Aquarium Lighting/plant Suggestions

  • #1
My daughter has a 90 gallon freshwater aquarium. She has been wanting to decorate it with live plants as she doesn't really like the look of the fake ones. Currently it does not have a light but with the holidays coming up I was thinking of getting her one for her tank so she can start adding live plants. Unfortunately, I'm not exactly knowledgeable on what would be needed and was hoping I could get my suggestions of quality lights and/or exactly what I should be looking for. I would also like some suggestions for some good beginner plants that we could add once we have the light.

Currently the tank just has a pebble substrate and houses 2 goldfish (common and fantail - giving them a lot of room to grow based on suggestions I have seen).

Rainy day
  • #2
Plants and goldfish don't always pair well, goldfish like to snack on most plants. The plants that do go well with goldfish are also conveniently beginner friendly plants(usually) that don't really need a good light. From my experience, goldfish don't bother java fern and anubias, neither of which need a strong light. They've done just fine for me in T8s.

What type of lighting do you currently have?
Edit: Didn't see that you mentioned not having lights, woopsies. Any light fixture will do for anubias and java fern. T8s are generally cheaper if money is an issue.
  • #3
Agree with the user above. There are only a few plants that goldfish won't eat, ex: java fern, anubias, hornwort. None of these require substrate or good lighting to thrive.
  • #4
Like has been mentioned, Goldies are plant eaters.

You could get her a light anyway, so she can enjoy the tank. No need for a special plant light You can also get her some silk plants that aren't crazy colors, as the goldies won't be able to eat those.
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
I appreciate the information.
Jocelyn Adelman
  • #6
Goldie's tear into hornwort, but they leave my Amazon swords alone, as well as Java ferns, anubias, ludwigia repens. A Successful planted Goldie tank isn't common...
Paradise fish
  • #7
Keeping live plants with goldfish?

What you're shooting for are tough plants and/or fast growing plants. Anubias and java ferns are commonly available in large chain pet stores and are tough plants. Don't even want their roots in the substrate. Attach them to stones or decor and they'll be fine. Your goldfish will try to eat anubias but fail, and taste java fern but wouldn't like it. There are also several varieties of anubias and java ferns so get a lot! Anubias Nana, Anubias Congenesis, Anubias Coffeefolia, Anubias Barteri, Anubias Nana Golden, and narrow leaf varieties as well. Java ferns have really cool Shao shapes. The common java fern, java fern Windelov, java fern Trident, java fern Narrow Leaf, and java fern Tropica.

If you don't have cats or dogs, adding the roots of common house plant Pothos into your aquarium will give a dramatic effect as their roots cascades down the tank. They look amazing and help with cleaning your water. They're amazing at sucking up nitrates in the water. The leaves and stock are poisonous when injested, but the roots are completely safe. I still wouldn't intentionally feed it to my goldfish though.

Duckweed! They're a popular floating plant that require no care. They're also very small and multiply super fast! They also help a lot in keeping your tank water clean of ammonia. Your goldfish may eat them, but as long as the plants had time to settle and start multiplying they'll happily feed your goldfish! They're also very nutritious being high in proteins and minerals. You can use other floating plants, but I noticed that with other floating plants are pretty big and your goldfish will only eat the roots. This will cause the floating plant to slowly rot and die. Not with duckweed, as the fish will eat them whole.

What about rooted plants? Well, those are pretty tricky, but not impossible! You can still have a very beautifully planted aquarium with just the plants I listed above. But if you really want to branch out more, here's what you should know. Every successful planted tanks start from the base. So what that means is that you need a great substrate to feed your plants. This will help your plants grow very fast so they can handle the occasional nimble. But there's a problem, because Goldfish are great diggers. They'll mess up a substrate and up root a plant with no problem (that's why anubias and java ferns are so great!). So I recommend planting the plants in a separate container, like a terra cotta pot. What to put in there? Easiest is just to get CaribSea Eco-Complete Plant Substrate, then place large stones on top and around the plant to prevent digging. If you want to make your own DIY complete planted substrate, let me know.

You can even use some glass containers like shown above. But you'll be adding the Eco-Complete at the base and much larger stones as your top layer. You can place the pots directly over the gravel or bury it a bit into it to prevent from topping over.

Okay, did I scare you with too much info? No? Great! Now that you know how to plant rooted plants, what are your options?

Anacharis (aka Elodia, also pictured above on the container to the right). This is a super fast growing plant that will grow like crazy with goldfish temperatures. They are also the best oxygenator plant! They grow fast enough to keep up with goldfish appetites.

Hornwort. Similar to anacharis, but finer. Most goldfish will leave the pokey looking leaves alone, but not always like told above. Both are fast growing and great at cleaning the water.

Amazon swords. Super fast growing. Looks really cool. Most goldfish love to eat them, so it's a hit or miss. But I've heard a lot of people having success with this plant in their goldfish tank.

Water Sprite and/or Water Wisteria. Grows really fast once acclimated to your tank. But their leaves are pretty thin and your goldfish may tear through it like a salad. Or leave it alone. Depends on the fish.

Brazilian pennywort. This plant looks really cool especially when grown against the roots of pothos, but they're actually pretty delicate and can break very easily because that's how they propagate. Even though, this plant is really hardy. They can live in low to high light in any pH ranges or temperatures, grows very fast, and pound for pound the best aquarium plant to remove nitrates. Might be worth a try because they look really cool and different from all other plants I listed.

Marimo moss balls. If it's big enough your goldfish may leave it alone, if they're too small your goldfish might just swallow it whole. But marimo moss balls are actually a type of algae, so I would think that they won't like the taste of them.

If you've noticed, the rooted plants are all pretty much hit or miss. But their chances of success can be dramatically increased if kept in greater numbers, or say, have another plant to keep them occupied (hint hint. Duckweed). All the rooted plants require moderate lighting with the exception of Brazilian pennywort. But even a cheap white and blue LED from Amazon will do the trick.

As you can see, there's a ton of plants to choose from even for a goldfish tank! You're not limited to just a few plants, only limited to your imagination, perseverance, and a little chance! I wish you the best of it all, and hope you found this post helpful!

Quick List
Best chance of success:
Anubias barteri
Anubias nana
Anubias nana sp. Golden
Anubias Congenesis
Anubias Coffeefolia
Java fern
Java fern "Windelov"
Trident java fern
Tropica fern
Narrow leaf java fern
Golden Pothos (aka Devils Ivy)

Hit or miss:
Amazon Sword
Water Sprite/Wisteria
Brazilian pennywort
Marimo moss balls

Also let me know of your success story!

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