Best Oxygenating Plants For Ponds To Help Keep Your Pond Clear

A garden pond would not be complete without a fabulous array of plants to create that natural and attractive look that most aquarists desire. They come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and varieties, and have more benefits than simply making your pond look good.

Plants are also vital for the health of your pond and its inhabitants. They act as a filter for undesirable pollutants and consume nutrients that would otherwise feed unwanted algae growth.

They also provide shade and a place to hide for your pond fish, but most beneficially they deliver oxygen. But what are the best oxygenating plants for ponds to help keep your pond clear?

Let us take a closer look at the 5 Best Oxygenating Plants For Ponds:

  • Elodea Densa
  • Red Ludwigia
  • Hornwort
  • Fanwort
  • Eelgrass

Different Types Of Pond Plants

There are three main types of plants that are commonly used in combination to create both attractive and beneficial pond displays. These are floating, (plants that sit on top of the water), emergent, (plants that poke out of the water), and submerged, (plants that are fully beneath the surface.) Not all, however, are created equal when it comes to providing oxygenation and keeping your pond clear!

Floating Pond Plants

Plants that float absorb nutrients directly from the water through delicate root systems that don’t need to be buried in the substrate. They provide vital but often ignored, interaction between the water and the air although some varieties consume more oxygen than they produce.


They also invite visitors from insects to beneficial pond bacteria as well as creating areas of shade for your pond inhabitants. One of the best floating pond plants is Water Lettuce. For more information read our complete guide on this amazing pond plant. Water Lettuce Guide here!

Emergent Pond Plants

Emergent plants grow from the floor of the pond to above the water’s surface. Because of this, they often prefer to be planted near the pond’s edge. They provide shade and cover, much like submerged plants as you will see, and are a great source of food for aquatic life.

Lillies, however, are an exception to the emergent plant rules as they require planting in deeper water and are generally not a source of food.

Submerged Pond Plants

By far and away submerged plants are the best oxygenators, in fact, they are crucial to the health of any pond in this regard. They also absorb potential contaminants such as nitrates and help control the growth of algae. They are, however, the least visible to the human eye of all the pond plants, growing beneath the surface as they do.

Can You Have Too Many Oxygenating Plants?

Oxygenating plants tend to do a really good job of regulating themselves. However, it is technically possible to overstock your pond with them. This is because, after dark, your plants consuming oxygen along with your pond’s inhabitants can lead to dramatic drops in dissolved oxygen (DO).

It would be rare, nonetheless, for the levels to drop where it would be fatal to your pond’s inhabitants. Rather, it is more likely that they would be the victim of periods of undue stress. To avoid this, which you will most definitely want to, you should keep pond plants to a reasonable amount and only select the best oxygenating species.

The Five Best Oxygenating Plants For Ponds

1. Anacharis (Elodea Densa)

elodea densa aquarium plants
Care LevelEasy
Light LevelLow
Water Conditions59-82° F, KH 3-8, pH 6.5-7.5
Max Size24 Inch

Anacharis is a fast-growing oxygenating plant that originates from North America. It is popular in both aquariums and ponds, with fish loving it as both a food source and a place to hide.

Anacharis is incredibly hardy and is best grown in bunches of 4 – 6 stems which have been weighted and dropped into your pond. Once settled, Anacharis will root quickly and firmly and begin to grow upwards towards the surface.

It prefers full sun to partial shade and requires a pond of at least 10 inches minimum depth.

2. Red Ludwigia (Ludwigia Repens)

red ludwigia aquarium plants
Care LevelModerate
Lighting LevelLow-Moderate
Water Conditions72-82° F, KH 3-8, pH 6.5-7.5
Max Size16-18 Inch
PropagationCuttings, Seeds

If you’re looking for a little color in your oxygenating plants, then you need to look no further than the stunning Red Ludwigia. It has beautiful leaves that turn a much deeper red under the direct rays of sunlight and can, under the right conditions, become emergent.

It grows fast once weighted, dropped, and rooted, and will quickly become a favorite hiding place of young fish. It prefers full sunlight and can thrive in shallower waters, 2 inches minimum.

3. Hornwort (Ceratophyllum Demersum)

Scientific NamesCeratophyllum demursum
Care LevelEasy
Max Size24 inch
Water Conditions59-86° F, KH 5-15, pH 6.0-7.5
PropagationSide Shoots

Hornwort is an excellent oxygenator; its frilly leaves provide amazing cover for eggs, small fish, and invertebrates. It, however, doesn’t grow at a rampant pace and will need time to settle into its new environment, and must be kept submerged fully.

Bundles of this plant can be weighted together and simply dropped to the bottom of the pond. There they will take root and slowly grow towards the surface, as long as they are positioned to receive full sun. Hornwort will thrive in up to 6 feet of water.

4. Fanwort (Cabomba)

Scientific NameCabomba carolinia
Care LevelEasy
Height50-52 cm Max
Water Temperatures72 to 82 °F (22-28 °C)
ColorsAvailable in Green or Red
LightingNatural or Moderate

Fanwort is a flowering plant that during spring produces feathery leaves. In summer it reaches the water’s surface and blooms with tiny white flowers. It provides a great spot for the landing of fish eggs as well as a safe spot for the emerging fry to hide.

Fanwort prefers moderate temperatures and should not be planted in areas that remain consistently warm. It can be weighted and sunk or planted in gravel-filled pots in 6 inches to 3 feet of water.

5. Eelgrass (Vallisneria)

Common NamesStraight Vallisneria
Care levelEasy
OrginsSouth East Asia /Australia
Temperature Range17-30C

Eelgrass is more commonly known in the world of the home aquarium. It does, nonetheless, also make a fantastic addition to any pond. When planted in large pots it grows luscious lengths of flat leaves up to 6 feet long that provide excellent oxygenation and ample cover for fish.

It does, however, unlike many plants, aggressively develop runners beneath the soil that propagate across wide areas if left unmanaged. For this reason, it should be potted in light sandy soil to stop it from taking over. Eelgrass enjoys full sun to partial shade and can be planted in depths from 10 inches to 6 feet of water.

wildlife pond
A beautifully planted pond will provide lots of oxygen for your fish

Conclusion: Best Oxygenating Plants For Ponds To Help Keep Your Pond Clear

Any plant that oxygenates will also help to keep your pond clear of algae growth. They do this by consuming nutrients that would otherwise feed this destructive and ugly pond pest. In general, submerged plants are usually the best ‘man’ for the job as they are the ones that consume the highest amount of undesirable pollutants.