Midground aquarium plants are planted between and provide a seamless link connecting the short foreground plants and tall background plants like stem plants or tape-like plants. Epiphytic plants (anubias and bolbitis) and Cryptocoryne are suitable as midground plants that are often planted at the side of or behind the stones and driftwood. In this article, I will provide you some tips for selection as well as how to plant midground plants in the layout.

Choosing midground plants for your planted tank

The midground plants play the role of linking the foreground and background plants (mainly stem plants). Planting the midground plants in such a location provides a slope-like seamless link connecting the foreground and background plants, which enhances the naturalness of the layout.


In a large aquarium using plenty of stem plants, the midground plants are very important as they also play the role of concealing the unsightly bottom portion of stem plants.

The plants suitable for such locations are shade plants such as Cryptocoryne and epiphytic plants (both anubias and bolbitis) that can thrive in places close to stones and driftwood.

Best Cryptocoryne for the midground aquarium


Cryptocoryne wendtii “green”: This is a must if you want to plant a green-colored Crypto­coryne. Emersed leaves sold in a pot look weak, but grow vigorously in the water.

Cryptocoryne wendtii “Brown”: This plant initially produces only small brown leaves, but later grows fairly large as shown in the picture. Its leaves look wonderful in the light.

Cryptocoryne retrospiralis: Amidst narrow-leaved Cryptoco­ryne, this species is easy to use for layout and suitable as a mid-back­ground plant. It prefers bright light.

Cryptocoryne petchii: This plant has olive-green wavy-edged leaves with sharp tips. When in good condition, the leaves look really beautiful in the light.

Cryptocoryne lucens: Suitable as a middle ground plant, this plant is easy to maintain even in a small tank as it grows slowly and does not get too big.

Cryptocoryne pontederifolia: This is the easiest species to grow among round-leaved Cryptoco­ryne. The reverse side of the leaf is slightly pinkish.

Among Cryptocoryne members, Cryptocoryne wendtii is strong and easy to use for beginners.

Epiphytic (anubias and bolbitis) for the midground

Epiphytic aquatic plants always play important roles in the midground location of the layout where composition materials such as stones and driftwood are placed. Creating an elaborate midground using epiphytic plants helps conceal the unsightly bottom part of stem plants in the background and also helps improve the appearance of the layout after the trimming of stem plants.

Best epiphytic plants for beginners

  • Microsorum pteropus
  • Microsorum pteropus: One of the most common epiphytic species. This plant produces leaves of many different widths and shapes. This is one of the toughest aquatic plants.
  • Microsorum pteropus Narrow leaf
  • Microsorum pteropus “Narrow leaf”: The leaves of this narrow-leaved species grow very long. Fix it in a place with Wood Tight so that its leaves will not touch the glass surface.
  • Willow moss Fontinalis antipyretica
  • Willow moss (Fontinalis antipyretica): Attach a Willow moss to driftwood to produce subtle and profound moss-covered visual effect. This plant also has the effect of softening the impression of driftwood.
  • Bolbitis heudelotii
  • Bolbitis heudelotii: The ruggedness of this leafy fern provides both subtlety and depth. Old leaves should be trimmed off frequently.
  • Anubias barteri var. nana “Petit”: This is the smallest among the Anubias species. It would be a great idea to mix this with Anubias nana “Yellow heart” to enjoy different sizes of leaves.
  • Anubias barteri var. nana “Yellow Heart”: Anubias nana is very popular but its leaves are too large for a 10 gallon fish tank or smaller tanks. Anubias nana “Yellow heart” is a solution for the small tanks.

Among epiphytic plants, Anubias species that have rigid leaves gives a neat image while Bolbitis has a tidy impression. Microsorum creates an image just between these two plants. Taking into consideration the images of the plants, the species that best matches the atmosphere and helps elaborate the details of the layout should be determined as the plant to be used for the layout.

It is advisable to select epiphytic plants that have leaves maintained in a good condition, in addition to having a thick and rigid rhizome. How to create the midground greatly influences the long term maintenance of the layout.

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