15 Best Plants for Turtle Tanks (With Pictures)

Having plants in your aquarium makes it a beautiful work of art. Some go for the artificial plants, while others find the planted ones more eco-friendly. Whichever way you go, we guarantee it’s a choice you can never regret. We took our time to find the best plants that will work for your tank based on keeper experiences to help you make the right choice.

Best Plants for Turtle Tanks

1. Hornwort

The hornwort is a favorite among aquarium owners. The plants are easy to purchase, elegant and low maintenance if you don’t want a demanding plant. If you are concerned about planting a substrate first, the hornwort has you covered. It doesn’t need a substrate, and you can attach it to the tank using suction cups. Depending on how you want them to grow, you can let them float or place them at the base, whichever is convenient for you. 

All you need for them to thrive is plant lights, making it one of the low maintenance plants, great for veterans and starters. The hornwort is hardy and is one of the plants that don’t need your constant attention. In addition, it grows fast even when your turtle keeps chewing it occasionally. Besides, compared to some plants, turtles find the plant less tasty and tough.

Another advantage is that the plant helps in the aquarium’s filtration system by eliminating the nitrates in the water. The hornwort is also cold tolerant and able to survive past the harsh winters, making it a great choice for an outdoor aquarium. 

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2. Waterweed

The waterweed is a great plant for your turtles, although some turtles find them tasty. Painted turtles and sliders, in particular, love snacking on them and can eat them up pretty fast. However, the plant grows extremely fast and can easily replace the lost parts. The good thing is that they work great with species like the box turtles. Like the other plants, the waterweed enhances the tank’s aesthetics and makes your pet’s home look incredible. It also doesn’t take up a lot of space in the tank to leave your turtle enough room to roam and play. Also, they need adequate light to grow; therefore, place your tank near a window for more light synthesis.

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3. Amazon Sword Plant

Freshwater aquarium owners are familiar with this plant. It is one of the more popular options among keepers, making it pretty easy to find. It is also easy maintenance and won’t require a lot of time to look after. All it needs is light and a neutral pH to thrive. For the best results, you can place the tank in a spot that receives a lot of sunlight for that extra glow. The difference with other plants is that it needs a place to anchor. You would need a substrate like locks or any other firm material to keep it steady. Otherwise, your turtle may uproot it, but the advantage is that it is easy to replant it, as seen in this video. 


Having this plant in your aquariums gives you an elegant additional piece to your aquarium that looks great and doesn’t need regular attention. Another plus is that it has wide leaves for your pet to hide under when it gets scared or needs to rest. The large size of leaves also makes it great for the filtration process. Therefore, this plant aids in your pet’s general well-being. You will find it slow-growing, but turtles don’t like eating it; hence, it will thrive in the tank.

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4. Java Moss

The Java moss is another elegant and fast-growing plant, perfect for any aquarium. The long and pine-like leaves design makes it stand out in any tank to cover the space at the bottom. It may not work as a floating plant but is still a beautiful decoration for the tank floor. It also provides a great cover for your tank, and your hatchling turtles can rest and hide under it. You don’t need any special lighting with this plant, and you don’t have to place it near a source of natural light.

The plant is a great way to make your tank feel natural and homey. It will grow among rocks or any other firm substrate in the aquarium and is easy to replant when you need to. The advantage is that it can survive even in poorly lit conditions; hence, doesn’t worry you about extra lighting. You will also find it fast-growing, able to repopulate even when your turtles love munching on it. 

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5. Moneywort

The leafy green plant is another great choice among turtle owners. The bright color makes the tank stand out and spruces your pet’s home up, turning a simple home into a striking décor piece. You may need more light to grow it, and it is best to place it next to natural light. However, the growth rate solely depends on how much lighting it receives. The more light you provide, the faster it will grow. 

One more advantage is that it is non-toxic to your pet; therefore, supplementing their diet in addition to decoration. The plant is also versatile and can grow in any aquarium setup, provided that it obtains all that it needs to survive. It is a great choice for beginners because it is low maintenance, given that it is easy to trim.

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6. Fluval Anubias

The Fluval Anubias is suitable for any tank set up because it looks realistic and natural, so much so, that it would take a keen close eye to spot the difference. The advantage with artificial plants is that they look like real plants, but your pet cannot eat them, and they need little to no maintenance in some cases.

