Having a beautiful aquarium full of fish can be a rewarding experience. But, it can also be a challenge when it comes to choosing plants that require minimal light. Fortunately, there are a number of low-light plants that are perfect for any aquarium.
Benefits of having plants in an aquarium
- Improved water quality: Plants help to absorb ammonia, nitrates, and other pollutants that are harmful to fish. They also help to oxygenate the water, providing a much healthier environment for aquatic life.
- Natural aesthetic: Aquariums with plants look more natural and vibrant, bringing life and beauty to the aquatic environment.
- Healthier fish: Fish that are kept in planted aquariums tend to be healthier and live longer than those kept in unplanted tanks. Plants provide hiding places for fish, helping to reduce stress and improve their overall well-being.
- Natural food source: Some aquarium plants are edible, providing a natural food source for fish.
- Increased biodiversity: A planted aquarium is much more diverse than a non-planted tank, creating a richer and more interesting habitat for fish and other aquatic life.
Our Top 3 Picks
Dwarf Baby Tears
Dwarf Baby Tears is a low-growing aquarium plant that is often used as a foreground or midground feature in aquascapes. It has delicate, light-green foliage that grows in small, tight clumps, with tiny leaves that resemble a carpet of moss
The Amazon Sword is a popular freshwater aquarium plant that is known for its long, broad leaves that are bright green in color. This hardy plant is quite easy to care for, and can be a great addition to the aquarium for a vibrant, lush look. The Amazon Sword is a great source of oxygen for fish and is a great food source for aquatic life.
Hornwort is an aquarium plant that is fast-growing and can be a great addition to any tank. It is easy to care for and provides excellent cover for fish. Hornwort’s feather-like leaves can also serve as a great source of oxygen for the tank. Additionally, this plant can help reduce the amount of algae in the aquarium.
What are the 15 best low-light plants for an aquarium
- Java Fern
- Java Moss
- Water Wisteria
- Amazon Sword
- Water Lettuce
- Dwarf Baby Tears
- Rotala rotundifolia
- Hygrophila polysperma
Anubias is a genus of aquatic and semi-aquatic plants from the family Araceae. They are native to tropical Africa, ranging from Senegal to Sudan, and from Ethiopia to Congo. Anubias species are some of the most popular aquarium plants, due to their hardiness, resistance to disease, and low-light tolerance. They are slow-growing and can survive in a range of temperatures and water conditions.
For best results, they should be grown in aquariums with medium to high lighting and nutrient-rich substrate. The water temperature should be between 72-82°F (22-28°C) and the pH should be between 6.5-7.5. Anubias plants should be planted in a substrate with a coarse texture, such as gravel or sand, and can be attached to rocks, driftwood, and decorations with fishing lines or a commercial aquarium adhesive. Nutrients should be added regularly to the aquarium water, either through regular water changes or with fertilizer supplements. Anubias plants require no additional CO2, so they are ideal for aquariums without CO2 injection systems.
2. Java Fern
It is a great choice for beginner aquarists as it is a hardy plant that requires minimal care. The plant is also known to be very tolerant of a wide range of water parameters and can even survive in lower light conditions. Java fern can be used to provide shelter and hiding places for fish, and its strong leaves can provide a good substrate for breeding fish. The plant is also a great choice for aquariums with high levels of nitrates, as it is able to absorb nitrates and keep the water clean. The plant can also help to reduce algae growth.
The Java Fern plant is a hardy aquatic plant that is relatively easy to grow in aquariums. It prefers warm temperatures between 72-82°F (22-28°C) and can survive in slightly cooler or warmer conditions as well. They require medium to low light levels, although they can tolerate higher levels of light as well. Java Ferns can be planted on a substrate or attached to driftwood, rocks, or aquarium decorations. They generally do not require much fertilizer but can benefit from an occasional dose of liquid fertilizer. The plant can also be propagated by cutting off the plant’s rhizomes and replanting them in the substrate. Java Ferns can tolerate a wide range of pH levels (6.5-7.5) and water hardness (5-20 dGH).
