3 Tips on how to grow aquarium carpeting plants better

If you want good beginner carpeting plants, be sure to read through this article for a lot of good tips to help you solve your troubles.

Picking any plant for an aquarium can be tough, especially for beginners, these tips will help you save some money by making good decisions, since there are literally a ton of different plants out there to select from. 

To keep it simple, here are the top three choices for beginners and don’t forget to do your own research, learn about other plants and keep studying. If you are not a fan of the ones that are recommended, you can find a wide variety of options that are best suited for you. 

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Dwarf Sag (Sagittaria Subulata)

You can take chunks of Dwarf Sag from your pond or from your local supplier and literally grow them in a kiddie pool. This plant is bulletproof, and probably one of the toughest aquarium plants, that is why it is recommend  to everybody new.  They are so tough they can survive at least one week of ice being completely frozen and will still be alive after thawing out. 

There’s no need for CO2, no need to fertilize, no need for high lighting. It’s a totally low tech plant and does great anywhere and can get a little tall if your lighting is super low, but if you keep the light from low to medium it is going to stay fairly short and carpet up nicely. 

You can take your Dwarf Sag from a pond, to a tub, and then to a shrimp aquarium and it is still totally viable, and will spread really quickly. 

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Dwarf Chain Swords (Echinodorus Tenellus)

Another great carpeting plant for beginners is the Dwarf Chain Swords. It gives a kind of a jungle look and is similar to the Dwarf Sag when it comes to leaf morphology and does a lot of the same things that the Dwarf Sag does. One difference is that  it tends to be a lighter green. 

Dwarf Chain Swords have a ton of runners, making your carpet fill in really fast. It can also get a little annoying and out of hand, so look out as they need maintenance. This is not the best choice for the foreground of the tank, because the leaves can easily grow over 10 inches at their highest points. You need to find a plant that is going to work within the scape you’re trying to create. You do not need to add light and you don’t need CO2, but they do help. As long as you have a good spectrum, your plants are going to carpet fast. 

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S. Repens (Staurogyne Repens)

This is a plant that needs a little special treatment here and there, but it’s totally doable, even for a beginner, even though it needs some work, you can get a really nice carpet out of it. If it starts becoming yellowish, you just need to add a little bit of iron. 

The S. Repens looks a lot different from the dwarf sag and the chain swords in their leaf morphology and the overall structure of the plant, this adds a nice visual and works well in any aquarium scape. 

However it does take a little bit more patience with the lighting, you must get it right before it works. But once you get it going, it looks fantastic and the carpet gets pretty lush. If you’re going with this plant, buy as much as you can afford to get the carpet growing even faster. 


Here are a few tips you can use to get a better carpet, as sometimes you need to tweak a few things here and there to get the carpet growing the right way:

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Lighting

Lighting is really important and depending on the plant it can be crucial. In the case of S. Repens, when they are under low light the plant tends to stretch upwards. This happens with a lot of carpeting plants, because they need to grow towards the light source, becoming leggy instead of bushy and dense. 

When the plant has all the nutrients and CO2 it needs but no lighting, it will grow in the direction of the light. You don’t need extreme lighting, you need only the right amount, some plants can have up to seven led lights and it’s still not enough. This is normal, you will have to get used to constantly checking these kinds of things to achieve your desired outcome. Sometimes, all you need is an extra bulb. No big deal. 

The lighting should be one of those first things you pay attention to if your plant isn’t carpeting well. 

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Substrate 

This one is super important. You need to provide nutrients down at the root level of a carpeting plant to make sure they grow strong and fast. Some plants like Dwarf Baby Tears are harder because they don’t have a massive root system, and that means you need to pay even more attention to the substrate nutrient levels. 

If you use soil for growing Dwarf Sag, you are going to have a lot of them, it is going to propagate very well because they feed a great deal from their root system. You could always use root tabs to help promote a carpet. On the other hand you can also use aqua soil, regular garden soil, a fluval stratum or even eco complete, whatever substrate you chose to use make sure it is nutrient packed and everything will go a lot easier for you. 

However as a tip off, when the substrate is full of nutrients other plants may grow new runners and create their own carpet, but this is some sort of a good problem. All you need to do is just remove the new runners before they get too big and massive.

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Maintenance

Trimmings can be of tremendous help and If you take your time, it will be worth it! Cutting the taller ones that are stretching for light and replanting them can have a big impact on your carpet making it very dense by filling in all the blank spaces. When you trim the top of a plant, they will send signals down to the other branches, stimulating the growth of new side shoots, it happens with stem plants like the Ludwigia Repens as well. Just cut it, replant the top portion if you want to create a lushier carpet. 

This works for the S.Repens and the Dwarf Sag as well, pluck a few of the older leaves off, and it will also send hormone signals to the plant, saying “hey it is time to stretch out, grow horizontally because something is pinching off my vertical growth”. This is awesome if you want to get a better carpet. 

The last thing you need to have is… patience. It is a lot of things to cope with, and a good carpeting may take nearly a whole year to look great. Do all these little things, dial your light and have a good substrate, trim your plants and this will make the carpet grow a lot faster! There are also a lot of plants that aren’t traditional carpeting plants but can create the same effects, mix and match and do your thing. 

One great example is the Bixa, while it’s not a traditional carpeting plant it can become very bushy making it an awesome option. You’re only limited by your imagination! 

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