This plant closely resembles the real Anubias species variation with the advantage of requiring no lighting or special care. You may notice that the true Anubias looks exactly like the Fluval artificial when cleaned out. Therefore, this plant is the right choice if you want an artificial option that captures attention and gives your pet a place to call home.

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7. MyLifeUNIT Artificial Plant

MyLifeUNIT is a well-known manufacturer of quality silk artificial aquarium plants. The best place to set them up is the back of the aquarium, given its elongated design. It would only get in the turtle’s way and end up taking up a lot of space if you place it in the middle. It may seem like a solid structure, but the leaves stretch out when in the tank. The leaves provide enough cover, especially for juveniles. They are usually sold as ten pieces in online shops to help fill up the tank, even as a sole decoration.

On the downside, these plants are usually delicate for use with adult turtles or powerful internal filters. There are cases of giant turtles breaking the leaves and others being broken by the filters, which may cause mechanical issues. However, if your turtles are tiny and polite, these plants will serve you for a long time, and your tank will look great with the soft, swaying leaves. 

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8. Duckweed

These are live plants that grow fast in the presence of light and are ideal for a turtle tank. A single duckweed plant can fill up the water surface within a few days. This floating plant acts as a bio-filter; hence, it is necessary to prune a few every week. Duckweed is safe for your shelled friend, and he can nibble on them while swimming and playing in the tank. The floating plant is within the turtle’s reach better than those at the tank’s base. 

The main downside to this pretty plant is that it is tasking to get rid of it once established and can be costly to eliminate it when you don’t need it anymore. Therefore, you should be certain in your choice for this plant type. This plant is pretty and will spruce up your aquarium and home décor altogether. Place the tank strategically in your house, and every guest you host will be awed at the aesthetics and your keen eye on elegance. 

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9. Java Fern

It is an attractive plant that is easy to take care of because it is slow-growing, and you won’t spend a lot of time trimming it. Secondly, it uses minimal light, enabling you to place it wherever you prefer, not necessarily in a well-illuminated area. Java ferns can do well in a terrarium, making them one of the few versatile plants. At maturity, this plant can measure approximately 12-20 inches. It doesn’t grow too high, and you don’t need to be concerned about its full-length pocking out of the tank. 

The leaves are dark green, creating a surrounding similar to the turtle’s natural environment in the enclosure. It makes your pet relaxed and stress-free, able to lead a happy and healthy life. It would be best if you didn’t let their leaves burrow into the substrate, but it’s best to offer the plant a rock or wood from which they can obtain minerals and anchorage. This elegant plant is ideal for beginners because it will filter out nitrates and keep the aquarium clean. Additionally, turtles don’t find the plant tasty; hence, reduces the need for regular replacement.

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10. Anacharis

Unlike the java fern, Anacharis are fast-growing, and turtles will munch on their leaves, and this adorable plant will regain its shape before you know it. However, carnivorous turtles won’t forage on any part of these plants. Anacharis needs little maintenance. First, they require low lighting; hence, best for indoor aquariums. Secondly, they are weed-like, and once you plant them, they will anchor easily and start spreading. Since they are fast-growing and turtles feed on them, it will save you the hassle of regular pruning.

Anacharis can grow rooted or floating over the water. If anchored, they would require more lighting to reach their leaves under the water. If well maintained, the plant will offer your pet ready snacks to devour as long as they thrive in the aquarium. Furthermore, Anacharis will provide a reliable cover to your pet where it can hide from threats. Note that turtles are quite messy, and Anacharis comes in handy to assist in the filtration of the aquarium to provide clean and healthy water for the reptile.

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11. Anubias Species

If you are looking for an elegant broad-leafed plant that doesn’t need too much care, the Anubias would be a great choice. The plant is slow-growing and doesn’t require too much light or any special treatment whatsoever. With a stable anchorage such as driftwood or stone, it will grow, and you won’t have to worry about your turtle uprooting it. It can blossom in a moderately lit room. Besides, this moderate growth rate minimizes frequent tank cleaning as it won’t shed a lot of leaves. 

