Ask a Vet

7 Plants That You Need For Your Turtle’s Tank

Photo of author
Updated on

Turtles are amazing creatures. They live long lives, are extremely intelligent, and are very sensitive to their environment.

Turtle in water with tip of head

If you want to raise turtles successfully, then you should consider buying some plants for your tank.

Plants play a vital role in keeping your turtles happy and healthy. In addition, they provide your turtles with essential nutrients and minerals that they need to survive.

In this article, we will be discussing 7 different plants you may want to consider adding to your turtle’s tank.

Why Should You Have Plants In Your Turtles Tank?

Having plants in your turtle tank has many advantages. Not only do they give your turtle places to hide, they also make the tank itself look aesthetically pleasing.

Some plants help to filter out any ammonia or nitrates in the water.

You should always go for edible plants for your tank, as that way, you won’t have to worry about any consequences of your turtle accidentally eating the plants.

As you can see, adding plants to your tank has many benefits, like increased oxygen levels as well.

It isn’t always good news; sometimes, there are some downsides to having certain plants in your turtle’s tank and having the positives normally outweigh the negatives.

Advantages Of Having Plants In The Tank

We have put together a small guide below on the advantages of having plants in your turtle tank.

Additional Filtration

It is known that certain plants can filter out harmful and sometimes deadly compounds from the water.

These compounds can include unwanted bacteria, ammonia, and nitrites.

As a result, the plants will naturally improve the quality of the water, which takes the pressure off of you to keep the quality as soon as possible.

Reduction Of Algae

Having plants in your turtle’s tank can help to reduce the amount of algae that is formed in the tank.

This is because both the plants and the algae are fighting to absorb the limited carbon dioxide produced in the tank.


There is no denying that these plants are visually really pleasing to look at. They can add color and something interesting to look at in the tank.

Extra Oxygen

Particular plants can add a lot more oxygen to the water. With a large proportion of turtles being able to absorb oxygen that they find in the water, the plants will provide them with a constant oxygen supply.

Areas To Hide

Turtles don’t always feel safe. Therefore, plants can provide your turtle with multiple places to hide. If your turtle becomes stressed, they can refuse to eat their food, which can lead to serious health issues.

Therefore, plants can keep the stress levels of your turtle down with their own little hiding spots to feel safe in.


As we mentioned above, when it comes to choosing plants for your turtle tanks, try to use edible plants. In the wild, turtles will sneak on plants, as they contain a lot of nutrients that a turtle needs and requires.

Disadvantages Of Having Plants In The Tank

Turtle floating in an aquarium with rocks

Now we have gone through the advantages; it would only be right to go through the disadvantages too.

As the turtles begin to eat the plants, then the plant won’t look as attractive.

Also, turtles don’t eat cleanly, they will tear shreds off, and some parts will be left. Eventually, you will have to clean up the mess that the turtle has made to the plants.

Alongside that, your turtle may decide to try to dig up the plants. Which again can cause a mess in your turtle’s tank, which you will need to clean up.

The Best Plants For Your Turtle’s Tank

You should always do your research on the plants that you are going to add to your turtle’s tank.

This is due to some plants being quite toxic to turtles, thus, you must make sure they are safe for turtles before being added to their tank.

Certain plants that are safe for turtles may need substrates. You have to clean your substrates regularly to remove any excrement and food.

This can be an annoying task, so it may be easier to find plants that don’t need substrates.

Hornwort (Ceratophyllum-Demersum)

Hornwort (ceratophyllum-demersum) can also be referred to as coontail or rigid hornwort. This is one of the most popular plants that you could add to your turtle tank.

Great for beginners and has a fast growth rate. Alongside that, it needs a tank with a minimum size of 15 gallons with a water pH between 6 and 7.5.

It not only looks really pleasing, but it is super easy to care for and affordable for anyone to purchase.

The only thing you really need to do is make sure that these plants receive enough light. However, they don’t need any substrates.

It is up to you whether you let these plants float in the tank. Or you can anchor the plants down using a suction cup.

Why Should You Plant Hornwort?

Hornwort is a very hardy plant and doesn’t require much care as long as it gets plenty of light.

Also, you don’t have to worry about your turtle eating this plant, as it can grow quickly, so you will never be without it.

