11 Plants Your Oscar Fish Will Love In Their Tank

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Oscar fish are pretty demanding, mainly because they are large, territorial, and require a lot of space.

But what about vegetation? Do they need plants? And if so, how do you pick those that Oscar fish won’t destroy?

In this article, I will walk you through 11 excellent plants you can introduce to your Oscar fish tank, and how to do that correctly.

So, without further ado, let’s get started.

What Makes A Plant Suitable For Oscar Fish?

There are a few things to keep in mind when picking plants for your Oscar fish:

1. Non-Toxicity

For Oscar fish, ensuring the plant’s safety is paramount. Any toxic substance can quickly affect these fish, compromising their health:

  • Safety First: Some plants can release toxins harmful to fish. Always research before introducing a new plant to Oscar fish.
  • Common Missteps: Common plants like the Foxglove, while popular, can be toxic to fish.
  • Research is Key: Always ensure that the specific plant variety is Oscar-safe. Not all plants in the same family are non-toxic.
  • Avoid Pesticides: Plants treated with chemicals can be harmful. It’s crucial to quarantine and clean new plants before adding them to an Oscar tank.
  • Watch Behavior: Oscar fish nibbling on a new plant? Observe them for signs of distress. Immediate removal might be necessary.

2. Sturdy and Durable Leaves

Oscar fish are known for their playful nature. Plants with delicate leaves can quickly become shredded toys.

Here is what you should know:

  • Leaf Texture: Plants like Anubias have tougher leaves, making them less likely to be torn apart by Oscar fish.
  • Size Matters: Larger leaves, as seen in Amazon Swords, can withstand the occasional nip or tug from Oscar fish.
  • Growth Rate: Faster-growing plants can recover quickly even if Oscars damage them.
  • Avoid Delicate: Plants like Water Sprite have fine leaves that Oscars can easily tear.
  • Observe Interactions: Oscar fish might occasionally play with or nip at plants. The sturdier the plant, the better it will fare.

3. Water Conditions

Oscar fish thrive in specific water conditions. Plants compatible with these conditions are more likely to succeed:

  • Temperature Range: Oscar fish prefer warmer waters (77°F to 80°F). Plants like Amazon Sword can thrive in this range.
  • pH Levels: Oscar fish prefer a pH of 6.0-8.0. Plants like Java Fern can adapt to this pH range.
  • Water Hardness: Soft to moderately hard water is ideal for Oscar fish. Anubias and Cryptocoryne can thrive in such conditions.
  • Avoid Extremes: Avoid plants that require very soft or very hard water conditions.
  • Monitor Water Parameters: Regular water tests ensure both plants and Oscar fish are in optimal conditions.

4. Resistance to Being Uprooted or Eaten

Oscars are curious creatures. Plants that can resist their antics will last longer in their tanks.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Root Systems: Deep-rooted plants like Vallisneria are harder for Oscar fish to uproot.
  • Anchoring Options: Plants that can be anchored to rocks, like Java Fern, reduce the risk of being uprooted by Oscar fish.
  • Edibility: Some plants may taste bad to Oscars, deterring them from constant nibbling.
  • Plant Density: Thicker plants, like Marimo Moss Balls, are less tempting for Oscars to play with.
  • Trial and Error: Sometimes it’s best to observe which plants your Oscar fish tend to leave alone and which they seem to target.

5. Ability to Be Anchored

Anchoring plants ensure they aren’t constantly uprooted by playful Oscar fish. Secure placement can enhance both the plant’s and fish’s well-being:

  • Hardscape Friends: Anubias and Java Fern can be tied to rocks or driftwood, minimizing uprooting risks.
  • Sand vs. Gravel: Plants anchored in sand are generally harder for Oscar fish to uproot than those in gravel.
  • Plant Baskets: Using planting baskets can prevent Oscar fish from digging around the plant’s roots.
  • Weighted Bases: Some artificial plants come with weighted bases, making it hard for Oscars to move them.
  • Securing Methods: Using fishing line or plant glue can help anchor plants effectively in an Oscar tank.

Also Read: Oscar Fish Tank Setup

After understanding what qualities an aquatic plant must have in order to thrive in an Oscar fish’s tank, let’s examine some compatible options:

1. Anubias

Anubias is a hardy aquatic plant that comes in various sizes. It has dark green, leathery leaves that can withstand different water conditions.

Anubias can either be tied to driftwood or planted in the substrate.

Benefits for Oscar fish:

  • Durability: Anubias leaves are tough, making them resilient to the nibbling of Oscar fish.
  • Low Maintenance: Requires minimal light and nutrients, suitable for Oscar tank setups.
  • Flexibility: Can be planted or attached, allowing varied aquascaping for Oscars.

2. Java Fern

Java Fern is a popular freshwater plant known for its undemanding care requirements.

It boasts feather-like leaves that grow tall and provide good coverage. It’s usually attached to rocks or driftwood.

Benefits for Oscar fish:

  • Nontoxic: Safe and doesn’t harm Oscar fish if ingested.
  • Provides Cover: Offers hiding spots, which Oscar fish occasionally seek.
  • Sturdy: Can withstand the curious nature and movements of Oscar fish.

3. Lace Java Fern

A variant of the Java Fern, the Lace variant has intricately patterned leaves. These leaves are thinner but still resilient. It’s best attached to hardscapes.

Benefits for Oscar fish:

  • Decorative: Enhances the tank’s aesthetics while being Oscar-friendly.
  • Resilient: Despite delicate appearance, it resists damage from Oscar fish.
  • Easy Care: Doesn’t demand special lighting or fertilizers, fitting for Oscar setups.

