You are finding some carpet plants for the foreground of your planted tank and you are standing in the right place. I have put together a list of over fifteen different short aquarium plants that are suitable for creating a beautiful carpet. Each plant is listed with a short description to help you to quickly understand the plants to make the best choice. Now, let’s start with the easy-to-grow carpet plants at the top and advanced caring ones at the later sections of the list.

1. Dwarf four leaf clover – marsilea hirsuta

marsilea-hirsuta-dwarf-four-leaf-clover

  • Common names: water clover, dwarf four leaf clover
  • Usage: carpet, foreground, nano planted tank
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Growth: medium
  • Height: 2+ inches (5+ cm)
  • Lighting: low
  • CO2: low

The emersed form features four-leaf clover leaves, hence its common names. Once submerged, the clover shape of the leaves will be replaced by a cute oval. Soon after planting, round leaves will form along a creeping rhizome. The shape of submerged leaves likes that of Glossostigma making it a wonderful alternative to Glossostigma elatinoides as it is managed a lot more easily than Glossostigma.

Water clover is suitable to create a low carpet in a nano planted tank. It is very low demanding and can live happily under most conditions. It requires low light and does well under other plants. Briefly, it is very easy to care for and use.

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2. Java moss – taxiphyllum barbieri

java-moss-carpet

  • Synonym: Vesicularia dubyana
  • Type: moss
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Growth: medium
  • Height: 1.2 – 4+ inches (3 – 10+ cm)
  • Lighting: low
  • CO2: low

This is a lovely and hardy moss for all kinds of aquascapes and a wide range of conditions. It is easy to use and maintain compared to other moss types for planted aquariums. Java moss is commonly prepared by attaching to driftwood, rocks, decorations or moss pads that are then placed in intended positions in the aquascape.

If you want a moss carpet in the foreground, just buy some already prepared moss mats and place them directly on the substrate. You can also prepare Java moss by yourself. Just attach a thin layer of Java moss to a moss pad, driftwood, rocks, or decorations and tie it with fishing line or cotton thread.

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3. Staurogyne repens

staurogyne-repens-1

  • Usage: carpet, foreground, midground
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Growth: medium
  • Height: 1.2 – 4+ inches (3 – 10+ cm)
  • Lighting: low
  • CO2: low

Staurogyne repens is very suitable as a groundcover or medium bush. This plant is neither difficult nor demanding. Its medium fast growth and very dense leafy texture make this plant an ideal candidate for the foreground in any kind of aquarium. It is recommendable to prune individual shoots regularly in order to keep it confined to its spot without necessitating more drastic measures.

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4. Pellia moss – monosolenium tenerum

pellia-moss

  • Type: moss
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Growth: medium
  • Height: 1.2 – 2+ inches (3 – 5+ cm)
  • Lighting: low
  • CO2: low

This is also an easy-to-care moss for planted aquariums. Just place some it directly on the substrate and it will form a beautiful bright green cushion which looks like a giant Riccia fluitans but a lot thicker. You can also use it with driftwood, stones, or moss mats as other aquatic moss. Besides the beautiful appearance, it provides a great hiding place for fry and baby shrimps that are easy to be eaten by larger fish.

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5. Dwarf hairgrass – Eleocharis parvula

eleocharis-parvula

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Position: carpet
  • Growth: fast
  • Height: 1.2 – 4+ inches (3 – 10+ cm)
  • Lighting: medium
  • CO2: low
  • Propagation: runners

This is a low-demanding hair grass for foreground carpeting. It produces an image of a fresh grass field in the foreground or small pots where it is placed. Planted in small clumps, it will soon start to spread to form a green carpet across the front of the aquarium rooting firmly in the substrate. Medium lighting is required to maintain the short and bright green form of dwarf hairgrass for a beautiful carpet.

Dwarf hairgrass is very easy to plant and maintain. If it seems too tall for the layout composition, it is possible to keep it relatively short by repeated, frequent pruning.

