Top 13 Aquarium Plants That Grow on Rocks: Get Tips and Info

Yes, aquarium plants can grow on rocks. However, some species may require additional nutrients or substrate to thrive. Plants such as Java moss and Anubias can attach themselves to rocks without any additional support, while other plants like mosses and ferns may need a nutrient-rich substrate to establish themselves. Additionally, it’s important to ensure that the lighting and water conditions are appropriate for the plants’ growth.

What aquarium plants can grow on rocks? This article will discuss the top 13 aquarium plants that grow on rocks and how to care for them. You’ll learn about their benefits, drawbacks, and how they attach to aquarium rocks. 

We’ll also talk about different types of aquarium live plants that grow on wood or gravel. 

In this blog post, you will get tips and information about aquarium plant growth habits to make your decision easier when it comes time to buy new live aquarium plants for your home or office tank!

Can Aquarium Plants Grow On Rocks?

Yes, aquarium plants can grow on rocks.

Aquarium plants that grow on rocks are aquarium plants with the ability to attach themselves to aquarium gravel, aquarium wood, or aquarium rock. 

These aquarium plants can be planted in either older existing aquariums where you want them to root into something like an old stump, porous rocks, and driftwood; or they could be used as top-dressing plants that you use to cover aquarium gravel, driftwood, or rocks.

13 Best Aquarium Plants That Grow on Rocks

This is our top list of the 13 best aquarium plants that grow on rocks:

  • Anubias Barteri Var. Nana
  • Java Fern
  • Ludwigia repens
  • Java Moss (Taxiphyllum barbieri)
  • Anubias Nana Petite
  • Crypt Wendtii Green Flame
  • Ludwigia Arcuata (Star Ludwigia)
  • Echinodorus Cordifolius (Amazon Sword Plant)
  • Cryptocoryne Parva/ Wendtii Mini Algae Eater
  • Bacopa Caroliniana (Thirsty Plant)
  • Alternanthera Reineckii or Red Princess:
  • Anubias Barteri Var. Coffeefolia
  • Myriophyllum (Frogbit)

Anubias Barteri Var. Nana

This aquarium plant is a great choice for aquariums because it doesn’t grow very big and therefore fits nicely into planted aquarium tanks. 

Anubias barteri var. nana has beautiful green leaves with some white spots on them that resemble the shape of deer or goat hoof prints, which gives this aquarium plant its name: Deer Foot Plant, or more accurately Anubias barteri var. nana ‘deer foot’.

Anubias is a very hard aquarium plant which makes it great for aquariums with low water circulation and therefore less healthy aquarium conditions, like the ones found in nano aquarium tanks. 

Java Fern

Java fern is a great aquarium plant that can grow on rocks.

This aquarium plant prefers low to moderate lighting but will thrive in high-light conditions as well.

It grows slowly and doesn’t require much trimming or maintenance when it comes to aquarium plants that grow on rocks. 

Ludwigia Repens

Ludwigia Repens is a popular aquarium plant because it looks very beautiful and has an attractive leaf.

It can grow above the waterline of your aquarium, but make sure not to place it in direct sunlight.

Java Moss (Taxiphyllum barbieri)

Java moss is one of the aquarium plants that grow on rocks.

It grows well attached to aquarium walls, driftwood, and even aquarium logs.

This aquatic plant species also works great as a terrarium plant or for growing in your freshwater aquarium’s background.

Anubias Nana Petite

Anubias Nana Petite is one aquarium plant that grows on rocks.

It has long leaves and is an excellent addition to a peaceful tank because it does not grow rapidly in the aquarium.

This aquarium plant tolerates moderate lighting but prefers high light levels.

The Anubias Nana Petite aquarium plant can be attached directly to driftwood or placed between other aquarium plants.

Crypt Wendtii Green Flame

Crypt Wendtii Green Flame is an aquarium plant that grows on rocks.

This aquarium plant has leaves that are green with red tips.

The leaves can be up to six inches long and two inches wide.

Crypt Wendtii Green Flame aquarium plants grow underwater, but they do require a bit of light to thrive.

