A small list of plants suitable for the goldfish tank

Goldfish are omnivorous and particularly voracious, so plants can be part of their menu. It is best to choose the right plants, which will resist nibbling attempts! Fortunately, plants suitable for goldfish aquariums are very easy to source. The following aquatic plants are generally well adapted to goldfish behavior:

  • Hygrophila polysperma
  • Egeria densa
  • Vallisneria spiralis
  • Vallisneria gigantea
  • Cladophora aegagropila
  • Cladophora aegagropila
  • Riccia fluitans
  • Anubia nana
  • Java mossAquarium plants


Of course, this list is not complete. Generally, look for several of the following features:

  • Strong and rigid leaves;
  • Deep rooting (unless you use an under-gravel filter) or floating plants;
  • Medium or fast growth if possible;
  • Adapted to the recommended temperatures for goldfish (i.e. cooler than most tropical fish);
  • Other parameters: lighting adapted to the growth of the plant in question, aesthetic, size (height), price and availability

Here are some descriptions of common plants:

  1. Vallisneria spiralis: moderate to strong light. Temperature: 21°C-26°C (70°F to 79°F) . pH: 6.5-7.8. Vallisneria spiralis is a background plant or for the middle area. It is easy to maintain. Ideally, the aquarium should be tall enough to accommodate it (it can exceed 50 cms). Vallisneria spiralis grows rapidly and runners are constantly produced. Allow the top of the rhizome to slightly protrude above the substrate.
  2. Vallisneria gigantea: Vallisneria gigantea is a background plant or for the intermediate area. Temperature: 20°C-27°C (68°F to 80°F). pH: 6-9. Because it’s very tall (50 cms to 1 meter and more), it is more suitable for large tanks (even so, the leaves may well end up floating). It is very easy to maintain, provided that the water is not too soft and the substrate is rich enough. Vallisneria gigantea grows rapidly and runners are regularly produced. Allow the top of the rhizome to slightly protrude above the substrate.


  1. Hygrophila polysperma: it is the perfect plant when starting your aquarium. With little regard for water parameters, its very rapid growth makes it possible to significantly reduce nitrate and phosphates and thus to offer significant competition to algae, which often mark the first months of an aquarium’s life, and to have a tank already nicely planted in just a few weeks. The color and shape of the leaves vary according to the lighting (for example, the upper leaves have a beautiful pink hue). When it reaches the surface, Hygrophila polysperma nevertheless tends to bend: it is also useful at this stage to cut the top. Goldfish will most likely attack them, but the rapid growth of Hygrophila polysperma is generally quick enough to allow it to continue to thrive, especially if the water is hard.
  2. Egeria densa: a hardy plant with ultra-fast growth and high oxygen production: it absorbs a large quantity of nitrate and phosphates and even secretes toxins that inhibit the development of cyanobacteria (bacteria that resemble algae and can photosynthesize: they were once called “blue algae”). Its development being ultra-fast, it will still be necessary to ensure that Egeria densa does not obscure the plants living underneath (head off when the plant begins to bend on the surface). If there is no light, it loses its lower leaves, leaving only the stem: to avoid this inconvenience, keep a small space of a few centimetres between each plant. It is perfect when starting up the aquarium (major competition with algae that often mark the first months of an aquarium’s life). Very high temperatures do not suit this plant over a long period of time and egeria densa prefers water on the alkaline side. Goldfish may well eat it but it grows so fast!
  3. Java moss (to be attached with a fishing line or to a stone): forms a kind of carpet.
  4. Cladophora aegagropila: a ball of algae… that reduces other algae in the tank (because it effectively absorbs nitrate)! Intense lighting strongly recommended. pH: not critical. It is useful to turn it regularly if you want it to keep its original shape.
Cladophora aegagropila

Cladophora aegagropila

  1. Ludwigia repens: a fast growing plant if the lighting is strong / pH: 6.5-7.8. Lighting: intense. It changes color according to the intensity of light (from green and yellow to pink as the light increases). Intense lighting recommended for optimal growth.
  2. Riccia fluitans: surface plant that appreciates cold water and nitrate produced by goldfish. pH: 5.5-7.8. Lighting: strong to very strong. Goldfish eat it but, under good conditions (intense lighting and addition of CO2 recommended), they will not be able to overcome it as it grows fast! Note: it is also possible to weight it on a stone or a stump using fishing line.
  3. Anubia nana : low to moderate lighting. It should preferably be placed in the shade if the light is very bright. Otherwise, since its growth is slow, algae tend to grow on its beautiful leaves and then choke it. Temperature: 22°-26°C (71°F to 79°F). pH: 6.0 – 8.0. It must be attached to a stone, volcanic rock or strain. It can be fixed with fishing line at first, until the roots have fixed themselves on the chosen support: avoid burying the rhyzome (this will make the plant rot). Ideal in the foreground.
Anubia nana

Anubia nana

Advantages of plants in a fish tank

  • They help with the filtration
  • They produce oxygen during the day
  • They provide a shelter for shy fish
  • They are generally more aesthetically pleasing than plastic plants