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6. Hairgrass – Eleochalis acicularis

eleochalis-acicularis

  • Difficulty: medium
  • Position: carpet
  • Growth: slow
  • Height: 1.2 – 2+ inches (3 – 5+ cm)
  • Lighting: medium
  • CO2: medium

This type of hairgrass is a bit harder to grow than the previous. It is hard to distinguish between them by your eyes because of their similar appearance. However, Eleochalis acicularis is shorter than Eleochalis parvula making it ideal for nano planted tanks. It also needs less trimming than the dwarf hairgrass (Eleochalis parvula).

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7. Pygmy chain sword – Echinodorus tenellus

helanthium-echinodorus-tenellus-pygmy-chain-swords

  • Synonym: Echinodorus (Helanthium) tenellus, Helanthium tenellum
  • Common names: narrow leaf chain sword, pygmy chain sword
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Position: carpet, foreground
  • Growth: fast
  • Height: 3+ inches (7.6+ cm)
  • Lighting: low
  • CO2: low
  • Propagation: runners

Pygmy chain sword is the smallest of the Echinodorus family and is a great aquarium plant for the foreground of your tank. It is ideal to make a grass-like lawn with this narrow leaf chain sword.

The young plants are sprouted from runners which push out under the gravel and will pop up and surprise you. After a period of planting, all the substrate is covered and the plant grows into a dense carpet. Despite its dense growth, it does not tend to compete for space as Glossostigma elatinoides does with several layers forming over time. This makes it an ideal, low-maintenance plant.

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8. Dwarf sag – sagittaria subulata

sagittaria-subulata-dwarf-sag

  • Common name: dwarf sag, narrow leaf sag
  • Position: midground, carpet in large tanks
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Growth: fast
  • Height: 2 – 12+ inches (5 – 30+ cm)
  • Lighting: low
  • CO2: medium
  • Propagation: runners

A bright color is added to the aquascape by having a clump of this plant around the sides of the driftwood where it usually gives a dim impression. Avoid planting this plant too densely as its leaves are thick and voluminous. It occasionally sends a long flower stem to the water surface which will produce small white flowers just above the surface.

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9. Japanese dwarf pennywort – Hydrocotyle tripartita

hydrocotyle-tripartita

  • Usage: carpet, foreground, midground
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Type: stem
  • Growth: fast
  • Height: 2+ inches (5+ cm)
  • Lighting: medium
  • CO2: low

This fast-growing plant responds well to pruning and will branch out eagerly after cutting. A beautiful carpet is best achieved by pulling the individual cuttings deep into the substrate with forceps to ensure each plantlet is firmly anchored to the gravel. The dense foliage of the plant looks great in any planted aquarium. Good lighting is required to maintain a beautiful bright green carpet.

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10. Whorled marsh pennywort – Hydrocotyle verticillata

hydrocotyle-verticillata

  • Common names: whorled umbrella plant, whorled marsh pennywort
  • Usage: carpet, foreground, midground
  • Difficulty: advanced
  • Type: stem
  • Growth: medium
  • Height: 1.2 – 4+ inches (3 – 10+ cm)
  • Lighting: high
  • CO2: medium

Naturally, Whorled marsh pennywort grows both as a bog plant and as a submerged plant in fast flowing rivers. It is the only species with umbrella-like leaves suitable to grow submerged. In a well-lit aquarium supplied with CO2, the plant forms a beautiful carpet about one and a half inches in height. Under poor light, it will grow taller and stringy.

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11. Glossostigma elatinoides

glossostigma-elatinoides

  • Difficulty: advanced
  • Position: carpet
  • Growth: fast
  • Height: 1.2 – 2+ inches (3 – 5+ cm)
  • Lighting: high
  • CO2: high

This versatile groundcover plant has spread to become a standard plant in both nature and Dutch style aquariums. It is not too difficult to grow if given good lighting. Once it has settled in, the Glossotigma will rapidly cover the entire foreground with a wonderful, green carpet of leaves. Growing upward instead of creeping sideways indicates insufficient light. In case of lack of nutrients, the leaves turn greenish yellow.

