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Goldfish Hanging Plant – How To Grow Goldfish Houseplant

Goldfish plants (Columnea gloriosa) come to us from the Central and South American tropics and derive their common name from the unusual shape of their flowers, which with some imagination, resemble fish. Under ideal conditions, the goldfish hanging plant blooms prolifically in a variety of reds, oranges and yellows. The leaves are generally 2 to 3 inches long, thick, waxy and dark green, although there are a few varieties with hairy leaves. The stems are vining and can reach 3 feet long.

Goldfish Hanging Plant Info

Because of its very specific needs, the goldfish hanging plant has a well deserved reputation as a fussy plant rife with problems. With goldfish houseplants, attention to detail is the key to success. As with so many of our windowsill guests, goldfish plant care begins with understanding where and how they grow in their natural state.

Goldfish plants belong to the genus Columnea. They are epiphytes, a type of plant that grows upon other plants, usually a tree. They are not parasites and do not receive nourishment from the host plant, but rather, use it as an anchor or perch. As with most epiphytes, proper goldfish plant care requires them to get most of their moisture and nutrients from the air around them and most of their energy from photosynthesis (where water and carbon dioxide, in the presence of sunlight, combine to form the glucose that is essential for their growth). Its roots are primarily for anchoring the plant and not for nourishment.

How to Grow Goldfish Houseplant

To avoid many of the problems with goldfish houseplants and other epiphytes, you must begin with the proper growing medium. The medium should be light and coarse and should not, in spite of the plant’s needs, hold water for extended periods of time. Coarse sphagnum moss or a combination of sphagnum moss, perlite and vermiculite in equal quantities will work well.

Temperature is also a factor in how to grow goldfish houseplant. Many people assume that tropicals need high heat, but in nature, most of these plants grow under a heavy canopy where the temperature is cooler. In fact, your goldfish houseplants are happiest in average room temperatures of 65-75 F. (18-24 C.).

Because so much of their energy is derived from light, your goldfish hanging plant needs about 13 hours of bright light per day. Avoid direct sunlight as it will dry the plant and scorch the leaves. A good grow-light is an excellent addition to the list of needs for growing goldfish plants successfully.

Humidity is another crucial factor in how to grow goldfish houseplant. These tropical epiphytes need mild to moderate humidity and should be lightly misted on a daily basis with room temperature water. Cold water will cause damage to the foliage. A room humidifier or a humidity tray will be helpful in any circumstance, but particularly in areas where the air is typically dry.

Your plant will bloom heaviest in spring and summer and during that time it should receive a half dose of high phosphorus (10-30-10) liquid fertilizer every two weeks. Water your plant thoroughly spring through fall, but allow the top 2 inches to dry completely before watering again. In winter, cut watering back slightly.

Problems with Goldfish Plant and Additional Care

Most problems with goldfish plant such as leggy growth, leaf drop, and lack of flowering are directly related to everyday goldfish plant care. Oddly, for a plant that needs such a moist environment, the biggest culprit is overwatering.

Too much space can also cause problems, as Columnea prefers to be pot bound. Legginess, which may be a symptom of low light, may also be the result of normal plant growth. Pinch back your goldfish plant after blooming to encourage branching and bushier growth.

Beyond this, there are several problems with goldfish plants involving both disease and pests. These plants are highly susceptible to botrytis mold, fungal leaf spots and mosaic viruses. Aphids, spider mites, and cottony cushion scale are common. Therefore, careful inspection for these pests and diseases should be a regular part of your goldfish plant care.

In spite of their fussiness, goldfish houseplants offer a high return for their care. These unique plants are a showstopper when in full bloom. So now you know the basics of how to grow a goldfish houseplant, why don’t you give one a try?

Goldfish Plant

Botanical Name: Columnea gloriosa and hybrids

Goldfish plant gets its common name from the long, tubular orange or orange-red flowers that look like everyone’s first pet — goldfish.

This is a perennial and will last for several years with good care. Long stems can reach up to 3 ft (90 cm) and are densely covered with thick, waxy, dark-green leaves.

Many named hybrids are available, offering a colorful variety of leaves and flowers. ‘Firebird’ and ‘Aladdin’s Lamp’ have red flowers and dark-green leaves. Yellow blooms edged in red make ‘California Gold’ a stunning house plant. ‘Chanticleer’ is a prolific bloomer with a compact growing habit.

Put this exotic trailing plant in a hanging basket or on a pedestal table to show off its spectacular foliage and blooms.

This eye-catching tropical houseplant is just plain fun to have around.

Get the most blooms. You can expect dozens of blooms on mature plants in spring and summer. Some plants may also bloom at other times during the year. You’ll get the most blooms by providing plenty of bright, indirect light. Keep the soil slightly dry in the winter to help promote heavy flowering in spring. Just be careful not to allow the soil to dry out completely.

Pinch your plant. Pinch off the growing tips often to encourage branching. You’ll be rewarded with a much nicer-looking plant that is compact and bushy. It’s a good idea to keep the stems at 12-18 inches (30-45 cm) to prevent it from getting leggy. If you want, you can propagate the stem tip cuttings for more plants.