3. Java Moss
Java moss is a popular aquarium plant and can be used to create beautiful and lush underwater landscapes. It can be used as a foreground or midground plant, and it is especially useful for creating a natural feel in a planted aquarium. It is a very low-maintenance plant and is suitable for beginners as well as experienced aquarists. Java moss can also provide hiding spots for fish and other aquatic creatures, and it helps to keep the water clean by absorbing water impurities. Additionally, Java moss is an excellent oxygenator and can help to oxygenate the water in the aquarium.
Growing Java Moss in an aquarium is an easy and rewarding task. Java Moss is a hardy species that can tolerate a wide range of water parameters, making it an ideal choice for beginners. It is not a fast growing species, but its growth can be encouraged with the right conditions.
For optimal growth, Java Moss should be provided with a moderate to high light intensity, water temperatures of 68-82 F (20-28 C) and pH of 6.0-8.0. To promote healthy growth, it is important to remove any debris or algae that accumulates on the moss.
Java Moss can be attached to rocks, driftwood, or other surfaces in the aquarium with fishing line or cotton thread. This will help keep the moss in place and allow it to spread throughout the aquarium. The moss can also be left to freely drift in the water column.
Cryptocoryne plants are a great choice for aquariums, both as decorative plants and a source of food for fish. They are easy to maintain, hardy, and attractive. Cryptocoryne plants also help to keep aquarium water clean and clear by absorbing nutrients, as well as providing cover for fish.
Cryptocoryne plants require relatively warm water (72-82°F) with a neutral to slightly more alkaline pH (7.0-7.5). They also need moderate to strong light and nutrient-rich water. To ensure the best growing conditions, add a fertilizing supplement, such as liquid fertilizer or root tabs, to the aquarium substrate. Additionally, ensure that the substrate is made of a material that is suitable for aquatic plants, such as gravel, sand, or clay. Cryptocoryne plants also benefit from regular water changes and should be pruned occasionally to keep them healthy.
Vallisneria is a popular aquarium plant due to its hardy nature and its ability to tolerate many different water conditions. It is a tough and versatile aquatic plant that is easy to care for and requires minimal maintenance. Vallisneria is a good choice for beginners because it does not require any special lighting or fertilization. The plant grows quickly and can reach heights of up to 24 inches, adding a dramatic effect to the aquarium. Additionally, Vallisneria provides hiding places for fish and fry, and its long stems provide a good substrate for algae-eating fish.
They prefer water temperatures between 68-77°F (20-25°C) and should be planted in a substrate of sand or gravel that is slightly acidic to neutral (pH 6.5-7.5). Vallisneria plants should be placed in an area of the aquarium where there is moderate to strong water circulation, as they need plenty of oxygen to survive. They should also be provided with plenty of light, such as from a full-spectrum LED aquarium light. This species of plant is relatively undemanding and will thrive in most aquariums.
Hornwort is an excellent plant for the aquarium. It is a hardy, fast-growing plant that will quickly establish itself in any aquarium. Its long, thin leaves will sway gracefully in the water and its roots will anchor it in place. Its unique form will also provide great hiding places for fish and other aquatic creatures.
Hornwort requires an aquarium with a temperature range of 68-84°F, a pH range of 6.5-7.5, and a water hardness range of 5-15 dGH.
Hornwort should be planted on a substrate that is nutrient-rich and not too compacted. It prefers moderate lighting but can tolerate low-light conditions.
Hornwort will benefit from the addition of trace elements, such as iron, in order to promote healthy growth. It can be grown in clusters or allowed to float freely in the water. Regular pruning is recommended to keep it from becoming overgrown.
Anacharis is a great aquarium plant for both beginners and experienced aquarists alike. It is an attractive, hardy plant that can tolerate a wide range of water temperatures and conditions and can quickly spread to fill an aquarium. Anacharis is an excellent filter feeder and oxygenator that helps keep aquarium water clean and clear. It is also a great choice for breeding tanks, as it provides cover and protection for fry.
It grows best in a well-lit aquarium with temperatures between 68-82°F (20-28°C). The plant prefers neutral to slightly acidic water with a pH range of 6.5-7.5. It needs a nutrient-rich substrate and regular fertilization with a liquid fertilizer to ensure healthy growth. Anacharis can be planted in the substrate or allowed to float freely in the tank. It’s important to keep the water clean and free of pollutants, as Anacharis is sensitive to poor water quality.
