Frogbit vs Duckweed

Frogbit vs Duckweed (Differences, Similarities & Growing Guide 2023)

Frogbits and duckweeds are popular plants for aquariums to help keep ammonia levels down. Both plants are used for the same purpose but they are very different in many aspects. We’ll go over all the differences and similarities between these plants so keep reading to find out more!

Frogbit vs Duckweed

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Frogbits are much bigger than duckweeds. Both of them are aquatic plants with a tendency to take over any pond or aquarium. However, they are different in their growth, size, appearance, and requirements.

Frogbits have large leaves that float on the surface of the water, duckweeds are small plants that float just under the surface of the water. They are both excellent water cleaners but Frogbits are easier to manage than duckweeds. If you’re not careful, duckweeds will invade and take over everything in your house.


Leaf ColorGreenLight Green
Stem ColorWhiteNo Stem
FlowerWhite flowersMicroscopic flowers in different colors

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Frogbit vs Duckweed Differences

Frogbits are a species of aquatic plant that grows on the surface of the water and have long roots. On the other hand, duckweed is a family of very small aquatic plants that float right below the surface of the water. There are many different species of duckweed with minor differences.

Frogbits and duckweeds have a lot of differences so let’s go over them now.

1. Origin and Name

The scientific name of Frogbit is Hydrocharis morsus-ranae. The word ‘Frogbit’ comes from the plant’s Latin name Morsus Ranae which means bite frog. The common frogbit species in the North American region is the European frogbit which is an invasive species in the US. 

The most common species of duckweed is Lemna minor. It is known as lesser duckweed or common duckweed. Duckweeds are native to Asia, Africa, North America, and Europe.

2. Taxonomy

The frogbit plant is a part of the Hydrocharitaceae family and belongs to the Hydrocharis genus. The other members of the Hydrocharitaceae family are also called frogbits.

Duckweeds or L. Minor comes from the ‘Lemnoideae’ sub-family of the Araceae family. The family of Duckweed plants consists of 35 different species belonging to four different genera. This plant family has a fast growth rate and can grow to the maximum size within 2-3 days.

3. Shape & Appearance

Frogbit is a heart-shaped plant with leaves that resembles the shape of a kidney. Their large leaves can cover the pond very quickly. Frogbits also develop long roots that extend down into the water.

Duckweeds are oval-shaped floating plants. The oval-shaped leaves look like shoe soles. Their roots are very small and hang at the bottom. It’s difficult to see duckweed roots without a microscope or a magnifying glass.

4. Differences in Color

The frogbit plant has bright green round leaves with white flowers. The flowers have a yellow-colored center and a brown shade at the bottom.

Duckweed is an aquatic light green plant with tiny pale green leaves of about 1.57mm to 3.18mm. They are also known as the most miniature plants worldwide due to their size.

5. Leaf Size and Texture

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Frogbit leaves can grow up to be 6cm x 6.3cm in size. Frogbit leaves have a thick and leathery texture and like to remain dry. Wet frogbit leaves can lead to the rotting of the plant.

In contrast, the size of Duckweed plants is between 5mm to 10mm long and about 5 mm in width. Each plant has around two to three leaves.

6. Height and Growth Rate

Frogbits have an efficient growth rate. They grow very quickly with their roots hanging underneath them. Some frogbits like the Amazon frogbit can grow up to 20 inches in length within a few weeks. Frogbit plants double in size every 14 days if they have enough nutrients.

Duckweeds grow faster than Frogbits. They can double in number every few days. They are considered the fastest-growing floating plant type. However, unlike frogbits, they do not increase too much in height even after they mature.

7. Flowers

Frogbit is a plant that produces a tiny flower within a period. The flower consists of three white petal flowers with a yellowish center.

The Duckweed plants’ flowers are so small that it is nearly impossible to see them through the naked eye. It consists of two tiny staminate flowers and one small pistil flower.

8. Growing Conditions, Temperature, and Climate

Frogbit can tolerate low temperatures, yet it grows best between 64°C- 86°F (18°C and 30°C). It can easily survive at regular aquarium temperatures, but too low temperatures may affect its growth. European frogbit easily thrives in USDA zones 4-11 whereas American frogbit prefers USDA zones 6-10.

Duckweeds can tolerate low temperatures of 34°F to 35°F (1°C to 2°C). These plants can also survive when the temperature falls below the freezing point. However, duckweeds prefer warmer temperatures between 68°F to 86°F (20°C to 30°C). They can thrive in USDA zones 4-10.