To repot…or not? This one likes to be slightly root-bound, and blooms best this way. Repot in spring when it has outgrown its pot. Columnea likes loose potting medium, so don’t pack it down. Use a container with drainage holes to prevent soggy soil. If you want to use a decorative planter without drainage holes, use it as a cachepot. Just slip a plain nursery pot inside the cachepot. I put pebbles in the bottom of my cachepots to keep the inner pot above any drainage water.

Don’t put this tropical native outdoors for the summer. Keep it indoors year-round. Goldfish plants don’t like high heat or direct sunlight, which can cause leaves to turn brown.

Goldfish Plant Care Tips

Origin: Central and South America

Height: Stems may grow up to 3 ft (90 cm) long if not pinched back.

Light: Goldfish plant needs plenty of bright, indirect light to bloom. Keep out of direct sunlight, which will turn leaves brown.

Water: Spring through fall, water thoroughly and allow the top 2 inches (5 cm) to dry out between waterings. Water less often in winter, allowing the soil to become almost dry between waterings but don’t dry it out completely. Always use tepid water to water your indoor plants, because cold water is a shock to them.

Humidity: Moderate to high (50% relative humidity or higher). Use a room humidifier or a humidity tray to maintain moist air. Or mist foliage every day — use room-temperature water because cold water will cause brown spots on the foliage.

Temperature: Average room temperatures (65-75°F/18-24°C) year-round. Exposure to cold will cause its leaves to fall off.

Soil: Peat moss-based mix, such as African violet potting mix.

Fertilizer: Feed every 2 weeks spring and summer with a high-phosphorus liquid or water-soluble fertilizer (such as 10-30-10) diluted by half.

Propagation: Take 4 in (10 cm) stem tip cuttings (without flowers) in spring or summer. For best results, dip cut end in rooting hormone powder, then insert in lightly moist potting mix.

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A Detailed Guide To The Caring Processes Of Your Goldfish Plant

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  • A Detailed Guide To The Caring Processes Of Your Goldfish Plant

The Goldfish plant is one of the most attractive indoor plants which have over 25 different species. These plants are mainly native to Southern Mexico, Costa Rica, and Brazil.

Goldfish plants are Perennial ]and can have several years of life if taken good care of. The long tubular flowers are found in an orange-red color combination and look like leaping goldfish.

That is why they are called by the name Goldfish plants. These attractive plants can be put in ]hanging baskets and the overwhelming flowers will give you exotic, colorful and vibrant interior decorations.

Mostly these plants are kept in balconies or living rooms. Keeping them in the office corridor is also a very good idea.

At the time of spring and summer, these plants fill with plenty of beautiful flowers. If kept in the right shape these plants can actually be a reason for the envy of your visitors.

Taking care of goldfish plants is not that difficult as they are very hardy in nature. Though if you want to keep these plants healthy and blooming then obviously you need to follow a methodic procedure.

Here is a detailed guide from buying the goldfish plant to taking care of it properly. I hope you will find it helpful.

Making the buying decision:

Though indoor plants like Goldfish plants are very tough and hardy, before buying you have to ensure that you are buying a healthy plant. As taking care of an unhealthy plant will not at all work and also be tougher for you to make it bloom properly.

So if you are buying from a nursery then you have to look at the plant very carefully.

  • Ensure if the stem of the tree is evenly green from top to bottom.
  • See if the leaves are bending downwards, or have formed the concave shape as the latter will be the sign that the plant is sick.
  • Look for any white spotting in the leaves which indicates that the plant is vulnerable to some disease.
  • Make sure the plant does not have any brown or yellow leaves and branches.
  • Lastly, if the plant has flowers then confirm if the petals are safe from any insects.

But if you want to plant a stem separated from the mother plant then that will also be a good idea. Just plant 2 to 3 plants in a regular-sized planter. It will take nearly 4 weeks to root.

Planting the Goldfish plant and choosing the planter properly:

Goldfish plants are mostly indoor plants so planting them in the garden will not be a good idea. They love a little warmth but not direct sunlight, so planting them in the garden will kill them.

To choose the correct planter, you need to consider the characteristics of the plant. Goldfish plants are branching, trailing and spreading type plants. So a hanging planter seems like a good idea.

If you plant it in a hanging basket then you can use the trailing characteristic of the plant for decoration purposes.

But in case you want to plant it in a planter that you are going to keep in the living room or beside the door, then you have to choose a wide but not too deep planter.

The planter should be wide as the plant spread a lot, and not too deep because the stems that can grow up to 3 inches long do not have so deep roots.

That is why a small amount of soil is enough to grow these plants. In case you have planted it in a deep planter then make sure the soil is not wet rather just moist in nature.

The unused soil in the bottom stays soggy and can cause rot roots. Also, your planter must bear drainage holes to drain the excess water.

Controlling light, temperature, and humidity:

Unlike other indoor plants, Goldfish plants do not like direct sun. So if you are planning to keep it in the garden or in the balcony under direct sunlight, then probably you are planning to kill your plant.

Indoor plants are very sensitive to light and heat. Keep the planter near the window where it can get enough indirect light. But do not keep it in front of the window as the place is much hotter and receives more heat than any other place in your home.

