Can a Philodendron Grow in an Aquarium?

  • By: SFUAA
  • Date: December 16, 2022
  • Time to read: 9 min.

Do you want to bring a little green into your aquarium? Growing plants in an aquarium can provide oxygen for fish, reduce algae growth, and create a more natural habitat. But can philodendron survive in an aquatic environment?

Philodendron can be an excellent addition to any freshwater aquarium. The roots of the plant are non-toxic, so you don’t have to worry about your fish being exposed to any dangerous toxins. Philodendron thrive in wet environments, such as swamps, and they love the water in an aquarium. In most cases, growing aquatic plants like the philodendron is easy and requires minimal care. 

All you need to do is make sure the leaves and stem(s) remain above the water line and that you keep the roots submerged in water. These types of plants can help oxygenate the water and provide shelter for your fish, making them a great choice for any aquarium.

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Photo 184941353 / Philodendron Leaves in Water © Rattana Phueaksaard |

What Do Philodendron Need to Grow in an Aquarium?

Growing philodendrons in an aquarium can be a great way to add a splash of color and natural beauty to your aquatic environment. However, it requires careful planning and maintenance to ensure that the plant is healthy and happy. Here are some tips for successfully growing philodendrons in an aquarium:

  • First and foremost, keep the leaves away from fish. Philodendron leaves contain toxins that can be harmful to fish, so be sure to keep them away from any aquatic life.
  • Next, provide moderate lighting. Philodendrons prefer bright, indirect light, so be sure to provide adequate lighting for the plant, but not too much.
  • Third, philodendrons need slightly acidic water in order to thrive, so make sure to keep the aquarium PH between 5-7 if possible.
  • Finally, consider adding aquatic fertilizers. Fertilizers can promote healthy growth and reduce the chance of diseases or pests in your aquarium.

Choosing the Right Substrate for Your Philodendrons

When it comes to choosing the right substrate for your philodendrons, it is important to keep in mind that these plants cannot grow completely submerged in an aquarium. However, if their roots are allowed to grow in the water, they can still contribute to the ecology of your tank.

When it comes to soil for your aquarium, a high quality planted soil such as Seachem Fluorite or CaribSea Eco Complete will produce the best results when growing a philodendron in an aquarium. Normal potting soil should not be used in an aquatic planting.

If you cannot find either of these substrates, you can also use aquarium gravel as an alternative. This will provide enough room for the plant’s roots to grow as well as help the plant anchor itself in place. If you choose this option (or the eco complete), it’s important to add fertilizer to keep your plant healthy and give it the nutrients it needs.

When it comes to fertilizers, you should use ones specifically designed for aquarium plants. These will help keep your philodendrons healthy and vibrant.

Finally, if you purchase plants from a questionable source, consider growing them in a quarantine tank for a few weeks or dipping the roots in a hydrogen peroxide or bleach dip quickly before placing them in your aquarium. This will help ensure that any parasites or diseases they may have will not spread to your other fish or plants.

This isn’t as big of an issue as it would be with aquatic plants that have been grown in other aquariums, but it is still something to keep in mind.

By following these simple tips, you can ensure that your philodendrons will be able to thrive in your aquarium.

Setting Up a Tank for Your Philodendrons

Here are the basic steps for setting up your philodendron in a new aquarium. Following these steps should give your philodendron the best chance at adapting to its new semi-aquatic environment and staying as healthy as possible.

1. Choosing the Right Philodendron for Your Aquarium – Philodendrons are a great choice for aquariums, as they can grow in a variety of water conditions and don’t require much maintenance. Heart leaf philodendrons are a great choice for growing in an aquarium.

2. Preparing Your Tank – Before you add your philodendron, you’ll need to prepare your tank. You’ll need an area that is far away from the filter’s water intake so that the roots won’t get clogged up and damage your filter. You’ll also need to add substrate and gravel to the tank.

3. Adding Water – Before placing your philodendron in the tank, add some water to the tank so that it’s at least halfway full. This will give the philodendron enough space to establish new roots without overstretching itself.

4. Planting Your Philodendron – Now that your tank is all set up, it’s time to plant your philodendron! If you have an established philodendron that was growing in soil, it’s time to take it out of the pot and use a garden hose to wash all of the soil off of the roots. If you’re using a cutting, take a side shoot from an existing philodendron and place it in the basket of your hang on back filter (if you have one) for a few weeks until it starts growing roots. Once you have roots showing, you can move it to its final place in the aquarium. If you took a large enough philodendron to reach the surface of the water from the substrate, gently tuck its roots into your soil, making sure you’re supporting the rest of the plant so its leaves stay above the surface of the water. Otherwise, fasten your plant to the side of your aquarium while letting the roots hang down into the water column to give it a chance to grow larger before you decide whether to plant it in the substrate or leave it as a floating plant.

Planting and Caring for Your Philodendrons

Planting philodendrons in an aquarium is a great way to add a beautiful and unique touch to your aquatic setup. Not only do philodendrons look great, but they also help keep your water clean and reduce toxins. This hardy plant has the potential to last for years with minimal effort on your part, making it an ideal choice for adding a little greenery to your tank.

