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The 9 Best Live Plants For Turtle Tanks

Fake plants are acceptable, but that is not what we will be discussing today. Plants are one of the many essential components of a healthy and happy turtle aquarium. Therefore, BestForPets (bestforpets.org) are here today to assist you in locating the best live plants for turtle tanks.

This plant is our top selection for turtles since they enjoy eating them and because it helps imitate their native surroundings. You may be wondering what types of plants are suitable for a turtle tank, and choosing the best ones might be a challenge.



Clearly, this is the best course of action. Hornwort is a plant that does not reach the surface of the water. It is green and occasionally somewhat yellow, making it an attractive addition to any aquarium.

Hornwort is quite resistant to a variety of water conditions. As long as the water temperature and illumination are not excessively hot or cold, neither is a major concern.

They do require a small amount of light, but as long as the various turtle lights are on, this should not be a problem. Hornwort is extremely resilient and can thrive in a variety of environments.

This contains a turtle enclosure where it may be consumed. Given that turtles can consume it relatively rapidly, the plant’s rapid growth is also advantageous. Additionally, this material is perfect for water filtration.


  • Hardy and rapidly growing
  • Resistant to numerous water conditions
  • Can tolerate being consumed by turtles
  • Purifies the water


  • Does need good lighting


Java Moss

The true beauty of Java moss is that it needs neither particular lighting nor air conditions to thrive. It thrives in dark and muddy water, thus it may be kept in practically any freshwater aquarium.

Java moss is also useful for water filtration, which is essential in any turtle tank. It grows on the aquarium’s substrate, rocks, driftwood, and other objects. This means that it grows easily almost everywhere, and develops rapidly, so being eaten is not a major concern, and is easy to maintain.


  • Grows rapidly
  • Filters water well
  • Able to navigate muddy water
  • Easy to maintain


  • Can be difficult to anchor


Java Fern

The Java fern is an additional option worth considering. Even though it must be anchored with small pebbles or driftwood, it is an excellent addition to any turtle tank. Simply secure it to any submerged surface using a fishing line, and everything will be fine. It does require some illumination, but the turtle lights will suffice.

Java ferns are excellent at removing waste from the water, so acting as a natural filter. Java ferns are not particularly appetizing, and while turtles may nibble on them sometimes, they will not consume the entire plant. Low CO2 levels are also not an issue. It is a durable, resilient, and simple-to-care-for plant for any freshwater aquarium.


  • Constitutes a natural filter
  • Turtles do not consume the entire plant.
  • Hardy and low maintenance


  • Needs good lighting
  • Can be difficult to anchor


Dwarf Hairgrass

Dwarf Hairgrass resembles your own lawn’s grass in many respects. Normal grass is not aquatic, however dwarf hairgrass is unquestionably aquatic. This material is ideal for covering the substrate, providing turtles with something soft to walk on and rummage at the bottom of the tank.

It is a stunning addition to any turtle aquarium, resembling an underwater lawn. Turtles may consume some of this, but it is not particularly pleasant, so they will not devour an entire field of it. In addition, it does not use much lighting or CO2 and grows slowly, so it will not take up too much tank space.


  • Not requiring specific lighting or CO2
  • Unpalatable for turtles
  • Grows slowly


  • A little bit simple-looking



Moneywort is a fantastic alternative to consider. The aesthetic appeal of this item is appreciated by many. Simply said, it appears quite attractive. This is more of a straight plant, in the sense that its leafy shoots are longer and taller, as well as relatively thin. If you have one or two smaller bunches, they make for a nice option.

That being said, don’t add too many of them as they grow fairly tall and will take up lots of room in the water if you do have too many. This thing may be eaten by your turtles, but it grows quite quickly so that should be no concern.

Moreover, although it prefers a great deal of light and carbon dioxide, moneywort is not unduly demanding and will thrive in the depths of a turtle tank.