Putting it beside the window is a preferably better option. You can use artificial lights also, and for that, you need to keep the plant 6 inches away from the light for 12 hours per day.

Goldfish plants can thrive well between 65 to 85 degrees of temperature. They cannot bear too much cold or too much hot weather. If you are planning to hang your goldfish plant then you must ensure the temperature there is not too high to harm your plant.

As the temperature is always high near the ceiling during summer, so probably you should use the air conditioner to cool the temperature of the room or after 12 noon you must take the hanging planters down to the ground.

Goldfish plants also love high humidity. You can put the planter on a pebble tray to give it more humidity.

Watering and Fertilizing your Goldfish plant:

As I said earlier, Goldfish plants do not like wet soil; rather they prefer it to be moist. So you can mist the plant daily twice at the time of summer, or you can keep track of the soil getting dry then you can moist the soil again.

To understand if the soil is moist enough or not you can touch it, if it gives a clinging effect without any extra water, then it is moist.

Misting can also give you more beautiful flowers. Excessive watering can result in falling of the leaves of your plant. Though you can use the self-watering planters for controlled use of water.

To fertilize indoor plants always use water-soluble fertilizers. You can use an organic fertilizer half the recommended strength in the spring and summertime, twice a month when the plant is actively growing and starting to bloom.

In fall and winter, you can fertilize them monthly.

Trimming and repotting the plant:

Trimming is very much necessary for summer and spring. It will give the plant a chance of growing healthier and denser. Also removing the dead parts will keep your plant fresh all the time.

Trimming can also help in making the plant bloom quickly. As the plant is trailing, branching and spreading in nature, a perfect trim can result in the beautiful shape of the plant.

Reporting is also recommended when the plant has completed a couple of years of its lifetime. At that time you can repot it in a clean container for health and hygiene purposes. Or you can separate the branches and plant it in different containers to get more goldfish plants.

Overall a goldfish plant can be the perfect beauty companion for your interior decoration which will give you eye-catching, vibrant and colorful flowers and that is also with a very little amount of care.

by gMandy | Updated : March 8, 2017

If you plan on getting some goldfish, or you already have some, you probably don’t want a bare tank without any plants. Aquariums without plants just look and feel weird. However, you might also know that keeping live plants with goldfish can be a bit problematic, especially because goldfish do like eating many of them.

Yet, there are some plants which are more than ideal for goldfish tanks, which is what we are here for today. Let’s get right to it and help you find the best aquarium plants for goldfish out there right now.

IMAGE PLANT INFO OUR RATING
Amazon Sword Our top pick 9.5/10
Java Fern Hard leaves so shouldn’t be eaten 9.1/10
Java Moss Fast growing plant 8.4/10

Do Goldfish Like Plants In The Tank?

Yes, absolutely do goldfish love to have plants in their tank. Goldfish in the wild live in environments that can be quite heavily vegetated, and you want to recreate this heavy vegetation in your home aquarium.

Now, goldfish generally love to eat a whole lot of aquarium plants, to the point where you might have to buy new ones on occasion, but you do want to provide your goldfish with some plants for eating.

Moreover, goldfish will also enjoy some resting areas, especially under larger leaves where they can get some shade, as well as some privacy from tankmates.

10 Best Live Plants For Goldfish

Here we have what we consider to be the top 10 safe plants for goldfish, ones that can survive in the same tank conditions, and for the most part can resist hungry goldfish.

1. Amazon Sword

The Amazon sword plant is definitely one of the better options out there for goldfish tanks. Now, goldfish do find the leaves of this plant quite tasty, which you might see as a problem.

However, the Amazon sword’s leaves grow quite quickly, and they can grow up to 16 inches in height. Realistically, the fast growth of this plant should offset the pace at which your goldfish will eat the plant.

It’s also a good option to go with because Amazon sword roots tend to grow fast and they anchor themselves well in substrate, so goldfish won’t be able to easily dislodge them. Moreover, it’s just a really nice looking aquarium plant that is easy to care for.

It’s water parameter and tank needs match those of the goldfish quite well, so there should be no problem there, plus the leaves do create an ideal hiding spot for them.

You can buy this plant on Amazon here

2. Java Fern

The java fern is another plant that is ideal for goldfish tanks, for a variety of reasons. Now, the main reason why the java fern makes for an ideal plant for a goldfish tank is because the leaves of it are quite hard, and goldfish really do not like to eat them.

So, you don’t have to worry about the goldfish mowing down your java ferns when they feel like a snack.

Moreover, java ferns do not like being buried in substrate, but they do appreciate being tied to some rough rocks of driftwood, which combined with the fact that goldfish don’t like to eat this plant, means that it should be safe from damage.

There is also the fact that java ferns can survive in a variety of lighting conditions, water temperatures, and pH levels, all of which coincide with the tank requirements of goldfish.

You can buy this plant on Amazon here

3. Java Moss

Java moss grows at a moderate pace, and it grows faster in higher light conditions, although it will do fine in low light conditions too.

Moreover, java moss is not the favorite snack of goldfish, although they may nibble on it. Even if your goldfish do nibble on your java moss, it should grow fast enough to offset the pace at which it is eaten, especially if you take good care of it.

