Do Guppies Need Live Plants?

I have owned many guppies in my time with all sorts of decorations and plants inside their tank. Over the years, I have changed between live plants and plastic ones – purely based on what was available in my local aquarium at the time. I have never actually considered whether my guppies actually preferred or, better yet, needed the live plants.

Guppies do not need live plants in their tank. However, there are many benefits to having live plants, such as better water quality, higher oxygen levels, and they provide shelter for the guppies. Overall, guppies will be a lot happier and healthier in a tank with live plants. 

There is quite a list of reasons why one should try to keep guppies in tanks with live plants. Read on to find out how live plants lead to happy guppies and maybe learn a thing or two about how to improve your guppy tank!

Are Live Plants Necessary For Guppies?

Guppies do not need live plants in their tank to survive. Guppies can live for a long time without them. However, it is preferable to have live plants as there are a lot of benefits to them and overall improve the health of your guppies.

Guppies in freshwater aquarium

Live Plants and Guppies: Aeration and Filtration

Just like your filtration pump, live plants also can filter the water in your tank and make it cleaner! Furthermore, they use the nutrients in the water to produce oxygen. They do this by absorbing and removing waste such as the carbon dioxide and ammonia produced by your guppies and turn this into oxygen.

You might already have aquarium pumps that add oxygen into your tank, so you’re probably wondering why this is relevant? In simple terms, having live plants increases the healthiness of the tank by working together with your existing pumps. They can filter the water, remove waste, and add fresh oxygen back into the water.

Both the pumps and live plants make for a well-aerated and waste-free tank leading to healthy guppies!

Live Plants and Guppies: Hiding places

Another benefit of having live plants is that they provide perfect hiding places for guppies. If you have other fish that your guppies are wary of or if they are avoiding sunlight – your guppies will love some luscious green plants to hide in! Guppies are much more inclined to use live plants as hiding places than plastic plants.

Plastic plants are not as thick and soft as live plants, so your guppies will prefer some live greenery instead.

Furthermore, guppies are notorious breeders, and if you’ve had them before, you will know what I’m talking about. Guppies are also known to eat their fry (baby guppies) so having live plants offers the tiny fry a place to hide until they reach maturity. If you want to see your baby guppies mature, then it might be time to get some live plants!

Live Plants and Guppies: Habitat Imitation

Guppies are known to be a lot happier in tanks that look and feel like their natural habitat. Since guppies are naturally small and gentle fish, their preferred natural habitats are full of lush green plants ideal for hiding in.

By adding a variety of types of live plants to your tank, it can create a very similar environment to the one your guppies would’ve lived in the wild. Naturally, your guppies will feel a lot more relaxed and happier in a tank that has tons of living greenery.

Live Plants and Guppies: Algae Management

While algae does not affect your guppies health, it can be an absolute pain to constantly clean out the algae in your tank. If you’re someone who struggles with algae, then live plants might be the solution for you.

As mentioned previously, live plants filter through the nutrients that are in the water. The nutrients that live plants take out of the water are the same nutrients that encourage algae growth. Adding live plants to your aquarium will decrease the amount of algae that grows and the number of times you have to clean the tank!

Types Of Live Plants That Guppies Love

There are a large variety of live plants that guppies will thrive in. These plants all have different shapes and sizes as well as require different levels of care. Below you can find a list of 3 of the best types of plants that I would recommend for your tank.

1. Best Live Plants For Guppies: Java Moss

Java Moss is a very simple live plant. It is excellent for creating hiding places for your guppies as it is made up of long stringy leaves that form a thick bush. It also grows very quickly and is easy to anchor in your tank, making Java Moss a great first plant to add to your guppy tank. Lastly, it will filter without the need for carbon dioxide or fertilizer.

The only issue with Java moss is that it isn’t a fascinating plant to look at and is quite dull. If having a beautiful plant isn’t a concern of yours, then this straightforward live plant is the way to go!

2. Best Live Plants For Guppies: Amazon Sword

The Amazon Sword plant is a great beginner plant as it is a very easy plant to maintain. Just like the Java Moss, it is a great filter, grows rapidly, and provides hiding places for your guppies. The only difference is that the Amazon Sword is a lot more appealing to the eye than the Java Moss.

The downside of the Amazon Sword plant is that, since it can grow so quickly, it needs to be trimmed regularly. Regular trimming can be a bit tedious so consider if this is something you would be happy doing or not.

3. Best Live Plants For Guppies: Java Fern

The Java Fern plant is a stunning plant to have in your tank. It moves so elegantly with the water, and guppies love it! The name comes from its appearance because it resembles a cross between the Amazon Sword and Java Moss plant.

If you have a tank situated where there isn’t much light, then a Java Fern would be a great idea. This plant does not rely on good lighting for survival and isn’t affected by low carbon dioxide levels, so it is pretty hardy.

An issue with the Java fern is that it isn’t as good at filtering your water as the Java Moss or Amazon Sword would be. It also requires you to anchor it, which can be a bit of a nuisance.


In conclusion, guppies do not need live plants in their tank. However, it is advisable to put some in as they provide the guppies with hiding places and oxygen, they also filter the water and help you manage your algae growth. Overall, you will have a happier tank of guppies with live plants!