How to Anchor Aquarium Plants?

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Planting an aquarium should be a relaxing and rewarding experience. But things might not always go as planned. Sometimes, the plants won’t “stick” properly.

Fish can easily uproot and displace your aquatic garden. So much work, for nothing!

Other times, the planting experience might simply become monotonous. Planting and re-planting the plants, in the same way, gets boring.

You sometimes have to think outside the box to solve these issues. Well, you’ve come to the right place!

In this article, I’ll teach you some new and unique ways to anchor your aquarium plants. Keep reading to learn some useful tricks and ideas. You’ll never have to worry about uprooted plants anymore.

Besides, some of these anchoring methods will take your planted aquarium from “meh” to “marvelous”!

5 Anchor Ideas for Aquarium Plants

So, you’ve got some nice aquarium plants and you’re ready to decorate. The good news is that aquatic plants are very versatile. Most species can be planted, pinned to decorations, or even left free-floating.

It’s best to have them anchored in place though. Free-floating plants can easily get burned under aquarium lights or sucked up by filters. So, what are your anchoring options?

Some of the easiest and most common solutions include:

– Using Tweezers to Stick them in Substrate

Starting with the most obvious option— planting them in the substrate. This is a quick and straightforward way to do so. All you need is a pair of long tweezers to get the plants into place without disturbing the substrate too much.

You just grab the plant by the lower end and gently push the roots into the soil.

Remember not to bury the plant’s rhizome! This part of the plant is highly delicate and prone to rotting if submerged. Also, know that planting might not be the best option in all cases.

You should avoid this method if:

  • The substrate is too lightweight

If you’re using sand or small-grain gravel, your fish will uproot the plants very easily. Dense, heavy plants might also lean sideways because the substrate doesn’t provide enough support.

  • The substrate gets easily compacted

This is a common problem with very fine grain substrates like sand. Such substrates absorb lots of water. There’s also very little space between the grains, so oxygen can’t travel in and out of the substrate.

This creates dead pockets and promotes the growth of anaerobic bacteria. It also suffocates the plant’s roots and diminishes growth.

  • The substrate is not thick enough

Plants need lots of room to extend their roots. If the substrate is too thin, there’s no space for the plant to grow and anchor itself. A thin substrate also means poor support and makes the plant easier to uproot.

But not all is lost if your substrate is not plant-friendly. You still have plenty of options to anchor your plants. Consider the next methods to create an aesthetically-pleasing aquarium!

– Ceramic Rings

Why plant your aquatic plants, when you can just pot them? Nowadays, there are plenty of ceramic anchors available. Most commonly, you’ll find them in the form of ceramic rings. They look very similar to filter media, but most are larger in diameter.

You can stick your plants to these ceramic rings and simply place the rings in or on the substrate. The weight will keep the plants from floating or being dislodged.

The bottom is open and lets the roots breathe and grow safely.

This is a great solution if your substrate is too thin or too lightweight to anchor the plants down. Plus, the plants look pretty cute inside these little pots. If your plants are too small, you can secure them inside the rings using sponges.

– Tying Them with Fishing Line to Rocks

Rocks are heavy and offer great support for taller plants. Plus, adding plants can make the rocky areas in the aquarium look more natural.

To use this method, you’ll just need some fishing line to secure the plants into place. I’d choose the fishing line because it’s thin and nearly translucent, so it looks subtle.

You can also use virtually anything else, including rubber bands and zip ties. Whatever you have on hand works. Take the plant and position it on the rock.

Tie it onto the rock, at least half an inch above the roots. Don’t pull the strings too hard! You don’t want to cut into the stems or leaves.

Once you’ve fixed the plant, all you have to do is wait. As the roots start growing, they will attach to and spread over the rock. Eventually, the plant will anchor itself onto the surface. At this point, you can remove the fishing line if you want and the plant will stay in place.

– Glue Them to Drift Wood

If you have small, lightweight plants, the best option is to stick them onto driftwood. This will keep the plants from floating away and being stuck into aquarium equipment.

It will also make the driftwood pop. Planted driftwood? More like a real, miniature tree!

