An aquarium needs plants for decoration but also for maintaining a natural environment. Plastic plants are cheaper, easier to maintain but they are not as realistic as live plants. Natural plants are very divers in size, color, and conditions.
It is very important to establish specific conditions in the aquarium and fit the fish and the plants, in order to have similar water conditions preferred. Otherwise, the fish or the plants are going to be affected. However, you should not exaggerate with the plants, no matter how spectacular they might be, because the fish are going to be stressed and suffocated. Some space is necessary between plants in order for the rots to grow, and for the plant to breath and feed in proper conditions.
As you probably found out from your documentation or from the shop assistant, it is recommended to have both foreground and background plants in your tank, for a natural looking aquarium. Foreground plants are those plants that you should plant in the center and near the front glass of the aquarium, background plants are those plants placed near the rear glass of the tank.
Foreground plants are small and divers and you should place them as natural as possible, so that they offer a proper view inside the tank. Some species of foreground plants are:
• Baby tears (Micranthemum umbrosum) is recommended for aquariums with large area, because it spreads very quickly. It is a small, resistant, green aquatic plant with small leaves shaped as tears, that covers the substrate like a carpet but which can also float if you let it. It loves the light, the pH preferred is 5.5-7.5, and best temperature 70-80 degrees F and it is easy to be taken care of, especially if you are a beginner. Micranthemum umbrosum has some similar characteristics as Hemianthus Callitrichoides (CUBA) and are often confused.
• Pearl grass (hemianthus micranthemoides) is another beautiful plant recommended for decorating the center and the front part of the aquarium. It grows easily, spreads its runners very fast covering the substrate. Its leaves are beautifully shaped half elliptical and light green in color. It loves medium-bright light, the pH preferred is 5.0-7.5, and best temperature 70-82 degrees F.
• Dwarf anubias (Anubias nana) is also an easy to take care of plant recommended for beginners. It has green leaves and spreads on the gravel. This plant can also flow if you anchor it on a piece of driftwood or on a rock. In comparison to the other two type of plants mentioned, this one grows slower. It doesn’t love direct sun or strong lighting, the pH preferred is 5.5-6.8, and its best temperature is 59-79 degrees F.
Choosing these plants for the foreground of a beginner’s aquarium you’ll be sure they are not going to cause problems.