Java moss is one of those aquarium plants which does best when anchored to some rocks or to driftwood, so the chances of it being dislodged by your goldfish are pretty minimal too.

Other than that, another reason why java moss is ideal for goldfish tanks is because it is very easy to care for. It does well in most lighting conditions, it can survive in both colder and warmer waters, and it’s pH needs are not too demanding either.

You can buy this plant on Amazon here

4. Duckweed

The next plant which you may want to consider adding to your goldfish tank is duckweed. Now, most aquarium owners hate duckweed because it grows so darn fast that it can take over a fish tank in a matter of weeks.

Keep in mind that this is a floating plant which features small and round leaves. It’s easy to care for because it grows so easily and because it does not require you to root it down, as it just grows on the surface of the water, much like Lily Pads.

Yes, it can overtake an aquarium fast, and when it does, it ends up blocking out a lot of light. However, for a goldfish tank, this is ideal because goldfish love eating the soft and tasty leaves of the duckweed plant, which helps to offset the super fast growth and propagation of it.

Other than that, duckweed has no pressing or demanding needs that you won’t be able to meet.

You can buy this plant on Amazon here

5. Water Sprite

Now, once again, goldfish do love to eat this plant. They love the taste and the soft and fleshy leaves which water sprite features. It can grow pretty large as well, but you probably won’t need to trim it, because the goldfish will take care of that problem for you.

However, under the right conditions, water sprite grows so fast that it really does not matter how much of it your goldfish eat. Water sprite is very easy to care for, as it can be rooted in gravel substrate, but it also does fine as a floating plant too.

In terms of tank conditions and compatibility with goldfish, water sprite has the same pH, temperature, and water hardness demands as goldfish, so you should not have any problems there.

You can buy this plant on Amazon here

6. Wisteria

Wisteria is easily planted in a fine gravel substrate, and its roots tend to quickly form a dense and strong root system, so them being dislodged by your goldfish should not be much of an issue.

Moreover, wisteria can easily grow to 20 inches in height, or even taller, given the right conditions, plus it grows extremely fast, sometimes more than 2 inches per week. Yes, your goldfish will probably like to nibble on wisteria, but the point here is that it grows so fast and large that it being eaten should not be a problem.

Heck, if anything, your goldfish eating this plant is doing you a favor by removing the need for you to trim it. When it comes to water conditions and tank requirements, those of wisteria and goldfish are very similar, so they can easily be kept in the same tank.

You can buy this plant on Amazon here

7. Vallisneria Spiralis

Now, this plant looks more or less like your average grass that you might find on a well kempt lawn.

However, the leaves are much thicker and broader than your average grass, and this stuff can easily grow to 30 inches in height or more. Under the right conditions, it can grow by inches per week.

Sure, some people may not like this due to the fact that it often needs to be trimmed and maintained, however the leaves of this plant are enjoyed as a snack by goldfish, so in all reality, the fish should take care of the trimming for you.

Vallisneria Spiralis does need to be rooted in some fairly fine gravel substrate, but the roots do grow fast, and after a week or two, they should have developed a root system strong enough to resist being dislodged by hungry or boisterous goldfish.

You can buy this plant on Amazon here

8. Water lettuce

Water lettuce does grow at a decent pace, and it can get quite large, so you do need to watch out for it overtaking your tank.

Remember that this is a floating plant, quite a large one that can grow up to 5 inches in diameter, so if not kept under control, it can block out light and absorb too much oxygen from the water.

However, it does make for an ideal option for goldfish tanks because it is a floating plant, which means that there is no possibility of a goldfish dislodging its roots from the substrate.

Moreover, goldfish may nibble at it a little bit, but because it is a large floating plant, the chances of this are fairly minimal, plus they do not seem to enjoy the taste all that much either. Other than that, water lettuce is also very easy to care for, which is another bonus.

You can buy this plant on Amazon here

9. Hornwort

This is one of those plants that has quite the rough and needle-like texture, which means that goldfish don’t love snacking on it, and unless they are very hungry, they usually won’t eat it.

Moreover, Hornwort does grow very fast and very tall, so even if your goldfish do eat it, it grows more than fast enough to offset the pace at which it is eaten.

In fact, you will probably have to trim it regularly to stop it from growing too large. Furthermore, the roots of the hornwort plant do great in gravel substrate, the root system develops fast, and the chances of your goldfish dislodging it are minimal, but they will like resting under the leaves of it to get some shade.

Finally, the tank requirements and water conditions that hornwort requires are pretty much the same as goldfish.

You can buy this plant on Amazon here

10. Anacharis

Now, the good part about this stuff is that it can easily survive in the same tank as goldfish. Moreover, goldfish will like to rest under it to get some shade.

The issue here is that goldfish absolutely love to eat anarchis, and they will absolutely demolish it. Yes, this plant does grow fast, but it may not grow fast enough to offset the pace of being eaten be the fish.

However, a trick here is to add some fully mature and large anarchis to your goldfish tank, as this will help offset the rate at which your hungry goldfish devour them. Other than that, this plant is actually very easy to care for, which is of course a bonus indeed.