In about a month, Anubias would sprout a single leaf, although they are beautiful and attractive, features that help enhance the aquarium aesthetics. While in the wild, Anubias grows in steams with various water levels. This condition has enabled it to adapt to different environments, whether submerged or floating on the water surface. Turtles can nibble on this hardy plant, although it isn’t juicy. Your pets will eventually leave them alone, thus saving you the need for regular plant replacements. Finally, this gorgeous plant can survive in almost any condition, including low pH environments.

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12. Marimo Moss

These are cute ball-like plants that you need to consider carefully before placing them in your aquarium. First, the moss needs a cold environment, which turtles are not accustomed to since it may be fatal and may force the reptile into unnecessary hibernation. Secondly, the plants can thrive in nutrient-deficient environments, but you will need clean well-filtered water for them to survive.

Furthermore, these attractive soft algae balls can tempt older turtles to nibble and eat them. Hence, Marimo moss would be suitable for a carnivorous turtle aquarium or with hatchlings in a cool, clean tank. If these plants start to wither, you can place them in water and refrigerate them until they rejuvenate before reintroducing them in the aquarium. Getting rid of this moss is also pretty easy because you can place it in a bucket of extreme saltwater when you wish to go a different route. Marimo doesn’t grow tall or multiply quickly; hence, reduces your aquarium’s maintenance cost.

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13. Sungrow Plastics

This plant is a sleek artificial option that will decorate the aquarium and bring a natural feel to the turtle tank. It is ten-inch tall and has broad leaves that the turtles can find refuge under whenever they feel threatened. The plant is ideal for larger tanks to leave enough space for the turtle’s recreation purposes. Also, the plant is stable on its own, and turtles won’t easily collapse it.

Fortunately, the pets cannot feed on the plastic plant since they may consider it as a foreign body in their habitat. Sadly, the plant doesn’t mimic any known plant that the turtle can recognize. However, Sungrow is efficient for both beginner and veteran aquarists, and you will notice that it blends well alongside the turtle. Finally, note that the plant is easy to maintain since it doesn’t require any special condition to grow; all you need to do is clean them often.

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14. Ecoscape Lobelia

Lobelia is also among the most preferred artificial plants that would, without a doubt, complete with live plants. It brings about the natural feel and attractiveness at its best since it comes with a splash of other colors that makes it more appealing. Its dense foliage provides cover for the shelled reptile once they notice impending danger. The turtle can’t mistake it for food, and if they do, they’ll find it inedible. It means that your plant can last longer without damage, and you can only do replacements at will.

Furthermore, it is affordable, and buying a number of them won’t stretch your budget. By improving the aesthetics of your aquarium, you will make the tank homey for your turtle and consequently live a happy and healthy life. Additionally, the plants sit well and sturdy in the tank; however, their stem may bend due to the material used in manufacturing, but you can soak them in warm water for straightening.

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15. CZN Aquarium Aquascape Artificial Plant

If you love artificial plants but at the same time need the touch of the real options, then CZN is a reliable plant. It has a grass-like look with some plants at the base, making it appear more realistic and natural. It is bushy; thus, ideal for turtles’ games and a reliable hiding spot. It makes the tank look like a tropical extract and gives it a great appearance that improves the aquarium décor since it is thick and prominent. This artificial plant blends well with the turtle. Although it is stiff, it is still safe for your pet’s use and doesn’t cause any injuries.

Other than sprucing up the aquarium, the CZN fake plant is firm, and the turtle may not easily topple it because it has a wide base for extra stability. Moreover, turtles don’t munch their leaves. Thus, it will remain gorgeous until you decide to explore other plants. Lastly, the artificial plant is miraculously proper for any turtle aquarium. However, its stiffness doesn’t allow it to sway in water frequently; hence a keen observer may tell it apart from a real grassy plant.

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There’s no better way to enhance your tank’s look other than by using plants. Exotic pets love a natural-like setup and will thrive better if they see plants in their enclosure. You can select any from our choices as you match it with your tank’s look and your turtle’s personality for the best results.

Harvey Wells

I am an intense cool pets lover. I have tortoises, tarantulas and a few other exotic pets. And I would love to share what I have learned.

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