Top 5 Live Plants to Use in Brackish Aquariums

Kate Barrington
by Kate Barrington
fast facts

A mix of salt and freshwater, brackish aquariums present its own set of challenges when it comes to live plants. Here are a few plants that hold up in this type of tank.

When it comes to different types of aquariums, there are two main categories – freshwater and saltwater. If you really want to get into the details, however, there is a third option to consider that is halfway between the two. A brackish aquarium is half freshwater and half saltwater which means that you have to be careful about the plants and fish you choose.

Related: Keeping Carnivorous Plants in Your Home Aquarium

What is a Brackish Biotope?

In the simplest terms, a brackish tank is one that is half saltwater and half freshwater. This doesn’t mean that one half of your tank is freshwater and the other half is saltwater – the entire tank is on the spectrum somewhere in between. Natural brackish habitats occur in areas where rivers meet the ocean in swamps, estuaries, and mangrove forests. The salinity of a brackish environment will vary depending on the tide as well as the flow of freshwater, the amount of rain, and the evaporation rate. The specific gravity in a brackish environment will typically range from 1.006 to 1.015 and the water clarity will range as well from perfectly clear to extremely cloudy. A brackish biotope tank is an aquarium that mimics a natural brackish environment not just in terms of water chemistry but in the tank inhabitants (plants and fish) as well.

Related: Exploring The Riparium

Best Plants for Brackish Aquariums

Because brackish aquariums are a blend of saltwater and freshwater, many live aquarium plants will not do well. In order to survive in a brackish environment, the plants must be hardy and adaptable to different environments. Your best bet to ensure that your plants survive may be to start with a traditional freshwater tank (stocked with hardy plant species) and to gradually increase the salinity over time. Some of the best plants to use in brackish aquariums include the following:

  • Anubias: This group of plants produces arrow-shaped leaves and grows fairly quickly and easily in the tank environment. Anubias can be rooted to driftwood or rocks – it can also be used as a free floating plant.
  • Anacharis: This type of aquarium plant produces bright green leaves that grow in branching stems. Anacharis grows fairly quickly and it is a popular choice for plant-eating fish.
  • Java Fern: Java fern is one of the hardiest types of aquarium plant and it is also one of the most attractive. This plant grows up to 8 inches tall and it can be rooted to rocks or driftwood in the aquarium.
  • Hornwort: This plant produces stems layered with hair-like foliage that grows very thick in strong lighting. Hornwort can be rooted or left to float freely and it will help to reduce algae growth in your tank.
  • Water Sprite: This plant is different from the others because it produces delicate leaves in a lacy pattern. Water sprite is an excellent choice for brackish tanks, especially if you have newly hatched fry to think about.

If you are looking for a challenge beyond the scope of the traditional freshwater or saltwater tank, a brackish aquarium might be right up your alley. If you do choose to give a brackish aquarium a try, just be careful about choosing your tank inhabitants since the environment in a brackish tank is different from a freshwater or saltwater tank.

Kate Barrington
Kate Barrington

Kate Barrington is the loving owner of two cats (Bagel and Munchkin) and a noisy herd of guinea pigs. Having grown up with golden retrievers, Kate has a great deal of experience with dogs but labels herself a lover of all pets. Having received a Bachelor's degree in English, Kate has combined her love for pets and her passion for writing to create her own freelance writing business, specializing in the pet niche.

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