You can buy this plant on Amazon here

What Aquarium Plants Will Goldfish Not Eat?

Ok, so the fact of the matter is that goldfish will eat pretty much any kind of aquarium plant you put in the tank. However, what you can keep in mind is that there are a certain few plants which goldfish will stay away from. Anything that has really thick and rough leaves is probably safe.

Anything with a rough and hard texture probably won’t be eaten by them, especially if it has sharp and needle-like leaves. Also, floating plants, especially larger ones like water lettuce tend to be safe as well.

We were not kidding when we said that goldfish will eat pretty much any aquarium plants you can put in there, so your best bet is getting plants that grow really fast.

Live VS Fake Plants For Goldfish

You might be thinking that you can just put fake plants in your goldfish tank, which yes is an option, but not the best one (we have covered fake plants here if you want some more information).

Sure, fake plants might not get eaten by your goldfish, but they also don’t look that nice and they don’t grow either. It definitely does not feel right with fake plants.

Fake plants also don’t help filter the water and they don’t help balance CO2 and O2 either, both of which are big drawbacks. Sure, your goldfish might eat real live plants, but it’s still the better option to go with over fake plastic plants.

Do Goldfish Like Driftwood?

Yes, goldfish may enjoy some driftwood, as they might even nibble on it, or at least just get some rest inside of its hollows (you can see our top 10 driftwood picks here).

However, goldfish tanks are already quite susceptible to algae, and driftwood definitely won’t help there, plus driftwood can also alter water chemistry. When all is said and done, adding driftwood to a goldfish tank is not recommended at all.

Conclusion

There you have it folks, the 10 best plants to add to a goldfish tank which can resist being eaten by them and probably won’t get dislodged either. Yes, it’s always a bit risky, because goldfish will eat pretty much any and all aquarium plants, but that said, a bare tank without real live plants just does not feel the same.

Goldfish are one of the most popular freshwater aquarium fish in the world. One way that many goldfish owners choose to lively up their tank is through the use of live and fake plants.

In this guide we share our favorite goldfish plants (both live and fake) and a few care notes on how to keep them.

Choosing Plants for Goldfish Tanks: Factors to Consider

Here are a few important factors to consider when choosing goldfish plants:

Plants or Food?

Because goldfish are so destructive and always hungry for some nice fresh greenery, there’s two approaches you can take to the concept of live plants in your goldfish tank. One is that you choose one of the few plants that are (mostly) goldfish-proof. There aren’t many, but there are a few species that have sturdy, unappetizing leaves that aren’t very attractive to the average goldfish.

Your second option is that you work around the ‘snacking problem’ and supply your goldfish with some variation in their diet by growing plants that are so quick to multiply they can handle being nibbled at.

Temperature

Although temperature shouldn’t usually be too much of an issue, you should give it a little thought if you keep your goldfish tank at a low temp. Unheated set-ups at room temperature shouldn’t be too much of an issue, but below 68 °F some tropical plants might end up struggling. Go for plants that can handle lower temperatures if this is the case.

Placement

Placement can be of importance when you’re trying to select plants for your goldfish tank because whatever is grown in the substrate might be subject to constant uprooting. This especially applies to new plants that don’t have established root systems yet: it can get quite annoying to see them floating at the surface every single morning after you replanted them the previous evening!

If you’re worried your goldfish will uproot plants, or if you have a bare-bottom style aquarium without substrate, you’ll have to find plants that you can get creative with. Some grow better in pots than others, and some species don’t actually need substrate at all. They just need rock or driftwood to grow on, which is very convenient as goldfish won’t be able to disturb them no matter how hard they try.

10 Best Live Plants for Goldfish Tanks

Still a little lost after the previous paragraph? No worries, we’ve compiled a list of 10 aquarium plants that either fall into the category of ‘goldfish proof’ or ‘goldfish food’. We’ll be honest here and admit that the success rate is not always 100%: some goldfish are just too keen on eating any greenery they see. That being said, we’ve tried quite a few of these ourselves and didn’t experience any issues!

1. Java fern (Microsorum pteropus)

Image by Pinpin

If you’ve read a few of the other plant-related articles on Build Your Aquarium, you might have noticed that we just love Java fern for its hardiness and ability to thrive in low light environments. We also love Java fern for goldfish tanks, because goldies absolutely do not seem to appreciate its hard leaves. It has been theorized they just don’t taste good, and the texture probably doesn’t help either.

Java fern can’t be grown in the substrate but instead needs to be anchored to porous rock or driftwood to grow. This comes in handy if you keep your goldfish tank bare-bottom: no substrate needed.

2. Anubias (Anubias barteri)

Imageby Tsunamicarlos

Another low-maintenance plant that features sturdy leaves and can be grown on rock or driftwood is Anubias.

This is probably the #1 favorite plant for most goldfish keepers, as it seems to be left alone almost entirely and has no problem being kept in an aquarium that’s not focused on growing plants. It’s a low-light species that requires almost zero maintenance and will be happy as long as there is no excessive algae growing on its leaves (which seem to be vulnerable to the green stuff, unfortunately).

