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5 Easy South American Plants For Your Angelfish Tank (Guest Blog)

Updated: Jul 23, 2019

If you’re like me you always have that next aquarium in mind, there’s something exciting, wait...no, addicting about setting up a new tank! But before you go ahead and set it up, you get to daydream about things like;

  • The hardscape

  • The layout

  • Wood vs rock or mix

  • The fish

  • The plants

Thinking about the biotope, which is another word for habitat, is the most fun.

Which fish will get along with who and what plants, hardscaping and substrate will look just perfect? Lately, I’ve been thinking about a really cool Angelfish setup!



If we are thinking about the habitat for Angelfish we would need to consider a South American Biotope. And one really important piece of that biotope would be the plants.

But I wanted to help out the new fishkeepers in the crowd and give you 5 really easy plants that would be perfect for a new Angelfish tank and give it that authentic South American feel.



1 - Amazon Swords


Amazon swords are one of the most popular aquarium plants and can easily be found in most stores. There are many versions of Amazon Swords but in general, they are very hardy plants that are easy for beginners and experts alike.


Amazon swords typically have long broad leaves, that will grow tall towards the light but versions with narrow leaves can also be found.


They are perfect as a background plant with tall brightly colored leaves it can easily become the centerpiece of your tank. I like to use them to hide my filter intakes or heaters.




  • Origin: South America

  • Growth Rate: High

  • Usage: Background

  • Light Demand: Low

  • C02: Low/Not Needed

  • Max Height: 12”+



2 - Cabomba


Another great background plant is the Cabomba but is likely the most difficult plant for beginners on this list.


Don’t try to grow it with the standard light that came with your kit.


You’ll need a good quality light to succeed with this one. That said, if you can get the lighting right you can grow this in a low tech tank without the use of C02 injection.

This plant can also be used a floating plant, and it provides great cover for young fry, simply drop it in the tank and let it grow. Since floating keeps it closer to the light this might be an option for you if your lighting isn’t the best. Unfortunately, a floating cabomba doesn’t look as good as a planted forest.



  • Origin: South America

  • Growth Rate: High

  • Usage: Background/Floating

  • Light Demand: Medium

  • C02: Low/Not Needed

  • Max Height: 12”+




3 - Staurogyne Repens


S Repens or Staurogyne Repens is a great choice for a foreground or carpeting plant that is easy to grow even in a low tech tank. It’s also a super hardy plant and slow growing so they require much less maintenance, which makes S Repens perfect for newbies or those of us who don’t want to be trimming our tanks all weekend.


Lastly, they grow along the bottom of the tank so they won’t interfere with the swimming space of your Angelfish.



  • Origin: South America

  • Growth Rate: Medium

  • Usage: Foreground/Carpet

  • Light Demand: Low

  • C02: Low/Not Needed

  • Max Height: 4”+



4 - Dwarf Sagittaria


This is one plant to try out if you are new to aquarium plants because it’s easy to grow and will grow and grow quickly filling the foreground of your tank.


It will typically grow short only reaching 5” so it can be used as a foreground or midground plant.


You can also try to use some driftwood with the Dwarf Sag in your tank (not sure if you caught this but Angelfish LOVE driftwood). The Dwarf Sagittaria works great around driftwood creating a cool effect of grass growing around the driftwood.


Origin: South America

Growth Rate: High

Usage: Foreground/Midground

Light Demand: Low

C02: Low/Medium

Max Height: 5”+



5 - Amazon Frogbit (Limnobium Laevigatum)


If you want that darker tank look and feel you may want to try Amazon Frogbit which is a floating plant that will spread quickly and shade the depths of your tank.


This plant is another easy one to grow for beginners but can quickly cover the surface of your aquarium so you’ll need to be ready for some regular trimming.


Origin: South America

Growth Rate: Medium

Usage: Floating

Light Demand: Low

C02: Low/Not Required

Max Height: 2”+




Make Your Angelfish Tank Look Awesome


If you really want your tank to look great, you’ll need more than just plants so I’ve shared a few small things you can do that will really make your tank stand out.


Add a colored background

Plants, fish, and decor will really stand out if you add a colored background.

Black will work best if you are going for the darker water biotope of South America but white can also be used to provide contrast - it’s up to you.


Add hardscape

Adding rocks and driftwood to your tank provides a focal point for the tank which you can build upon with the plants you select. Treat your tank like a work of art or a perfectly framed picture. Think about the golden ratio or the rule of thirds.


Google “Angelfish Tank Setup Ideas”

Find something you like, copy it and add your own unique twist to the tank.

Now that you know how to set up that perfect Angelfish tank how about you check out my post to find the best tankmates for your Angelfish.


Leave a comment, a question, or even a contradiction down below and we can learn together.


Jack Dempsey is a guest writer on angelfishcanada.com and has over 20 years of experience with freshwater aquariums. Jack’s favorite fish are the Tiger Barb and you guessed it the Jack Dempsey Cichlid. He also loves to help teach beginners about fish keeping and help them avoid some common pitfalls when getting started. You can find Jack’s best advice on his blog at Tropicalfishcareguides.com


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