9. Light, Water, Soil

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Frogbits need around 10-12 hours of bright sunlight. Strong direct sunlight can burn the plants instead. Frogbits require about 10 to 20-lumen lights per liter of water, lower light conditions will stunt their growth. It is worth noting that this plant prefers mildly alkaline soil of 7.6 to 7.8 pH.

Due to their capacity to cover the whole area, Duckweed plants leave little room for light and oxygen under the surface of the water. As a result, you’ll have to regularly clean duckweed from the tank. ]

This plant is suitable for fish that need to stay under the shade. Because of their rapid growth and massive pH tolerance, a Duckweed plant can thrive in waters with 3-10 pH.

Frogbit vs Duckweed Similarities

Frogbit and Duckweed are both floating plants and you may see them in various aquariums. They grow best in pond-like environments. Moreover, these plants multiply and grow very quickly. Let’s take a look at some other similarities between these plants.

1. Sunlight

Both plants require full sun to grow adequately. It is best to provide them with 8 to 12 hours of sun every day. Just be sure that you do not expose them to strong direct sunlight as it will burn their leaves.

2. Watering

Frogbits and duckweeds grow are aquatic plants that love pond-like conditions, they both float near the surface and quickly clean all the ammonia and nitrous compounds in the water. They tend to cover the entire surface of the water so they’re best suited to big tanks.

3. Humidity & Temperature

These plants are easily adaptable to temperature and thrive in a wide range of temperatures. However, they prefer 63°F to 79°F and 60%-80% humidity for the best growth.

4. Potting and Soil

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You can add some leaves of duckweed or frogbits to the tank and they will quickly expand and grow into a thriving population. Make sure to provide alkaline soil and adequate water to the plant to facilitate growth.

5. Fertilizer

Frogbit and Duckweed are low-maintenance plants and do not require fertilizers for growth. However, adding NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) fertilizers may help them grow faster. We don’t recommend you add fertilizer to your tank unless your duckweed/frogbits are struggling to grow. 

6. Natural Habitat

These plants are naturally found in ponds, lakes, and gardens. Yet they are widely planted in aquariums to enhance the beauty of the tanks and to cleanse the water of any nitrate compound.

Common Problems for Both Plants

Besides adding life to your aquariums, these plants also need to be taken care of to avoid possible problems. Here are some common problems related to Frogbit and Duckweed plants.

Frogbit Problems

Sunburn – While frogbit prefers full sun for at least half of the day (around 12 hours), it may get burned on direct exposure to the sun. It is better to provide full sun at moderate temperatures.

Root Breaking – These plants prefer slow water currents in the tank. Yet, a high water flow rate may lead to the breaking of the frogbit roots. Root damage can kill your frogbits or stunt their growth. To avoid this, regulate your aquarium’s water flow so that there’s only a slow, gentle current.

Duckweed problems

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Rapid Multiplication – Duckweed plants multiply rapidly and may cover the area restricting oxygen supply to the fish in the pond or aquarium. They are very invasive and can rapidly take over any body of water within days.

To prevent duckweed from invading your toilets, sinks, and water tanks, dispose of them in a plastic bag with other waste instead of composting them. You should also make sure that your aquarium does not pump out water directly into a sink or else the duckweed might invade everything in your house.

Restricting Light – Besides oxygen, the outrageous growth of duckweeds also blocks sunlight from reaching deeper into the water. This can potentially kill other organisms and aquatic plants in your aquarium.


Frogbit and Duckweed are similar and different from each other at the same time. They both require moderate temperatures and grow rapidly to cover the area.

However, they are different in many ways. If you want to use one of these plants to control your tank’s ammonia levels, we recommend using frogbits for a more controlled cleaning, and duckweed for faster results.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is frogbit better than duckweed?

Frogbit is better than duckweed if you have a small tank. Duckweed grows very quickly and can take over everything in your house if it can.

Once a duckweed infestation starts, it is very hard to completely get rid of it. Duckweed is better if you use them as both a source of fish food (for koi) and as tank cleaners for large tanks.

Is frogbit good for an aquarium?

Frogbits are great for cleansing your aquariums of nitrates and ammonia. They grow very quickly and are easy to manage. You will need to trim their mats every few weeks to keep them from taking over the entire water surface though. However, frogbits are beneficial for your aquarium.

Does frogbit produce oxygen?

Like most plants, frogbits do produce oxygen during the day from photosynthesis. However, keep in mind that at night, these plants consume oxygen and produce carbon dioxide instead. If frogbits cover the entire surface of your tank, they can use up all the oxygen in the tank at night and kill your fish.

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