8. Water Wisteria
Water Wisteria (Hygrophila difformis) is a popular aquarium plant that is relatively easy to care for and can thrive in a wide range of water conditions. It is a fast-growing, stem-type plant that is capable of reaching heights of up to 40 cm (16 inches). Its long, slender stems are topped with bright green leaves that are alternately arranged along the stem. It produces small white flowers in the summer months, which can be quite attractive when seen in an aquarium.
Water Wisteria makes a great addition to any aquarium as it is an excellent oxygenator and provides shelter for a variety of fish. It is also a great plant for beginners as it is not very demanding when it comes to light, water parameters, and nutrient levels.
Water wisteria requires low light and moderate water flow and temperatures between 74-86°F. The plant will grow and spread quickly, so it’s best to trim regularly to maintain the desired shape.
To keep the plant healthy, it needs a nutrient-rich substrate and regular fertilization. It is also recommended to regularly change 10-15% of the tank water to keep the nitrogen levels in check.
9. Amazon Sword
The Amazon Sword is one of the most popular aquarium plants due to its hardy nature and ability to thrive in a wide range of conditions. The Amazon Sword is a great addition to any aquarium, providing a natural habitat for fish and other aquatic creatures. The Amazon Sword is a large, grass-like plant with broad, erect leaves that grow up to 20 cm tall. Its leaves are typically a dark green color with distinctive white veins running throughout. The Amazon Sword is a slow grower, but with proper care and attention, it can reach its full potential in about a year.
Lighting: Aquariums with Sword plants should be equipped with lighting that is between 4 and 12 watts per gallon, with a spectrum that favors the red and blue regions of the visible light spectrum.
Filtration: Sword plants should be equipped with a strong, efficient filter to keep the water clean and free of debris. Additionally, the filter should have a spray bar to ensure that the surface of the water is kept rippling, as Sword plants prefer this type of gentle circulation.
Substrate: Sword plants prefer a nutrient-rich substrate such as aqua soil or clay-based substrates. A thin layer of gravel can also be used to provide some additional nutrients, but it should be kept to a minimum to prevent the roots from becoming waterlogged.
Water Conditions: Sword plants prefer a pH level between 6.5 and 7.5, a water temperature between 70 and 82°F, and a hardness between 3 and 8 dKH. Additionally, Sword plants will benefit from the addition of some liquid fertilizer or root tabs to help keep the substrate nutrient-rich.
10. Water Lettuce
Water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes) is a popular aquarium plant, especially in tanks with goldfish and koi. It is easy to care for and can help improve water quality by absorbing excess nutrients. The plant’s large, fan-shaped leaves provide shelter and hiding spots for fish and other tank inhabitants, making it perfect for tanks with community fish. Water lettuce is a floating plant and does not require any special substrate or soil.
Water Lettuce plants require warm water temperatures of at least 75°F, with a pH of 6.5-7.5, and a good level of nitrate and phosphate in the water. They prefer bright lighting, as this helps with photosynthesis and encourages growth. They should be planted in a nutrient-rich substrate such as gravel or clay. Regular fertilization is beneficial for their growth. They also need regular pruning to keep them from getting too large. When planting in an aquarium, ensure that the plants are not placed too close together, as this will reduce their growth.
Moneywort (Bacopa monnieri) is a popular aquarium plant that is known for its hardy, easy-to-care-for characteristics. It is a fast-growing, low-maintenance plant that requires very little maintenance and can tolerate a wide range of water parameters. Moneywort does best when planted in small bunches in the substrate, as it will spread rapidly throughout the tank. It is a great addition to any aquarium as it is a good oxygenator, provides excellent hiding spots for fish, and can even help reduce nitrate levels. Additionally, its vibrant green color can add a splash of brightness to any tank.
