Red-Eared Slider Aquatic Plants

Creating the ideal habitat for your red-eared slider will ensure your pet remains happy and healthy.

In the wild, red-eared slider turtles live in an area brimming with natural plants, which they use to hide and eat.

In a captive environment, live plants can help to filter nitrates and remove ammonia from the water, they can also reduce the risk of algae growth. Plants improve water quality, oxygenate the water, and stops the growth of anaerobic bacteria.

With the great benefits, aquatic plants can provide to your enclosure, you need to know which ones are safe to use for your red-eared slider.

Continue reading for a list of the best live plants for your turtle tank.

Why Do You Need Plants For Red-Eared Slider Turtles

Live plants are fantastic for decorating your red-eared slider tank. They are also functional, providing hiding places for your pet to reduce stress and make it feel comfortable to filtering dangerous nitrates and ammonia from the water.

Live plants can also help in reducing algae and bacteria growth, improving the quality of the water.

Introducing live plants into the tank will:

  • Assist in the oxygenation of the water, reducing the growth of anaerobic bacteria
  • Decorate the enclosure, add a beautiful and natural finish
  • Red-eared sliders will explore and hide in the plants, they may eat them from time to time.

Fake Plants

It is not recommended to introduce artificial plants into your red-eared slider tank. Your pet will eat aquatic plants in their natural habitat, so you can be sure they are going to do the same in captivity.

Artificial plants increase the risk of your pet trying to eat them, causing serious digestion issues. It’s best to stick with live plants when it comes to decorating your pet’s tank.

Best Aquatic Plants For Red-Eared Slider Turtles

There is a wide choice of aquatic plants which are safe for your red-eared slider and can be added to their tank with confidence.

Amazon Sword

Amazon Sword has a bladelike appearance and is very durable. It is a very popular aquatic plant. This is a really beautiful plant and very easy to care for, making it ideal for first-time red-eared slider owners.

This short-stemmed plant is bushy with leaves extending from the root.

These plants can grow up to sixteen inches.

Anubias Barteri

Anubias Barteri is a popular and durable aquatic plant. Its hardiness makes it ideal for beginners. The strong root structure and the durable green leaves, make this ideal decoration for your red-eared slider enclosure.

These plants are slow-growing and their leaves are like leather, which means they don’t move around much in the water.


Arrowhead is a colony-forming aquatic plant that rises out of the water, reaching an impressive three foot. The leaves have an arrowhead shape with white petal flowers. This plant naturally grows in swamps, muddy banks, and wet sand.

The flowers have three green sepals, three white or pink fingered petals, and six or more stamens with several pistils.


Crystalwort is a floating aquatic plant that is found worldwide. This plant grows in thick clumps of bright green threads, these threads appear to be clumped together, growing into a ball shape, if you don’t keep it trimmed.

As it grows, it gives the impression of a rich cultured lawn or bed of moss.


Duckweed grows in quiet and undisturbed waters. It grows in dense colonies and is considered an invader of ponds. The plant needs to be trimmed and managed to ensure it doesn’t cover the entire surface, depleting oxygen in the water.

Duckweed is a great aquatic plant to introduce to your red-eared slider tank as it filters the water, prevents mosquitoes, reduces the risk of algae growth, and reduces water evaporation.


Eelgrass is an underwater plant that has quarter-inch leaves, which can grow to a staggering three feet.

The bed of the plant is always submerged with the roots anchoring into sand, mud, or grass. This flowering plant is often misidentified as seaweed. It lives in low shores of ten meters and can form meadows.

This plant is ideal to create hiding places for your pet. Growing in sheltered areas, this plant can provide a beautiful finish to your tank design.


Frogbit or Amazon Frogbit is considered one of the easiest aquatic plants to introduce to your red-eared slider tank. This plant comes from Southern and Central America and is very ornamental, adding a beautiful plant to your enclosure set up.

Young plants have leaves that float on the water’s surface, while older plants have leaves that rise above the surface of the water.

The small and white flowers add to the attractiveness of this popular aquatic plant.


Hairgrass or Dwarf Hairgrass is a popular addition to red-eared slider tanks due to its versatility and ability to create a carpet. Hair grass can be a welcome addition to any aquatic tank, suitable for the novice turtle owner to the experienced aquarist.


Hornwort is a very attractive aquatic plant and popular with pond keepers and aquarium hobbyists. It is very easy to care for with vibrant green colors. It offers a green glow in the water, especially under brighter lights.

This plant remains a firm favorite with red-eared slider owners as it improves water quality and clarity. It helps to oxygenate the water, dissolving carbon dioxide and converting into oxygen.

Java Fern

The Java Fern is one of the most popular aquatic plants. It is beautiful and delicate, widely used due to its unique shape, ease of care, and slow growth.

This plant doesn’t have any strict water requirements, which makes it a great choice for beginner pet owners.

Java Moss

Java moss is ideal for low-light areas of the tank. They are very plants to grow and tolerate a host of temperatures. They will also grow in almost any substrate, attaching to any surface.

Java moss is basically indestructible, it’s very difficult to harm the plant, which is why it’s such a top choice for red-eared slider enclosures.


If you are new to keeping live aquatic plants, then the Moneywort is a plant to consider. The elliptic leaves grow along the stem and are bright green in color, turning a lime color when in the light.

They are very attractive in a slider tank and can grow when fully or partially submerged.

It is a hardy plant and can grow up to 12 inches, sometimes taller if it has a lot of light. The plant will continue growing until it reaches the surface of the water.

It extends its branches across the water if you don’t trim it on a regular basis.

Water Hyacinth

This popular aquatic plant is beautiful and able to remove excess nutrients from the water. Though it’s important to note that the water hyacinth can also become a problem if not managed properly.

This is a free-floating perennial plant with thick leaves and pink to lavender colored flowers. The flowers grow approximately six inches above the foliage. It has purple to black colored roots which are free hanging.

It does very well with warm temperatures and ample light. Though note, they are invasive and will need to be trimmed to keep them managed.


Waterweed is one of the most attractive aquatic plants. The American waterweed lives underwater, except for its small white flowers, which come to the surface, attached with delicate stalks.

It is an evergreen plant in mild climates with leafy stalks that detach from the parent to create new plants.

This plant can grow in a host of conditions, in deep and shallow waters, it will even continue to grow when uprooted.

This plant plays an important role in the quality of your habitat, helping to provide hiding places for your red-eared slider.

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