Best Live Plants For Turtle Tanks | Aquascape Addiction

Best Live Plants For Turtle Tanks

Need help finding the best live plants for turtle tanks? we cover our top 9 picks and a bunch of helpful information.

Best Live Plants For Turtle Tanks

Fake plants are just fine, but that is not what we are here to talk about today. There are many things that are necessary for a healthy and happy tank of turtles, one of those being plants. That is why we are here today, to help you find the best live plants for turtle tanks.

Turtles love live plants (this plant is our top pick) because they like to eat them, plus it helps replicate their natural environment too. You may be wondering what kind of plants are good for a turtle tank, and deciding on the right ones may be a bit of an issue.

Hornwort Hardy plant 9.4/10
Java Moss Grows quickly  9.3/10
Java Fern Natural filter 8.9/10
Moneywort Not demanding 8.3/10

What Kind Of Plants Are Good For Turtles?

When it comes to a turtle tank, there are a variety of options that you can go with, but there are a couple of things that you do need to keep in mind when selecting them. One of the main things to look out for is that you only add plants that the turtle can eat.

While you do not want plants that are overly tasty, because the turtles will eat them before they ever get a chance to grow, any plants that may contain compounds which are toxic to turtles need to be avoided. Turtles love to eat plants, so any kind of plant that is edible for a turtle is a big bonus.

Moreover, you want to add plants that root easily in the substrate. You need the plants to stay firmly rooted in the substrate, so any plant with a good root system is a big bonus. Furthermore, turtle tanks usually don’t have too much light or oxygen in the water, so any plant that doesn’t have too big oxygen or light requirements is ideal too. Floating plants are nice for turtles too, because they can provide some cover, they look nice, and they are often edible too.

What We Think Are The Best Live Plants For Turtle Tanks

Now, let’s take a look at what we feel are the 9 best plants that you can go with for your turtle tank, each of which is great in its own way.

1. Hornwort

This is a good option to go with no doubt (you can buy it here). Hornwort is an aquatic plant that does not reach the surface. It is green and sometimes slightly yellowish, making it a beautiful addition to any tank. Hornwort is pretty resilient to many different water conditions. Water temperature, as long as it is not overly hot or cold, is not a huge deal, nor is lighting.

They do like a little bit of light, but as long as you have the various turtle lights going this should not be an issue. Hornwort is very hardy and can survive in many different conditions. This includes a turtle tank where it may get eaten. The fact that it grows pretty quickly is also a bonus considering that turtles may eat it quite rapidly. Moreover, this stuff is also ideal for filtering out the water.

Check The Price

2. Java Moss

The real beauty about Java Moss is that it does not need any special lighting or air requirements. It will do well in dim and murky water, meaning that you can keep it in virtually any fresh water aquarium.

Java Moss is also good for filtering out the water, something that is necessary in any turtle tank. What is also good about Java Moss is that it grows along the substrate, rocks, driftwood, and other aquarium items. This means that it grows easily virtually anywhere, it grows quickly, so being eaten is not a big issue, and it is easy to care for as well.

Check The Price

3. Java Fern

The Java Fern is another good option to consider. While it does need to be anchored down with some small rocks or driftwood, it still makes for a fine addition to any turtle tank. Simply tie it down to any bottom surface with some fishing line and everything will be just fine. It does require a little bit of lighting, but the turtle lights will do just fine.

Java Ferns are great at taking waste out of the water, thus acting like a natural filter. Java Ferns are not all that tasty and turtles, while they may take a bite every now and then, they won’t outright eat the whole plant. Also, low CO2 levels are no issue either. It is a very hardy, resilient, and easy to care for aquatic plant for any freshwater aquarium.

Check The Price

4. Dwarf Hairgrass

Dwarf Hairgrass is actually quite similar to normal grass, not unlike on your own lawn. The difference is of course than normal grass is not aquatic, whereas Dwarf Hairgrass definitely is. Turtles will love this stuff because it makes for a good layer to cover the substrate, giving them something soft to walk on and mull through on the bottom of the tank.

