Transforming the Water Tank Into a Thriving Ecosystem


The growing capacity of your garden does not have to be limited to what can be grown in the soil. Aquatic plants not only add to the aesthetic appeal, they aid the overall functionality of the water tank.

Advantages of Water Plants

-improve water quality (acts as filter of unwanted substances)
-helps eliminate algae production
-provide food & shade for fish
-prevent water from overheating
-overall less maintenance required


Types of Water Plants

The advantages of investing in water plants only means that you are able to further enjoy and reap the rewards of your hard work. Keep in mind that a 60% water surface coverage is ideal for these plants. There is an array of different plants that thrive in the water and that suit different environments.

Floating Plants

These plants have strong reproductive capabilities, and produce an abundance of offspring as they flourish. The little maintenance these water plants require is simply removing the browning or yellowing extensions as they grow.

water hyacinth

-full sun
-tender plant
-grow & spread rapidly
-can be invasive to other plants (may be illegal to grow in certain locations)
-enjoy crowded spaces, do not enjoy too much space

water lettuce

-full sun & light shading in warmer temperatures
-tender plant
-quick growth rate (good coverage for price)
water plants floaters waterLettuce


-should be grown in full sun (love sunlight)
-slow growing perennial
-aesthetically pleasing(may not bloom in water tank)
-colder climates, winter: keep plant dormant and cool w/o freezing plant
-lowered to bottom of water tank during winter

water lily

-full sun
-perennial, easy to grow
-aesthetically pleasing(may not bloom in water tank)
-shade pond/ shallow rooted plant
-lowered to bottom of water tank during winter

hardy water lily

-blooms spring through fall(dormant fall through winter)
-easier to grow than tropical lilies (require a lower temperature of 60 degrees)

tropical lily

-dormant in winter(can be left in water/stored)
-larger and more extravagant, fragrant
-bloom for longer (1-2 months)
-flowers are in bloom for longer periods
-have higher chances of producing multiple flowers at once



-moderate sun
-invasive( can easily take up majority of water surface)
-dormant in winter

parrot feather

-highly invasive
-low maintenance


-full sun
-doesn’t require much attention/care
-difficult to control plant growth
-heavy surface coverage
-compete with other plants for nutrients

floating fairy moss (azolla)

-full sun
-difficult to control plant growth (can double/triple its biomass in just a few days)
-competes with other plants for nutrients
-heavy surface coverage
-fixes nitrogen

Fairy Moss (Azolla) and Duckweed are types of highly invasive floaters. They tend to quickly take over the water surface and may end up competing with other plants for essential nutrients. When these floaters start to take over, they can be  added to  greenhouse bedding, a compost pile, or act as food for fish and chickens.


Marginal Plants

These plants are naturally found on the margins or borders of ponds and streams, and can give height, texture variances, and floral displays to your greenhouse tank. The trick is to find the best method to give these plants the water they need, without creating a mess in the tank. For this, we recommend placing these beautiful plants into floating islands that make them nearly maintenance free.


-full sun or partial shade
-sensitive to cold


-partial sun
-easy to grow
-edible when cooked
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Growing Spaces stocks these planted islands at their Pagosa Springs location.  They are also available through Growing Spaces’ Claudia Stover; she is reachable by phone or text at 719-221-1012 or by emailing her at [email protected].


Submerged Plants

These plants need to be planted in pots with a heavy soil mix, sitting 12″ below the water’s surface. Consequently, they require stands to hold them at the required height.Unless you have a larger dome, the chances that you will see blooming is minimal. However, the leaf structure provides a lot of interesting surface coverage.


Oxygenating Plants

These plants should sit at least 24″ under the water’s surface to provide oxygen to the lower water regions of our tanks. The primary oxygenators include anacharis, hornwort, and foxtail. The preferred technique in our tanks would be to suspend them inside a mesh bag (with a rock added to keep the mesh bag hanging low in the water).
Water plants not only add to the practicality of the water tank, they also increase the beauty within the growing dome. Until next time, Happy Gardening!


  1. The duckweed and water hyacinths seem to be working well. About 75% of the water is now covered, so I will skim off some of the duckweed and put it in my compost pile. Also, have put in 13 Japanese trap door snails. Water is not clear, but algae growth has slowed and there is no smell. What is your opinion about barley straw bales for ponds? Thanks.

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