Here’s How To Grow Philodendron In A Fish Tank [+Myths]

You need to pay attention to detail when it comes to fish, ranging from their food to their tank. You must’ve noticed that there are decorations and plants in aquariums and fish tanks. These plants aren’t just to make them feel like they’re in their natural habitat, but also for other reasons. 

Philodendrons are one of the most common aquatic plants you might find in aquariums. Philodendrons can’t exactly survive fully immersed in your fish tank. However, if you let their roots grow in water, they will participate in your fish tank’s ecosystem.

Read along to find out more about Philodendron in your fish tank to decide whether they’re ideal plants your fish might need! 

Can You Grow Philodendron in a Fish Tank?

Yes, you can grow Philodendron in a fish tank. However, there is a correct way to do it to ensure a healthy Philodendron. If you fully immerse a Philodendron into water, it will die very soon.

A Philodendron falls in the narrow category of houseplants that can permanently grow in water. But you can’t directly plant a Philodendron in a fish tank; however, there is a correct method to grow a Philodendron in your tank. 

philodendrons in a fish tank

Can Philodendron Survive Fully Immersed in Water?

No, Philodendrons won’t be able to survive if they’re fully immersed in water. However, like humans, they love immersing their feet (read: roots) in water and the whole body (read: vines and leaves) in the open air. 

Philodendrons shine bright when their roots spread in the water.

Why Should I Put Philodendron In My Fish Tank?

Let’s get the obvious benefit out of the way.

Philodendrons will make your tank look beautiful while giving your fish a space to play hide-and-seek!

But there is an often-overlooked, but valuable use for philodendrons. Philodendrons need nitrogen to breathe. Many people plant philodendrons in their tanks to detoxify nitrite, nitrate, and ammonia in the tank. This way any toxins are taken care of by the plant.

How To Correctly Plant Philodendron In A Fish Tank?

Here are the steps to correctly plant philodendron in an aquarium:

  1. You need to prepare one cutting of a Philodendron before placing it in the water. This cutting grows new roots.
  2. Fill a container, jar, or fish tank with water and leave a space of one inch below the rim. Allow the chlorine (if you add any) to dissipate overnight. 
  3. Take a stem from a Philodendron plant of about six inches and make a cut with scissors, a sharp knife, or gardening clippers. Cut the stem right below the leaves. 
  4. Pinch about three sets of leaves off at two or three leaf nodes on the bare stems. Suspend the leafless ends of the cuttings in the water. 
  5. The leaves should rise higher than the water so the tips are out of water. The bare nodes must also be submerged in water.
  6. Keep changing the water every three days (not overnight), and around the tenth day, you will notice roots. 

Do Philodendrons Have Disadvantages? 

There are multiple rumors on the internet revolving around how Philodendron ruins the whole aquatic ecosystem in your tank. Philodendron sometimes edges out other plant species from the tank.

However, that’s just how it works with nature – survival of the fittest. As animals evolved and adapted, so did plants.

Philodendrons also suck out nutrients from the water, and this might leave other plants without any. This isn’t a problem if you keep monitoring your water quality (as you should).

Philodendrons however, do have one disadvantages that you should know of…

Philodendrons’ Toxic Traits

Unfortunately, Philodendron has some toxic qualities. Philodendron’s roots are perfectly safe, and are not toxic to fish or other plants.

Your fish won’t get hurt if you put it in an aquarium.

However, the plant’s leaves are a different deal. The leaves have oxalic acid, which is toxic to both animals and humans. This is why you should pay attention that the leaves stay out of the water. 

Fish will start dying if they nibble on Philodendron’s leaves. Both omnivorous and herbivorous fish will try to nibble on edible plants. Therefore, it’s important to ensure their safety. Ensure that other pets are far away from your aquarium; you don’t want them taking a bite out of curiosity. 

When animals or humans consume Philodendron, it causes swelling in the throat, tongue, and mouth, making it difficult to breathe. In severe cases, it might cause diarrhea and vomiting too. 


  1. Do Philodendrons Need Soil?

    Yes, Philodendron needs soil. It grows best in well-drained, loose soil having a high concentration of organic matter. The plants grow well in sphagnum peat moss. Soilless mixtures like pear-perlite or peat-vermiculite also pose as satisfying bases. You can propagate the plant by its tip and leaf cuttings.

  2. Does Cyperus alternifolius Work Well in an Aquarium?

    No, you don’t need to remember a name you probably can’t pronounce (I can’t); use Umbrella Papyrus. This plant is excellent for large ponds and aquariums.

    It can grow up to five feet high under sunlight, and you can plant it directly in your substrate.
    However, the water depth must be less than sixteen inches. Umbrella Papyrus acts as the perfect purifier as it effortlessly adapts to higher degrees of pH. 

  3. Can You Plant Philodendron in Betta Tanks?

    Yes, you can plant Philodendron in Betta tanks. In fact, Philodendron is one of the most common choices for Betta fish. The plant floats above the surface while its roots dangle in the water.

Wrapping Up

Now that I’ve probably covered everything you need to know about Philodendron, you can make your decision! The plant can be highly effective, acting as a natural purifier for the water, keeping nitrogen-related toxins out of the way. 

The plant doesn’t absorb as much carbon dioxide as other plants, but you can always plant this in combination with other species for balance. Ensure that you plant Philodendron according to the instructions mentioned; one slip-up can cause a lot of harm. I hope your tank looks as pretty as you want it to!