Best Plants For Goldfish Compared & Reviewed 2020

Goldfish are notoriously hard on plants. And most just can’t hold up to their relentless nibbling and constant digging.

But, there are some plants that can handle them, and some tactics you can deploy to make your life easier.

Here’s what you need to know about Goldfish and plants.

Overview Of Goldfish Plants

I personally favor the Java fern and anubias species. I think they’re the easiest to grow and most fish seem to think they taste really gross.

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Krazy Glue Home and Office Brush-On Glue, 0.18 oz Krazy Glue Home and Office Brush-On Glue, 0.18 oz
Greenpro Anubias Barteri Live Aquarium Plants Decoration for Aquatic Water Plants Freshwater Fish Tank Greenpro Anubias Barteri Live Aquarium Plants Decoration for Aquatic Water Plants Freshwater Fish...
Greenpro Anubias Congensis Live Aquatic Potted Plant for Aquarium Freshwater Fish Tank Greenpro Anubias Congensis Live Aquatic Potted Plant for Aquarium Freshwater Fish Tank
SubstrateSource Crinum calamistratum Small African Onion Live Aquarium Plant SubstrateSource Crinum calamistratum Small African Onion Live Aquarium Plant
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Buy2get1free,same plant Java Fern, Microsorum Pteropus Potted Plant Ps117, Live Aquarium Plant Buy2get1free,same plant Java Fern, Microsorum Pteropus Potted Plant Ps117, Live Aquarium Plant
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Mainam Cryptocoryne Retrospiralis Rooted Bundle Freshwater Live Aquarium Plants Decoration Mainam Cryptocoryne Retrospiralis Rooted Bundle Freshwater Live Aquarium Plants Decoration

Last update on 2020-09-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Are live plants good for goldfish?

Live plants can be highly beneficial in a goldfish tank. Actually, they’re helpful in most kinds of freshwater aquariums. It’s just that some species of fish tend to destroy live plants.

Fish poop breaks down in the aquarium and puts off nitrate (NO3-). Nitrate builds up over time, and left on its own, it can even build up to toxic levels.

Live plants use nitrate for food, sucking it up from the substrate and/or directly from the water column.

Goldfish are eating machines that produce a lot of waste. So any little thing that you can do to keep the water clean is a bonus in my opinion. 

Are goldfish hard on plants?

Yes, yes they are. Really, really hard on them.

In fact, I would even kind of say that they are total terrors when it comes to plants.

Goldfish think that live plants placed in their tank are a delicious salad bar. They’ll gulp and nibble anything tasty they can get their mouths on.

They also love to dig around in the substrate. So they often uproot plants as they endlessly nose around, looking for food.

But, this doesn’t mean that keeping plants in your goldfish tank is impossible.

Pro Tip: It’s a lot easier to keep plants with fancy goldfish. It may be next to impossible to keep plants alive in a tank with comets or common goldfish.

What makes a good goldfish plant?

The most important thing is plants have to be hardy. Very hardy in fact.

Sorry, but delicate showpiece plants with exacting demands will probably just die from the abuse found in a goldfish tank.

You need plants that are practically bombproof.

It’s best to go with plants that do not need to be rooted in the substrate. There are several species of aquarium plants that can be attached to rocks, driftwood or decor instead of being buried in the gravel.

Also, plants like Java fern and anubias have tough leaves and a yucky taste. Goldfish are less likely to eat them since they taste gross.

Can you keep rooted plants in a goldfish tank?

Yes, but it will take a bit of extra work.

The best way to do this is to place your plants in pots. Goldfish have a harder time digging around in the top of a pot than they do gravel substrate.

In my experience, terracotta and ceramic pots are best, especially for larger plants.

Best Plants for Goldfish Reviews

Crinum calamistratum

AMAZON LINK

Growth rate: slow

Max height: 4 feet (1.2 meters)

Light demands: medium

CO2: not required 

Difficulty: medium

Pros

  • Unique leaf structure makes this plant stand out
  • Goldfish don’t like the taste
  • Loves hard water

Cons

  • Extremely slow growing, can take a year or more to become truly established
  • Can be pretty pricey

Information

Calamistratum is a really crazy looking plant with long crinkly leaves. I’ve always thought it looks like something Dr. Suess would draw.