  • Very good-looking
  • Can tolerate being consumed by turtles
  • Fairly hardy


  • Rapidly expand and consume a great deal of space
  • Requires abundant illumination and CO2


Red Ludwigia

Red ludwigia is favored by a large number of individuals because to its exceptionally low maintenance requirements. It need no extra nutrition, lighting, or ventilation. It will thrive on its own while consuming the nutrients in the water. The fact that this plant is so low-maintenance makes it an excellent option for much more than simply turtle tanks.

It is a higher plant, so you need only put a few bushes here and there to prevent overcrowding the swimming area, but a few will enough. Additionally, this is a rapidly growing plant that turtles enjoy eating. While turtles may consume a great number of red ludwigia, it grows so quickly that it will quickly regenerate.


  • Lowest upkeep
  • Fast-growing
  • Attractive


  • Can overrun your aquarium
  • Delicious to turtles


Water Lettuce

Water lettuce is an additional cool choice for your turtle’s tank. These guys are plants that float on the water’s surface. Due to the fact that they lie on the water’s surface, they will be able to absorb a great deal of UV rays and hence satisfy their light requirements.

In addition, turtles enjoy eating this, and it also provides a nice cover. This plant is highly resilient and will have no trouble thriving in a turtle tank. In addition, they contribute to the aesthetic attractiveness of any tank.


  • Hardy and attractive
  • Interesting aquatic vegetation
  • Not requiring special nourishment


  • Need intense illumination
  • Be consumed by turtles


Water Hyacinth

Water hyacinth is another fantastic alternative for a floating plant. Except for its appearance, this substance is quite similar to water lettuce. Since it floats on the surface of the water, it has no trouble obtaining air and light. Additionally, it is a tough and resilient plant, so keeping it alive is not a problem.

In addition, turtles enjoy eating water hyacinths, so it does make for a good feast. In addition, these things are highly visually pleasing, especially when their blooms are in bloom.


  • Arduous and tenacious
  • Floats on the water’s surface.
  • Stunning blossoming flowers


  • Must be trimmed frequently


Moss Balls

Moss balls are an unusual option, but an excellent one nonetheless. These are simple aquatic moss balls that rest at the bottom of the aquarium. They are not particularly appetizing, so turtles may nibble on them but will not devour them.

In addition, they thrive in low-light aquariums, which is ideal for a turtle tank’s substrate. Moss balls are also a great toy that your turtles may play with and push about. In addition, they are excellent water filters that remove undesirable chemicals and extra nutrients. We cannot overlook the fact that they are also rather attractive.


  • An amusing toy for turtles
  • Excellent water filters
  • Interesting-looking
  • Can tolerate low light


  • Not a complete plant

Buyer's Guide

There are numerous options available for a turtle tank, but there are a few considerations to keep in mind while making your choice. One of the most important considerations is to include only plants that the turtle can consume (like hornwort).

While you do not want plants that are too tasty, as the turtles may consume them before they have a chance to mature, you should avoid plants that may contain substances that are poisonous to turtles. Turtles adore eating plants, so any plant that they can consume is a major plus.

Additionally, you should include plants that root easily in the substrate. You need the plants to remain securely planted in the substrate, therefore any plant with a strong root system is a significant advantage. In addition, turtle tanks often have low levels of light and oxygen in the water, therefore plants with low oxygen and light requirements are appropriate. Floating plants (such as water lettuce) are also beneficial for turtles since they give cover, look lovely, and are typically tasty.

Advantages Of Maintaining Living Plants In Your Turtle Tank

There are a variety of advantages to maintaining turtle plants in your aquarium. We refer to these plants as turtle plants because, in most cases, they are edible by turtles.

Regardless, what are the advantages of maintaining live plants in turtle tanks?

Restore Filtration

Live plants can operate as a backup water filtration system, which is one of the greatest benefits of this method. The best plants for turtle aquariums can remove ammonia, nitrites, and other harmful organic compounds from the water.

