Everything You Need To Know

Cabomba plants are a great option for any aquarist looking to introduce vegetation to their aquarium. But unfortunately, many people do not know how to take care of them!

This guide will teach you everything you need to know about Cabomba care.

Species Summary

Also known as fanwort, Cabomba (Aquatic Cabomba) is a beautiful plant that can create an incredibly dense underwater forest. These plants are relatively delicate and require some complex care. But that hasn’t stopped this species of aquatic plant from being a favorite of seasoned aquarists.

The plant is ideal for tanks that house shrimp and soft fish species. It makes the perfect hiding place, creating a safe haven for finicky fish prone to stress. Its presence in any aquarium is breathtaking, and it can do a lot to improve a confined ecosystem.

The benefits of having it in your tank

Cabomba serves several purposes. Like other aquatic plants, this cultivar can do wonders for improving water conditions.

It uses up many nasty by-products that fish produce. Instead of letting nitrates and ammonia harm water quality, plants can use them to grow and thrive. It also helps with oxygenation, creating a healthier environment for your fish and shrimp.

From an aesthetic point of view, Cabomba is a beauty. These plants create a dramatic backdrop, allowing you to forgo cheap plastic decor for something more true to nature. Of course, it’s not just about looks.

Fish actively use this plant for shelter and comfort. It is dense enough to provide adequate cover, but the leaves are soft and delicate, enriching the life of the fish swimming in it.


This plant species is mainly used as a background plant. You can grow it as a floating plant, but most aquarists use the dense nature of the leaves to create a natural setting.

The stems are the thickest part of the plant. Comparatively, the branches are fragile. However, they provide enough structure for the plant to move and sway with a light flow of water.

Along the stem, whorls of wispy branches create eye-catching plumage. The leaves are needle-shaped but flexible. Many compare it to fine hair, which makes it a soft net for food and debris that shrimp love to eat.

Author’s note: A few different varieties are available. The Green Cabomba is the most common and the easiest to maintain in good health. However, you can also get these plants in red and purpose.

Size and growth rate

Under the right conditions, Cabomba plants can grow quickly. They reach a maximum height of 20 inches. While some plants may continue to grow out of water, this is not the case with this cultivar. It requires complete submersion and regular pruning.

It can grow up to 2.5cm per day in pristine natural conditions! Fortunately, this rarely happens in an aquarium. The Cabomba will have a medium-fast growth rate for most tank setups, requiring pruning every few weeks.

Cabomba treatment

Cabomba plants are prevalent in the aquacultural community. With their good looks, it’s not hard to see why. In terms of maintenance difficulty, Cabomba plants offer an excellent middle ground.

They have unique challenges, but these obstacles are easily overcome with the proper knowledge. Follow these care tips and guidelines, and your Cabomba will thrive!

tank size

The great thing about the Cabomba plant is that it’s not very picky about water volume. It can grow well in small tanks, medium-sized aquariums, and even massive ponds. Most expert aquarists recommend keeping them in a tank that holds at least 10 gallons, but volume isn’t a major priority.

The thing you should worry about the most is the water depth. Too shallow of a reservoir, and these plants will suffer. Vertically oriented aquariums or tanks with at least 10 inches of water depth are ideal.

Water parameters

This plant appears all over the world. They are native to southern North America, but they are relatively adaptable. In places like Australia they were badly introduced and are now growing like weeds!

Cabomba is hardy, but they do best in warm water with plenty of nutrients to absorb. Aim for the following parameters when tending to this plant if you want to see the best results.

  • Water temperature: 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit
  • pH levels: 6.8 to 7.5 (aim for neutral)
  • Water hardness: 4 to 12 dGH (soft to moderately hard)


Lighting is where many aquarists struggle when caring for Cabomba plants. These plants need a setup that accommodates medium to high light intensity. This does not mean that the tank needs more hours of light exposure. Instead, it indicates that you need more powerful lights than an average setup.

The Cabomba needs about three watts of light per gallon of water. That’s slightly more than the average one or two watts required by a standard ceiling light.

Light exposure is essential for Cabomba plants. If the light is not intense enough, you may notice discoloration, dying leaves, and other common problems.


The best type of substrate to use for the Cabomba is a specially formulated aquatic plant soil. One of the first mistakes made by inexperienced aquarists is planting the Cabomba in standard gravel. The roots are far too delicate for the loose stone, leading to quick death.

A dense plant substrate is preferable. It can keep the roots anchored without damaging them. In addition, soil nutrients will help the plant establish itself.

How to plant it

Cabomba usually comes in bundles measuring about six inches long. Most stores sell them tied with rubber bands. When you bring the plants home, carefully cut the tape and shake the stems in the aquarium water.

Be very gentle when handling these plants. The roots are delicate and can easily break. If you notice damaged or rotting roots, cut them off. You can safely cut half an inch off the plant without killing it. Cutting allows the plant to get a fresh start and develop new roots.

After carefully separating the stems, the best way to plant the Cabomba is to anchor the roots about an inch deep in the substrate. For spacing, place them at least an inch apart along the back of the tank. This spacing allows for abundant growth and light swaying without overcrowding.

Under good conditions, fertilizer is not necessary. However, a little liquid fertilizer can speed up the establishment process. You can also use root tablets and CO2 supplements to help the plant thrive quickly.

Another option is to let the cut stems float in water. Cabomba does well as a floating plant. It stays close to the surface, exploiting more light to proliferate.

Trimming and pruning

With her medium-fast growth rate, regular pruning is important. In the wild, this plant will grow up to the water line before shedding leaves and spreading new plants. This is unlikely to happen in an aquarium, but the plant could suffer if part of it protrudes above the surface of the water.

Invest in a good pair of aquatic plant clippers. If necessary, gut the stem to keep the plant completely submerged.

Be very careful when pruning. Shaky hands and too much pressure could pull the plant, leading to root problems. You also want to avoid cracking, losing too many leaves, etc.

tank mates

This plant can create a breathtaking underwater forest for the enjoyment of fish and invertebrates. But because Cabomba is a fragile plant, you cannot use it in environments with rough fish. Known diggers and uprooters are a big no-no.

Generally, the best rule of thumb is to avoid any overly aggressive species of fish. This includes most cichlids, plecos, and goldfish. They are too hard for the Cabomba.

It is also best to avoid fish and invertebrates that like to eat plants.

The best tank mates for this plant are peace-loving fish and shrimp. Freshwater prawns are particularly fond of Cabomba because they collect food scraps that they can quickly obtain.

Good tank mates for the Cabomba include:


In the wild, the Cabomba plant can flower. However, this rarely occurs in enclosed habitats.

The best way to propagate this plant is to use cuttings. Cuttings two to three inches long can grow into a whole new plant.

Cuttings need plenty of light, nutrient-rich substrate to grow roots. Anchor them gently in the soil of the plants; they should grow up in no time.


Cabomba care is not difficult once you become familiar with this aquatic plant. It can bring a number of benefits to your tank and look great while doing it!

If you have any questions about this plant, let us know. We are more than happy to give you some additional tips or comments.

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