Midground plants are a great way to balance your aquarium. Choosing the right plants allows you to make the foreground and background of your tank look realistic. They also give your fish interesting places to hide and explore.
If you’re new to owning fish and need inspiration, these reviews cover plastic and real plants to give your fish plenty of variety. They range from weighted artificial plants to real greenery that you can attach to your existing décor.
A Glance at Our Top Picks (2023 Update)
|Best Overall||Penn-Plax Aquarium Plants||
|Best Value||Otterly Pets Aquarium Plants||
|Premium Choice||Marineland Bamboo||
|Current USA Fountain Grass||
|Sporn Artificial Anemone||
The 15 Best Midground Plants
1. Penn-Plax Aquarium Plants — Best Overall
As the focus of your aquarium, midground plants should be pretty without being gaudy. The Penn-Plax Aquarium Plants is a set of six plants in vibrant colors. As the best overall midground plants, they require little maintenance due to their plastic construction, while still offering the beauty of real foliage.
Despite being artificial, Penn-Plax plants are designed for use in freshwater aquariums and are safe for Betta fish. Plastic plants also have the benefit of requiring less maintenance than real plants.
While these aquarium plants are more affordable than real alternatives, they’re cheaply made and don’t last as long as real plants.
2. Otterly Pets Aquarium Plants — Best Value
Designed for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums, the Otterly Pets Aquarium Plants are the best midground plants for the money. They come in a set of eight. All the plants have bright, vibrant colors and ceramic pedestals to prevent them from floating away. Due to their completely plastic construction, these plants are more low maintenance than their real counterparts. They’re non-toxic and non-metallic to keep your fish safe and prevent the risk of rusting.
Some users have noticed that these plants can be dusty due to their plastic construction. They need to be washed thoroughly before you add them to your aquarium.
3. Marineland Bamboo — Premium Choice
Plants in the midground area of your aquarium can range between small and large. The Marineland Bamboo might be larger than some other midground plants, but it offers your fish plenty of hiding places.
Although made from plastic, this bamboo is designed to look realistic and be easier to care for than real aquarium plants. The bamboo is 3 feet long to allow for plenty of coverage, while remaining skinny so it doesn’t clutter the entire tank.
Unlike other options, the Marineland Bamboo doesn’t have a weighted base. You’ll need to anchor it to your aquarium if you don’t want it to float.
4. Current USA Fountain Grass
Available in light green, dark green, or green and orange, the Current USA Fountain Grass is a simple way to brighten up your aquarium without needing to resort to real plants. It’s made from non-toxic plastic for the safety of your fish and is designed to be flexible enough to move in the water, mimicking the movement of real plants.
Due to the plastic construction and the dyed nature of this product, the colors used in this aquarium plant fade over time. Unlike real plants that retain their vibrancy, this option may become washed out the longer that it’s left submerged.
5. Sporn Artificial Anemone
Designed to mimic real anemones with bright neon colors, the Sporn Artificial Anemone is made with non-toxic silicone. The flexible material enables it to sway with the water, similar to real plants. Along with the weighted base keeping it in place, this artificial plant comes in several colors so you can decide which one looks best in your aquarium. It glows in the dark under certain circumstances, to make your tank look more interesting.
Several users have found that the material that this plant is made from isn’t durable enough to withstand prolonged use. It doesn’t last as long as real plants.
6. Sporn Star Polyps Coral
Secured in place with a weighted base, the Sporn Star Polyps Coral doesn’t need to be buried to prevent floating. Available in two color combinations — green and purple or orange and pink — the Sporn Star has a stylish, neon glow under blue LED tank lights. The flexible material gives it a realistic appearance and enables it to sway in the water.
It’s one of the smallest plants on this list, and several owners have mentioned that the size is smaller than they expected. Unlike some other, bigger plants, the Sporn Star might not be suitable for large aquariums.
7. SunGrow Leaf Plant
Designed to look realistic, the SunGrow Leaf Plant saves you time with its plastic construction. While live plants require pruning to keep them at the right height for your midground, this artificial plant enables you to leave it where it is. Unlike other plastic plants, it’s made from silk, which is softer and more suitable for delicate fish like Bettas. It has a ceramic base to stop it from floating.
Unfortunately, while it’s made to look as real as possible, the color fades the longer that it’s left in water. It may eventually start to look out of place in your vibrant midground.
8. SubstrateSource Anubias Nana Aquarium Plant
Real plants can be more difficult to care for, but they look more natural when added to your aquarium. The SubstrateSource Anubias Nana Aquarium Plant is a great option for midground decoration because it can be attached to driftwood or stone decorations.
Despite being real plants, they are slow-growing and don’t need much maintenance to keep them in shape. They also have low light and CO2 requirements. The company offers a complete DOA replacement in case the plants are dead on arrival.
While the single plants are relatively cheap, several users have complained about the expensive shipping.
9. GloFish Color Changing Plant
Changing the color of LED lights can only go so far in making your aquarium look interesting. The GloFish Color Changing Plant makes your midground look appealing by changing color based on the LED lights that it’s under. It looks best in a dark room, so your aquarium can draw attention during the evenings too.
Although it’s plastic, it helps create depth in your aquarium with the varying height of each part of the ornament. The flexible material also mimics live plants by swaying in the water.
Despite the realistic appearance, this plant is cheaply made and falls apart easily.
10. GloFish Plastic Aquarium Plant
The GloFish Plastic Aquarium Plant helps make your aquarium more attractive at night or in the middle of the day. Since it’s made from plastic, it needs less maintenance than real plant life.
