When it comes to aquariums, whether it is with fish, just planted, or a full aquascape, you probably want your plants to grow quickly. The faster your plants grow, the better your aquarium is going to look. When it comes to planted aquarium and aquascapes, people really seem to love carpet plants.
Carpet aquarium plants are plants which grow along the bottom of an aquarium and tend to grow outwards instead of upwards, thus why they are called carpet plants. In layman’s terms, they form a carpet. So, let’s go over what we feel are some of the best fast growing aquarium carpet plants (this one is our top pick).
Our Top 5 Fast Growing Aquarium Carpet Plants
Here are our 5 top picks;
1. Hemianthus Callitrichoides
For the sake of our sanity and yours we are going to be referring to this plant (Hemianthus Callitrichoides) simply as HC from here on out. HC is a relatively fast growing aquarium plant found mainly in Cuba, west of Havana. This is a pretty rare plant in the wild, but it has become increasingly popular as a fast growing aquarium carpet plant.
This is not only a very fast growing carpet plant, but also a very small one. HC will only grow to around 3 centimeters (a little over 1 inch) in size. However, it does grow outwards fairly quickly.
People usually plant a few small clusters of HC a few inches apart from one another. This way, they will grow together to form a solid carpet. An interesting nickname for HC is baby dwarf tears, which is because the leaves are very small and round, not more than a few millimeters in diameter.
While this is a very fast growing aquarium carpet plant, it is also a very demanding plant. It needs a lot of light, a lot of CO2, and a lot of nutrients too. Moreover, you need a good water filtration unit to keep HC alive as it needs very clean water to thrive. However, under the right growing conditions, HC will grow fairly quickly. (we have covered Dwarf Hairgrass in a lot more detail on this article).
2. Glossostigma Elatinoides
Just like with HC mentioned above, to spare our sanity, we will be calling this plant GE from here on out. GE is native to Australia and New Zealand, as well it is very popular in Japanese and other Asian inspired aquariums. In all reality, GE is one of the fastest growing aquarium carpet plants out there.
One thing to note is that GE needs a lot of light, like a really serious amount. Now, it will still grow in lower lighting conditions, but it tends to grow upwards instead of outwards when it does not have enough light, therefore ruining the desired carpet effect you are looking for. We really can’t stress enough just how much light GE needs.
Moreover, if GE does not get enough light, partially due to its upward growth, it will disintegrate and eventually die. That being said, with good lighting, this plant will grow to a maximum of 4 centimeters in height (close to 2 inches). Just like with other carpet plants, the best way to plant GE is to plant them in small clusters.
They will quickly grow together to form a full carpet. GE also requires a lot of nutrients, a lot of CO2, and really clean water too. While this is a fast growing aquarium carpet plant, it is also extremely demanding.
3. Sagittaria Subulata
Yet another great plant to go with if you want a carpet in no time at all is Sagittaria Subulata, or SS for short. SS is native to South Africa. This particular fast growing aquarium carpet plant is a little different from the others we have looked at so far. SS features long, green, and thin leaves, almost like some kind of grass.
This means that it does tend to grow taller than the other plants we have talked about. However, if you trim it down to size on a regular basis it can definitely make for a good carpet plant. You can plant SS in small clusters and it will grow together to form a nice carpet. This is also one of the fastest growing aquarium plants out there.
Something that is very interesting and baffling about SS is that when it gets older it can suddenly shoot up to 50 centimeters in height. This means you will either have to trim it, place it in the background (we have covered our top 10 background plants on this article), or get new SS. What is also neat is that it sometimes creates a long white flower which goes all the way to the surface of the aquarium and floats there. SS is relatively undemanding and low maintenance.
It does like be rooted in fairly nutrient rich substrate and it does appreciate some extra fertilizer, but it is not necessary. The CO2 demand for SS is medium, while the light demand is low. As far as the ease of growth, SS is pretty straightforward and more than ideal for beginners.
4. Java Moss
Java moss is probably one of the most popular aquarium carpet plants out there. This is probably because it grows quickly, it looks nice, it’s useful, and it’s easy to take care of too. Java moss is a tropical carpet plant native to various South East Asian countries. Java moss looks like a green stringy moss, kind of like a mix between moss and grass.
It is a very neat looking plant no doubt. Java moss is known for growing like a weed in the sense that it grows very fast, it can grow virtually anywhere, and stopping the expansion of it can be pretty tough.
Like the other plants we have talked about, just plant a few clusters of java moss a few inches apart from one another and they will grow together really quickly to form a solid carpet. People who like to breed shrimp and fish love this stuff because it provides good cover for small baby aquatic creatures, plus it can act as a decent food source too (we have covered how to grow carpets, walls, trees on this article).
Java moss does grow best in high lighting conditions, with good nutrients, and lots of CO2. However, that being said, java moss is very versatile and hardy. It will grow in lower light conditions and with low nutrient levels, but it will grow slower.
5. Marsilea Hirsute
Yet another fairly fast growing aquarium carpet plant, Marsilea Hirsute (MH) is a really popular carpet plant to go with. One of the things that makes MH so ideal, especially when compared to the previous 2 plants we talked about, is that it does not require too much maintenance and is not all that demanding in terms of its needs.
MH is native to Australia and surrounding areas, so yes it is a tropical plant. This is actually a very interesting plant because it goes through a transitional period where leaves can grow to look like 4 leaf clovers, or only have 3 or 2 leaves per stem, with 1 leaf per stem being common in a certain period of the transition.
It’s a really neat looking plant with small, green, and rounded leaves. HC will form a carpet, but it is ideal for larger aquariums as it can grow up to 10 centimeters in height. That being said, you can easily trim HC down to be only 2 centimeters tall. In terms of its demand, HC can survive just fine in low lighting conditions.
It does not require much CO2 or other nutrients, and it is very hardy, being able to survive in number of conditions. If you want a fast growing aquarium carpet plant that does not need much maintenance, HC is the way to go.
Of course there are more than just 5 fast growing aquarium plants out there, but the ones listed above are what we feel are some of the fastest growing and the most popular. While some of them are fairly demanding, if you treat them right, they will grow to form a beautiful solid carpet along the floor of your aquarium.