Dwarf Baby Tears in my 2.8-gallon tank
I’ve done a ton of research on this subject and I have found five plants that were recommended over and over again as easy to grow. I did weed out many beautiful aquarium plants because they would have gotten too large for a small or nano aquarium.
I admittedly had an ulterior motive in writing this as I have a 10 gallon tank which I need good, correct size plants for. I have a few aquarium plants in there now (that I got from another hobbyist, but most are inappropriate for a small tank.
I also have a 2.8 gallon aquarium that I am dry starting. The carpeting plants I have in there are doing well, but I also have a java fern which is too tall for the tank. That will be moved into the 10 gallon once I have ordered my new plants
The plants mentioned below would do well in a 15 gallon tank or smaller that has good lighting. No CO2 needed, unless you want to add it for extra fast growth.
Java Moss, 1 inch+: Java Moss is a bunching plant that looks best attached to rocks or driftwood. Like Anubias mentioned below, Java Moss is very accepting of just about any kind of water that your fish can live in. If you have live bearing fish in your tank your aquarium, to keep from being eaten, the fry will use the Java moss to hide in.
Java Moss image provided courtesy of Wikipedia and By Buchling, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1265454
Mini Amazon Sword Plant (Rosette Sword) – . Mainam Echinodorus Parviflorus Rosette. This plant is super easy to grow and so far hasn’t had a problem with algae. I took this picture when I first got the plant. I’m probably not giving mine enough light because it is not sending out flower spikes. It is how ever putting out tons of new plants growing out from the base of the mature plants.
Pictured Above: A mini Amazon sword plant – Mainam Echinodorus Parviflorus Rosette. I have this plant planted in both nano tanks. Super easy to grow. Click the picture to view full size.
Here is the mini sword after one year in my 2.8 gallon nano aquarium. Click the picture to see full size.
Anubias Nana Petite, 4” tall 8” wide: This is a very slow growing plant that is very hard to kill. Because of how slow it grows it is best to buy the largest plant or plant grouping you can. Anubias is very tolerant of growing condition and can be grown in any water that you can keep fish in. Propagation is from runners (baby plants that grow out of the main root). Break off the runners and replant where desired.
A picture I took of the Anubias Nana Petite after receiving it in the mail.
Java Fern – 8” tall: Java Fern is another really hard to kill plant. Although it can be planted in the substrate (roots only) it does best when grown attached to rocks or driftwood. My full grown Java Fern would take over my 10-gallon nano aquarium if I kept it in better conditions.
You can see my java fern below. A little more light and a little less plant nutrients would make it really shine. Of course even with less than optimun conditons it is growing pretty good.
Pictured above: Another picture of my java fern including my betta. Click on picture to see full size.
Pygmy Chain Sword, up to 6” tall: This little sword plant requires bright light and a sand substrate (My new 10 gallon has a sand & soil substrate. I look forward to seeing how the plants do). This plant can form a thick carpet of leaves. Because of its size it would probably do best as a mid-ground plant but could be a background plant in a very small nano aquarium. To propagate this plant sends out side shoots which can be cut off from the runner and planted where desired.
No photo available
Bonus plant: I have been successfully dry-starting Alternanthera Reineckii Mini. This is a pretty little (4” tall) brownish red plant with small leaves. Although I read that it is slow growing, in my dry-started, bright 2.8 gallon nano aquarium it is growing very well, very fast. That makes me think that to grow it fast underwater the hobbyist will need very bright lights and added CO2. For now I can recommend it.
Photo from my 2.8 gallon nano tank. Alternanthera Reineckii Mini is in the upper left corner.
Reineckii Mini (red plant, left corner)