Best 10 Saltwater Plants for Aquarium in 2023

Live saltwater plants are a great way to maintain a marine aquarium in a better shape. Otherwise, it’s hard to keep it in perfect balance. These saltwater plants for aquariums use extra nitrates and phosphates that are otherwise harmful to the tank environment. They also enable you to display your aesthetic sense because they are available in multiple colors and shapes.

With several benefits, care requirements, and many other aspects, we’ve selected the 10 best saltwater plants for aquariums in 2023. In conclusion, you will also find out which is easy to maintain and hard to grow in selected live saltwater plants.
live saltwater plants

Live Saltwater Plants

Live saltwater plants have various types, characteristics, sources, and distribution. Knowing all of these details is better before growing them in your saltwater tank. All of these details are briefly in the following.



Photosynthesis process for their food production Rigid and thin
Sexual and asexual reproduction systems No seeds
5 major groups, i.e., Red algae, Diatoms, Brown algae, Green algae, and Dinoflagellates No absolute structure


Marine algae grow throughout the world[1].


It usually grows in intertidal zones, shallow coastal waters, open oceans, coral reefs, kelp forests, and rocky surfaces in marine habitats.


Seagrass is another live saltwater plant option. It’s a food source for many herbivores and helps to stabilize the overall tank habitat. It’s the only plant that bears the flowers undersea and has about 70 known species.


Seagrass has the following characteristics.

Roots Stems Flowers Can bear fruit
Leaves Connected tissues Special cells  Oxygen source
Special cells Salinity tolerant Roots Acts as a habitat and food source


Seagrass grows in the coastal areas of 159 countries[3] on six continents except Antarctica.


It grows at bays, coastal lines, intertidal regions, and up to a depth of 60 meters undersea.


Mangroves are hardy plants or shrubs that grow in extreme saline conditions. There are about 80 different[4] mangrove species present on the globe.


Here are some characteristics of mangroves.

2-90% salinity tolerance Breathing roots that absorb the atmospheric oxygen Have special salt-secreting glands on their leaves
Shallow roots Wax-coted leaves that hinder the water removal from leaves


They are distributed from 25 degrees north to south. It grows 36.5% in Asia, 20.8% in North America, 18.7% in Oceans, 11.6% in African regions, and 12.4% in South America[2]. Sundarban, Bangladesh has the largest mangrove forest, while Indonesia has most mangroves.


They grow in tropical and subtropical areas.
saltwater plants for aquarium

Is It Beneficial to Put Plants in a Saltwater Aquarium

There are several benefits that you can enjoy by growing live plants in your saltwater aquarium. Some of them are in the following.


Growing live saltwater plants improves the oxygenation of the tank. These plants produce oxygen during photosynthesis, which helps to improve the overall tank health and reduce the oxygenation cost that is otherwise required.


Saltwater plants also improve the filtration of an aquarium. They remove the nitrates, phosphates, and toxin elements from the aquarium.


Live plants enhance the overall aesthetics of the tank. They enable you to decorate the tank according to your aesthetic sense because several colors and structured saltwater plants are available.


Live saltwater plants also provide shelter to various organisms in the tank. Plants help to hide themselves from predators. It also provides a place to enjoy.

Control Over Algae Growth

It is tough to control algae growth. Algae use nutrients that are other organism’s requirements. These live saltwater plants provide a proper channel to use the extra nutrients.

pH Control

Live plants reject ammonia, ammonium, nitrates, and phosphates, and doing so helps to control the pH of the saline water tank.

10 Best Saltwater Plants Ideal for Aquariums

Halimeda or Money Plant

Halimeda is one of the best live saltwater plants, a type of green algae classified as Bryopsidales, i.e., organisms that lack individual cells. Halimeda grows in the tropics. It is low-growing and has disc-like flattened leaves on string-like branches. Calcium deposits on its leaves. Halimeda
Halimeda helps to keep the nutrient level balance in the saline water tank, along with phosphate and nitrate filtration and is also an excellent tool for the alkalinity test of the aquarium. It requires moderate pruning, regular calcium supply, moderate lighting, i.e., 2 watts per gallon, and moderate water flow. Its visuals and other benefits make it a suitable choice for saltwater tanks.

Mermaid’s Fan

The mermaid’s fan is another eye-catching live saltwater plant for aquariums. This green algae belongs to the Udotea family. They grow in the Caribbean region. It has a short steam that ends up at a big fan-like leaf. It grows up to 6 to 8 inches. Mermaid's Fan
It is commonly grown plant in tanks as a calcium-providing agent to other organisms and to add beautiful color in aquariums. 22 to 25 degrees Celsius temperature, 8.1 to 8.4 pH, proper calcium supply, and balanced nitrate and phosphate levels are optimum conditions for proper growth. Its color makes it one of the best choices among saltwater plants for aquariums in 2023.