3. Crypts (Cryptocoryne wendtii)

Imageby Tommy Kronkvist

Contrary to Java fern and Anubias, Cryptocoryne wendtii (usually just referred to as ‘Crypt’) needs substrate to grow. This makes it a slightly riskier choice as goldfish do love digging around and uprooting plants. Still, its leaves usually seem to be left alone so it’s a pretty good choice for your goldfish tank.

Like most of the other plants on this list, Cryptocoryne is low-maintenance and can be grown by beginners. It’ll stay short and compact under high light and form tall forests in lower light conditions.

4. Amazon sword (Echinodorus bleheri)

Image by Pete Brown

Looking for something large that will really add a lot of green to your goldfish tank at once? Amazon sword is appreciated by aquarists for its large, tall leaves. Additionally, it’s a very quick grower that spreads quickly through runners and forms a large root system that won’t easily be disturbed by a hungry goldfish.

Keep in mind that Amazon sword leaves seem to be found tastier than those of the previously mentioned plants. This shouldn’t pose too much of an issue, though, because the plant grows quickly enough to offset any damage.

5. Onion plant (Crinum calamistratum)

The narrow-leaved Crinum calamistratum is commonly referred to as onion plant because like an onion, it consists of a bulb that produces foliage. An unusual looking plant, and one that happens to work well in goldfish tanks because the crinkly leaves are hard and difficult to damage.

You can grow your onion plant in the substrate or, as some goldfish keepers find more convenient, in a pot or vase. Do keep in mind that this species grows relatively slowly and appreciates plenty of light as well as added Co2 if you can offer it.

6. Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)

As you might know if you’re a houseplant enthousiast, Pothos is a bit of an odd duck on this list. It’s not an aquarium plant and won’t survive underwater.

So how do you use a terrestrial plant in your aquarium? It’s actually quite easy. You can hang individual vines from the tank so that the bottom part is underwater. You’ll quickly start to notice roots appearing, which means the plant can benefit from the nutrients in the aquarium water and will soon begin producing foliage. Alternatively, you can grow Pothos in some types of filters or you could even use an external breeder box that hooks up to an air pump so water flows through it.

7. Java moss (Taxiphyllum barbieri)

Imageby Soulkeeper

Although it is definitely not immune to nibbling goldfish and will likely be the subject of relentless nipping, beginner-proof Java moss is still an option for your goldfish tank if used correctly.

If you want to grow this plant you can try leaving it free floating and hope its quick growth is enough to offset goldfish attacks. For a slightly safer option you can also attach it to rock or driftwood using fishing line or mesh, which makes it harder for the fish to eat it.

8. Water sprite (Ceratopteris thalictroides)

Image by Forest and Kim Starr

Another plant that falls in the category of ‘goldfish food’ rather than ‘goldfish proof’ is the decorative water sprite. This fern has soft, lacy leaves that will likely not be left alone, but luckily it’s known to be an extremely quick grower under the right circumstances.

To ensure your water sprite grows fast, be sure to provide plenty of light. Added Co2 is also a good idea but not an absolute necessity. The wastes produced by your goldfish will do the rest, allowing the plant to constantly produce large amounts of new foliage.

9. Duckweed (Lemna minor)

Most aquarists shudder at the idea of having duckweed in their tanks, let alone adding it voluntarily. This floater is extremely fast growing and can quickly take over an aquarium: even a single specimen can be enough to result in a green water surface within a few weeks.

For goldfish keepers, such a quick growing plant is ideal. Duckweed leaves are very soft and much appreciated by hungry goldfish as a snack, so what some goldfish keepers do is grow it in a separate tank just to be able to feed it to their fish. You can try it in your main aquarium as well, but be warned that some goldfish will make it disappear even faster than it can grow.

10. Anacharis (Elodea canadensis)

Imageby Fabelfroh

Anacharis is also sometimes referred to as waterweed, a name it has earned through its fast growth. This coldwater stem plant has soft leaves that goldfish will love to eat. Although it will usually be demolished too quickly to grow in your actual goldfish tank you can always try setting up a little plant tub to maintain a constant supply of waterweed in. Simply provide plenty of light and the plant will take care of the rest.

Fake Goldfish Plants

If your head is spinning even more than before (don’t worry, growing plants can be hard), you can consider looking into fake plants or even a combination of real and fake. Fake aquarium plants have progressed far beyond the tacky plastic stems that we used to see and can look very realistic. They work well if you’re looking to add a pop of green to your goldfish tank without having to consider whether the plant will fall prey to your fish.

When selecting fake plants, be sure to check all products for sharp edges. Hard plastic with a pointy edge can damage clumsy fancies’ long flowy tails or even their eyes. Instead, look for fake plants that are made of a soft plastic or silk plants.

Here are a few recommended fake plants for goldfish tank:

1. Begondis Silk Fabrics Aquarium Plants

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If you’re looking for an artificial plant that really stands out, look no further than this beauty by Begondis. Being made of silk, you won’t ever have to worry about this plant EVER harming or tearing your goldfish’s fins. In addition, this plant’s extra large size and realistic appearance means it will stand out in any aquarium.

