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Small planted tank

In a small tank, I think plants with smaller/finer foliage look the best,
because they don't overwhelm the overall design, assuming you have some
design in mind. The smallest tank I have is 15g (3 of 'em) and what I like
best in them are  Hemianthus micranthemoides   (baby tears), Sagittaria
subulata (which in a small tank makes a nice back/midground plant) or
Glossostigma elatinoides. In my opinion and despite many published opinions
to the contrary, glosso is NOT hard to grow. I have it in the foreground of
my 55g with 160w of light (lamps about 22" above the substrate) and I have
absolutely no problem growing it and it does not grow vertically until a
runner creeps beneath my taller, midground plants. It forms a very dense
carpet and is very attractive. Another nice plant with smallish leaves is
Rotala indica. If you've got a decent amount of light, it displays a very
attractive coloring near the top. It grows very fast, though, and does
require frequent pruning.

I would not recommend the hygro polysperma because it has a tendency to
creap horizontally. That, coupled with its very fast growth, will allow it
to quicky dominate a small tank. Water sprite is even worse, and it will
multiply smaller plantlets like nuts, which accounts for its mysterious
appearance for you in the first place (the tiniest piece has an amazing
ability to propogate). Cabomba would probably work well if you've got enough
light. Most swords are definitely too big. Java fern and moss would be fine
depending on your design; the only warning I'd have as far as java moss is
that it can and will quickly become entangled in most fine-leaved plants,
making every pruning an adventure.

Good luck!