Red Mangrove Propagule

This beautiful saltwater plant belongs to the Rhizophoraceae family. They grow on the seashores of tropical and subtropical regions, especially the Caribbean, Central America, and tropical West Africa. Red Mangrove Propagule appears like green and brown cigars. They help to reduce algae growth and keep the water in the best condition by uptaking extra nitrates and phosphates. Red Mangrove Propagule
You need to clean its leaves with fresh water a few times a week. Proper trimming and the time-to-time iron dose are also beneficial. They grow best between 22 – 25 degrees Celsius and 8.1 to 8.4 pH. It’s on the list of the best for 2023 for its beneficial role in aquarium maintenance.

Sea Lettuce

Sea lettuce is a type of green algae that belongs to the Ulva genus. This seaweed grows in Africa, the Indian Ocean and Pacific islands, Australia, and UK coasts. They can grow up to 75 meters in depth. It mimics lettuce but has thin leaves. It removes extra nutrients and is a food source for herbivorous and omnivorous fish. Sea Lettuce
It requires proper and intense light for longer periods and a 7.9 to 8.2 pH range. You can introduce this live saltwater plant in your aquarium for its natural filtration ability and as a food source.

Turtle Grass Shoots

Turtle grass is another best choice among saltwater plants for your aquarium. It is a type of seagrass. You can recognize it by its thin, flat, and ribbon-like glass blades. Naturally, it inhabits the shallow and calm waters of Bermuda, Venezuela, Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea. Turtle Grass Shoots
Its presence in the tank helps to maintain the nutrient balance and water quality. It also acts as a food and shelter source for many organisms. You need to provide 8-10 hours of intense light and at least 6″ deep substrate for proper growth. Its hardy and drought-resistant nature makes it a suitable choice for your marine aquarium.

Dragon’s Tongue Algae

Dragon’s Tongue Algae is a macroalgae. It has red fringes with orange at the tips. This algae grows in coral reefs, Rocky subtidal environments, and mudflats of the Tropical Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean, and the Gulf of Mexico. Dragon's Tongue Algae
It balances the nutrient level, acts as a natural filter, improves oxygenation, and enhances the overall aesthetics of any saltwater tank. Moderate lighting and water flow, in time water change, and the addition of iron supplement helps to thrive Dragon’s Tongue Algae.

Blue Hypnea Algae

Blue Hypnea is another type of algae, also known as rhodophyte. Its bushy appearance in multiple colors makes it an attractive choice to ornament a saltwater aquarium. It naturally grows in tropical regions in different places, i.e., sewage-polluted areas, rocky intertidal benches, tidal zones, etc. Blue Hypnea Algae
They require a full spectrum bright light, frequent Iodine supplement, medium water temperature, and moderate flow for optimum growth. You can enjoy several benefits by growing this live saltwater plant, i.e., improved water quality, nitrate and phosphate control, and aesthetic enhancement.

Red Gracilaria Algae

Red Gracilaria Algae is another rhodophyte, which has cylindrical red bushy branches. It naturally grows in wet sand, muddy, and hard substrata. The algae is a habitat of the northwest Pacific region, i.e., Japan, Korea, China, and Vietnam. Red Gracilaria Algae
It is a natural food source, fish immune booster, and water quality agent. You can witness its optimum growth rate at medium light, 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, moderate flow rate, and have a proper check on phosphate. Its toxin-removal ability and control over pH make it a suitable choice.

Spaghetti Algae

Spaghetti Algae is a seagrass that loosely floats in extreme saline conditions. This green filamentous loosely entangled grass gives a lively look to your saltwater aquarium. It often grows in brackish water conditions in sandy and rocky areas, and naturally grows in Europe and North America. Spaghetti Algae
It helps in fish tank filtration, pH level control, natural sink for nutrients, and habitat for many organisms. 16 hours of intense light, high flow, rock or sand for anchoring, and balanced nutrients are required for optimal plant growth. Its ability to control the water’s pH makes it the best choice among saltwater plants for aquariums.

Tufted Joint Algae

Tufted Joint Algae is another macroalgae in the list of the best live saltwater plants. It appears like green, prehistoric-look, and segmented. Tufted Joint algae grow on rocks in tidepools at 30-meter depth. It naturally grows in the Caribbean, Atlantic Islands, and Mexican Gulf region. Tufted Joint Algae
They improve the water quality and oxygenation. It also provides a unique look to your aquarium. You need to provide moderate lighting, a high flow rate, 8 to 8.4 pH, iron, magnesium, and trace element supplements. If you are late in feeding, then it can serve as a food source. This thing makes it a suitable choice for saltwater aquariums.

Final thoughts

Live saltwater plants are beneficial in multiple aspects for a marine aquarium. Besides keeping the aquarium in shape, they also help make it a centerpiece. Among the 10 best saltwater plants, Halimeda or Money Plant, Mermaid’s Fan, Red Mangrove Propagule, Sea Lettuce, and Turtle Grass Shoots are easy to grow. The rest of the plants require some extra care.

[1]The Law of Temperature Connected with the Distribution of the Marine Algae
[2].Mapping the global distribution of mangrove forests at 10-m resolution
[3]Seagrass: 10 facts about an ocean plant under threat
[4]What is a mangrove forest

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