Moneywort (Bacopa Monnieri) is a popular aquarium plant that is easy to grow and can tolerate a wide range of water conditions. It is best to provide moderate lighting and keep the water temperature between 72-82°F (22-28°C). Moneywort needs nutrient-rich substrate and regular water changes to stay healthy. It can be planted in both sand and gravel substrates. When planting, make sure the roots are fully covered. Moneywort is a fast-growing plant and should be trimmed every couple of weeks to keep it from taking over the aquarium.
Aponogeton is an excellent aquarium plant for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums. It is a hardy and attractive plant that provides a beautiful backdrop and can be used to create a variety of different looks in the aquarium. It is a very undemanding plant and can thrive with little maintenance. Aponogeton is also a good source of oxygen for the aquarium environment. This plant can be used as a background plant, or it can be used in a group, or as an accent plant. Most species of Aponogeton can be propagated easily by dividing the plant or by planting its seeds.
Aponogeton plants prefer slightly acidic to neutral water (pH 6.0-7.5). They prefer soft water with a hardness of 10-20 ppm. They prefer a temperature range of 68-86°F (20-30°C). Aponogeton plants require medium to high lighting, with a minimum of 2 watts per gallon. They prefer a nutrient-rich substrate, such as nutrient-rich soil, or a nutrient-rich substrate with added root tabs. They also benefit from supplemental fertilization. Aponogeton plants require regular pruning to help them stay healthy and grow.
13. Dwarf Baby Tears
Dwarf Baby Tears is a small, low-growing plant with small oval leaves and delicate stems. It is a slow-growing plant that can be used to carpet the bottom of an aquarium, creating a beautiful green foreground in the tank. It is a great choice for nano tanks and can be used in any aquarium with soft or slightly acidic water. Dwarf Baby Tears is also a great oxygenator and can help to improve water quality.
Dwarf Baby Tears plants prefer a nutrient-rich substrate and moderate to bright light. They thrive best in water temperatures between 72-82°F (22-28°C). The pH of the water should be 6.0-7.0, and the water hardness should be between 4-8 dKH. Regularly remove any debris or dead leaves to prevent the aquarium from becoming cluttered. Additionally, a good filtration system and weekly water changes are necessary to keep the water clean and clear.
14. Rotala rotundifolia
Rotala rotundifolia is a popular aquarium plant due to its beautiful foliage and vivid colors. This plant is an excellent choice for aquariums with medium to high lighting levels and a nutrient-rich substrate. It is particularly suited to planted tanks with a moderate current and can be used as a mid-ground or background plant. Its leaves are light green with red tips and its stems are slender and upright.
Rotala rotundifolia is a fast-growing species of aquatic plant that thrives best in an aquarium with medium to high lighting, a nutrient-rich substrate, and adequate CO2 injection. The water should be soft to slightly acidic with a pH of 6.0-7.5. This plant does best when fertilized with aquarium fertilizer tablets or liquid fertilizer rich in iron, nitrogen, and other essential macro and micronutrients. It is important to avoid drastic swings in pH or temperature, as this can cause the leaves of the plant to yellow or brown. Pruning the stems of the plant regularly can help promote bushier growth and prevent the plant from becoming leggy.
15. Hygrophila polysperma
Hygrophila polysperma is a popular aquatic plant used in aquariums. It is an easy-care plant that thrives in a wide range of water conditions. It has a fast growth rate and can reach heights of up to 20 inches (50 cm). This plant is great for beginners as it is tolerant of a wide range of water parameters. It can be used as an accent plant or as a background plant. Its bright green color provides a nice contrast against darker or brighter plants. It is also easy to propagate and can be easily divided into multiple plants. Hygrophila polysperma can help keep the water clean and oxygenated and is a great addition to any aquarium.
For optimal growth, Hygrophila polysperma should be grown in an aquarium with a pH of 6.5 to 7.5 and a temperature of 77-86°F (25-30°C). The plant prefers a slightly alkaline environment and medium to high lighting. The water should be kept clean and free of any pollutants or chemicals. Regular water changes are also recommended to ensure ideal growing conditions. Hygrophila polysperma prefers nutrient-rich substrates and can be fertilized with liquid or root tabs. It can also be grown emersed, in which case it should be provided with a moist and humid environment.