This artificial plant made by Begondis is truly a no-brainer for anyone who wants to beauty of a planted aquarium, but not the upkeep of live plants.

2. SunGrow Artificial Aquarium Plants

SunGrow Artificial Aquarium Plants If you’re looking for artificial aquarium plants with a realistic touch, SunGrow is your brand. Their line of fake plants brings beauty and color to any aquarium. $7.95 Buy on Amazon

SunGrow really did an amazing job with their line of artificial aquarium plants. Available in multiple versions modeled after real species (many of which we talked about above), SunGrow plants offer a great dose of color and realism to any aquarium.

Live vs Fake Plants: Which are Better?

While fake plants are a very convenient option, live plants also offer considerable benefits. A good amount of live plants can help keep your aquarium stable and assist in dealing with the large amount of waste goldfish produce. Additionally, as we’ve discussed, some aquatic plants make a great addition to the diet of your fish.

This being said, if you really want to go for the jungle look and keep your goldfish happy, a combination of all the plant types mentioned in this article might be ideal. Combine real and fake plants for the ultimate green look (go for Anubias and Java fern if you’re worried about uprooting) and make sure to use both ‘goldfish proof’ and ‘goldfish food’ plants.

Final Thoughts

While selecting the right plants for a goldfish aquarium can seem like a daunting task, we hope this article has made things at least a little easier. If anything, don’t give up too easily: anyone can grow plants, even in a tank that contains the aquatic equivalents of lawnmowers. You just have to choose wisely and be a little more creative.

The “goldfish plant” or Columnea and its many hybrids are an attractive hanging houseplant.

The Columnea goldfish plant has long, trailing stems, small oval leaves and pretty, ever-blooming flowers in yellow, orange or red.

The beautiful flowers are often said to look like goldfish or lipstick, so you may hear this plant referred to as a goldfish plant or lipstick plant. The Aeschynanthus and Nematanthus are also known as the lipstick vine.

By Wildfeuer – Self-photographed, CC BY 2.5,

In this article, we will discuss the care of this tropical hanging basket houseplant. Read on to learn more.

The Goldfish Plant – Origin, The Name “Columnea” And Plant Type?

Goldfish plants hail from the American tropics, especially eastern Mexico.

The plant is named after Fabio Colonna, a 16th-century botanist, explorer, and author of books on plant life.

These tropical plants are epiphytes, from the Gesneriaceae family along with African violets and Episcia, with more than 100 natural Columnea species.

Because attractive goldfish plants need a consistently mild environment, they make excellent houseplants.

Epiphytes (such as orchids) grow in trees. They attach to the bark of the tree and glean their moisture and nutrition from the air around them.

They do not take any nourishment from the tree, and they do not hurt the tree. They are not parasitical. They just use the tree as a base.

The fact that the goldfish plant does grow high in the treetops leads it its vigorous trailing habit.

This is what makes it such an ideal choice as an impressive hanging houseplant.

The stems may grow to forty inches long. Healthy plants can add as much as sixteen to twenty inches of growth in a year.

Enjoy Goldfish Flowers All Year Long

Columnea plants can bring beauty into your home throughout the year as long as you give the plant ample light, a comfortable temperature and a high level of humidity.

In the wild, its long, draping stems covered with bright, nectar-rich flowers are a favorite of hummingbirds and other pollinators.

  • Flowers of different lipstick plant varieties look different (i.e. black goldfish plant).
  • Some look like parrot beaks, some look like goldfish, some look like lipstick.
  • All come in shades of yellow, orange and red.
  • All are scentless.

After blossoms die, remove them by cutting back the stems by half to encourage more growth and blossoms.

Pinch the tips of stems to help your plant present a healthier, bushier appearance.

Location and Lighting

The Columnea plant likes lots of light and a steady temperature ranging from 65° to 75° degrees Fahrenheit year round.

Keep the plant near a south facing window in the winter and near a west facing window during the growing season.

Be sure not to allow the plant to sit too close to the window panes as it may be subject to freezing in winter or in direct sunlight scorch the dark green leaves in summer.

It should not receive direct sun. Bright, indirect lighting is best.

Because your plant needs a setting with consistently high humidity, a greenhouse is ideal.

A bright, sunny bathroom (or a bathroom set up with good artificial lighting) is also a good place to keep a single plant.

Keep in mind that they do take up a bit of space.

Gold Fish Plant: Repotting, Rooting And Propagation

In the wild, these plants constantly reproduce and rejuvenate. The parent plant can live several years, and you can start new plants by taking cuttings on a regular basis.

For this reason, you can expect your plant to essentially live forever!

Repotting and propagation should take place in the early spring (March or April).

Trim and deadhead blossoms and shape the plant at this time.

Be sure to use the right kind of potting medium. Remember that these plants are epiphytes. In nature they set down their roots on the bark of trees.

For this reason, you cannot use regular potting soil. Use a well-drained epiphytic planting medium made of a combination of equal parts perlite, peat moss and vermiculite.

If using a prepackaged African violet soil mix add in a handful of perlite to make it more porous.

If you want to grow new plants from cuttings follow the instructions below for starting plants from these cuttings.

