Did you know that aquarium plants add curb appeal to your home aquarium? Also, they provide a healthy living for your fish by getting rid of nitrates to preserve the water’s cleanliness. These aquatic plants are available in various forms, including potted, bare-root, bunch, and tissue culture. Thus, learning how to anchor aquatic plants is essential to ensure they don’t end up floating in your aquarium. Anchoring aquatic plants is actually quite easy when you know what to do.

The best aquatic plant anchors include rocks, weights, covers on the aquarium, driftwood, baskets, buckets, pots, plant weights, suction cups, and crevices in the aquarium. The plant anchors you choose depend on the type of plants to be anchored, the size of the aquarium, and their rooting system.

How To Anchor Aquatic Plants

If your aquarium plants won’t stay planted, anchor them as follows:

1. Place Some Rocks At The Bottom of Your Aquarium

Rocks effectively hold aquatic plants that grow directly in pebbles or sand at the bottom of your aquarium. The shape and size of anchor rocks to use will depend on the size of your aquatic plants. You can tie the roots of some aquatic plants to the stones to keep them well-positioned.

Typically, holding the roots on the pebbles allows them to grow stronger and bigger. Thus, it is an effective way to ensure the life of the aquatic plants.

2. Add Substantial Weight Around The Plant Base

Suppose you try to plant the aquatic plants directly on pebbles and sand at the bottom of your aquarium. In that case, the chances are high that they will detach themselves from the medium, float, and eventually die (except for floating plants that do not need anchors).

To address this problem, anchor each plant securely with small rocks or loose gravel. Consequently, pumps and fish in the aquarium can kick the pebbles and sand, but the anchored aquatic plants will stay in place. 

Ensure the weight you are using to anchor your aquatic plants isn’t too heavy. Weights that are too heavy can slowly kill your plant or cause it to grow at a relatively slow speed. Also, make sure you have cleaned your aquarium plants to avoid diseases and parasites as you anchor them.

3. Place a Cover On The Top

Anchor your aquarium plants by placing a layer of nylon mesh to the plant spot. Notably, they will allow the development of good and strong roots. When doing this, remember to leave some space on the nylon mesh for the aquatic plants to grow through. Then, screen the remaining anchor with your favorite substrate. 

Pebbles, gravel, or sand are effective for anchoring the nylon mesh to the base of your aquarium and securing your aquatic plants at the bottom of the layers.

4. Attach Aquarium Plants To Driftwood

Suppose you prefer aquascaping with driftwood to using rocks to hardscape. Then, you can use driftwood to anchor aquarium plants. Rubber bands or zip-ties can be good enough. Also, you can use fishing lines to anchor the plants on the driftwood.

However, if you are trying to anchor mature plants with strong roots, you can instead wrap their roots around the wood.

Among the live aquarium plants that you can anchor to driftwood or rocks include:

  • Christmas moss
  • Java Fern
  • African Water Fern
  • Anubias
  • Java Moss
  • Dwarf Baby Tears

5. Utilize Baskets, Buckets, or Pots

This is one of the most suitable options if you are looking for a decorative way of anchoring your aquarium plants. First, add some gravel to light-weighted buckets. Alternatively, you can add small pebbles or other inactive mediums to keep the plant inside. 

When using ceramic pots, you don’t need to add weight since they are heavy enough to sink on their own. In addition, they are available in various patterns and shapes that you can choose for the best look. 

Popular pet stores and online retailers such as Amazon have various options that work best for this anchoring method. Some aquatic plants favored by betta fish go well with brightly colored pots and baskets.

6. Make Use Of Plant Weights

Bundled plants have various stems attached and wrapped with foam strips with ceramic plants and lead at the bottom. These plants have small white roots protruding or can be cut like bunches of flowers.

The most commonly supplied plants in cut bunches may include Cabomba, Hygrophila, Elodea, and Egeria. On the other hand, Echinodorus, Cryptocoryne, and Vallisneria are available with some roots.

You should remove the plant weight and slice the stems before planting bunched plants. Conversely, the stems will decay around the weight. Aquarium plant melting can also occur due to disease and change of environment.

Choose at least two stems and smoothly tie them with a plant weight. However, this should be done before driving the small bunch into the substrate within two inches of depth. 

You can purchase ceramic and lead plant weights from the fish store. They are perfect for keeping aquatic plants well-anchored in the substrate. Notably, you don’t have to remove these weights after the plants have rooted.

7. Suction Cups Are Effective For Anchoring

Suction cups are good if you are looking for a suitable way to anchor aquatic plants in the aquarium. You only need to buy them and attach the roots of your aquatic plants to one side of the suction cup. Then, bond the other side of the roots to the side or base of your aquarium to keep them down. 