They make the water cleaner, making it a healthier environment for your turtles, and they also reduce the strain on the filter.


Simply told, aquatic turtle plants will greatly improve the appearance of the aquarium. Without plants, aquariums and turtle tanks appear strange and unnatural. It will not only look better, but it will also be better for the turtle.

Regardless of the circumstance, the presence of live plants in the aquarium enhances its aesthetic appeal.

More Oxygen

Plants are capable of oxygenating water. Turtles require a great deal of oxygen, which is also true if you have fish in the same tank.

The greater the number of aquatic plants in the tank, the more oxygen the water will contain, which is always a plus.

Cheerful Turtles

Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of adding live plants to your turtle’s tank is that it will make your pet considerably happier.

Turtles enjoy eating some water vegetation, and they also enjoy hiding among them. Simply put, excellent aquatic vegetation will help your turtle feel at home.

Can I utilize plastic plants in my turtle’s aquarium?

Yes, if you so want, you may use artificial plastic plants in your turtle’s tank. However, in our opinion, if caring for a few live plants is too tough and time-consuming, you likely do not have the time to properly care for a turtle.

In any event, plastic plants will thrive in a turtle tank, as they do not require maintenance and cannot die.

However, genuine plants are superior to artificial ones for turtle tanks for several reasons. Plastic plants cannot oxygenate the water since they are incapable of photosynthesis.

In addition, plastic plants are incapable of filtering out germs and undesirable substances from water. In addition, turtles cannot consume plastic plants, and if they do, they will become unwell. You will fare better with live plants.

What types of vegetation do red-eared sliders consume?

Red-eared sliders are among the most widely kept turtles, which is why we would like to discuss some plants that they enjoy eating.

Keep in mind that they may not enjoy eating all of these plants, but they will not harm the turtles.

Common aquatic plant

This is among the most suitable plants for red-eared sliders. The majority of turtles appear to enjoy the flavor of this substance, which is also nutrient-rich. Additionally, it is incredibly simple to cultivate, affordable and requires minimal upkeep.


This is likely one of the greatest solutions for a variety of reasons. Although turtles often dislike the flavor of this substance, some have been observed eating it, and it is also harmless.

There is also the fact that Hornwort does not require a substrate, thrives in most climates, and requires little upkeep.

Java Fern

Java ferns are also relatively low maintenance. They must be secured to something, as they are known to escape their substrate and float about.

Aside from that, though, this plant requires very little upkeep. Some turtles enjoy eating this, but the vast majority will avoid it.

Amazon Sword

The Amazon sword plant is also suitable for turtle tanks. This is another plant that is simple to cultivate and requires little maintenance.

Red-eared sliders may consume a small portion of it, but they often will not consume the entire plant. However, they may rip it out of the substrate if the mood strikes.

What plants should I not add to my turtle’s aquarium?

There are not many things to remember in this situation. Toxic plants are the first ones to avoid. Water hemlock, milkweed, and ivy are examples of plants that turtles cannot eat under any circumstances. Aside from these, the majority of plants are edible for turtles.

Furthermore, a plant that requires excessive amounts of light and oxygen is not ideal, especially if it will be submerged. Lastly, any plant with a weak root system (or that does not float) is unsuitable for a turtle tank. They must be firmly planted to avoid randomly floating around the tank.


BestForPets (bestforpets.org) hopes that our reviews of the best live plants for turtle tanks have assisted you in narrowing down your selections and identifying the ideal product for your needs.

Author Image

Dr. Deborah Fletcher

Deborah R. Fletcher, DVM, is a skilled veterinarian with more than 15 years of experience dealing with companion and exotic animals. She has experience caring for a variety of animals, including household cats and dogs, reptiles, birds of prey, and even primates. Dr. Fletcher is a valuable part of the BestForPets team, where she contributes to their aim of providing pets and their owners with the finest possible treatment and services.

Veterinarian (DVM) Dr. Deborah Fletcher


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