7 Best Aquarium Plants to Reduce Nitrates in the Tank

Nitrate is a highly harmful chemical found in your aquarium tanks.

Nitrate results from the natural ‘Nitrogen Cycle’ that exists within a tank and is a part of its natural ecological system.

In this guide, we will talk about the best aquarium plants to reduce nitrates and why there is a need to do so.

Why Is It Important to Reduce Nitrates?

Although nitrate is very advantageous for the plants in the aquarium tank, it can be very detrimental to the health of the fish that live inside the tank and consume the harmful chemical.

An excessive amount of nitrates can be very harmful to fish, as even if they do not kill the fish, they will likely get sick from nitrate consumption and leave them susceptible to various diseases.

There are many different sources that are responsible for the buildup of excessive nitrogen within the aquarium tank.

These can include fish waste, fish food that has been left uneaten and discarded, dirty filters inside the tank, and decaying plants.

One of the best and most common ways to get your nitrogen levels under control, and reduce excess nitrate particles in your tank, is through the placement of aquatic plants.

Many aquatic plants absorb nitrate, and it is highly beneficial for their growth.

In return, this is also beneficial for your tank overall, as these plants also promote the production of oxygen.

We have compiled a guide containing the best aquatic plants to reduce nitrate levels inside an aquarium tank.

Keep reading further to know which ones you should add to your aquarium.

What Kind Of Plants Are Best For Reducing Nitrates in Fish Tank?

Plants that have a fast growth rate are most likely to absorb nitrate and other chemicals in the tank most effectively. 

Since the plants use nitrate in order to grow and benefit from the chemical, plants with vigorous growth rates and ones that produce leaves quickly are going to be the most beneficial in absorbing the nitrates from the tank.

Hornwort (Full name: Ceratophyllum demersum)

Hornwort is an aquarium plant available in more than 300 different species.


There are some species of this hornwort plant that can grow at the bottom of the tank, in the substrate, and even some that can be free-floating in the aquarium tank and even at the surface of the water.

The hornwort is an extremely tall plant and can even touch the surface once it has been planted in the substrate and taken care of adequately.

Hornwort is tolerant of most water temperatures and does not need special temperature settings once planted.

The hornwort can be easily found in almost every continent on the planet, except Antarctica.

Hornwort is a very easy and low-maintenance plant to look after. It usually thrives in both a low and high level of light exposure.

However, one downside of the hornwort is that it often sheds its long bristle-like leaves, and this can clog the filter and ruin the look of your aquarium.

Therefore, make sure to clean your tank of any shedding whilst taking care of hornwort.

Marimo Moss Ball (Full name: Aegagropila linnaei)

The marimo moss ball is one of the most popular aquatic species to add to your aquarium tank, as it is highly effective in absorbing nitrates.

Marimo Moss Ball

The marimo moss ball is an algae species and is found in the shape of soft green-colored balls.

These algae can be found at substrate level, at the bottom of water bodies such as lake beds, and then over time, conform into the shape of these gentle balls.

The ideal condition for the marimo moss ball is to be kept in a low-light setting, and it usually thrives in cooler water temperatures.

However, they do not require very high maintenance and can be kept in tropical aquarium tanks as well.

The care level for marimo moss balls is extremely easy.

Amazon Frogbit (Full name: Limnobium laevigatum)

 The Amazon Frogbit is one of the easiest plant species that you can add to your aquarium tank that will help get rid of nitrates fast.

Amazon Frogbit (Full name Limnobium laevigatum)

The Amazon Frogbit is a surface-level plant that floats on top of the tank. However, it won’t take over the surface of the tank as some similar plants species do.

The Amazon Frogbit plant grows long and dangling roots that trail down from the surface of the tank in order to create the perfect hiding places for timid fish species to live amongst.

If you are worried that they will make your aquarium tank look unruly and want to keep it looking aesthetically pleasing, you may use tube rings in order to organize the Amazon Frogbit.

The light level required for this plant is also minimal, as it needs only low to medium light intensity to thrive.

Water Wisteria (Full name: Hygrophila Difformis)

The water wisteria requires a medium exposure to light in order to grow and flourish within an aquarium tank.

Water Wisteria Plant

The water wisteria is one of the most undemanding and easy tropical aquatic plants to nurture and take care of amongst the aquatic plant species.

These aquatic species do not need to be fertilized, nor need any sort of regulated temperature or light regulation.

The water wisteria is a popular plant for fish tanks and can give it an aesthetically pleasing look to it, too.

They can be placed at both substrate-level as well as left to free float on the top of the aquarium tank.

Java Fern (Full name: Microsorum Pteropus)

The Java Fern is an incredibly popular and favorite for beginners, as well as hobbyists. This plant is extremely easy to grow and take care of.

Java Ferns

The Java Fern requires the condition of its rhizome to be kept above substrate level in order to flourish.

This aquatic plant can be planted at the substrate level directly, or planted on top of rocks, ornaments, or even on driftwood.

Low to moderate levels of light exposure are required for the Java Fern to flourish accurately.

The Java Fern is a plant that grows very slowly, and the new plants of the species are grown on top of the leaves of mature Java Fern plants.

In order to keep the species going, you should separate these baby plants and plant them individually on the substrate level, on top of a hard surface to promote growth.

Duckweed (Full name: Lemna minor)

Duckweed is one of the most effective plants for absorbing excessive amounts of nitrates from within your fish tank.


It does a great job at absorbing the nutrients and nitrates and then converting them into energy for the plant to grow.

The duckweed is an extremely fast-growing plant and can very quickly and easily cover up a lot of surface area inside your fish tank.

This can be difficult to maintain as it can grow up to three times its original size in just one day.

This means that it requires care and should be organized using a plastic tube so it doesn’t become too unruly in your fish tank.

The duckweed requires low to moderate light in order to grow and must be regularly maintained and taken care of.

Also read: How to Get Rid of Duckweed in an Aquarium

Tall Hairgrass (Full name: Eleocharis montevidensis)

The tall hair grass is an extremely easy plant to grow. It requires medium to high light exposure in order to flourish and grow.

Tall hairgrass can grow up to 10 inches in height and must be maintained by regularly getting trimmed so that it does not cover the surface area of your aquarium tank.

In order to get it to spread outward, rather than keep growing taller, it must be trimmed very often.

Tall hairgrass is one of the best aquatic plants to absorb chemicals such as nitrates from within your fish tank.

Due to its quick growth, its nitrate absorption levels are extremely high.

However, one major issue you may encounter whilst growing tall hairgrass is that it is high maintenance due to its shedding nature.

Therefore, cleaning out your fish tank and filters is harder whilst taking care of tall hairgrass.

Final Thoughts on Nitrate-Reducing Aquarium Plants

High nitrate levels can be extremely detrimental to the health of fish and other aquatic animals that exist within your fish tank.

They can lead to nitrate poisoning, as well as illness and death for fish and other invertebrates.

The good news is that nitrate levels are very easy to keep under control and maintain.

Planting green aquatic plants are the best solution to keep your nitrate levels under control.

You can select any kind of species from this extensive guide and determine which kind of plant you want to add to your tank.

You can choose between plants that float on the waters’ surface, such as water wisteria, more bushy plants such as hornwort, or even plants that grow on substrate-level, such as tall hairgrass.

Planting these green aquatic plants in your aquarium tank will not only help keep chemical levels such as nitrates in check but will also benefit the overall ecological conditions of your fish tank and provide cleaner water, better oxygen conditions, and a healthier and prosperous environment within your tank.

We hope this guide helped you decide which best aquatic species you want to plant to reduce nitrate levels in your fish tanks. Good luck!

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