This plant grows very slowly, very, very slowly. It may take it over a year to get established in your tank and start putting out new leaves.

Calamistratum leaves are very tough, which discourages goldfish from munching on them. But, if you’re looking for a fast-growing, immediate gratification type plant, this is not the one for you.

This is a rooted plant that will need to be potted so it doesn’t get uprooted constantly.

SubstrateSource Crinum calamistratum Small African Onion Live Aquarium Plant
SubstrateSource Crinum calamistratum Small African Onion Live Aquarium Plant

    Last update on 2020-09-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

    Anubias barteri 

    Growth rate: slow

    Max height: 6 inches (15 centimeters)

    Light demands: low

    CO2: not required

    Difficulty: easy

    Pros:

    • Hardy, attractive plant
    • Easy to attach to rocks/decor
    • Tough leaves don’t taste good

    Cons

    • Slow growing plant

    Information

    I love this species. I have several of these growing on driftwood in one of my tanks. This is a smaller anubias species that grows from a central rhizome and puts out rounded leaves.

    It thrives in low light conditions and is a hardy, undemanding plant. 

    It’s a slow growing species, putting out a new leaf every 6 weeks or so.

    Anubias must be attached to driftwood, rocks or decor. It will rot if it’s rhizome is buried in the substrate.

    You can use Krazy Glue (contains cyanoacrylate, which will set up even on a wet surface) to attach the plants to an object.

    Use just a dot to adhere the rhizome to the decor. Over time, the roots will grow and attach themselves to any porous object, even resin decor.

    Krazy Glue Home and Office Brush-On Glue, 0.18 oz
    Krazy Glue Home and Office Brush-On Glue, 0.18 oz

      Last update on 2020-09-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

      Pro Tip: You don’t have to fork out the extra money for expensive “aquarium glue.” Regular (and much cheaper) “super glue” will work just fine. Just search online for the ingredients and make sure it contains cyanoacrylate.

      Greenpro Anubias Barteri Live Aquarium Plants Decoration for Aquatic Water Plants Freshwater Fish Tank
      Greenpro Anubias Barteri Live Aquarium Plants Decoration for Aquatic Water Plants Freshwater Fish Tank

        Last update on 2020-09-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

        Anubias congensis

        Growth rate: slow

        Max height: 6 inches (15 centimeters)

        Light demands: low

        CO2: not required

        Difficulty: easy

        Pros:

        • Hardy, attractive plant
        • Easy to attach to rocks/decor
        • Tough leaves don’t taste good

        Cons

        • Slow growing plant

        Information

        This is another tough plant, but the leaves are much longer, more slender and pointed.

        Just like Anubias barteri, it grows from a rhizome that can be glued or tied to rocks or other decor.

        Greenpro Anubias Congensis Live Aquatic Potted Plant for Aquarium Freshwater Fish Tank
        Greenpro Anubias Congensis Live Aquatic Potted Plant for Aquarium Freshwater Fish Tank

          Last update on 2020-09-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

          Bolbitis heudelotii – African water fern

          Growth rate

          Max height: 16 inches (40 centimeters)

          Light demands: low

          CO2: not required

          Difficulty: medium

          Pros

          • Attractive plant that tastes terrible to goldfish

          Cons

          • Very slow growing
          • Algae can take over

          Information

          This is another favorite of mine. Basically, if you like the look of terrestrial plants like Boston ferns you’ll enjoy this plant.

          This species is also a slow growing plant. It can take weeks for a single leaf to grow and unfurl. But, it looks so nice in the tank that it’s totally worth the wait.

          Also, African water fern thrives in the same hard water conditions that goldfish favor.

          Just like anubias, this is a plant that does best attached to something like rocks or driftwood.