When selecting a philodendron for your aquarium, choose one with healthy-glossy leaves and stems. Cuttings from a healthy plant can be used as well. Once you have chosen your plant, submerge its roots in the tank, making sure to leave enough space for the plant to grow.

To ensure that your philodendron stays healthy, it’s important to provide it with the right nutrients. Use a balanced aquatic plant fertilizer specifically formulated for aquarium use. This – in addition to the waste fish naturally produce – will provide the plant with all the nutrients it needs to stay healthy. Additionally, make sure that the philodendron is well lit so the philodendron is getting enough light to photosynthesize.

With proper care and attention, your philodendron should thrive in your tank for years to come while removing pollutants from your aquarium that would otherwise harm your fish.

Feeding and Fertilizing Your Semi-Aquatic Philodendrons

Semi-aquatic philodendrons are a unique and beautiful species of plants that can add a touch of greenery to your aquarium. They can survive in an aquatic environment as long as they are given the proper care. To ensure that your semi-aquatic philodendron thrives in your aquarium, you must provide it with adequate nutrition and fertilization.

It is important to feed your semi-aquatic philodendron a diet rich in essential nutrients. Part of that will come from whatever you are feeding your fish as well as the waste they produce. You should also give it supplemental nutrition in the form of liquid fertilizers, however. These fertilizers should contain nitrogen (if you don’t have a large number of fish to produce it naturally), phosphorous, potassium, and other essential micronutrients.

A good choice is Easy Green from Aquarium Co-Op, though seachem also makes a good one.

Providing Optimal Lighting Conditions For Your Plants

When it comes to philodendrons, bright indirect sunlight is the best form of light for the plant. If you’re using an aquarium, you can replicate this condition by using aquarium plant lights. The color temperature for these lights should be between 5,000 to 6,500 kelvin. If your aquarium is near a sunny window, it may only require 5 hours of artificial light per day.

If you’re trying to grow philodendrons indoors, make sure they receive at least four hours of bright indirect sunlight per day. You can also supplement with artificial light if needed. It’s important to note that while philodendrons are low-light species, they won’t do well if kept in extremely low-light conditions for an extended period of time, so a proper grow light is definitely a good idea.

Keep in mind, though, that if you have your philodendron in a location to receive sunlight that your aquarium should be shielded from the sun as much as possible. If your aquarium is also receiving direct sunlight, you’ll have a huge algae bloom to deal with in a few weeks.

Controlling Algae Growth in your Tank

Controlling algae growth in your tank is essential for maintaining a healthy aquarium environment. Fortunately, having a philodendron in your tank can do a lot to help keep algae growth under control by removing excess nutrients from the water column.

In order to limit the growth of algae, it’s important to reduce the amount of lighting in your tank. This is an important balance you have to strike between making sure your philodendron gets enough light without your aquarium getting too much.

Avoid placing the tank in direct sunlight, as this will promote algae growth. If you have a tank that gets natural sunlight, move it to a shadier spot in your home or rotate it so that the back of the aquarium is to the sun – and use an aquarium background or foam board to block the sunlight from hitting the water in your aquarium. Additionally, you can also add surface plants such as water lilies or duckweed, which will provide shade and help reduce the amount of light that reaches the water.

It’s also important to ensure that your plants are getting just the right amount of lighting and nutrients. Too much of either can lead to an overgrowth of algae, which can lower the amount of minerals present in the tank and adversely affect the health of other plants and aquatic life. If you’re unsure about how much lighting and nutrients your plants need, consult with an expert or do some research to ensure you’re providing the optimal conditions for healthy growth.

Selecting Complementary Fish to Live With your Philondrens

Selecting a fish that complements your philodendron can be an exciting adventure. There are plenty of fish that are suitable for living with philodendrons in an aquarium, and they can even benefit from the plant’s presence.

Bettas, for example, are a popular choice for aquariums with philodendrons. These fish are colorful and hardy, and they don’t mind the presence of the plant. They also provide some natural control of pest insects, such as mosquitos, which is beneficial for the philodendron.

Shrimp and snails are also good companions for philodendrons. They will feed on algae that may otherwise become a problem in the tank. They also provide some natural cleaning services, which helps keep the tank looking its best. Most snails don’t bother living plants, so you don’t have to worry about them harming your philodendron as long as you are otherwise keeping it in good condition.

Corydoras catfish are another great choice for a philodendron tank. These fish like to swim around the plant’s roots, providing some natural aeration to the substrate. They also help keep the tank clean by eating any leftover food that falls to the bottom.

Finally, guppies are an excellent choice for aquariums with philodendrons as they naturally multiply and produce nitrogen products that your philodendron will use as food. They also thrive in aquariums with plenty of plants, as it gives them lots of places to hide and swim around.

All of these fish can happily coexist with philodendrons in an aquarium, making them excellent choices for your aquarium.


The conclusion is that while philodendrons can be grown in water, they cannot grow completely submerged in an aquarium. However, their roots can be allowed to grow in the aquarium, and they can contribute to the ecology of the tank. 

Split-leaf philodendrons are particularly popular as indoor plants, due to their hardiness and low maintenance requirements. Other varieties such as the heart-leaf philodendron can also thrive when placed in betta aquariums and aquaponic fish tanks. As long as the plant has access to the right environment and nutrients it needs, it can have a long lifespan.

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