Ensure you buy the right suction cups for anchoring your aquarium plants. This is because you will find common suction cups designed purposely for dry use. Implying, you have to place them in the aquarium prior to adding water.

On the other hand, some suction cups are usable in wet conditions. Thus, they are a suitable solution for an active aquarium if you wish to add some aquatic plants to your aquarium.

8. Put Aquarium Plants In Crevices

If you are using medium and large-sized aquariums, chances are you will easily find multiple textured rocks with crevices that you can use to anchor your plants. After wrapping plants around the rocks, they will eventually develop a strong root system that will allow them to be anchored permanently. Later, you can plant cuttings into the anchored plants.

Notably, you can anchor multiple aquarium plants within the crannies and nooks in your aquarium. In addition, when you add more decorations to your aquarium, you will have multiple options for anchoring the aquatic plants. 

9. Use fish-safe adhesive

You can also use adhesives that are safe for your aquatic life to keep the plants anchored to rocks or the substrate in general.

Why Do I Need To Anchor Aquarium Plants?

Here are 5 top reasons why you need to anchor aquarium plants:

1. Prevent Base Dwellers And Feeders from Uprooting the Plants

Base feeders and dwellers will most likely exterminate the roots of insecurely anchored plants. However, even if they are not mainly interested in eating the plant, they can remove a substantial amount of substrate to leave the roots exposed. 

Base dwellers will more likely exterminate aquarium plants when searching for the remaining food. Also, large-bodied fish will remove such plants when swimming at the bottom of the aquarium.

For instance, the banded leporinus fish are well-known for tearing apart aquarium plants. In addition, Oscars, plecos, and large cichlids also keep the survival of aquarium plants at risk.

2. Prevent Newbies In An Aquarium from Uprooting the Plants

Fish used to live in a plain tank, like the fish nursery, will pull aquarium plants when first introduced to a new environment. Of course, they do it due to their curiosity, but they will be friendly to the plants like other fish after settling in the aquarium.

Thus, if you anchor plants when introducing such fish, it will cater to this stressful accommodation phase.

3. Protect Plants from the Flow Rate And Filter Position

A strong water current can also cause the aquarium plant to be uprooted. Also, a high flow rate filter will cause the midground plants to be exterminated. Using a piece of driftwood to anchor these plants will keep them safe from water agitation.

Also, your plants can easily shed leaves due to too much aeration in the aquarium (wavemaker, pump, etc.). Likewise, you should minimize the number of aerators you use in your aquarium.

4. Protect Plants from Plant Grazers

Some fish have a herbivorous feeding habit. Such fish will feed on live aquarium plants even though they are considered omnivorous. For instance, mono fish, silver dollar fish, and Buenos Aires tetras may eat a substantive amount of plant matter.

Such aggressive catfish can make keeping aquarium plants a hard hassle. Luckily, you can anchor live aquarium plants using various ways to keep them safe from such greedy herbivores.

However, since most fish don’t feed on roots, the aquarium plants will rejuvenate after being nibbled on. Thus, you can keep the plants deep in the substrate layer to preserve their lives.

5. Prevent Burrowing Fish from Uprooting the Plants

Some fish species, such as snails and shrimp, will burrow into gravel sand after searching for food in the substrate. Despite these being normal habits, they will strike problems in unanchored live plants.

You can use the methods discussed above to prevent burrowers from uprooting your aquarium plants. Placing some light weight between substrates and plant stems can be a perfect solution. 

Aggressive fish like goldfish that can dig into the substrate are hard to control. However, they will be unable to uproot the plants after it develops a strong root system.

6. Give Unhealthy Plants a Chance to Grow

Some plants float because they’re of poor health and anchoring them gives them a chance to obtain the nutrients they need to grow. Such plants have weak root systems which keep getting cut and the plant floats away.

In most cases, you may buy plants with poor health such that their rooting system doesn’t allow the to grow fast enough. The remedy in such a case is to anchor them with the methods above for the plant to grow healthy.

Bottom Line

Anchoring aquatic plants goes a long way in making them steady. They also get to grow better leading to a better-looking and generally healthier aquarium. From the methods discussed above, you can easily anchor aquatic plants with the method that appeals to you the most to achieve the look you desire.


Seminole County Water Quality Section Department of Public Works. A Guide on How to Plant Your Lakefront.

University of Minnesota. Managing Aquatic Plants in Minnesota Lakes.

Carolina Biological Supply Company. Aquatic Plants.

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