          Goldfish usually don’t like the taste of this plant, but as a downside, it’s leaves can get clogged up with algae since it grows so slowly.

          Greenpro Water Fern Bolbitis Heudelotii Potted Live Aquarium Plant Fresh Water Plants
          Greenpro Water Fern Bolbitis Heudelotii Potted Live Aquarium Plant Fresh Water Plants

            Last update on 2020-09-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

            Pro Tip: You can use fishing line to tie plants to rocks and decor, but honestly, Krazy Glue is a lot easier and more secure.

            Leptochilus pteropus – Java fern

            Growth rate: slow

            Max height: 8 inches (20 centimeters)

            Light demands: low

            CO2: not required

            Difficulty: easy

            Pros:

            • Really tough plant, great for beginners

            Cons

            • Slow growing

            Information

            I always recommend this species as the best beginner plant in the hobby. Java fern is tough as nails, is easy to grow and will tolerate low light conditions.

            This is another plant that grows from a rhizome that should be attached to rocks or driftwood.

            Java fern has a bad taste that most fish don’t care for, which should keep goldfish from munching on it.

            It is a slow growing plant that will only put out a leaf every few weeks.

            Buy2get1free,same plant Java Fern, Microsorum Pteropus Potted Plant Ps117, Live Aquarium Plant
            Buy2get1free,same plant Java Fern, Microsorum Pteropus Potted Plant Ps117, Live Aquarium Plant

              Last update on 2020-09-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

              Cryptocoryne balansae

              Growth rate: medium

              Max height: 36 inches (91 centimeters)

              Light demands: moderate

              CO2: not required

              Difficulty: medium

              Pros

              • Large beautiful plant 

              Cons

              • Requires more advanced care
              • Crypts can “melt” 

              Information

              Crypts are a rooted plant so you will need to put them pots or else your goldfish will pull them up.

              This plant requires a bit more care than something like anubias or Java fern. So this might not be the best plant for an absolute beginner.

              Crypts also tend to “melt,” meaning that foliage dies back until the plant gets established and starts putting out new growth.

              But, it is a large showpiece plant that makes a gorgeous centerpiece.

              This plant does require regular fertilization and will do best planted in a nutrient rich plant substrate.

              Cryptocoryne balansae - P035 - live aquarium plant. Buy 2 gets 1 FREE same plants
              Cryptocoryne balansae - P035 - live aquarium plant. Buy 2 gets 1 FREE same plants

                Last update on 2020-09-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

                Cryptocoryne retrospiralis

                Growth rate: medium

                Max height: 24 inches (60 centimeters)

                Light demands: moderate

                CO2: not required

                Difficulty: easy

                Pros:

                • Easier care than other crypts

                Cons

                • Has to be potted 

                Information

                This is another crypt species, that doesn’t get quite as large, but requires less care Cryptocoryne balansae

                It should be potted to protect it from being uprooted. 

                What I like best about retrospiralis is that the leaves are wavy and crinkly. I think plants like this always add interesting contrasts and textures to a planted tank.

                Retrospiralis is a bit more beginner friendly, but is still subject to melt and would do best with some added fertilization.

                Mainam Cryptocoryne Retrospiralis Rooted Bundle Freshwater Live Aquarium Plants Decoration
                Mainam Cryptocoryne Retrospiralis Rooted Bundle Freshwater Live Aquarium Plants Decoration

                  Last update on 2020-09-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

                  Conclusions 

                  Goldfish are notoriously hard on plants. Many plant species can’t hold up to their relentless nibbling and constant digging.

                  It’s important to keep in mind that some goldfish (like common and comet goldfish) may be so ravenous that they’ll tear apart even the hardiest plants.

                  But, using plants that are tough, taste bad and/or can be attached to rocks can make it possible to have a beautiful and natural backdrop for your fish.

                  I especially favor the Java fern and anubias species. I think they’re the easiest to grow and most fish seem to think they taste really gross.

                  I wish you and your fish the best of luck!

                  Preview Product
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                  Last update on 2020-09-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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