Hornwort is known for its great filtration ability. Thus, you can be assured that this plant will remove plenty of nitrates and keep the water as clean as possible.

Microsorum Java Fern and Hornwort | Easy Low Light Aquarium Plants
  • PLEASE READ BEFORE PLACING AN ORDER. This natural pond plant improves water quality by oxygenating and removing excess nutrients from pond water. Helps neutralize algae. Please be mindful that aquatic plants will always carry a risk of snails so DO NOT ORDER if they are a concern
  • You get 1 Microsorum Java Fern and 1 Hornwort Bunch
  • HORNWORT DOES NOT ROOT. These plants absorb nutrients through their stems. They can be untied and left to float or can be placed at the bottom of the pond with the attached lead strip. Small fish and invertebrates can hide in its foliage from predators. This plant is meant for use in ponds but can be acclimated for aquariums where they will turn lighter green over time.
  • Resilient to cold weather and very easy to grow. Please keep in mind Hornwort plants DO NOT root. Instead, they absorb nutrients through its stems unlike most aquatic plants. These plants are dark green and sometimes with shades of red/brown during winter.
Buy from Amazon
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/17/2024 11:08 pm GMT

Anubias Barteri

Next on our list is Anubias barteri which is just as easy to care for as the Hornwort. Native to West Africa, this broad-leaf plant has a couple of requirements.

It prefers a tank temperature of a minimum of 10 gallons, around 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit, with a water pH of 6 to 7.5. Yet, this plant doesn’t need much light for it to be able to thrive and grow.

You will notice that there are in fact, 5 different varieties of this plant that you can choose from. This plant, your turtles will normally avoid and won’t snack on.

Thus, you don’t have to worry about this plant making a mess, and as it’s a slow grower, you don’t have to worry about the turtles ruining these plants either.

The Anubias barteri doesn’t require a substrate and a non-toxic plant for your turtles.

Weigh these plants done, but tying them down to a heavy rock.

Why Should You Have Anubias barteri In Your Tank?

This may be a slow-growing plant, but it is a very simple plant that has very simple needs.

It doesn’t need much care and survives with little light. Also, as turtles don’t eat these plants, they won’t get ruined or harmed.

SubstrateSource Anubias barteri "Nana" Live Aquatic Aquarium Plant (1 Pot)
  • Live freshwater aquarium plant
  • Exclusively by SubstrateSource
  • Our most popular Anubias, one plant per pot
  • Tie to driftwood, stones, or other decorations
Buy from Amazon
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/17/2024 11:10 pm GMT

Java Fern (Microsorum Pteropus)

Java Fern (Microsorum Pteropus) has similar care requirements to the Anubias barteri. It needs a tank with a minimum of 10 gallons of water, with a water pH between 6 and 7.5.

This plant is a very popular choice and is found in a lot of turtle tanks. As a result, it is widely available online in any pet or aquatic shop.

Another plant that doesn’t require any substrates and can be easily anchored down to the bottom of the tank.

A very simple plant to care for that will grow at a moderate speed with limited light conditions. The lights that you normally have for your turret will be enough light for this plant to survive.

Why Should You Have Java Fern In Your Tank?

Java Fern is a simple plant to care for and will help to filter the water inside your turtle tank.

It will keep the water clean. Alongside this, turtles don’t enjoy the taste of this plant, so they won’t eat it, and you won’t have to replace it either.

However, if your turtle does take a bite of this plant, this plant is non-toxic, so it won’t cause them any harm.

Java Fern Microsorum Pteropus and Anubias VAR Nana Bundle | Low Light Beginner Live Aquatic Plant for Freshwater Aquariums
  • You get 1 (one) Java Fern, Microsorum pteropus and 1 (one) Anubias Var Nana
  • Please note that during times of extreme weather, live plants will suffer due to temperatures. During winter, do not order live plants when temperatures are expected to go below 20F at the lowest point during the day. During summer, avoid ordering plants when temperatures are above 100F.
Buy from Amazon
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/17/2024 11:08 pm GMT

Amazon Sword Plant (Echinodorus Bleheri)

The Amazon sword plant requires a tank of a minimum of 10 gallons with a water pH of 6.5 to 7.5.

