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A beginners guide to growing and selecting foreground aquarium plants for stunning aquascapes


Aquarium plants not only enhance the visual appeal of fish tanks but also provide numerous benefits to the aquatic ecosystem. Among the various types of aquarium plants, foreground plants play a crucial role in creating captivating aquascapes. These low-growing plants form lush carpets and provide a striking contrast against taller plants in the background. In this beginners guide to foreground plants, we will explore the art of growing and selecting foreground aquarium plants, with a focus on carpeting plants. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced aquarist, this article will equip you with the knowledge you need to create breathtaking underwater landscapes.

A planted aquascaped aquarium with carpeting foreground plants
A nicely designed aquascape concentrating on the foreground carpeting plant Picture taken at the UK shop, Green Machine 2015

Choosing the Right Foreground Plants:

Selecting the right foreground plants is essential to achieve the desired aesthetic and maintain a healthy aquarium. Here are some popular foreground plant options:

  1. Glossostigma elatinoides: Known for its vibrant green color and carpeting ability, Glossostigma elatinoides is a popular choice for foreground planting. It requires high light intensity and CO2 supplementation for optimal growth.

  2. Hemianthus callitrichoides (Dwarf Baby Tears): With its tiny and delicate leaves, Dwarf Baby Tears create a dense carpet effect. This plant demands high lighting, CO2 injection, and nutrient-rich substrate to thrive.

  3. Eleocharis parvula (Dwarf Hairgrass): This versatile plant features thin, grass-like leaves that form a dense and low carpet. Dwarf Hairgrass can adapt to a wide range of lighting conditions and does well in aquariums with moderate to high lighting.

crystal red shrimp grazing on carpeting plants in a planted aquascape aquarium
Shrimp and planted tanks go together well. The shrimp help to clean the plants.

Planting and Maintenance:

To successfully grow foreground plants and create a beautiful carpet effect, follow these essential steps:

  1. Preparation: Start by choosing a suitable substrate such as aquasoil or nutrient-rich gravel. Ensure proper filtration and water circulation to prevent stagnant areas.

  2. Lighting: Provide adequate lighting based on the specific requirements of your chosen foreground plants. LED lights are popular for their energy efficiency and customizable settings.

  3. CO2 Injection: Consider supplementing your aquarium with CO2 to promote healthy growth. CO2 injection systems help plants photosynthesize more efficiently and prevent algae overgrowth.

  4. Nutrient Supply: Use a comprehensive liquid fertilizer or root tabs to provide essential nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Regularly test water parameters and adjust fertilization accordingly.

  5. Trimming and Pruning: Regularly trim and prune the carpeting plants to maintain their desired height and shape. This promotes healthy growth and prevents overcrowding, allowing light and nutrients to reach all parts of the plant.

aquarium plants growing in a aquascape, hairgrass Eleocharis parvula showing root growth
Hairgrass will spread easily via runners and through up new plants on a regular basis!


Foreground plants can play a crucial role in creating visually stunning aquascapes by forming lush carpets that add depth and dimension to aquariums. By selecting the right foreground plants, providing proper lighting, supplementing CO2, and ensuring adequate nutrient supply, you can achieve a vibrant and healthy carpet effect. Remember to research the specific needs of each plant species and regularly maintain your aquarium to sustain the beauty of your underwater landscape.

Incorporating these tips and techniques into your aquascaping journey will not only create a captivating visual display but also provide a thriving environment for your aquatic pets. So dive in and explore the endless possibilities of foreground aquarium plants to create your own aquatic masterpiece!

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