Stem plants are some of the most popular plants available for decorating aquariums!

Stem plants go well almost everywhere; in the background, along the sides, and in the center. They are fairly easy to propagate due to the fact that you can simply plant the cuttings from the present plants. These usually have long stems and look good when planted in groups.

Stem plants used along the backs and sides of the aquarium create a green frame or backdrop effect to the aquarium design. But don’t think you are limited in your aquascaping options to just a background, some varieties of stem plants make very beautiful, stand-alone plants. Stem plants can be used in a cluster or individually to create a focal point in your aquarium aquascape


echeria densa anacharis
Egeria densa (Image Credit: Lamiot, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

Egeria densa

Brazilian Pennywort

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Hydrocotyle leucocephala

Broadleaf Ludwigia

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Ludwigia palustris


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Cabomba caroliniana

Creeping Jenny

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Lysimachia nummularia

Dwarf Rotala

Dwarf Rotala
Rotala rotundifolia (Image Credit: Ruff tuff cream puff, Wikimedia Commons CC0 Universal)

Rotala rotundifolia

Fountain Plant

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Ophiopogon japonicus


coontail or hornwort aquatic plant in the aquarium
Image Credit: MDWines, Shutterstock

Ceratophylum demersum

Japanese Rush

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Acorus gramineus

Water Milfoil

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Myriophyllum Sp.

Water Primrose

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Ludwigia repens

Water Wisteria

Water Wisteria
Hygrophila difformis (Image Credit: Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

Hygrophila difformis

Favorite Stem Plants

Some aquarium plants deserve mention because they tend to be hardy handsome plants. In general these are easy aquarium plants to keep with normal plant care, tolerating a wide variety of water conditions and will fit in either small or large aquariums, They need moderate light for plant growth and propagate freely without aid. Here are a some stem plants that tend to fit this description:

  • Hygrophila: The Hygrophila, one of the best leafy-stemed plants, looks similar to Ludwigia but needs less light and grows faster. Water Wisteria, Hygrophila difformis, is one of the most popular and hardy aquarium plants.
  • Hornwort: Hornworts of the Ceratophylum group are hardy graceful plants with good plant growth. They have slender branches with many needle-like looking leaves. The branches will fan out in the aquarium making a beautiful decoration, but their fine thin leaves intercept very little light from any rooted plants below them. They are also valuable for egg deposits and offer a lot of shelter for baby fish and other shy fish to hide in. Though they may look delicate, they are seldom damaged by snails or plant-eating fishes. The common Hornwort, Ceratophylum demersum, is readily available and a great plant for both the beginner and the experienced aquarium aquascaper.

Types of Stem Plants

  • Alternanthera – Scarlet Hygro
  • Alternanthera reineckii – Copperleaf
  • Ammannia gracilis
  • Bacopa caroliniana – Water Hyssop
  • Cabomba aquatica – Fanwort
  • Cabomba caroliniana – Carolina Fanwort, Green Cabomba
  • Cabomba piauhyensis
  • Cardimine lyrata
  • Ceratophyllum demersum – Hornwort, Coontail
  • Didiplis diandra – Water Purslane
  • Elodea/Egeria – Anacharis
  • Egeria densa – Brazilian Waterweed
  • Hemianthus (Micranthemum) micranthemoides
  • Heteranthera zosterifolia – Mud Plantain
  • Hydrocotyle leucocephala (Nomaphida corymbosa) – Water Pennywort
  • Hygrophila corymbosa (Nomaphila stricta) – Giant Hygro, Temple Plant
  • Hygrophila difformis – Water Wisteria
  • Hygrophila polysperma – Green Hygro, Indian Hygro
  • Limnophila aquatica
  • Limnophila sessiliflora – Ambulia
  • Lobelia cardinalis
  • Ludwigia repens – Water Primrose
  • Mayaca fluviatilis
  • Myriophyllum aquaticum – Water Milfoil, Parrot’s Feather
  • Rotala macrandra – Tooth-cup
  • Rotala rotundifolia – Tooth-cup
  • Shinnersia rivularis
  • Utricularia – Bladderwort

Featured Image Credit: Damsea, Shutterstock