4. Marimo Moss Balls

Unique algae formed into soft, velvety balls. They are slow-growing and can roll around the tank or be stationary. Not a plant per se, but a popular addition to tanks.

Benefits for Oscar fish:

  • Novelty: Adds a different texture, contrasting with other plants and Oscar fish.
  • Low Maintenance: Doesn’t require trimming or replanting, convenient for Oscar keepers.
  • Safe: Oscar fish can push them around harmlessly, engaging their curiosity.

5. African Water Fern

A lovely fern with delicate, dark green leaves. It prefers to be tied to wood or rocks. It’s native to African streams, hence the name.

Benefits for Oscar fish:

  • Natural Feel: Mimics the natural habitats of Oscar fish.
  • Hardy: Can handle the boisterous nature of Oscar fish.
  • Filtering: Helps in water purification, benefiting the Oscar’s environment.

Also Read: Which Filter Is Good For Oscar Fish?

6. Hornwort

A fast-growing, feathery plant. Hornwort can float or be planted and provides excellent shelter for aquatic life.

Benefits for Oscar fish:

  • Fast Growth: Helps combat algae, making the tank cleaner for Oscars.
  • Shelter: Its dense growth offers hiding places for Oscar fish.
  • Adaptable: Tolerates various conditions, catering to Oscar’s needs.

7. Vallisneria

Also known as “eelgrass,” Vallisneria produces long, ribbon-like leaves. This submerged plant grows tall, forming dense patches.

Benefits for Oscar fish:

  • Backdrop: Offers a natural backdrop, accentuating the Oscar fish.
  • Safe Edges: Soft leaves that won’t harm Oscars when they move around.
  • Oxygenation: Aids in oxygenating water, supporting Oscar fish health.

8. African Onion Plant

A bulb plant with long, crinkled leaves. It’s striking in appearance and grows quite large.

Benefits for Oscar fish:

  • Statement Piece: Adds a focal point to tanks, complementing Oscar fish.
  • Tough: Resilient against Oscar’s playful nature.
  • Rooting: Deep roots prevent Oscars from uprooting it easily.

9. Amazon Sword

A classic aquarium plant, Amazon Swords have broad leaves and can grow quite tall. They thrive best in well-lit conditions and with good substrate.

Benefits for Oscar fish:

  • Robust: Large leaves can handle Oscar fish activity.
  • Tank Fill: Occupies space, giving the tank a full, lush appearance with Oscar fish.
  • Root Stability: Firm roots ensure it remains anchored despite Oscar’s antics.

Also Read: What Is the Best Substrate for Oscars?

10. Pygmy Chain Sword

A carpeting plant with grass-like leaves. It’s ideal for the foreground and is relatively undemanding.

Benefits for Oscar fish:

  • Ground Cover: Creates a green bed, enriching the Oscar’s environment.
  • Non-intrusive: Low height ensures Oscars have ample swimming space.
  • Tolerant: Can survive occasional Oscar nibbles and disturbances.

11. Cryptocoryne

Crypts come in a range of types and colors. They are typically easy to care for and grow well in shaded areas.

Benefits for Oscar fish:

  • Variety: Offers diversity in appearance, enhancing the tank with Oscar fish.
  • Hardy: Established crypts are durable against Oscar activity.
  • Low Light: Can thrive in dimmer conditions, suitable for varied Oscar setups.

Do Oscar Fish Require Live Plants?

No, Oscar fish do not require live plants in their tank. However, incorporating live plants can offer various benefits for the Oscar fish environment.

Reasons for considering live plants:

  • Natural Habitat: Live plants mimic the Oscar fish’s wild surroundings, promoting natural behaviors.
  • Water Quality: Plants absorb waste and produce oxygen, enhancing the water quality for Oscar fish.
  • Stimulation: They offer Oscars an interactive environment, from nudging to occasional nibbling.
  • Shelter: Plants provide hiding spots, giving Oscar fish a sense of security and privacy.
  • Tank Stability: Rooted plants can help stabilize the substrate and prevent excessive disturbances by active Oscar fish.

How to Introduce Plants to a Tank with Oscar Fish?

To introduce plants to a tank with Oscar fish, start by choosing sturdy and Oscar-friendly plants.

Next, ensure a gentle acclimatization process to avoid shocking both the plants and the fish.

Steps for a smooth introduction:

Isolation Phase: For 1-2 weeks, place new plants in a separate container. This step helps avoid introducing pests or diseases to your Oscar fish environment.

  • Plant Stability: Anchor plants firmly, ensuring Oscars can’t easily dislodge them.
  • Steady Addition: Introduce plants gradually, adding one or two at a time. This way, you can assess the Oscar fish’s reaction and avoid overloading their habitat.
  • Keen Observation: Watch the Oscars’ interaction with the plants. Make sure they aren’t being too aggressive or causing harm.
  • Strategic Placement: Situate plants in quieter areas of the tank, like corners, to minimize disturbances.


In a nutshell, here’s a recap:

  • Choosing appropriate plants plays a pivotal role in Oscar fish health. Opt for non-toxic and robust plants to cultivate a secure and lively setting.
  • Anubias, Java Fern, and Lace Java Fern stand out as top picks for Oscar tanks due to their durability and alignment with the fish’s water preferences.
  • Marimo Moss Balls bring a distinct texture and are easy to care for, whereas African Water Fern adds a touch of nature and aids in water cleansing.
  • When adding plants to an Oscar tank, think about the acclimatization process and secure anchoring to minimize disruptions and ensure both fish and plants prosper.
  • Including live plants in an Oscar tank isn’t a must, but they offer perks such as enhanced water quality, added stimulation, and a comforting haven for the fish.