Some plants grow better in lots of light and some can do just fine in low light. Having a bright aquarium isn't ideal for some people or for some fish for that matter and that means not being able to have plants that have a high light requirement.
Today we cover some great low light aquarium plants to include in your fish tank (Anubias Barteri is our top pick), because having a great aquarium with beautiful plants doesn't mean that you need tons of lights. (We have also covered floating aquarium plants here).
The Best 13 Low Light Aquarium Plants
Here are our 13 picks on what feel are some of the best thriving low light aquarium plants;
1. Anubias Barteri
This is a great plant for low light aquariums because it has a very low light requirement. This plant is great because it is very low maintenance and does not require any CO2 supplementation and also doesn’t require any additional nutrients or fertilizers.
This plant has a very slow growth rate and will reach a maximum of 30 centimeters in height which makes it ideal for small and medium sized aquariums. It has beautiful green leaves that have big ruffles in them. Another great aspect about this plant is that it does not get eaten by herbivorous fish.
2. Bacopa Caroliniana
This plant has its origins in the U.S and has been used in aquariums for a long time now. It has a thick stem with fairly small leaves that are green and rounded in shape. This plant grows to between 20 and 30 centimeters in height which makes it quite ideal for smaller aquariums.
The Caroliniana is great because it does not require much CO2 or other nutrients to survive. Of course it does also not require very much light. This plant has a slow growth rate and is also easy to propagate by planting the offshoots.
3. Cardamine Lyrata
This plant is native to Japan but has been used worldwide for aquariums for a number of years now. The Lyrata can grow up to 50 centimeters in height which makes it ideal for medium or large aquariums and as far as low light aquarium plants go, this one requires probably the least light of all.
This plant does grow fairly quickly and has beautiful small, round, and ruffled leaves; it makes for a great decorative piece in any aquarium. One thing that needs to be kept in mind is that this plant needs a fair amount of CO2, also the water cannot be any warmer than 28 degrees Celsius.
This is a great low light aquarium plant for any fish tank. It originates in West Africa and is actually a bulb plant, which means that you can propagate it by taking the bulb offshoots and planting them in dirt.
This plant has a slow growth rate and grows to about 30 centimeters in height. The leaves are very long and narrow with slight ruffles; this makes the Crinum a great decorative piece for any aquarium. Another good thing about this plant is that it doesn’t require much CO2 or nutrients to survive. It also makes a great plant because herbivorous fish will not attempt to eat it.
5. Cryptocoryne Usteriana
The Usterenia is great for aquariums because it has a very low light requirement as well as a very low CO2 and nutrient requirement making it one of the easiest good low light aquarium plants to grow.
These plants are good for small or medium sized fish tanks because it has a slow growth rate and will reach about 30 centimeters in height.
6. Echinodorus Bleheri
This is yet another great low light aquarium plant that doesn't require too much light or care to survive. The Bleheri is native to South America and will do just fine in low light conditions and will also thrive in an environment lacking in nutrients.
This is a slightly larger plant that can grow up to 50 centimeters in height, and it does grow quite quickly so it is ideal for larger fish tanks. The Bleheri has long and wide leaves that are beautiful and make for a great addition to any aquarium.
7. Egeria Densa
This is a really good plant for aquariums that only have a low or moderate light output and it also doesn’t need very many nutrients because it does a very good job at absorbing nutrients from the water. It actually also absorbs algae in the water which means that a fish tank has to be cleaned less.
This plant has a very low light demand, a low CO2 demand, and also does not need to be supplemented with nutrients. The growth rate of this plant is quite high and it can only grow to around 30 centimeters in height making it ideal for smaller fish tanks.
8. Lagenandra Meeboldii
This plant originates in India but people around the world like to use it in aquariums because it has pretty low light requirements. This plant also has low CO2 and nutrient requirements which make it ideal for beginners.
The plant does not grow over 20 centimeters in height but the leaves can each grow up to 8 centimeters in width and up to 12 centimeters long making the plant quite wide. If this plant has a little more light it can actually begin to change color too.
9. Ludwigia Palustris
This is another really good low light aquarium plant and it’s also good because it doesn’t require very much nutrient or CO2 supplementation either. This plant has a beautiful pink and red color that looks really great in any fish tank. It grows up to 30 centimeters in height making it great for smaller fish tanks.
10. Microsorum Pteropus
This is a great and hardy plant because it grows in virtually all conditions. It does not need very much light, nutrients, or CO2. This makes it ideal for beginners. This plant originates in Asia and is part of the Rhizomatous plant family.
This plant grows to around 30 centimeters in height which makes it good for smaller fish tanks. It has beautiful green ruffled leaves that grow quite long and the offshoots can be taken in order to make more of the same plant.
11. Salvinia Natans
This is a really cool plant for any aquarium because it is very small and only grows to around 5 centimeters in height. The leaves are rounded, green, and slightly textured which makes them a beautiful addition to an aquarium. It’s a great low light aquarium plant that doesn’t require much attention in terms of CO2 supplementation, nutrients, and it also does not need to be trimmed very often.
12. Murdannia Keisak
This plant is great for low light aquariums and as well as for aquariums that don’t contain too many nutrients or CO2. This plant grows very quickly so it often needs to be cut back but it only grows to around 20 centimeters in height which means that it is great for smaller aquariums. This is a great and beautiful addition to any aquarium due to its great color and good size.
13. Hottonia Palustris
This plant is a really neat addition to any aquarium that does not have a very high light output because it doesn’t require much light, nutrients, or CO2. It has its origins in Asia but has managed to work its way around the world. Therefore it makes a great beginner plant for people who don’t want to put in too much work. It is a beautiful green plant with stalks up to 6 centimeters in width that can grow up to 30 centimeters in height, making this plant ideal for smaller fish tanks.
Why Are Low Light Aquarium Plants Good
If you get yourself some good low light aquarium plants, you could seriously benefit from it. This is also true for the aquarium and all of the habitants inside of it . There are a few different reasons why you might benefit from plants that can survive and thrive with minimal lighting.
First off, let’s not kid ourselves here, aquarium lights can be pretty expensive. The more plants you have and the more light they need, the strong, better, and bigger your aquarium lights need to be. Of course, these big lights also come with a big price tag. So, simply put, low light aquarium plants help you save money. There’s also the fact that they need less electricity, which means a much lower energy bill.
Furthermore, some of your fish might not like that much lighting. Some might, but others might not, so if you have plants with a high light demand, it might affect your fish in a negative way. The other reason why low light plants can be a good thing is because of algae.
The more light you have shining in your aquarium the bigger the chances of an algae bloom occurring. Algae will compete with your plants for space and nutrients, which is obviously not a good thing.
The last thing worth mentioning is there are still lots of options if you don’t want to go down the high lighting route, we have have covered many of of favorites in our low light aquarium plants list above.
The 13 plants we have listed here are all very easy to maintain and will all survive in low light and with minimal nutrients. For anyone looking for some good low light plants, these are definitely some of the best low light aquarium plants in our opinion. All of the plants listed above don’t require very much attention in terms of CO2 supplementation and also don’t need very many nutrients or fertilizers to keep them alive.
We tried to include as many plants as possible that herbivorous fish won’t want to eat. Furthermore all of the aquarium plants included here can easily be propagated by cutting of the offshoots or using the growing bulbs to make more plants. If you have a fish tank that only has minimal light then these low light aquarium plants are great choices and are definitely number one on our list.