How to make aquarium plants grow faster

Without considering the exact plant we wish to grow faster, in this post, a catch-all approach will be outlined. An approach that may be followed regardless of the aquatic plant. It should be noted that some plants such as Anubias are naturally slow growers while others such as Vallisneria (Jungle Val) propagate and grow quickly. 

Quality substrate

While a quality substrate may not directly help a water column feeder like Anubias. It is literally the foundation of growing aquatic plants efficiently. When choosing a substrate be sure to choose one that has some essential nutrients in it already.

Substrates such as Eco-complete and ADA Amazonia “Aqua soil” are substrates that were designed to be plug and play. Just dump it in your tank and your plants should have enough nutrients to last them at least a year.

But, be mindful that after the year has passed, you will most likely have to begin adding your own fertilizer into the substrate. Via root tabs or perhaps water-column fertilization.

Budget: CaribSea Eco-Complete

Recommended: ADA Aqua Soil Amazonia

Appropriate light

This is especially important for the carpeting plants. Without sufficient light, the carpeting plants will not grow horizontally and against the surface of the substrate. Instead, they will slowly creep upwards. This is a sign that not enough light has reached their leaves.

And because lighting conditions vary from plant to plant, the most important thing to note here is, make sure you have enough light that your plants are growing appropriately. Appropriate growths means to grow horizontally for carpeting plants, vertically for pretty much everything else and that algae growth is kept to a minimum.

When it comes to lighting, the suggestion is to follow an ON-OFF-ON cycle. This means to figure out an appropriate duration of light in which your plants thrive and break it into two cycles within a 24 hour period. Starting off with 6 hours of total light is a good place to begin.

For example, start with 3 hours from 6am-9am, turn off the lights from 9am-5pm. Then turn them back on 3 hours from 5pm-8pm. Monitor your plant growth alongside your algae growth. Make sure your algae growth is kept to a minimum and your plant growth is noticeable. From the budget or recommended options, choose the appropriate size for your tank.

Budget: Beamworks Beamswork DA 6500K

Recommended: Finnex FugeRay Planted+ Aquarium LED Light Plus Moonlights, 24-Inch

CO2 Injection

Now, if you are looking to keep a low-tech aquarium, you can skip this section. But if you want to know how to really grow your plants as quickly as possible, this section is the game changer. There 3 main ways to get CO2 into your tank. The first being the least efficient, and most expensive in the long run, is liquid CO2 (example is Excel). Although to be fair, this approach is rather easy, since you simply dose the liquid CO2 once daily. This approach is more of a way to control algae rather than boost plant growth.

The second option is to use a DIY kit, which is cost effective since it has a lower price point to begin with. But, the amount of work that goes into trying to control the amount of CO2 that goes into your tank quickly becomes cumbersome and easily dangerous for any livestock you may have in your aquarium.

The best option is to install a pressurized system paired with a timer and drop checker. This approach has the highest cost of entry but the lowest cost over time and is more or less hands-off for 3-5 months at a time. There are full systems for sale now that are easily installed and can be conveniently ordered a kit.

Budget: Flourish Excel (Liquid CO2)DIY Pressurized CO2 System

Recommended: Our pressurized paintball setup guide 


Root tabs; are pills you insert into the substrate that release nutrients, slowly, overtime. This is a great option for those who don’t want to have the burden of fertilizing once every few days or weeks. This option will allow the user to simply fertilize once every few weeks or months. Tthis depends on which root tabs you get, directions and duration will vary.

Water column fertilizers; this option will typically ask a little bit more from the user. Because you will have to measure out the appropriate amount of fertilizer according to the specifications of your tank and the fertilizer brand. These systems usually require usage at least once a day, few days or week. Again, choose which ever option fits your lifestyle the most.

Recommended: Seachem Flourish Tabs

Budget: Water column: Seachem Flourish 500mlAPI Leaf Zone Aquarium Plant

Recommended: Seachem Flourish Tabs

Overall good aquarium keeping

This means, do not overcrowd your tank with too many fish and do not overfeed, always have a filtration system running, keep good water flow throughout the aquarium and do your water changes!

These may seem like common sense items but, lacking in any one of these habits can promote algae growth which will hinder the growth of your aquatic plants and the overall health of your aquarium and all the inhabitants inside of it.


Chances are you will find at least one area you are lacking from the list above. And if you are not, perhaps patience is your next step since newer aquariums will need some time to acclimate itself. Otherwise, following this guide will boost your plant growth to new levels. Please leave comments below and get a conversation started. Most of the time someone has already solved a problem you’re probably currently facing.

How to make aquarium plants grow faster
Article Name
How to make aquarium plants grow faster
A simple plan to follow on how to make aquarium plants grow faster. Straight forward in approach and covers the basics and foundation of good aquarium keeping.
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The Good Algae
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