of the plant. This allows for it to be attached to most flat, clean surfaces. The soft pink of the faux flowers on this plant are made not to fade and should last a long time. The petals on the flowers are rounded and do not have pointed edges, making this fake plant safe for bettas and other long-finned fish.
There is only one option available in this plant and it can only be purchased in a one pack. This plant does have some obvious plastic connections and pieces near the bottom of the stems and the faux roots on the base are noticeably fake when viewed up close. This plant is too small for most tanks and is intended for nano tanks.
- Hollow base hides suction cup
- Colors are made to not fade
- No sharp points
- Only available in one color and size option
- Has some noticeable plastic pieces
- Too small for most tanks
9. SunGrow Plastic Leaf Plant
The SunGrow Plastic Leaf Plant measures 10 inches tall and is available in one size and color option. This plant is primarily green and includes five plants attached to the singular base.
The leaves of this fake plant are silk, but there are some pointed plastic areas of stems and veins that may damage fins. The leaves of this plant are well-shaped and appear realistic, although the stems have some obvious plastic connections. The base of this plant is flat and is made to hold the plant up, even out of the water.
The leaves are prone to growing algae quickly and it can be difficult, sometimes even impossible, to clean off completely. This plant is ideal for tanks less than 20 gallons but can be used for larger tanks with other plants added.
- 10 inches in height
- Includes five plants attached to a singular base
- Realistic, soft leaves
- Base is made to hold the plant upright, even out of water
- Only available in one color and size option
- Pointed plastic areas
- Some areas of visible plastic connections
- Silk leaves are prone to algae growth and difficult to clean
10. Penn-Plax Betta Multi-Color Aquarium Plants
The Penn-Plax Betta Multi-Color Aquarium Plants come in a pack of six plants that are 4 inches tall each. Even though each pack has six plants, there are only three plant varieties with two plants of each variety per pack.
These plants include faux rock bases and have brightly colored leaves and stems. You may not receive the three pictured varieties, but the plants you receive will be shades of orange, pink, blue, or purple. These are made from plastic but are intended for betta fish, so they should not damage long fins.
These are the least realistic looking of the items on this list. These are intended for nano and small tanks and will likely be too short for larger tanks.
- Six plants per pack
- Faux rock bases to hold them in place
- Should not damage long fins
- Least realistic looking option
- Intended for nano and small tanks
- Each six pack only includes three varieties
- May not receive pictured items
Buyer’s Guide – How to Choose the Best Artificial Aquarium Plants
- Size: How large is your tank and how much space are you hoping to fill with fake plants? The size of fake plants you choose for your aquarium will be completely dependent on your visual and functional preference for your tank. The more plants you have, the more you will have to clean, but you will have a more full, lush looking aquarium.
- Fish: You may need to choose your fake plants carefully if you have fish or invertebrates that may be injured by rough edges or that may attempt to tear up or eat the fake plants. Long finned and scaleless fish are especially susceptible to injury from aquarium décor, fake plants included.
- Look: What kind of look are you going for in your aquarium? Fake aquarium plants come in a huge array of colors, heights, and varieties. Some are recognizable as real-world plants while others seem more playful or childlike. The plants you choose for your aquarium should meet your aesthetic preferences for your aquarium.
- Realistic vs Whimsical: Every aquarium has its own aesthetic, and when it comes to creating the aesthetic for your aquarium, you have choices! There are a lot of fake aquarium plants that are realistic or modeled after real plants, while others are more playful and unrealistic. Fake aquarium plants come in all colors of the rainbow and some bring a sense of whimsy in their color schemes or their cartoonish designs.
- Plastic vs Silk: Silk leaves often have a more realistic look than plastic leaves since they have more fluid movement in the water. Silk leaves also stain easily and are difficult to clean. Plastic leaves may look less realistic, but well-made plastic leaves can fool you until you’re up close. They are also easy to clean and last virtually a lifetime. Some plastic leaves may have edges that are rough and can damage fins, so this needs to be taken into consideration when choosing if you want plastic or silk leaves.
- Tall vs Short: The height of your tank, as well as the look you’re going for, come into play when choosing the size of the plants you buy. Some bushier, grass-like fake plants make great hiding places for shrimplets and other small invertebrates while tall plants can enhance the excitement of the swimming area for your fish, reducing boredom. Some taller plants can even stimulate reproduction by providing a safe place to lay eggs or birth fry.
- Full vs Narrow: If your tank is tall and narrow, you may want to choose taller, narrower plants that will help fill the space you have. Many tanks are longer than they are tall, making them good candidates for shorter but fuller plants. If your tank is 18 inches tall, then a 36-inch-tall fake plant probably isn’t a great fit for the space you have.
- Floating vs Weighted: Most fake plants have attached weighted bases that help hold the plant into place within the tank, but some people prefer the look of floating plants and some fish enjoy having floating plants to spend time in. If you want floating fake plants, you’ll have to buy plants made specifically to be floated or that have detachable bases.
- Visible Base vs Buried Base: Not all fake plant bases are made to be seen! While some bases are made to look like rocks or roots, many bases aren’t visually appealing and are made with the intention of them being buried underneath the substrate. For bare bottom tanks, then bases that are made to be an attractive part of the aquarium are going to draw more visual interest than bases that are made to be buried.
Did you find these reviews helpful for finding fake plants that are right for your aquarium? There are a lot of options to choose from!
The best overall pick is the Otterly Pets Aquarium Plants because of their quality and bright, attractive appearance. For the best value, try the GloFish Plastic Aquarium Plant! It’s cost-effective and available in enough options that you could get more than one on a budget. For a premium fake plant pick, the Marineland Bamboo for Aquariums is the best choice out there. It has a realistic appearance, can be used floating or planted, and provides excellent cover for fish and invertebrates.
Fake plants make it easy to keep an attractive aquarium without the extra money and time put into purchasing and maintaining live plants. You, your fish, and everyone else will be happier seeing your newly planted aquarium, and you don’t even have to tell your friends the plants are fake!
Featured Image Credit: susemeyer0815, Pixabay