The Best Aquatic Plants for Goldfish

Updated on April 30, 2018
Deborah Minter profile image

Deborah gardens as a hobby and enjoys organic vegetables in her kitchen. She keeps a variety of edible plants in her garden.

Goldfish are relatively messy, and can be a real pain to aquatic plants in the aquarium. Goldfish chew up and uproot plants from the substrate—that is why some goldfish keepers prefer to just keep a bare bottom tank. I’ve found that placing plants in pots are a great way to keep plants in the tank with goldfish. Plants are good for goldfish, and sometimes even good for the goldfish to eat, but it can be sad to see an expensive aquatic plant chewed beyond what’s salvageable because your goldfish found it extra tasty.

Live plants are healthy for fish, as they absorb nitrates and carbon dioxide from the water in the aquarium. Not only do live plants assist in maintaining water quality, they produce oxygen for the fish. It is best to decide what ratio of plants to tank water when preparing the aquarium for goldfish. Coldwater plants are best if the tank will hold many goldfish or will be strictly a goldfish tank. Plants are a healthy snack for goldfish, but it can be disappointing to have a beautiful plant in the aquarium that wasn’t meant to be fish food completely demolished.

This is a selection of plants that goldfish either don’t like or are particularly hardy against the goldfish species. Keep in mind that it doesn’t mean that it is impossible for these plants to be eaten by goldfish, it's just not common.

Duckweed is an edible floating plant for fish, it is considered an organic form of fish food. Duckweed multiply quickly, but goldfish will gladly consume the tiny floating plant.
Duckweed is an edible floating plant for fish, it is considered an organic form of fish food. Duckweed multiply quickly, but goldfish will gladly consume the tiny floating plant.

Anubias

There are many varieties of the aquatic plant Anubias. It is known as a rhizome plant. It does not need substrate, and is best tied to a rock or driftwood, hence goldfish don’t uproot it. Anubias is a hardy plant, making it ideal to keep with goldfish. It requires low light and it can be grown attached to wood, rocks and even décor. Anubias can be purchased at nearly any pet shop.

Anubias can be attached to a rock or décor in the aquarium. This makes it impossible for goldfish to uproot.
Anubias can be attached to a rock or décor in the aquarium. This makes it impossible for goldfish to uproot.

Amazon Sword

The Amazon Sword is a popular aquatic plant in the aquarium hobby. It must be planted in the substrate, and it also may be potted. It is not easy for fish to chew up. Amazon Sword is a common choice for most aquariums, and happens to be a well suited plant for goldfish.

Java Fern

Java Fern is a rhizome plant and requires low light. There are multiple varieties of Java Fern, and it also can be attached to rocks. Java Fern will rot if it is put into the substrate.

Java Fern is an excellent plant to keep in an aquarium. Goldfish do not chew on this plant. Do not place Java Fern in substrate, it will rot.
Java Fern is an excellent plant to keep in an aquarium. Goldfish do not chew on this plant. Do not place Java Fern in substrate, it will rot.

Bolbitus

Bolbitus likes the flow of water and is a rhizome plant as well. Bolbitus is an African water fern, and can be attached to rocks in the aquarium.

Marimo Ball

The marimo ball is sometimes referred to as a moss ball. One of the best aquatic plants to keep in tanks, it is technically a moss grown in the shape of a ball, making it a healthy choice for goldfish. The moss ball provides oxygen and removes nitrates, but can be conveniently just placed in the tank. The ball-shaped moss is sometimes pushed and rolled around by fish in the aquarium, but rarely destroyed, making it ideal to keep with goldfish. The marimo ball is a popular aquatic plant, and can be found at virtually any fish keeping shop.

The Marimo ball helps maintain water quality in the aquarium. It is also a ball of fun for fish.
The Marimo ball helps maintain water quality in the aquarium. It is also a ball of fun for fish.

Floating Plants

Floating plants are excellent to keep with goldfish. The plants provide the benefits of aquatic plants, but float on top of the water making them resistant to the attacks of goldfish. This is a list of popular floating plants:

  • Water lettuce

  • Duckweed

  • Water hyacinth

  • Frog bit

Water Lettuce is an excellent floating plant for ponds and aquariums. Goldfish come to the surface of the water more often, feeling at home with the barrier of plants.
Water Lettuce is an excellent floating plant for ponds and aquariums. Goldfish come to the surface of the water more often, feeling at home with the barrier of plants.

Pothos

Pothos is not a true aquatic plant. It is best to only keep the roots of the Pothos plant in the water; the roots essentially help maintain water quality. The plant is an excellent plant to soak up nitrates, and goldfish produce lots of nitrates. It is common for goldfish owners to keep only one plant in a bare aquarium. If someone wants a bare tank with nothing other than goldfish, this is a good choice as a live plant. You may just use a sprig of a Pothos plant in the aquarium to help keep the water clean.

Pothos is a commonly used plant to place in aquariums to help consume nitrates. The roots of the plant is put in the aquarium, as the top remains above the water. You may just use a sprig of the Pothos plant.
Pothos is a commonly used plant to place in aquariums to help consume nitrates. The roots of the plant is put in the aquarium, as the top remains above the water. You may just use a sprig of the Pothos plant.

Additional Plants to Try:

  • Madagascar Lace

  • Crinum Calamistratum

  • Wisteria

  • Mosses: Different varieties of mosses, including the common “Java Moss.”

  • Hornwort: If eaten, grows quickly.

  • Water Sprite

  • Pennywort

These plants are not immune to the antics of goldfish, but some aquarium hobbyists have had success with these aquatic plants.

Java Moss is often used in aquariums. Goldfish will chew on moss, but moss replenishes quickly.
Java Moss is often used in aquariums. Goldfish will chew on moss, but moss replenishes quickly.

These are the best aquatic plants to keep with, one of the funnest pets to own. Enjoy keeping happy fins. Good Luck!

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