How to Anchor Aquarium Plants

How to Anchor Aquarium Plants the Easy Way

Your freshwater aquarium is not complete until it has some live plants. Stocking freshwater fish in your aquarium demands your tank to be set up in a way that almost mimics the natural environment in order for your aquatic fauna to flourish.

You could use artificial aquarium decorations for your set up, however, none of them will be suitable to create a nice living environment for your fish. What you need are live aquarium plants.

Most aquarium plants are, however, lighter than water and so tend to float as soon as they are placed in the tank. This means that they will need some sort of anchorage to prevent them from floating. Below are a few suitable anchors that you could use to support your aquarium plants.

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River rocks


You can use river rocks to anchor your aquatic plants in position. With that said, you have to be very careful when choosing the kind of rock to use. Granite rocks are considered to be the best given that they don’t dissolve in water nor change your aquarium’s water chemistry.

Below are the items that you will need; small river rocks, scissors, and a nylon fishing line. Once you have all these items, follow the steps below to set up your anchor. 

  • Select those river rocks that are not very huge nor very small for your aquarium
  • Rinse the selected rocks to remove the dirt and then sterilize them by boiling for about 30 minutes
  • After sterilizing, cool down the rocks completely and then use your fishing line to tie each of the rocks, making a loop at the opposite end of your fishing line
  • 400;”>Place the loop around the stem of your aquarium plant (just above its roots)
  • Snip off any loose ends on the thread for the safety of your fish
  • Put your plant, together with the tied anchor in your aquarium and repeat the same process with the other plants.

After a while, your aquarium plants become naturally rooted in the gravel, and it is during this time that you should take out the fishing line initially used. Remove it very carefully to avoid destroying the aquarium’s environment.

At times, determining whether or not your selected river rocks will dissolve in water is challenging. To help with this, add a little vinegar to the water you are using to sterilize the rocks and check for bubbles. If your rocks form bubbles around them, then do not use those rocks as they will slowly dissolve in your aquarium water.


Plastic embroidery mesh


If you intend to develop a densely planted aquarium, then you might have to consider laying down a framework beneath your substrate that completely covers the bottom of your fish tank. Something such as plastic embroidery mesh is a good choice because it will not hamper the flow of water and it allows you to place your aquarium plants anywhere you desire.

To utilize this type of anchor, begin by laying down the mesh. Next, use some cotton thread to tie up your plants’ roots to the mesh exactly where you need them. After that, cover up the whole tank with your substrate.

In case you do not intend to cultivate your entire aquarium, you can utilize smaller bits of the mesh or you could reuse something that is easily available such as a plastic Tupperware cover.

Poke a couple of holes into the cover to enable the flow of water and then proceed to slide cotton thread through one of the made holes and up through the next hole and anchor your plants. Once again, you have the freedom to place the cover anywhere you wish in the aquarium. And once your aquarium plants are rooted, you can then cover the lid with your substrate.




A lot of aquarium hobbyists prefer using driftwood as an anchor because it adds an amazing distinct look to your fish tank. Before you can even think of adding driftwood into your fish tank, you have to ensure that is well prepared.

Why? Untreated driftwood might contain debris, dirt or even dangerous substances that might have a negative effect on your aquarium fish. This is precisely why you have to “cure” or treat your driftwood before using it.

Begin the curing process by thoroughly scrubbing the driftwood to get rid of any debris or dirt from the surface of the wood. After scrubbing, soak it for about 7 to 14 days for all the dangerous chemicals to leach out.

Find a container or bucket that is huge enough to hold your entire driftwood at once and fill it up using dechlorinated tap water. Place your driftwood in the bucket and use heavy objects such as rocks to weigh it down and then wait for about 14 days until your wood is completely cured. 

During this waiting period, you might have to conduct a few water changes. As your wood cures, natural tannins contained in it leach into the water making it become dark in color. When this occurs, empty the bucket and fill it with fresh dechlorinated water once again. When the water stays almost clear for a couple of days then you will know that your driftwood has completely cured.

After properly curing your driftwood, you can now anchor your plants and add them to your aquarium. You should, however, note that not every aquarium plant can be anchored using this method. Aquatic plants with strong roots are best suited for anchoring using driftwood. Such plants include java fern, hemianthus, glossostigma, and anubias species.

The process of anchoring using driftwood isn’t a difficult one. Apart from your piece of wood, the only other material that you will need is cotton thread. Follow the steps below and you will be good to go:

  • Place your piece of driftwood on a solid workspace
  • Trim your aquarium plants, only if necessary, and then try out a couple of different arrangements on the wood
  • Begin with the small plants and leave ample room for them to grow before proceeding to the bigger ones. Starting with the small plants allows them to attach to the wood as they grow
  • After choosing your preferred arrangement, utilize the cotton thread to hold the roots to the wood
  • Wrap the cotton thread around the plants’ roots a couple of times and then trim the remaining piece

After anchoring all your aquarium plants to the wood, the only thing that remains is to place the driftwood in your aquarium. Don’t worry if at first, your plants appear a bit awkward. They need a few weeks to properly anchor themselves to the driftwood and appear “normal”. 

With this method, you will want to ensure that you are using the proper type of driftwood, with regard to texture. Avoid using driftwood that’s smooth as this will make it difficult for the roots to anchor. The piece of wood you choose to use ought to be rough and one with a lot of texture. This will make it a lot easier for the roots to anchor themselves. Also bear in mind that you have to use treated driftwood.

Other methods of anchoring your aquarium plants include:


Leaving them in their pots


If your aquarium plant came in a tiny plastic pot, just plant the entire thing in your aquarium’s substrate. You could also purchase a tiny clay pot for those plants that do not come in pots. The only issue with this method is that these plastic pots will permanently become part of your tank.


Use of plant anchors


There are several types of aquarium plant anchors available for sale online. These are simply soft and bendable strips of lead that can be wrapped around your aquarium plant to hold it down in the water.

In conclusion

Securing a safe, natural environment in your fish tank might be a bit challenging and quite involving, but is definitely worth it for the well-being of your fish. As mentioned earlier, including live plants in your tank not only makes it more beautiful to look at but is also beneficial to your aqua-pets.

Most of these plants, however, need anchoring and you can use the above-listed methods to get this done. Some things to avoid using as anchors for your aquarium plants include:

  • Lead fishing anchors; utilizing them as anchors slowly poisons your fish
  • Metal ties; they will eventually rust and pollute the aquarium water
  • River rocks with metallic veins


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