It is a very beautiful addition to any turtle tank, almost like an underwater lawn. Turtles may eat some of this stuff, but it is not that tasty so they won’t raze down a whole field of it. Moreover, it doesn’t require much lighting or CO2, plus it does not grow that fast, so it will not invade too much tank space either.

Check The Price

5. Moneywort

Moneywort is a really cool option to go with. Many people like this stuff for its aesthetic appeal. Simply put, it looks really nice. This is more of a straight plant, in the sense that it has longer and taller shoots with leaves on them, plus they are quite thin. They make for a good option if you have one or two smaller bunches.

That being said, don’t add too many of them as they grow quite tall and will take up lots of space in the water if you do have too many. This stuff may be eaten by your turtles, but it grows fairly quickly so that should be no issue. Moreover, while it does like lots of light and CO2, Moneywort is not overly demanding so it will do just fine in the depths of a turtle tank.

Check The Price

6. Red Ludwigia

The reason why many people love red ludwigia is because it is extremely low maintenance. You will not have to provide it with any special nutrients, lighting, or aeration. It will do just fine on its own and feeding off of the nutrients in the water. Being so easy to take care of makes this plant a prime choice for much more than just turtle tanks.

It is a taller plant, so you will only want to add a couple of bushes here and there in order to avoid overstuffing the swimming area, but a few will do just fine. Also, this is very fast growing plant, one that does like to be eaten by turtles. While turtles may eat a good deal of red ludwigia, it grows really fast so it will replenish itself in no time at all.

Check The Price

7. Water Lettuce

Water lettuce is another really neat option to go with for your turtle tank. These guys are floating plants that rest on top of the water. Their light requirements will definitely be met thanks to the fact that they rest on the water’s surface, and will therefore be able to absorb plenty of UV rays.

Moreover, turtles love to eat this stuff, plus it provides for some good cover too. It’s quite a hardy plant that will have no problems surviving in turtle tank conditions. There is also the fact that they add a certain amount of visual appeal to any tank as well.

Check The Price

8. Water Hyacinth

A water hyacinth is also a cool floating plant option to go with. Except for the look of it, this stuff is extremely similar to water lettuce. It floats on top of the water, so it has no problem getting air and light. Moreover, it is also a very hardy and resilient plant, so keeping it alive is no issue.

There is also the fact that turtles like to eat water hyacinth, so it does make for a tasty snack. Also, these things look really nice, especially when their flowers bloom, making the very visually appealing.

Check The Price

9. Moss Balls

Moss balls are a very unique choice to go with, but a good one none the less. These things are simply moss balls, aquatic moss, that rests on the bottom of the tank. They aren’t especially tasty, so while turtles might snack on them, they won’t outright consume them.

Moreover, they do fine in low light aquariums, which is great for the bottom of a turtle tank. Moss balls also make for a fun toy that your turtles can push around and play with. They also make for really good water filters that take unwanted compounds and excess nutrients out of the water. We can’t forget the fact that they look really neat as well.

Check The Price

What Plants Should I Avoid Adding To My Turtle Tank?

There are not too many things to keep in mind here. Some plants to avoid, first off, are toxic ones. Some of the plants that turtles can absolutely not eat include water hemlock, milkweed, and ivy. Other than those, most plants are edible for turtles.

Moreover, a plant that requires way too much light and oxygen is not ideal, especially if it is going to be underwater. Finally, any plant that has a weak root system (or does not float), is not going to be ideal for a turtle tank. They need to be rooted well in order to avoid floating around the tank randomly.


There are many awesome plants that you can get for your turtle tank. If you have a larger tank, don’t be afraid to diversify a little bit. Generally speaking, space permitting, the more plants you have the better. Turtles love plants in their tank so do them a favor and get some!