What Plants Do Fish Eat?

On a list of things that will surprise you, the fact that fish eat plants might be on that list. So all that time you thought the plants that were kept in a tank or aquarium were meant to make it look pretty, you didn’t realize that they served a second and more important purpose than being a source of food for the fish in the tank.

Now, if you’re planning to keep a tank or aquarium and you are keen to have a well-maintained one, there are certain things that you need to know before you start buying. For example, you will need to know the plants that fish consider as food. It will be important to keep in your tank to give your fish a healthy, well-balanced diet. 

Especially because fish can be either herbivores or omnivores, you’ll want to know the kinds of plants that are popular with fish in either case.

You’ll also want to know what kind of fish to get. Knowing the fish, you are getting will also help you understand their eating patterns.

Read on to find out what kinds of fish eat plants and what kind of plants fish eat.

Plants that fish eat:

Here is a list of plants that you can keep in your tanks or your pond that your fish will happily gobble up:

  • Hygrophila is a fast-growing and hardy tropical plant that fish seem to enjoy eating. Readily available in pet stores, it will be an easy find.
  • Cabomba is a plant that can be found in two different colors, either green or red. It has feathery foliage and has whorled, spiral leaves, making it a very pretty plant to keep in your tank. The brighter the area where your tank is kept, the more the color becomes prominent. So not only is it something your fish will enjoy eating, but it will also keep your tank looking pretty!
  • Duckweed, which is also referred to as “water lense,” is another quick-growing plant. This plant will grow especially fast if kept in a brightly lit area. Duckweed has round and small leaves that float just on the surface of the water or just below. You’ll often find your fish nibbling on this plant.
  • Rotala is a sturdy aquatic plant that is also pretty popular with fish. The softness of the leaves is what fish love the most about it. It is available in several different species, including one that will turn a bright red if it gets good light.
  • Water spite is an aquatic tropical plant that grows on the surface. Not only is it a source of fish food, and not only is it pretty, but it also prevents the growth and spread of algae.
  • Aponogeton is a kind of plant that grows from a bulb, which means the leaves grow on the water surface. If it gets enough bright light, it will also produce flowers that add to the beauty of your tank. You’ll also find your fish happily eating this plant.
  • Egeria densa is a favorite plant amongst fish. It is fast-growing, and an added benefit of including this kind of plant in your tank is that it helps prevent algae growth. However, this plant is only suitable for tanks and aquariums. If kept in a pond or any other body of water, it can and will quickly become invasive.
  • Myriophyllum is a plant that is fan-shaped and grows pretty quickly. It has bright green leaves with a red feathery stem, which is aesthetically great to look at. The bonus is that fish seem to enjoy eating it as well.
  • Limnophila is a slightly more demanding plant to keep in your aquarium. Not only is this a delicate aquatic plant, but it needs a good amount of light source to grow quickly. If it is given too much shade, it tends to grow long and leggy. However, either way, your fish will still eat it.
  • Nymphaea is more commonly known by its other name, “water lotus,” and is a great source of fish food. This plant is also very fragrant, and the purple or reddish-brown leaf markings make it very pretty to look at as well.

Fish and plants:

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Knowing what kind of fish you’re getting is also important as it will help you understand their eating habits.


If you plan on keeping goldfish in your fish tank, don’t count on having plants present as a decoration. Plants are a source of food for goldfish. Now, although goldfish aren’t herbivores rather are omnivores, if they feel hungry or feel as if they haven’t been fed enough, they will move onto plants as a filler metal. Now, if you think you’ll keep plants that they aren’t fond of as decoration, such as Anubias spp, that’s where you’re mistaken. Goldfish will even eat plants they don’t particularly like.


Another kind of fish that seems to have it out for plants, the Mbuna fish are herbivores. While they typically eat algae, they tend to eat just about any plant they come in contact with. So if you have overgrown plants that you want to dispose of, just offer them to your Mbuna fish!

Silver Dollars

This is especially known to be a plant-eating fish, and in the wild, their diet consists of nuts, fruits, and vegetables that they might come across.


A tank rich with plants is nothing less than a mini-ecosystem. However, to have a well-maintained, plant-rich tank, then it is best to avoid either the plants or the fish mentioned. Plants are a great source of nutrition for fish, and in the wild or their natural habitat, they come across various species of plants, and thus it shouldn’t be surprising that they enjoy their greens as well!

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