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Guppy Grass: A Comprehensive Guide to the Fast-Growing and No-Maintenance Aquatic Plant

Guppy Grass, A Comprehensive Guide to the Fast-Growing and No-Maintenance Aquatic Plant

Guppy grass is a popular plant species amongst aquarists and it is not without reason. It is known to grow easily, require low maintenance, and offer a range of benefits for fishes inside the same tank as it does. If you are interested in knowing more about this particular aquatic plant, you’ll be able to read about it below.

What Is Guppy Grass?

So, what is guppy grass? Scientifically referred to as Najas guadalupensis, it is a widely known and spread aquatic plant species. It has a lot of other common names such as najas grass, water nymph, southern water nymph, and more. Guppy grass grows submerged entirely in different types of still to slow-moving freshwater and brackish water, such as ponds, ditches, streams, or waterways. While it’s most common to be found in shallow water, it can be discovered down to approximately 15 ft as well.

One of the most defining characteristics guppy grass is its fast growth rate, but how fast does guppy grass grow exactly? While there’s still no citable study that reports about its growth rate until now, this plant is able to grow rapidly enough to swarm the tank in a several weeks or even sooner. It particularly applies in heavily stocked tanks, for example a blue grass guppy breeding colony tank.

It’s not surprising that the speedy growth rate leads to aggressive expansion, which gives the plan a status as invasive species. It originally grows in the Americas—where it is considered as native to Canada, partial United States, Mexico, as well Central and South America—but it has spread widely to other parts of the world like Palestine, Israel, and Japan.

Guppy grass yields a delicate, outspreading stem that can reach up to 20 inches. The leaves are fine, pliable, and fairly transparent, which can grow up to over an inch in length. These leaves cover its entire edge and curled around the stem, with a few variants depending on whether it grows as floating or rooted plant. The bottom nodes usually consist of white, frail root system. Typically, its small flowers are developed in the leaf axils.

Guppie grass offers plenty of benefits for the aquarium ecosystem. Not only it produces oxygen, but it’s also able to eliminate toxins and heavy metals. It reduces the opportunity for algae to grow as it consumes nearly excess nutrients within the tank. The plant also creates an ideal hiding place for tiny fishes, baby shrimps, and freshly hatched fry.

How to Plant Guppy Grass

In case you’re interested to add this interesting aquatic plant to your aquarium, then read a brief guide on how to plant guppy grass, as well as how to propagate it below:

Rooted or floating

First of all, you need to determine whether you want to plant your guppy grass as floating or rooted vegetation. Fun fact, this plant has heterophylly characteristic, which means how it grows will determine its leaf shape. In general, free-floating option is seen as the easier and a more popular option, but if you want it to grow anchored, then rooted method is the way to go.


Guppy grass grows both taller and longer, as it also develops to the side. You’ll be able to cut off some parts of the plant and the clips are going to grow on their own. Propagating is not really the hard part when it comes to this aquatic plant species. The most challenging part lies in trying to limit the growth.

That being said, if it grows to the point of overrun there’s always an option to sell it to the local fish store or online. This plant is constantly in demand so you won’t encounter trouble to sell it off.

Except if you want to go through the hassle of selling and distribute the pieces or you own several tanks, it is perhaps best not to perform guppy grass propagation.

How to Take Care of Guppy Grass

How to Take Care of Guppy Grass

Here are some key points of guppy grass care to take notes off:

Aquarium set up

In general, guppy grass can inhabit any waterway or tank. However, this doesn’t mean it doesn’t have preferences.

In the wild, this plant can thrive in various types of habitats, from stagnant ponds to streaming rivers. It’s able to grow either in freshwater or brackish environment. It flourishes in temperature that ranges from 50º to 86º Fahrenheit, with less than 8 ppt of water salinity level, even though there’s a chance that it can survive even at higher point. Ideal water acidity level for this plant would be between 6.0 and 7.0o pH and 2 to 25 dKH.

On the other hand, the aquatic vegetation species seems to prosper better and shred less in a environment with less water flow. In terms of lighting, it doesn’t appear to play a major role in its growth, but it seems to grow greener under more amounts of lights.

Fertilizers and substrate

Evidently, guppy grass doesn’t need substrate and root tabs. Often times, even when it is planted to, it will not consume them.

On the other hand, the plant does not require any fertilizer, soils, or carbon dioxide (CO2) to grow as well. That being said, receiving some fertilizers now and then won’t hurt, especially if the tank water doesn’t contain plenty of nutrients. If you are thinking of giving fertilizers to your najas grass, then it’s recommended to use liquid fertilizers. In addition, if your plant seems to struggle to grow, even after being given fertilizers, then try to drop some liquid carbon.


The maintenance that guppy grass requires is low to none at all. Except if it overspreads, begins to choke out other plants, or experience issues with algae, chance is, the owner doesn’t need to maintain it in any way.