It is another very common plant to be seen in the majority of freshwater tanks. As a result, they are so common to be seen as they are so easy to care for.

Compared to some of the other plants we have mentioned, this plant does require a lot of light. However, you just have to make sure that you plant it in a very well-lit-up area.

Also, this plant needs a substrate for it to be able to thrive properly.

However, it is easy to keep this plant anchored to the bottom of the tank, and if it doesn’t become loose you can easily replant it.

Why Should You Plant The Amazon Sword Plant?

The Amazon Sword Plant is a pleasing plant to look at and is very easy to look after.

The broad leaves that it has will give your turtle plenty of space to be able to hide. Also, as it is such a big plant, it will give you lots of water filtration as well.

This plant grows slowly, but thankfully, turtles aren’t known to feed on this planet. Thus, you don’t have to worry about replanting or replacing it over time.

Mainam Amazon Sword Plant Echinodorus Bleheri Tall Bunch Live Aquarium Plants Freshwater Planted Tank Decorations
  • LIVE AQUARIUM PLANTS: Amazon Sword 1 bundle Perfect for any aquarium tank.
  • Difficulty - Easy ready to grow! | Light - Low to Moderate | Growth - Slow.
  • 3 DAYS LIVE GUARANTEED : In a very rare case our live plant dead on arrive or within 3 days. Please send us the photo within 3 days. Live Guaranteed will be voided after 3 days of delivery. We honor our guaranteed.
  • Photo is not actual plant but is a sample of our stock.
  • Safe for your aquarium pets. Creating natural perspective.
Buy from Amazon
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/17/2024 11:10 pm GMT

Anacharis Elodea

Anacharis Elodea, like other plants on this planet, is very popular and easy to maintain. Sometimes this plant can go by as water weed. This plant is loved by turtles, and they really enjoy eating it.

In particular, painted turtles and red-eared turtles particularly love to eat water weed. Thankfully, it is fast-growing, so you should never be short on this plant for your turtles to munch on.

However, this plant can be invasive due to its fast-growing abilities, but it means your turtles will never be short on it.

Although, it should be noted that certain turtles, like mud or musk turtles, will avoid eating this plant.

This is generally the case with a lot of carnivorous turtles.

Why Should You Grow Anacharis In Your Tank?

As you have seen above, anacharis is very easy to look after.

All you have to do is plant it and leave it alone. Being such a fast-growing plant, it can cover large distances easily but will provide plenty of filtration for your tank as well.

Naturally, this plant will anchor itself to the ground, so you have very little work to do with this plant, except by it.

New Anacharis Egeria Elodea Densa Tropical Live Aquarium Aquatic Plant
  • You are buying 1 bunch (6 Stems 6-8 inches each of Anacharis Egeria Elodea Densa ).
  • Egeria densa, is most commonly known as Brazilian waterweed. Egeria densa is easy to grow and a beautiful plant for a tropical aquarium. It grows very well in high light with a water column fertilizer and Substrate fertilizer like root tabs.
  • It Grows Both with CO2 and without CO2.
  • The Egeria densa is a good plant for beginners, and its rapid growth helps create a balance in the aquarium from the start. Stems grows fast to 40-100 cm and becomes 2-4 cm wide.
  • Anacharis is an excellent nutrient controller and oxygen producer for all types of freshwater aquariums. Anacharis looks best when planted in groups along the back and sides of the aquarium.
Buy from Amazon
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/17/2024 11:10 pm GMT

Java Moss (Taxiphyllum Barbieri)

The Java Moss (Taxiphyllum Barbieri) is another fast-growing plant that doesn’t need any particular lighting requirements.

It can grow easily in any conditions, including murky water and dimly lit areas as well. This plant can make your turtle tank feel a lot more natural.

Typically, you will see this plant growing along most items in the tank, including driftwood and rocks. Easy to find this plant in most pet or aquatic stores.

Why Should You Plant Java Moss In Your Tank?

The main reason why this plant is such a popular choice is because it can grow and thrive anywhere where you put it.

Also, as this plant is such a fast-growing plant, your turtle can snack on it easily and the plant will easily grow back before you know it.

It is known that this plant can provide cover and safety for hatchlings and young turtles. Alongside, give your tank a much more natural appearance and feel.

