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7 Great Live Aquarium Plants for Tetras in 2024: Reviews & Top Picks

Lindsey Stanton Profile Picture

By Lindsey Stanton

tetra fish swimming in tank

Putting plants in your Tetra’s tank will make the fish feel much more at home, and it can go a long way in mimicking a natural environment, not to mention that they reduce stress, too.

Today we will be covering what we feel are the seven best live aquarium plants for Tetras and answering some common plant-related questions.

Though not essential, adding plants does bring a lot of benefits to your tank which we will cover in more detail throughout this article.

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A Quick Look at Our Favorites in 2024

Rating Image Product Details
Best Overall
Java Fern Java Fern
  • Easy to care for
  • Fairly resilient and slow-growing
  • Good hiding spots
  • Second place
    Hornwort Hornwort
  • Good background or midground plant
  • Slow-growing
  • Good resting and hiding places
  • Third place
    Amazon Sword Amazon Sword
  • Can handle Tetra water conditions
  • Reasonably easy to care for
  • Flat
  • broad leaves for hiding
  • Java Moss Java Moss
  • Carpeting plant will cover aquarium
  • Easy to grow and resilient
  • Can be fully or partially submerged
  • Frogbit Frogbit
  • Doesn't need specific water conditions
  • Floating plant
  • Offers great coverage from above
  • The 7 Best Live Aquarium Plants for Tetras

    Here we have seven of the best plants that you can put in your Tetra tank, each of which looks nice and brings a couple of benefits to Tetras.

    1. Java Fern

    Java Fern

    Care Level: Easy
    Light: Low to moderate
    Substrate: Driftwood, porous rock
    Goldfish Proof Score: 99%
    Water Purifying Score: 35%

    • Easy to care for
    • Resilient
    • Thrives in the acidic water Tetras need
    • Grows tall
    • Minimal maintenance
    • Large leaves provide shelter to fish
    • Unlikely to be eaten by fish

    Size & Varieties
    • Java Fern (12–14 inches)
    • Narrow Leaf Java Fern (10–12 inches)
    • Windelov/Lace Java Fern (7–8 inches)
    • Trident Java Fern (8–10 inches)
    • Needle Leaf Java Fern (5–6 inches)
    • Petite Java Fern (3–4 inches)
    • Philippine Java Fern (4–12 inches)
    • Latifolia/Undulata Java Fern (8–12 inches

    The Java Fern is always a good option for most fish tanks, mainly because it is so easy to care for. This plant has moderate lighting needs, it is fairly resilient, and does fine in the same water conditions as Tetras require.

    A Java Fern will grow to roughly 10 inches in height, making it a good midground or background plant for Tetra tanks. Keep in mind that it grows taller than it does wide.

    It’s a fairly slow growing plant, so there is not too much maintenance required. The medium-width and long leaves make for good hiding spots, plus Tetras usually won’t try to eat Java Ferns either.

    2. Hornwort


    Care Level: Easy
    Light: Moderate
    Substrate: Any, none
    Goldfish Proof Score: 99%
    Water Purifying Score: 100%

    • Can be grown floated or planted in substrate
    • Thrives in the acidic water Tetras need
    • Minimal maintenance
    • Grows tall
    • Shelters small fish and fry
    • Unlikely to be eaten by fish

    Hornwort is a convenient plant because it can grow floating, in substrate, or tied down. Moreover, it can easily survive in Tetra tank waters, as it is very resilient, easy to care for, can handle diverse water conditions, and does not have massive lighting needs either.

    Hornwort is a very slow growing aquarium plant, making it easy to care for, and it won’t quickly overtake a tank. However, this plant will grow to a maximum of 24 inches tall, which means that it is a good background or midground plant due to its size.

    The stems feature dark green and highly textures leaves, which can each grow to 1.5 inches in length. Their leaf structure provides for ideal resting and hiding places. Although Tetras may nibble on them from time to time, they are not huge fans.

    3. Amazon Sword

    Amazon Sword

    Care Level: Moderate
    Light: Moderate to high
    Substrate: Fine gravel, sand, aquasoil, soil
    Goldfish Proof Score: 99%
    Water Purifying Score: 90%
    • Good for foreground or midground
    • Moderate maintenance
    • Thrives in the acidic water Tetras need
    • Large leaves provide shelter to fish
    • Unlikely to be eaten by fish

    The Amazon Sword plant is another good live plant for Tetra tanks. This particular plant grows to around 6 inches in height, although with subpar lighting, although it will survive, it may only grow to a couple inches tall. This makes the Amazon Sword a good foreground or midground plant for Tetra tanks. In terms of ease of maintenance, it comes in at a medium.

    It does require a decent amount of light to grow right, and while it is not the hardiest of plants, it does fine in the same water conditions as Tetra fish.

    The bright green leaves are quite flat and broad, making for good resting spots and hiding places. Tetras may nibble on them, but not too much.

    4. Java Moss

    Java Moss

    Care Level: Easy
    Light: Low to moderate
    Substrate: Gravel, sand, driftwood, porous rock
    Goldfish Proof Score: 80%
    Water Purifying Score: 75%

    • Easy to grow
    • Hardy
    • Great carpeting plant
    • Ideal for small fish to swim through
    • Provides hiding places

    When it comes down to it, Java Moss makes for one of the best Tetra tank plants. For one, it is very easy to grow and very resilient. While it does benefit from good light, it does not really need strong light to grow. Moreover, this plant can be easily be anchored down to rocks and driftwood with some fishing line or string.