Some of the best plants you can use include Dwarf Baby Tears, Java Moss, Java Fern, Anubias, Floating Crystalwort, and Christmas Moss. For this method, you’ll need some super glue (cyanoacrylate) gel. This glue is aquarium safe, dries quickly, and can be used underwater!

The process itself is straightforward. You’ll need to take out and thoroughly clean the driftwood first. The surface needs to be free of any debris or gunk for the best glue adherence.

Take out the plant and section it into smaller pieces if necessary. Make sure each section has its own roots.

Flip the plant over and apply a thin layer of glue to the roots. You need to move fast because cyanoacrylate dries in less than one minute. As soon as the glue is on, set the plant in place and gently press for 5-15 seconds.

Release when the time is up. The plan clipping should now be secured in place. Now you just have to repeat the process for the other plants! A note of caution— you’ll want to be working with either gloves or tweezers.

You don’t want this glue touching your skin! It will dry instantly and unsticking your hands will be painful!

– Plastic Net Pots with Gravel

Finally, you can anchor your plants with special aquarium net pots. This method is similar to ceramic rings. But net pots have a closed bottom that can contain the plant roots. This method works best for plants that don’t develop extensive root systems.

These small plastic pots still have multiple openings to let the roots breathe. But the roots won’t have as much room to grow out. Net pots make anchoring and moving the plants around very easy. They’re also convenient when siphoning the substrate.

To use this method, all you need is an aquarium net pot of your choice and some gravel. Put the plant inside the pot and cover it with gravel to weigh the pot down. The weight of the gravel will anchor the pot in place.

Besides their utility, these pots can also be used to decorate any type of aquarium. They come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors for all your aesthetic needs.

Are Lead Plant Anchors Safe for Aquarium?

Lead is highly toxic to both humans and fish. So then, why would lead plant anchors even exist? Well, under most conditions, lead might be aquarium-safe.

As it turns out, lead is not water-soluble. Thus, lead anchors shouldn’t leach into the aquarium.

Besides, lead anchors do have some other benefits— they don’t rust and they’re compact but heavy enough to secure the plants in place.

If the anchors are properly buried in the substrate, the fish won’t be exposed to any heavy metals.

But handling the lead anchors can still pose a threat to your health, so proceed with caution! If you’re weary about touching heavy metals, there are some other options.

You can purchase imitation anchors made out of magnesium-zinc alloys. You can also use other anchoring methods, such as the ones described above.

Is Gorilla Glue Safe for Gluing Aquarium Plants?

Gorilla Glue is perhaps THE most popular super glue brand out there. The company puts forward very efficient products. Their superglues dry quickly, invisible, and they form very powerful bonds.

They’re also 100% aquarium and plant safe! You can safely use any cyanoacrylate-based glue, including Gorilla Glue, for your aquascaping endeavors.

But remember, you must let the glue fully cure before introducing it into the aquarium. Don’t use the glue directly underwater! The curing process creates toxic fumes that might cause dizziness for you and potentially worse effects for your fish.

Glue the plants to the chosen surface and let the glue cure for 24 hours! Once the super glue is fully cured, it will become inert, non-toxic, and aquarium-safe!

Gorilla glue is 100% waterproof and won’t leach any chemicals into the water once fully dried.


Sometimes, aquarium plants just don’t stay where you put them. The fish can easily uproot them. You might also disturb the plants while siphoning the substrate. But you can avoid this problem by choosing different anchoring methods.

Submerging the roots in the substrate is the most obvious way to plant your aquarium. But this doesn’t always work as you’d expect.

You should avoid this method if your substrate is too lightweight, easily compacted, or too thin.

Luckily, there are plenty of other methods available! Using ceramic rings and plastic net pots works great for small plants with shorter roots.

For a more natural look, you can also tie your larger plants to heavy rocks in the tank.

Finally, gluing the plants to driftwood is another unique way to add interest to your tank. This method works best with small, carpet-type plants.

Just remember to always use cyanoacrylate-based glue. This is the only inert, aquarium-safe adhesive for planting.

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.
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