To keep the growth at check, trimming is recommended to be done once every several weeks or as it begins to look overgrown. Large thick plant masses may prevent light to reach the lower part of the tank, which will cause problem for other plants within the tank if there’s any. Otherwise, if this not the case for you, you’re most probably will never have to lay a finger upon it again. Trimming the plant and take care of the disposal is likely to be the most significant part of maintaining the aquatic grass.

Another maintenance step often required to take is preventing the plant from invading local waterways because this can disrupt the local ecosystems’ balance, even if it is a native to the area. This specifically important if it grows at approximate distant with wetlands. Due to the fact that guppy grass grows spread rapidly, it might be needed to perform this maintenance action as a weekly thing. The plant can be buried (in a manner of duckweed in the garden to add nutrients), used as a component in compost pile, or thrown away (but by killing it first using bleach soak for a considerable time). If you think this chose sounds too much of a hassle, it’s also possible to dump it in plastic bags, so it won’t get to water bodies nearby, but this means that you contribute plastic waste into oceans and waterways more.

Guppy Grass vs Hornwort

Guppy Grass is not to be confused with hornwort, which is another species of aquatic plant that also develops delicate, needle-like leaves that forms green carpet underwater, where fishes like to hide in between. Hornwort is also another favorite of many aquarists, mainly due to its stunning looks, as it possesses airy and fluffy stems. It can grow up to 10 ft long, at least in the wild. In a typical limited space such as an aquarium environment, it also hardly has any difficulty growing.

There are not many differences when you compare between guppy grass vs hornwort. Both have similarity of growing at such an extremely fast pace. Moreover, hornwort also helps to maintain a balanced nutrient levels inside the tank as well, which means it can also contribute to prevent the growth of algae.

In terms of maintenance, hornwort is not a fussy plant as well. Similar to guppy grass, the challenge primarily lies in how to keep its expansion under control so it won’t hinder other plants’ growth. This is because the plant releases chemicals that can hamper the reproduction of their cells.

That being said, it’s not rare to hear its owners grow the plant successfully side by side with others. So, you may want to consider hornwort as well if you wanted to create an overlay of stunning greenery underwater that makes your aquarium looks packed.

Best Alternatives to Guppy Grass

Best Alternatives to Guppy Grass

The name of guppy grass may imply that it is the best plant option to grow on a tank of guppy fishes, and while it is not wrong, this vegetation is also loved by many small underwater creatures such as small shrimps that like to hide and scavenge around the plant. A lot of small fishes will use it as a breeding mop, including neon tetras, ember tetras, rainbow fish, galaxy blue grass guppy, and many more. Hatched fry also uses this plant to cover itself up and as an area to look for micro meal like infusoria.

The plant is indeed one of the best options you can get for your pink grass guppy fry or practically any grass gruppy variety. Its leaves offer a perfect hiding spot for the fry and prevent grown fishes from coming behind them.

That being said, it is certainly not the only option available out there for your red grass guppy and other grass guppy varieties. Here are some alternatives to guppy grass that you can also consider to get:

Java Moss

This aquatic plant species is known for being the go-to choice for aquarists who prioritize simple maintenance. The plant offers locations for hiding as well for baby fishes to safely grow, so it is an ideal pick if your fishes are breeding continuously.

Being an oxygenating and fast-growing plant, Java Moss is able to grow under various lighting condition, but it’s most recommended to place it under low-medium light as too much light may lead the plant to grow overly dense and in turns stimulate algae growth.

Flame Moss

Flame Moss provides an ideal breeding environment for guppies as well, similar to Java Moss, as it offers plenty of hiding spaces to avoid grown fishes. This can be a great option if you are not keen of the fast-pace rate of Java Moss’ growth.

In addition, what makes flame moss attractive is how easy it is to care for. In terms of appearance, it is the type of plant that horizontally grows and create a dark greenish flame-like visual, hence its name.

Brazilian taer weed

Scientifically named Anacharis elodea densa, this plant makes a perfect choice if you want background vegetation for your aquarium tank. It can grow up to 8” in height at a fast-growing pace, developing plenty of leaves and dark greenish stems. The leaves offer a great shelter for small fishes to lay their eggs and as a hiding for fry while they are growing.

Anacharis elodea doesn’t really need much maintenance. Again, most part of taking care for this plant comes from controlling its growth, as you will need to regularly trim it before it fills in the tank. Fertilizers will help it to be a healthy plant.


As a common aquatic plant, chance is, you won’t have a hard time finding guppy grass for sale. It is mostly available at fish-keeping or pet stores. All in all, guppy grass makes a fast-growing and easy to maintain aquatic plant for any tank. It doesn’t need a lot of requirements of setup. This plant species makes a perfect place for young fishes and baby shrimps to grow while hiding from dangerous adult tank mates. You just need to make sure that you keep its growth at check and you’ll be good to go.

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