How To Keep Aquarium Plants From Floating: 9 Effective Solutions

Aquarium plants add many benefits to your fish tank, such as improving the aquarium ecosystem and making them look attractive. But not all plants take root and stay in the same spot. So, do you want to know how to keep aquarium plants from floating? You might have to anchor them in some way.  

Plants float because they’re lighter than water. If their roots can’t establish a strong bond in the substrate and there’s nothing else to anchor them, they’ll float around in the water. Some plants only need an anchor until they root securely, but the suggestions below are effective temporary or long-term solutions.

9 Ways For How To Keep Aquarium Plants From Floating

There are several different ways to keep your aquarium plants from floating. The solutions below can help you regardless of your aquarium setup or aesthetic—there’s something for everyone.

1. Use Plant Anchors

Plant anchors are the most straightforward solution because you can buy the product and put them in your aquarium without fuss. They’re not as attractive as some other suggestions, but they do the job. You can always opt to spend a bit more to get a fun anchor shaped like a pirate ship or castle to add some interest to your tank.

The plant anchor will hold the plant in place, but you still need to add some substrate. Just add a thin layer around the anchor’s edges so it won’t slide along the bottom of the tank.

2. Add a Mesh Layer

You can add a mesh layer to your aquarium floor to keep plants from floating. The mesh keeps them in one location while the roots develop.

Leave an opening in the mesh for the plant’s stem and leaves so it can grow without constraints. Cover the mesh with a thin layer of sand, pebbles, or gravel to keep your tank looking aquatic. The mesh will do its job even with the substrate on top.

3. Thicken the Substrate Layer

You don’t need a thick substrate layer if your aquarium is fish-only, but it can help when you add plants. Start with a one-inch layer of sand to give the roots a solid foundation. Once you place the plants, add two more inches of substrate to keep them in place.

This method is challenging to use with seedlings, so try it with mature plants first. Always research your fish and the plants to ensure you’re using the best type of substrate for their health.

how to keep aquarium plants from floating

4. Plant Them in Pots

Another answer to “how to keep aquarium plants from floating?” is to plant them in pots. It might sound silly to keep aquarium plants in pots, but it’s a proven way to keep them in place. After all, we grow houseplants in decorative pots, so why not do the same in your family’s aquarium? If you buy plants in nursery pots, you can leave them in that container when you add them to the tank. Their root systems won’t spread enough to need a bigger pot.

A positive benefit of this method is that you can use attractive pots to spruce up your tank. You can get a natural look with terra cotta pots or choose a colored pot that complements other aquarium decorations.

5. Add Suction Cups

Suction cups keep your plants in place by firmly attaching them to the tank bottom. There are special aquarium suction cups that hold the roots on top. The other side resembles a standard suction cup and adheres to the tank base.

There are different suction cups available. Those labeled as “dry application” need to stick to a dry surface, so you can insert them when setting up a new tank. “Wet application” suction cups are best for adding plants to established tanks because they’ll stick to a wet surface.

6. Plant Them in Crevices

Aquariums look like natural underwater scenes when you use textured rocks as decorations. You can use these rocks even more to your advantage by using them to hold your plants. Adding plants into the rock crevices makes it look like they sprang up organically and grew around the rocks. It looks great and keeps them in place without needing additional supplies.

7. Use Weights

Some aquarium plants will put down roots in your substrate and stay in place, but a bottom-dweller digging around the plant can uproot it. Using stones, pebbles, or decorations as a weight to anchor the plant is ideal. The weight shouldn’t be so heavy that it will damage the roots or prevent the plants from growing.

For stones and pebbles, you can put them near the plant stem so the roots grow beneath the weight. They’re strong enough to stay in place as the plant grows. For decorations, take a zip tie or rubber band and loosely attach the plant stem to the weight. You can put the tie near the bottom of the plant and add a layer of the substrate until the plant grows to cover it up.

8. Tie Them to Driftwood

This method takes a similar approach to using weights, but it gives your tank an entirely different look. You can use driftwood instead of rocks to landscape your aquarium and keep your plants in place.

Zip ties look more evident with this method because they have to wrap around the width of driftwood. You can use a fishing line instead so it’s not apparent from outside the tank. You can also choose to wrap roots around part of the wood as long as you’re careful not to damage them.

9. Use Fish-safe Adhesive

You want your tank to look great for your pet fish, but you also need to give them the best living environment. If you don’t want to see zip-ties or fishing lines in your aquarium, consider using fish-safe adhesive to keep your plants in place. 

Cyanoacrylate glue is non-toxic and safe enough to touch your skin, so it’s ideal for aquarium plants. It sets quickly and won’t taint the water so your fish stay safe and healthy. You can even use it to mount coral and rockscapes in your aquarium to keep everything in place.


Whether you’re adding plants to create a blackwater aquarium or a saltwater tank, they may just try to float away on you. Hopefully, some of these tips will help you keep your plants where you intended, and create the tank you’ve been dreaming of.

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