Ludwigia Arcuata (Star Ludwigia)

Ludwigia Arcuata is an aquarium plant that grows on rocks.

This aquarium plant can be found in flooded forest areas and will spread over the surface of your aquarium tank’s water until it reaches the edge (or sometimes right up to the water’s surface).

It has beautiful green leaves with red stems, and when it’s fully grown aquarium plant can reach a height of 16 inches.

Ludwigia Arcuata aquarium plants need lots of light to thrive in your aquarium tank so you will have to use special lighting for this type of aquarium houseplant.

Top-feeding the water helps too if you want your Ludwigia aquarium plants to thrive.

Echinodorus Cordifolius (Amazon Sword Plant)

Many aquarium plants grow on rocks, some of these include the Amazon Sword Plant.

The Amazon Sword Plant has waxy sword-shaped green blades that are accented with red on the undersides.

This aquarium plant is often found at the bottom of rivers or near cliffs that have waterfalls running over them because it likes to grow attached to rocks in fast-moving, slightly acidic freshwater where there are lots of nutrients and CO available.

Cryptocoryne Parva/ Wendtii Mini Algae Eater

Cryptocoryne Parva and Wendtii Mini Algae Eaters are aquarium plants that grow on rocks.

When you put aquarium plants on rocks, they tend to spread through the aquarium in just a few weeks.

These particular algae eaters from JBL need these conditions not only because of their unique color but also because they like to hide in aquarium plants.

These aquarium plants are a good addition for beginner and expert aquarium enthusiasts because these algae eaters will show you when your aquarium needs maintenance or some more food by eating all of the leftover particles on the ground.

This is also beneficial to any other type of fish because this helps to keep the aquarium clean and clear of any debris.

Bacopa Caroliniana (Thirsty Plant)

Bacopa caroliniana aquarium plants are an excellent choice for beginners.

These aquarium plants can survive in low light and thrive on neglect.

They grow well attached to rocks or driftwood, with no need for substrate at all.

Bacopa is also popular because it does not require CO-enrichment like some other aquarium plants do if they are being grown in aquariums without fish.

Alternanthera Reineckii or Red Princess:

This aquarium plant is probably the best choice for beginners and experienced aquarium hobbyists.

It has a bushy, low-growing shape that does not take up much space in your aquarium.

Layers of Red Princess add interest to any aquarium with its variegated red leaves, just be sure to leave room between plants when planting them so they can grow and spread out.

If you plant them too close together, the aquarium plants will not grow well or look good.

Anubias Barteri Var. Coffeefolia

Anubias Barteri Var. Coffeefolia is a great aquarium plant that can grow on rocks and driftwood in freshwater aquariums, creating thick green clumps of vegetation with its wide rhizome base.

It has narrow dark leaves that add to the beauty of aquarium plants while also providing hiding places for fish fry or small aquarium fish.

However, this aquarium plant may not grow well in aquariums with very high water hardness and it does require strong aquarium lighting to thrive.

Myriophyllum (Frogbit)

Myriophyllum is a genus of aquatic plants that are also known as the watermilfoil or parrot’s feather.

They can grow aquarium plants on rocks, but they prefer hanging roots.

They are very hardy aquarium plants that can adapt to a variety of water conditions.

Benefits Of Growing Aquarium Plants On Rocks

There are several benefits of growing aquarium plants on rocks.

Aquarium plant roots require an anchorage to hold them in place while they absorb nutrients and minerals from the aquarium water column.

Rocks offer a solid foundation for these roots to attach themselves onto while also providing numerous surfaces that will encourage healthy growth

Rocks can provide hiding places for aquarium fish, invertebrates, and other aquatic life.

This can help to create a more natural aquarium environment that includes varied levels of cover within the aquarium setting

As mentioned above, rocks are good surfaces for anchoring aquarium plant roots which will aid in their growth into larger specimens.

Coldwater species such as aquarium mosses, Anubias, and Java ferns can become top-heavy if they are not allowed to grow into something solid.

This reduces the risk of them being uprooted during tank maintenance or an aquarium water change

Rocks are often used as a foundation for aquarium backgrounds which you will also see at many pet stores that sell aquarium plants.

