Can Lawn Grass Grow In Aquariums? (Why Not + Alternatives)

Image of lawn grass

Creating a lush green lawn underwater in your aquarium is different from setting it up on land. To successfully grow grass in an aquarium, you must choose suitable species of plants. So, can lawn grass grow in aquariums?

Lawn grass can’t grow in an aquarium because it’s not an aquatic plant and so it will not survive in the aquarium water. If you try to plant the lawn grass in an aquarium, it will die, rot, and mess up the aquarium. However, you can use appropriate aquarium grass to create a lawn in your aquarium.

Let’s talk about this in more detail.

Why Can’t You Put Lawn Grass In An Aquarium?

You can create a beautiful grass carpet in your aquarium.

However, you can’t use lawn grass for this purpose because it’s a terrestrial plant. So let’s go back to the basics to understand why.

We can broadly classify plants into two groups:

  1. Terrestrial, and
  2. Aquatic plants.

Terrestrial plants live on land while aquatic plants grow in water.

Terrestrial plants get their food from atmospheric air and soil.

The roots draw nutrients and water from the soil. The leaves absorb CO2 from the air for photosynthesis.

Now, it’s a normal practice to immerse these plants in water to prevent them from drying out.

Some plants even produce new roots when they are placed in water for a few days.

However, you shouldn’t submerge the leaves in water.

The leaves exchange gases with the surroundings during photosynthesis and respiration.

However, they can’t carry out these actions when submerged. So, if you forcefully submerge the entire plant, it will drown and die.

Aquatic plants have specific adaptations to survive in water, like shallow roots and flexible bodies that bend with the water flow.

Additionally, the leaves of these plants absorb CO2 and oxygen that’s dissolved in water.

Why Can’t Lawn Grass Survive In Water?

Lawn grass is a terrestrial plant, which means it lives on land. It needs atmospheric air for breathing and photosynthesis.

The leaves absorb oxygen and carbon dioxide from the surrounding air.

To plant lawn grass in water, you would have to submerge the leaves.

However, these plants can’t obtain dissolved oxygen or carbon dioxide from the surrounding water.

So, they won’t survive for more than a few days underwater. Lawn grass will rot and mess up your tank.

Now, the good news is that many aquatic plant species can replace lawn grass in your tank.

You can use them to design a thriving aquascape instead of using lawn grass.

Recommended Further Reading:

Best Carpeting Plants To Create A Thriving Aquarium Lawn

An underwater carpet of green grass will not only make your aquarium look fantastic but also offer hiding places for tiny aquarium inhabitants like shrimp, snails, and fish.

The first step to successfully creating such a setting is choosing the right plants for the purpose.

Here are some of the best carpeting plants for aquariums.

1. Dwarf Sag

If you are looking for a plant that resembles lawn grass and is easy to grow, dwarf sag is a good choice.

This plant is also beginner-friendly.

With proper care, it will quickly grow into a thick carpet cover.

It is tolerant of changes in water temperature and other water parameters.

Dwarf sag spreads quickly by letting out runners that grow into new plants.

By trimming it, you can control the direction of growth and create a beautiful arrangement. This plant grows best in well-lit tanks.

2. Dwarf Hairgrass

Dwarf hairgrass has a beautiful neon green color that elevates the aesthetics of any aquatic landscape.

It’s versatile and adjusts to most environmental conditions. Dwarf hairgrass forms a thick and lush green cover within a short time.

This plant grows abundantly and reaches good heights. However, it needs regular trimming to keep it from overtaking the tank.

3. Staurogyne Repens

Staurogyne repens is a hardy, easy-to-maintain plant with pointed leaves.

It grows abundantly and needs regular trimming.

This plant thrives in brightly lit environments. It will also show ample growth if you inject carbon dioxide into the water.

However, CO2 injection is not an absolute requirement.

4. Dwarf Baby Tears

Although it’s tricky to grow dwarf baby tears, this plant can create a spectacular carpet when you succeed at it.

It has high carbon dioxide demands and is finicky about substrate requirements and carbon dioxide.

Nevertheless, once it adapts to the setting and starts growing, you will have a lush green carpet in no time.

This plant can also root on rocks and driftwood and elevate the entire look of your aquascape.

5. Glosso

Glosso is another carpeting plant that is not very easy to grow.

However, it has a beautiful color and leaf pattern that makes it appealing.

Glosso has specific water parameter needs. It also needs a nutrient-rich substrate.

Carbon dioxide injection and good lighting are essential to improve the growth of the plant.

However, when you provide optimal lighting, nutrition, temperature, and water parameters, this plant will transform your aquarium into a green haven.

Related Further Reading:

Tips To Create A Thriving Aquarium Grass Carpet In Your Tank

It can take some practice to create the perfect environment for your aquarium grass to grow into a thick and luscious carpet.

Nevertheless, here are some tips to make the entire process a lot easier.

1. Choose a suitable substrate.

The aquarium soil is the best substrate for aquatic plants because it contains more nutrients than gravel and sand.

Additionally, it’s also easier to anchor the plants in soil.

If you choose soil and gravel as your substrate, you must use a good fertilizer to provide essential nutrients for the plants.

Additionally, you will also have to use rubber bands or rocks to hold the plants down until they establish a proper root system.

2. Pay attention to lighting.

Improving your tank lighting will boost the plant growth in your tank.

When lighting is insufficient, aquarium grass tends to grow long and spindly. It won’t create a beautiful carpet effect.

Use LED or PUR (Photosynthetic Usable Radiation) lights to support the lighting needs of your plant and promote better growth.

3. Clean the substrate regularly.

The substrate of a live aquarium can get very dirty.

Organic waste, uneaten food, and decaying plant matter can settle into the substrate.

Left undisturbed, it will rot and let out toxins like ammonia and nitrites.

These toxins affect water parameters and make the tank unhygienic for your aquarium grass.

Vacuum the substrate regularly to eliminate such pollutants and maintain a healthy environment for your aquatic plants.

4. Trim the plants.

It may seem counter-intuitive to cut back the plants when they grow well.

However, trimming your aquarium grass has several benefits.

It will allow you to control the direction of growth.

Cutting the vertical stems and leaves will also promote lateral growth that helps the carpet spread faster.

It will create compact and lush plant growth that is thick and beautiful.

Interesting Further Reading:

5. Add just the right amount of fertilizer.

Extra nutrients in fertilizers promote better and faster aquarium grass growth.

However, you must choose the right fertilizer and avoid over-fertilizing.

Strictly follow the packet instructions and add only the recommended amount of fertilizer.

Pay special attention to the dosage when you fertilize the plants after trimming them.

Excessive fertilizer can lead to melting and adversely impact the well-being of your plants.


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