Updated/Fact-Chacked on April 11, 2023 by John
Plants come in diverse colors, shapes, varieties, and sizes, and surprisingly, they offer much more benefits than just giving your pond a gorgeous feel and look. Oxygenating plants are essential for the overall pond health and its inhabitants, keeping the water clean and algae free.
If you are starting a new pond project, it’s important to ensure you have adequate oxygenating pond plants for the size of your pond. My recent oak barrel container pond project required 5 oxygenating plants (according to the guys at Maidenhead acquatics) – some people advice 3 bunches per m2
Types of Pond Plants – Which are Oxygenators?
Essentially, three distinct types of plants are commonly used together to create beneficial and appealing pond displays. These plants are mainly Emergent Plants (poke out of water), floating (sit atop the water), and submerged plants (fully sunken beneath the water surface). Even so, all these plants don’t equally offer similar oxygenating and clearing benefits.
These plants float on the surface and can absorb nutrients directly from the water since they comprise a unique root system that doesn’t need you to bury it deep in the substrate. Floating plants offer vital interaction between the air and water. Nonetheless, it is worth noting that some species consume much more oxygen compared to what they generate.
What’s more, they may potentially invite insects and beneficial bacteria, not to mention creating shade areas for the pond inhabitants. An excellent example of this is the Water Lettuce.
These are plants that grow from the pond floor to the water surface above. This effectively means that they must be planted near the edge of your pond. Emergent plants offer cover, shade and are a fantastic food source for aquatic inhabitants – they can also give your pond colour if you plant aquatic flowering plants. Again these type of pond plants generally consume more oxygen than they give out.
Finally, submerged plants are arguably the best oxygenating plants since they are essential to the overall health of any wildlife pond. Additionally, they absorb potential contaminants like nitrates and assist in regulating algae growth in your pond.
Within the oxygenating plant category, you also have deep water plants that can oxygenate the water. It’s best to have a few varieties of oxygenators as they will oxygenate your pond at different times of the year, reducing the likelihood of algae forming.
What are the five best Ponds Oxygenating Plants?
Anacharis (Elodea Densa)
Scientifically known as Elodea Densa, Anachris is a fast-growing plant originating from North America and are best known for their oxygenating capacity. This plant, classified as a Hydrocharitacea, is common in ponds and aquariums, and fish love them as they are a source of food and offer cover.
Besides being very hardy, they are best grown in unique 4-6 stem bunches that have been adequately weighted and placed in your pond. After settling, this plant will root relatively fast and firmly and start shooting upwards towards the water surface. Anachris prefers partial to total sun exposure and needs a pond with a minimum depth of 10 inches.
· Color Green
· Water Conditions: pH 6.5-7.5 , temp 59-82 degrees F, KH 3-8,
· Max Size: 24 Inch
Mermaid Plant/Mermaid Weed
Also known as the Mermaid Weed, this plant is a fantastic option for shallow waters just around the edges of your pond. Although it can grow well as a typical submerged plant, its fern-like leaves enjoy emerging atop the water surface.
As an emergent plant, the mermaid plant provides a suitable location cover for young fish as its leaves offer cover from water-dwelling and airborne predators. Moreover, its affinity for shallow waters usually means that the ambient temperatures often stay high. It is a relatively slow-growing aquatic plant.
· Planting method: you can place bunches of this plant in baskets or planters or weigh them and sink them every two feet
· Light Requirements: partial to full sunshade
· Water Depth: Up to 8 inches
Commonly known as straight Vallisneria, the eelgrass, which originates from Australia/South East Asia, is a popular plant in home aquariums and is a fantastic addition to any fish pond.
Characterized by long and wavy leaves, eelgrass bred in domestic conditions can grow to approximately 2 feet. On the other side, when this type of pond plant naturally grows in the forest, it can achieve a height of 5 meters and above. It is uniquely labeled as among the best underwater oxygenating plants.
If your Eelgrass pond plant grows to overwhelming heights, you can trim it to shorter lengths since it will grow back due to its active roots. Eelgrass pond plants tend to widely and quickly spread; this characteristic gives them a somewhat meadow-like appearance when underwater.
To minimize its spread throughout your fish pond, you can cut off some plants or use a rake. As mentioned above, Eelgrass pond plants are best suited for deep waters, and due to their thick and robust nature, they are the best pond plants for ponds holding enormous fish, which tend to damage plants.
· Size: 25-60cm
· Lighting: Low-Med
· Temperature Range: 17-30C
Cabomba Carolinia, popularly known as fanwort, is a stunning flowering plant known for its feathery leaves during spring. Fanworts utilize their leaves in the distribution of oxygen in your fish pond and, in addition, allow your fish to move around the pond freely.
Characterized by small and thin-tissue stems, fanwort pond plants are ideal for ponds with small fish. While submerged in depths of 3-10 feet, with a murky bottom suitable for its roots, the Fanwort pond plant can also produce flowers on over-water surfaces.
· Height: 50-52 cm Max
· Water Conditions: 72 to 82 F (22-28 degrees C)
· Colors: Red or Green
This fantastic oxygenator features frilly leaves that offer excellent cover for small fish, invertebrates, and eggs. Hornwort pond plants can grow to approximately 24 inches tall.
Hornworts can grow while being both submerged using minimal weights or floating on water surfaces. Its leaves resemble a horn and enable this pond plant to supply enough oxygen in the fish pond effectively. Adaptable to changing lighting factors and temperatures, your fish will allow the safe breeding of your fish.
This type of pond plant is ideal for most if not all ponds and easy to cultivate. It reaches its peak performance when your pond’s pH is approximately 6 and 8.
· Max Size: 24 inch
· Water Conditions: pH 6.0-7.55, temp 9-8 F, KH 5-15
· Mode of Propagation: Side Shoots
What are the Benefits of Add Oxygenating Plants?
1. Help Remove Unwanted Pond inhabitants: Gold and Koi fish, among other common pond fish species, significantly benefit from oxygenating pond plants. These plants assist in the removal of unwanted or detrimental pond inhabitants.
2. Facilitate Oxygen Distribution: Pond plants generally aid in the proper distribution of oxygen and help inhibit algae growth. Ideally, your pond should have an appropriate and sufficient distribution of oxygen at recommended levels of 6ppm-suitable for most types of fish.
3. Promotes absorption of nutrients and spawning: adequate oxygen enables proper spawning. Varying amounts of oxygen below three parts per million will eventually kill your fish. Therefore, it is necessary to include oxygen-generating plants in your fish pond since they also absorb nutrients and safe habitats.
4. If you are creating a small container pond, planting oxygenating pond plants will remove the need of buying a pond filter.
Essentially any plant that oxygenates your pool will also effectively help keep it clear of any algae development. Ideally, they do this by consuming nutrients known to thrive by feeding on this ugly and destructive pond pest. Generally, submerged plants are undeniably the best choice for promoting optimal oxygenation since they consume the most significant amount of unwanted pollutants.
Gareth is the owner of Plantsman Media. Gareth lives in the North East of England and is obsessed with flowers. He has just started RHS level 2 certification.