Best Plants For Goldfish Compared & Reviewed 2021

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 KG94548R Glue, 0.18 oz, 1 Krazy Glue KG94548R Glue, 0.18 oz, 1
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...
Anubias Congensis Live Aquatic Potted Plant for Aquarium Freshwater Fish Tank by Greenpro Anubias Congensis Live Aquatic Potted Plant for Aquarium Freshwater Fish Tank by Greenpro
Water Fern Bolbitis Heudelotii Potted Live Aquarium Plant Fresh Water Plants by Greenpro Water Fern Bolbitis Heudelotii Potted Live Aquarium Plant Fresh Water Plants by Greenpro
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
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
Mainam Cryptocoryne Retrospiralis Rooted Bundle Freshwater Live Aquarium Plants Decoration Mainam Cryptocoryne Retrospiralis Rooted Bundle Freshwater Live Aquarium Plants Decoration

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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.

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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 KG94548R Glue, 0.18 oz, 1
Krazy Glue KG94548R Glue, 0.18 oz, 1

    Last update on 2021-10-02 / Commissions Earned / 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 2021-10-01 / Commissions Earned / 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.

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

        Last update on 2021-10-02 / Commissions Earned / 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.

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

          Last update on 2021-10-01 / Commissions Earned / 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 2021-10-02 / Commissions Earned / 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 2021-10-02 / Commissions Earned / 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 2021-10-02 / Commissions Earned / 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
                Krazy Glue KG94548R Glue, 0.18 oz, 1 Krazy Glue KG94548R Glue, 0.18 oz, 1
                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...
                Anubias Congensis Live Aquatic Potted Plant for Aquarium Freshwater Fish Tank by Greenpro Anubias Congensis Live Aquatic Potted Plant for Aquarium Freshwater Fish Tank by Greenpro
                Water Fern Bolbitis Heudelotii Potted Live Aquarium Plant Fresh Water Plants by Greenpro Water Fern Bolbitis Heudelotii Potted Live Aquarium Plant Fresh Water Plants by Greenpro
                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
                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
                Mainam Cryptocoryne Retrospiralis Rooted Bundle Freshwater Live Aquarium Plants Decoration Mainam Cryptocoryne Retrospiralis Rooted Bundle Freshwater Live Aquarium Plants Decoration

                Last update on 2021-10-02 / Commissions Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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                Katherine Morgan
                Hey, there! I'm Katherine from Northwest Florida. A nunchuck specialist, I've kept aquariums for over two decades, enjoy experimenting with low-tech planted setups and an avid South American cichlid enthusiast. If You'd like to see more of my tanks, check out my Instagram

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