Greenpro (Java Moss) Anubias, Java Fern, Moss and More! Freshwater Live Aquarium Plants on Driftwood for Aquatic Tropical Fish Tank Decorations
  • LIVE AQUARIUM PLANTS : We sourced very exotic and rare specie (Java fern, java moss, anubias etc.) which already tied on driftwood. Easy to drop into your aquarium tank no hassle to tie up the plant.
  • SOURCE OF FOOD : Natural driftwood can provides nutrients like lignin, cellulose and tannins which improve disgestion for fish.
  • CREATE NATURAL LOOKING : Adding driftwood can enhance environment of your tank. Your aquarium pets need a hiding place and feel safe at home
  • BEST QUALITY | With our experience, every plants from Greenpro will be professionally inspected, packed and organized with suitable boxes for all weather conditions to make sure that will retain the freshness and healthiness to our customer hands.
  • HIGH TECHNOLOGY : Our plants grown by using the latest technology and facility with digital controlled nursery to ensure that our plants are diseases pest snail and algae free.
Buy from Amazon
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/17/2024 11:10 pm GMT

Moneywort (Lysimachia Nummularia)

Moneywort (Lysimachia nummularia) is a very adaptable plant that will provide your tank with some bright green coloring. This plant has a fast-growing ability and does need a moderate amount of lighting.

However, it can still thrive in dim lighting, but then this will reduce the pace at which it can grow at.

This is another plant that is non-toxic and that turtles love to snack on.

It doesn’t need any CO2 supplements for it to be able to grow at a steady rate. Your turtles will love to eat this plant, but as long as it has plenty of light, it will grow back really quickly.

Why Should You Plant Moneywort In Your Tank?

There are many reasons why Moneywort is such a good plant to grow in your tank. It is really easy to set up and very easy to maintain.

Therefore, a great choice for beginners. By being fast-growing, your turtle will always have something to snack on.

Bacopa Monnieri Moneywort Freshwater Live Aquarium Plants 8 Stems with Roots
$9.99 ($1.25 / Count)
Buy from Amazon
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/17/2024 11:10 pm GMT

Buyer’s Guide: How To Choose The Right Plant For Your Turtle Tank

2 turtles in the tank

We have only spoken about a few plants that you may want to consider putting in your turtle tanks. There are a lot of plants out there for you to choose from.

However, when browsing through all these plants, you need to make sure that it passes the following criteria so that it is safe for your turtles.

Non-Toxic Or Poisonous

A lot of owners like to choose plants that the turtles won’t eat. That is fine, but then you must make sure that the plant you are choosing isn’t toxic or poisonous to your turtle.

This is because if your turtle does accidentally eat some plant if the plant is toxic, this can lead to health issues and either death. Thus, it is vital you check whether the plant is toxic.

Some plants that we suggest that you avoid include ivy, water hemlock, and milkweed.

CO2 And Light Requirements

You want to choose plants that have as few care requirements as possible.

This will then make your life easier. While you can care for and maintain plants that need lots of light and CO2, it gives you more work. When looking into plants for your turtle tank, it is something to be aware of.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Add Fake Plants To Your Turtle’s Tank?

If real plants are too hard for you to maintain, then you can consider fake ones. Fake plants don’t provide any water filtration benefits, but they will make your tank look much more attractive.

However, you must be careful as your turtle will try to taste the plant. If they keep trying to eat the fake plants after a couple of days, then they must be removed.

Which Plants Are Bad For Turtles?

There are various plants that are bad and should not be put in their tank.

This is why it is so important to do your research. A couple of plants that should be avoided include pothos, firethorn, begonia, and calla lily.

Are Moss Balls Good For Turtles?

Turtles will generally leave moss balls alone. However, they are great for the tank as they will clean the water and reduce any odors as well.

Final Thoughts

Plants in your turtle tank can survive the tank with various benefits such as filtration and extra nourishment for your turtles as well.

As well as making your turtle tank look much more attractive, it provides opportunities to create hiding spots for your turtle when they are feeling insecure or stressed out and need to hide.

The majority of the plants we have spoken about don’t need a substrate and are extremely easy to care for.

Also, research the plants you purchase for your turtle tank to ensure you are creating the safest space possible.

Photo of author
About the author


Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners.Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.