Commonly called anacharis in the pet world, plants of the Elodea genus have been a staple of aquarium culture for years. Recently they have fallen in ill favor as an invasive species in American and European waterways.
The Aquarium Plant
Elodea is hardy and grows fast, creating a lush, green, jungle-like habitat in your aquarium. Few fish eat it, but, for those that do, it is an inexpensive and sustainable dietary addition.
Goldfish are the number one consumers of Elodea plants--a valuable addition to their diet. As the most inexpensive aquarium plant, it can be easily restocked as it is consumed. Be sure to remove the lead weights (the plant "twist-ties") before feeding.
Other Freshwater Fish
Elodea is more valuable to other fish as shelter than as food. It often will not be eaten if there is another edible plant available. However, gouramies, tetras and swordtails are reported to occasionally enjoy a nibble.
Turtles are among the few aquarium animals who relish anacharis. A tankful will make a light lunch.
In the Americas, where Elodea originated in the wild, waterfowl and water mammals eat the plant. Herbivorous invertebrates, such as snails, and native fish tend to prefer it as a habitat and eat it reluctantly.
Elodea, like any plant or animal, causes huge problems when introduced to places outside its natural habitat. In Europe and parts of the Americas, it clogs waterways because of a lack of natural predators, and chokes out native plants and the animals who depend on them.