Made with flexible material, it mimics real plants by swaying in the water, and a weighted base keeps it at the bottom of your aquarium.
Several owners have struggled with this product due to the fragility of the cheap construction. It also traps debris floating in the tank and needs to be cleaned regularly.
11. Aquatop Weighted Base Aquarium Plant
Made to blend in with your tank’s existing décor, the Aquatop Weighted Base Aquarium Plant matches real and fake plants that you already have in your aquarium. Despite being plastic, the leafy structure provides plenty of hiding spots for fish to reduce their stress levels. It’s designed to be realistic, both in color and flexibility.
Although the weighted base makes the Aquatop easy to install in your aquarium, it’s too light to remain on the bottom of your tank and needs to be buried for security. As a tall plant, it’s too big for small tanks.
12. Underwater Treasure Aquarium Ornament
The Underwater Treasure Aquarium Ornament is designed with non-toxic materials to be safe for saltwater and freshwater fish. Styled after real plants, the realistic structure offers plenty of leafy strands to hide your fish when they feel nervous. It’s flexible enough to sway in the water and blends in with any real plants that you have in your tank.
Like most plastic plants, the Underwater Treasure is glued to a weighted base. The glue can be visible in places, and the strands can break easily. While it’s suitable for large tanks, it might be too tall and bulky for small setups.
13. Java Fern Bare Root Aquarium Plant
The Java Fern Bare Root Aquarium Plant can be secured to the base of your aquarium or existing décor or allowed to float. Despite it being harder to look after than plastic aquarium plants, this option has a low level of care and maintenance. It doesn’t need much light and can be placed in shadier parts to give your fish more hiding places.
While this plant can be added to the existing foliage, it’s on the small side and might be unsuitable for large aquariums. It’s incredibly sensitive to temperature changes, particularly in too cold or too hot climates.
14. Greenpro Anubias Aquarium Plant
Looking after fish and real plants in your aquarium can be a steep learning curve for new fish owners. The Greenpro Anubias Aquarium Plant is a beginner-friendly alternative to hard-to-care-for plants. With a strong root structure and small size, it’s easy to plant or attach to aquarium ornaments and is suitable for small tanks. Real plants also help improve water quality in the aquarium.
Unlike plastic plant options, real plants are sensitive to temperature changes and don’t handle extreme climates well. The plants can also be damaged during the shipping process.
15. CNZ Aquarium Aquascape Artificial Plastic Plant
The CNZ Aquarium Aquascape Artificial Plastic Plant is a large plant. Made from plastic, it has a weighted base and provides plenty of spaces for your fish to hide. It’s easy to clean with warm water if excrement and fish food get caught in the leaves. The bright color makes it an eye-catching addition to your tank’s décor.
Although it doesn’t require as much maintenance as real plants, the plastic construction can be problematic. The leaves are too stiff for some fish, and the glue used to hold the plant together is visible in places.
Buyer’s Guide: How to Pick the Best Midground Plants
If you don’t know which plant to go with after reading through the reviews, you’re not alone. There are a lot of great plants out there, and they might not all be the best choice for your tank.
It’s a dilemma we understand, and that’s why we came up with this comprehensive buyer’s guide to walk you through everything you need to know before you decide. We also give you some helpful tips for after you get the right plants in your tank!
What to Look for in Midground Aquarium Plants
Midground aquarium plants are nice because they can add a layer of depth to your tank that helps elevate the overall appearance of the aquarium. However, while midground plants can look great, if you pick the wrong ones, they can quickly grow to the top of your tank and obstruct your view of the back.
While most fish won’t care about this, it won’t look good, and you won’t appreciate not being able to see half your tank. This is why finding a midground plant that’s final height stops about halfway up the height of your tank is ideal. You can use midground plants that grow on driftwood, or you can use plants that grow from the gravel or soil upwards.
How Many Aquarium Plants Do You Need?
While you don’t need any plants in your aquarium, they are an excellent addition that can help make it easier for you to maintain your tank, and they look great too! The “correct” number of aquarium plants for your tank will depend on the size of your tank and the type of fish you have, but generally, you can’t overdo it.
The important thing is that there’s plenty of space for your fish to comfortably swim. If you don’t give your fish enough space to swim, it’s too many plants, but otherwise, you can add as many plants to your tank as you would like.
How Do I Know if My Aquarium Plants Are Healthy?
No matter what midground aquarium plants you go with, you want them to stay healthy. While the exact plant will depend on how you care for it and if you know it’s healthy, for most aquarium plants, all you need to do is look at the leaves.
If they’re lush, full, vibrant, and the correct color, the plant is thriving. However, if the leaves should be green and start to turn brown, black, or thin out, that’s a sign that the plant is struggling.
Should You Trim Aquarium Plants?
While you don’t need to trim aquarium plants, there’s generally no reason you can’t. However, it’s best if you stick with small trims, as large trims can upset the balance of the tank. However, consistent small trims can help keep the plants in your tank at the right size without upsetting the balance of your tank.
But keep in mind that regular trimming will affect the aging process of the plant, and often, it’ll stunt the overall growth. But since you’re trying to keep the plant from getting too big in the first place, this might be a win-win!
Designed to mimic real plants without needing the same level of care, the Penn-Plax Aquarium Plants are made from soft plastic. As the best overall option, the soft material is suitable for many fish. If you’re looking for more variety, the Otterly Pets Aquarium Plants come in a set of eight in a range of colors.
These reviews looked at a range of aquarium plants suitable for the midground of your tank. We hope that they have helped you find decorations for the home of your fish.
Featured Image Credit: chonlasub woravichan, Shutterstock