  • Use a soil-free mixture of perlite and peat (50/50) to get the cuttings started.
  • Each cutting used as a new start should be approximately two inches long. Put a bundle of cuttings together (3-8) in a small pot of the perlite and peat mixture.
  • Water lightly and cover the pot with a plastic bag. Place the pot in a warm place with bright, indirect sunlight. Leave the bag in place until you notice that new shoots have grown.

Columnea: Water And Fertilizer Requirements

Because Columnea are epiphytes, they glean all their moisture and nourishment from the air around them. For this reason, high humidity is essential.

When the weather is very warm and dry, you should mist the plants daily. This is especially true for hanging plants.

If you are growing your Columnea in a container on a pedestal, you can put a pebble tray filled with water under the plant so that the water will evaporate and humidify the air surrounding the plant.

Add water-soluble balanced houseplant fertilizer to the mist and/or the water in the pebble tray to provide continuous nutrition to the plant.

This should be a very weak solution. Use about ¼ the amount of fertilizer recommended by the manufacturer.

Keep the potting medium slightly damp at all times. Use filtered water or rainwater. Don’t add fertilizer to the water you use to moisten the substrate.

By Guérin Nicolas (messages) – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

How To Choose The Best Columnea

Even though there are dozens of natural species, only those that have been bred selectively for large, colorful flowers and sturdy growth habits are typically grown by hobbyists often in a hanging basket.

Serious collectors may occasionally grow native species, but for the everyday enthusiast, specimens that have been bred to be houseplants are far more satisfying.

Among these are:

  • Aladdin’s Lamp
  • California Gold
  • Orange Sherbet
  • Bartley Schwarz
  • Frosty Hills
  • Volcano
  • Mirage

These types all boast a gorgeous flower and lush, attractive foliage.

Most Columnea have thick, waxy, dark green leaves about two inches long. Some varieties have furry leaves.

Two of the hybrids listed here (Mirage and Frosty Hills) offer variegated foliage.

You can purchase this plant at all times of year. Look for healthy, compact plants that are growing vigorously.

The plant you purchase should have a lot of unopened buds.

In this video, one Columnea enthusiast describes slightly different care recommendations.

Goldfish Plants Troubleshooting Columnea

Columnea is also subject to:

  • Leaf browning caused by excessive calcium in fertilizer, potting medium or water
  • Leaf drop caused by drafts and excessively dry air
  • Fungal leaf spots
  • Botrytis mold
  • Mosaic virus

Why Is My Gold Fish Plant Losing Leaves?

If you notice that the stems and/or roots of your plant have become withered, you should take healthy cuttings, toss the damaged plant and start over.

Plants may also lose leaves due to attacks from spider mites, infestation by mealybugs, whiteflies or black aphids (plant lice) on plants.

Treat plants with a houseplant insecticide or Neem oil solution.

My Columnea Does Not Bloom Why?

If your plant stops flowering, it may be in need of a rest.

Move the plant to a cooler location (55-60 degrees Fahrenheit) for about six weeks and reduce watering. When you return it to a warmer setting it should resume blooming.

Poor blooming can also comes from “cooler” temperatures and lack of humidity.

Provide plants with 70 degrees with not less than 50 degrees during the resting period. Spraying twice a day is sometimes not sufficient A humidifier in winter will help.

How To “Fix” Straggly Looking Plants

Over time plant can begin to look looks straggly. Pinch or cut back the plant.

Remove some of the woody stems and begin pruning and pinching back regularly.

Why Does My Plant Have Mushy Stems?

When the base and plant stems turn soft and mushy it is probably a stem-rot fungus disease.

This fungus disease normally gets its start and spread by low temperatures and overwatering.

Starting new plants from cuttings and repotting is a good idea. Remove and dispose of infected areas and spray wounds with a fungicide.

Move the plant to a warmer location and allow the soil to become damp before watering.

What Causes Yellow Margins With Brown Or Black Spots And Damp or Blistered?

This is a leaf-spot fungal or bacterial disease or infection. The cause usually comes by low light, chilling and/or overwatering.

Increase temperature, light and ventilation. Dry soil out before restarting a normal watering schedule. Remove infected areas and spray remaining leaves with a fungicide.

What Causes Lower Leaves To Yellow and Stems Becoming Soft And Dark In Color?

This condition often shows up when plants wilt and seem to be underwatered but a root-rot disease prevents the root system from absorbing water.

Start by:

  • Removing the goldfish vine from its pot.
  • Wash the roots and remove all the potting soil using warm water
  • Removing roots that look badly damaged
  • Repot in fresh soil.
  • Remove damaged leaves and foliage
  • Water enough to keep the plant from wilting.
  • Water properly once the plant starts to return back to normal growth.
  • Drenched the soil with a fungicide when starting to water again.

Careful watering and close attention to the environment can help prevent these problems with goldfish plants.

Summary

Although these plants have a reputation for being a bit difficult, the fact is if you set up the right growing conditions in terms of light, temperature, sparing fertilizer and ample humidity they are very easy to grow. Without these essentials, you will not do well.

The goldfish plant is one from our collection of over 30 potted indoor houseplant varieties.

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