    The cool thing about Java Moss is that it is a carpeting plant, so it expands outwards, but only grows to a couple inches in height. You can use it as a foreground or midground plant, or just to make a heavy carpet too.

    Its shape and structure make it ideal for very small fish to swim through and find hiding places in for a bit of privacy. This stuff can be grown fully submerged and partially immersed too.

    5. Frogbit


    Care Level: Easy
    Light: Moderate
    Substrate: None
    Goldfish Proof Score: 40%
    Water Purifying Score: 90%

    • Floating plant
    • Hardy
    • Grows quickly
    • Provides shade and shelter to Tetras

    If you are not familiar with Frogbit, it looks kind of like a Lilypad. This is a floating plant with small, round, and bright green leaves no more than 1 inch in diameter. This makes for a good plant for Tetra tanks because it does not need to be in substrate ad it does not need to be anchored down either, as it simply floats on the top.

    This plant does not require anything specific, as it has low lighting needs and can survive in a variety of water conditions. The only thing to take note of here is that it does grow outwards fast, and if you don’t trim it down often, it will end up covering the whole surface of the tank. However, in small quantities, it makes for some great cover from above, something that Tetras will appreciate.

    6. Anubias Petite

    Anubias Petite


    Care Level: Easy
    Light: Low to moderate
    Substrate: Gravel, sand, aquasoil, driftwood, porous rock
    Goldfish Proof Score: 97%
    Water Purifying Score: 30%

    • Perfect for nano tanks
    • Minimal maintenance
    • Unlikely to be eaten by fish
    • Easy to care for

    This is also known as a Dwarf Anubias, and this makes it perfect for Tetra tanks. It grows to only 3 inches in height, making it a great foreground and midground plant, even for small Tetra tanks. It grows slow too, so that should not be much of an issue. The leaves here are a nice, dark, and vibrant green.

    They are rounded in shape, much less than an inch in diameter, and they provide for some good hiding spaces too. Tetras may nibble on them, but not too much.

    This plant has a very strong root structure and this makes it ideal for growing in gravel substrate. It’s easy to care for, does not need a ridiculous amount of light, and does fine in the same water as Tetras.

    7. Twisted Vallisneria

    Twisted Vallisneria


    Care Level: Easy
    Light: Moderate to high
    Substrate: Any
    Goldfish Proof Score: 99%
    Water Purifying Score: 80%

    • Grows tall
    • Unique appearance
    • Easy to care for
    • Unlikely to be eaten by fish

    This is a really nice-looking plant, one that grows fairly tall, up to 12 inches in height under the right conditions. The leaves are quite thin, and they create a spiral, like a corkscrew. The bottom parts of the leaves are a rich and dark green, and they get paler and lighter towards the top. It grows at a medium rate and should be used is a background plant in small tanks.

    It’s easy to care for, doesn’t require much light, and can survive in a diverse array of tank conditions. Also, Tetras are not overly fond of eating it either.

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    Do Tetras Need Plants?

    Technically speaking, if you have a nice filter, some good substrate, some rocks, and other things in the tank, Tetra fish, strictly speaking, do not 100% require plants. However, with that said, there are plants present in all natural environments.

    That being said, there are many different types of Tetras out there, and most will like to have some plants in the tank. Tetras often like to snack on plants and they like to hide under or within plants for a bit of privacy too.

    So, although plants for your Tetra tank are not 100% necessary, it’s definitely recommended that you get some greenery going in the aquarium. It feels more at home, it gives fish privacy, plants can act as a source of food, and of course, live plants help purify water as well.

    bloodfin tetra in aquarium
    Image Credit: Karel Zahradka, Shutterstock

    Do Tetras Eat Live Plants?

    This really depends on the exact type of types of Tetra you have. A select few are known to be fairly voracious plant eaters, although Tetras are small, so the overall effect is negligible.

    The vast majority of Tetras may nibble on plants now and again, but that said, if you feed them well, more often than not, they should leave your plants alone. However, if you want to ensure that your Tetras will not eat your live aquarium plants, besides feeding them well, it also helps if you get the right plants to begin with.

    aquarium plant divider

    What Plants Should I Avoid Putting in My Aquarium?

    When it comes to Tetra tanks, some plants that should be avoided include ones that require small gravel grains to grow. Tetras can choke on very small gravel substrate. However, larger pieces of gravel and sand are fine, so any plants that can grow in these are ideal.

    It is hard to say exactly which plants should be avoided for Tetra plants because different types of Tetras like different plants, and different types of Tetras eat different plants. Therefore, do some research in terms of your specific type of Tetra. In all reality, plastic and all other fake plants should be avoided, as they really bring no benefits to the table.

    aquarium with neon tetras
    Image Credit: Dobermaraner, Shutterstock

    Which Substrate Is Best for Your Tetras?

    Tetra fish do fine with a variety of substrates including aquarium soil for planted tanks, sand, and larger gravel substrates. What should be avoided is not using any substrate at all or using substrate that consists of very small gravel pieces. Tetras may eat small gravel stones, which is of course not healthy.

    aquarium plant divider


    When all has been said and done, there are plenty of live plants which are more than ideal for Tetra tanks.

    Generally speaking, just stick to plants that can help provide a bit of cover for the fish, plants that Tetras are not fans of eating, and plants that don’t grow too large or too fast.

    Featured Image Credit: Juan Carlos Palau Díaz, Pixabay

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