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12. Dwarf baby tear – hemianthus callitrichoides ‘Cuba’

hemianthus-callitrichoides-cuba-grass-baby-tear.jpg

  • Other names: Cuba pearl grass, dwarf pearl grass, grass baby tears
  • Position: carpet, foreground
  • Difficulty: advanced
  • Growth: medium
  • Height: 1.2 – 2+ inches (3 – 5+ cm)
  • Lighting: high
  • CO2: high

Dwarf baby tear is a really useful foreground plant if you want to fill the aquarium quickly. It can very quickly create a thick low green carpet that young fish will love. Simply divide the plant into small clumps when you get it, planting directly into the substrate and it will do the rest.

The plant pearlingThe plant pearling

With adequate CO2 injection, which is crucial for this plant, Pearl grass forms oxygen bubbles on its leaves. If no bubbles can be seen, the conditions under which this plant is grown should be reviewed for improvement.

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13. Moneywort – bacopa monnieri ‘Compact’

bacopa-monnieri-compact

  • Usage: high carpet, foreground, midground
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Growth: fast
  • Height: 1.2 – 4+ inches (3 – 10+ cm)
  • Lighting: low
  • CO2: low

This is a very rewarding and easy to keep, yet beautiful plant. It is a very valuable species for almost all kinds of planting layout. This species will always retain its bright green color but will tend to grow more horizontally as light levels increase. Maintenance can be carried out every 4-5 weeks by either clipping off the tops (the lazy way) or by replanting whole shoots. The latter method is recommended as the replanted group will better keep a better appearance.

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14. Crystalwort – riccia fluitans

riccia-fluitans

  • Common names: crystalwort, riccia
  • Usage: carpet, foreground, midground, floating
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Type: moss
  • Growth: medium
  • Height: 1.2 – 2+ inches (3 – 5+ cm)
  • Lighting: medium
  • CO2: medium

Riccia is a floating liverwort but it can be submerged to make an attractive foreground plant. Like other aquatic mosses, this moss can be wrapped around stones or driftwood with fishing line to make it submerged and fixed in place. If weighed down, it can be made to grow as a carpet on the substrate or between rocks, giving a beautiful effect. Underwater, Riccia fluitans thrives best with added CO2 and medium lighting. It is very useful when breeding some fish, providing splendid shelter for the babies.

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15. Grass leaved bladderwort – Utricularia graminifolia

utricularia-graminifolia

  • Usage: carpet
  • Difficulty: advanced
  • Growth: medium
  • Height: 1.2 – 4+ inches (3 – 10+ cm)
  • Lighting: medium
  • CO2: medium

This is an absolutely unique, very suitable groundcover for planted aquariums. It may take some time until rooted properly but will spread quickly and forms a striking, silky grass-like carpet once it has settled in. For planting, divide it into small clumps and pull them deeply into the substrate. It harmonizes perfectly with Glossostigma but takes care that both species do not grow into each other unless that’s what you want as an effect.

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16. Micro Sword – Lilaeopsis brasiliensis

lilaeopsis-brasiliensis

  • Usage: carpet, foreground
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Growth: slow
  • Height: 1.2 – 2+ inches (3 – 5+ cm)
  • Lighting: medium
  • CO2: medium

Micro Sword is an easy to keep, grassy foreground plant. This plant is very slow growing and the initial density of planting has a significant impact on its subsequent appearance. It is usually used to create a green grass-like carpet in planted aquariums. Micro Sword also lives well in brackish aquariums with low salt concentrations and garden ponds.

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17. Large pearl grass – Micranthemum ‘Monte Carlo’

micranthemum-monte-carlo

  • Common names: Monte Carlo, Large Pearl Grass
  • Usage: carpet
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Growth: medium
  • Height: 1.2 – 2+ inches (3 – 5+ cm)
  • Lighting: medium
  • CO2: medium

Monte Carlo is only 1.2-2 inches in height making it an ideal carpet plant for nano planted tanks. The large bright green leaves are easy to attract vision. Although the plant can grow in low light conditions, it is better to provide appropriate CO2 and lighting to keep its compact and attracting appearance.

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