Five easy rooted plants

Sword plants (originally native to the Amazon)

Sword plants, (Echinodorus) have been popular in the hobby for decades. They are easy to grow and most are large plants that will fill up a corner of the aquarium easily. Over the years commercial growers have cross bred various varieties to produce plants with dark red coloring or markings and some with yellow veins or variegated green and white coloring. Growth is fairly slow. In an aquarium less than a year old fertilizer tablets that contain nitrogen should be pushed into the gravel next to the plants. Older aquariums usually have a significant amount of sludge at the bottom of the tank which is a good source of nitrogen for the plants. This is why you may see people bring in monster plants to club auctions and claim they grew with very little effort never adding fertilizer, C02, or special lighting, while hobbyists with a new aquarium struggle and cannot get the plant to grow. These plants are gorgeous and need plenty of room to grow to maturity.


Anubias (west Africa)

Anubias plants are often referred to as being low light low maintenance plants. They are very slow growing and will tolerate less than favorable light levels. With thick fleshy leaves, they are able to withstand some abuse and being eaten by plant nibbling fish. Snails however seem to have a fondness for this plant. There are several different species of Anubias and some are too big for the aquarium. The most popular specie is Anubias barteri which has a few different varieties of either nana or coffefolia. The leaves are spade or somewhat rounded in shape and grow from a thick horizontal stem structure called a rhizome. As the plant grows the rhizome becomes longer and it may be divided to propagate more plants.


Crinums (Africa and Asia)

There are three species of Crinums used in the aquarium and a couple pond varieties. The aquarium Crinums grow from a white bulbous tuber which has given the common name “œwater onion” to one of the species, Crinum thaianum. All three grow long leaves two or three feet in length. Thaianum has flat ribbon like leaves while calamistratum has very narrow crinkly leaves and C. natans (also called aquatica) has wide and crinkly leaves. All three grow pretty easily. The tuber may be prone to rot if the substrate goes anaerobic. This can be avoided by leaving as much of the bulb exposed above the substrate as possible. The plants should be left in place and not moved around or it will go into transplant shock and growth will be stunted or stalled until it becomes acclimated again.



Aponogeon species grow from a bulb for a few months and then go dormant for a rest period. Most species grow to be quite large with leaves over two feet in length. The leaves vary from dark green/rust brown to light translucent green and may be undulating or have wavy edges. One favorite specie has plant tissue only covering the veins of the leaves giving it the nickname skeleton leaf or the lace plant from Madagascar. These plants come from mountain lakes and prefer moderate to low temperatures. If the water gets too warm the growth will slow down.



There are around 60 Cryptocoryne species used in the aquarium ranging in size from just a few inches tall to over a foot. In general these species are pretty easy to grow and tolerant of a variety of water parameters. The most critical factor in growing these plants is stability. Sudden changes in temperature and other parameters may cause the plant to have a melt down. The rhizome will grow new leaves again, but it is a slow long process to get the plant back to its former size again. Plant them, let them be, and keep things as stable as possible and there shouldn’™t be any problems.