This can give your aquarium a more natural and aesthetically appealing look.

Rocks offer a great surface for aquarium filtration media such as activated carbon to cling onto.

Because aquarium plants help keep aquarium water clean by absorbing nitrates, phosphates, and other dissolved organics from the aquarium water column; those nutrients mustn’t get re-released back into the aquarium water.

This helps to prevent algae growth and a cloudy aquarium environment.

Some aquarium rocks, such as lava rock can be used in the aquarium filter media bag along with activated carbon for improved water filtration benefits.

Drawbacks Of Growing Aquarium Plants On Rocks

There are several drawbacks to growing aquarium plants on rocks, including: 

  • Aquarium plants can fall into the tank when not properly attached; 
  • Some fish might eat aquarium plants that grow on rocks; and 
  • Aquarium plants may get caught between stones.

How To Grow Plants On Rocks?

Tips to grow aquarium plants on rocks are to provide them with the right aquarium lighting, plenty of water movement, and good aquarium plant fertilizing.

Fertilizers are often labeled for both freshwater aquarium plants and saltwater aquarium plants. 

How do you attach live aquarium plants on rocks?

Make sure that they have a surface area of at least two inches in diameter before attempting to glue or tie aquarium plants to aquarium rocks.

How do you attach aquarium plants to wood? 

Attach them by using zip ties or plastic wire tie wraps, but make sure that they are completely submerged under the aquarium water before doing so.

What Plants Can Grow On Top Of The Aquarium?

Many aquarium plants can grow on top of the aquarium in addition to growing in or around it.

Plants that can grow directly in the aquarium include mosses and some ferns, so these are good options if you want something different than plant growth inside your aquarium.

Some aquatic plants thrive when they’re allowed to reach the surface of an aquarium.

It is possible to grow aquarium plants on top of the aquarium.

Some aquarium plants can even be grown directly onto aquarium glass or any other type of aquarium decoration.

When you have an open-top aquarium, some species do well when allowed to reach the surface and form a carpet along its edge.

Mosses are especially suited for this purpose.

This is the list of aquarium plants that can grow on top of the aquarium:

  • Java Moss
  • Christmas Moss
  • Java Fern
  • Anubias Nana Petite
  • Microsword
  • Eleocharis

Aquarium Plants That Grow On Driftwood?

Aquarium plants that grow on driftwood are the best aquarium plants for beginners.

These aquarium plants do not require much maintenance, and they will help you create a beautiful aquarium environment.

If you want to make your aquarium look natural with minimal effort, then driftwood is the way to go!

Additionally, these types of aquarium plants can also serve as food for fish who like snacking on floating leaves.

Driftwood aquarium plants are easy to maintain and don’t require much light.

As long as you provide them with good filtration, these aquarium plants will thrive in your aquarium! 

Here is a list of aquarium plants that you can attach to driftwood

  • Java Moss
  • Java Fern
  • Anubias Nana
  • Anubias Barteri
  • Flame Moss
  • Christmas Moss
  • Amazon Sword Plant
  • Moneywort
  • Glosso Plant


At last, I conclude that aquarium plants that grow on rocks are a good option for aquariums as they provide the aquarium with an interesting look and also help in keeping it clean.

Below is a table for your better understanding.

Aquarium PlantsWhy good for rocksHow to
Java MossAttaches easily to rocksTie or glue moss to rock with fishing line or glue
AnubiasRhizome attaches to rocksUse fishing line or glue to attach rhizome to rock
Java FernRhizome attaches to rocksUse fishing line or glue to attach rhizome to rock
Christmas MossAttaches easily to rocksTie or glue moss to rock with fishing line or glue
Willow MossAttaches easily to rocksTie or glue moss to rock with fishing line or glue
Flame MossAttaches easily to rocksTie or glue moss to rock with fishing line or glue

They also provide a habitat for small creatures such as shrimps which are essential for a healthy fish population.

They also provide an aquarium with an excellent filtration system in the form of bio-filtration.

So, if you have been trying to keep your aquarium free from algae then try growing live aquarium plants on rock substrates today!

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