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Best Low Light Aquarium Plants in 2021 complete guide

Best low light aquarium plants
Best low light aquarium plants

Best low light aquarium plants Finally, you have made your mind and decided you will have plants in your aquarium. when you start looking for plants you will find out that there are different species. Some can thrive in low light and others need much light. In this article, we will cover everything about low-light aquarium plants. We will cover the best low light plants for beginners and the most common among aquarium hobbyists, we will cover the low light plants that are suitable for freshwater aquariums and saltwater aquariums. Let’s get started.

Low light aquarium plants for beginners

There are different types of low light plants but not all are suitable for beginners. In case you are a beginner and you have low light in your aquarium but you want plants that can thrive in your aquarium, So let us see some of them.

  1. Green Hygro:
    It’s a long leaves plant that grows up quickly, it has different colors that vary from green to brown to red and this counts on the lightning inside the aquarium. If you have a good quality substrate in your tank this will make this plant’s roots get deeper. make sure to get care of it from time to time as it rapidly gets longer.  
  2.  Java Moss :
    This plant has short roots that mean that it floats through the water in order to gain any nutrients it needs. It has a large number of tiny green leaves which can be useful to hide aquarium tools like filters. This doesn’t mean that it just has a tiny oval shape, it has various shapes. although it has a slow growth also it needs a little additional attention as it gets what it needs to thrive from the water.
  3. Rotala Rotundifolia:
    This is a great-looking plant as it has pink narrow rounded leaves. It grows quickly and rapidly so you have to pay attention, you have to clip it from time to time in order to avoid overgrowth. This plant grows vertically also, it can grow to the surface of the water and it can climb the side of the aquarium.
  4. Java Fern:
    This plant is ideal for low-light aquariums. In the beginning, it grows slowly but just gives it time and it will spread all over the aquarium. It has long, green, and thin leaves. Its root will find any abject to get deeper into it such as gravel or substrate
  5. Red Ludwigia:
    It is a beautiful plant with a red color that has long stems and it grows quickly which makes it require a regular clipping. If you have a substrate in your tank this will make it easy to have it inside your tank and to be maintained. It can live in cool water but it prefers temperatures between 75 to 80 degrees. 

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best low light aquarium plants:

Well, what if you aren’t a beginner and you have a suitable environment and can take care of any kind of plant. Let us see the most common low light aquarium plants.

  • Anubias Barteri:
    Aquarists prefer this plant as it’s a great green looking moreover it is easy to care for. It is tolerant to low light systems and can be partially submerged or fully submerged inside the aquarium. It can thrive in different aquarium environments with a variety of temperatures. If you made your mind and decided to get it in this case you need substrate in your tank as this plant is a root feeder it needs a large space substrate for its roots to grow through. Try to get it regular care as it grows quickly but it can’t be over 16 inches.
  • Hornwort:
    It is the best plant for large aquariums as it is a fast-growing plant that can reach 10 feet so it needs clipping from time to time. If you have another plant in the aquarium it might die after you use this plant as it produces chemicals that inhibit the growth of other plants. It needs special care as you should trim it from time to time as it can fill all of the aquarium. It can thrive in both cold and tropical freshwater
  • Anubias Nana:
    It is a green plant with dark pointed leaves that grow above the base of your is easy to care for as it can live in different environments with varying temperatures. It needs a substrate to anchor its roots and with fertilizers, it can thrive well but make sure that the substrate contains gravel, not san so the roots have space to grow.
  • Rotala Indica:
    It is a stem plant with thin leaves which is green on the top and red on the bottom. This plant needs regular and special care in order to grow consistently. It needs a substrate where it can anchor its roots in and a tank without digging cichlids that can damage its root system. Don’t need to mention it needs low light beside it prefers warm water with a temperature between 72 – 80 degrees.
  • Moneywort:
    It is a small plant that is perfect for small aquariums, its maximum length reaches 12 inches which makes it might grow above the water surface. It is green with rounded leaves. It is easy to care for as we mentioned that its maximum length is just 12 inches so it is still short unless you want it to look shorter in case you have a smaller tank. It is tolerated to temperatures between 72 to 82 degrees but it can thrive in different lighting conditions.

best low light freshwater aquarium plants

low light aquarium plants freshwater
low light aquarium plants freshwater
    1. Pellia:
      best thriving low light aquarium plants It’s one of the best plants for beginners that doesn’t need too much care in order to grow up properly. It can grow under many conditions of light but it can thrive more with high light and well fertilized.
  • Pennywort:
    It is also suitable for newbies who don’t have much time. It has green leaves with small white flowers which will appear above the water level if you let it grow up until it reaches the water surface.
  • Waterwheel (Aldrovanda vesiculosa):
    This plant can live in a variety of water conditions. It is a rootless aquatic plant. consists of floating stems reaching a length of 6–40 cm (2–16 in). Its leaves are in whorls and the leaf tips are fitted with scoop-like traps.
  • Bacopa:
    It’s a stemmed plant that grows slowly so it requires minimal attention that makes it perfect for beginners. It has flowers that might appear above the surface of the water if you didn’t clip its stems and let it grow up until it reaches the surface of the water.

best low light aquarium plants saltwater:

low light aquarium plants saltwater
low light aquarium plants saltwater
  • Shaving brush:
    From its name, it has this unique shape that is similar to the Barbers Shaving Brush tool. It is a rooted plant that needs a substrate in order to grow well. It is highly calcified algae that are not going to be eaten by your fish or snails.
    It does best when planted in a fine sandy substrate. Although its slower growth rate, it will get some filtering done if placed in your display tank, or in your display sump.

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  • Chaeto :
    It is a green macroalga that is used for filtering, it has perfect filtering capabilities. It is not hard to be kept by beginners. It grows quickly but in a good manner just give it a bright lightening and keep the rest for it, it knows what is going to do.

You can get it online


  • Pencil Cap Algae :
    It is more like the shaving brush algae but it is smaller and reaches up to 4 inches. It will not be eaten by the fish or snails inside the tank. It is ideal for tanks with low light and it will grow up properly but more light will grow it up faster. It is easy to be kept by newbies. If you have a substrate inside your tank this will make it grow fast.

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  • Pinecone Algae (Rhipocephalus Phoenix):
    Beautiful calcified algae that have a spherical grows in the sandy substrate its length reaches up to 9 inches. It is suitable for beginners as it doesn’t need a lot of care. It does best when attached to rocks.
  • Mermaids Fan:
    It is a green macroalga. It can be used for filtration, but it is more perfect for the display tank because of its great potential in aquascaping. It is highly calcified and it is not a feed for fish and snails inside the aquarium. It will grow up better if there is a sandy substrate. It is suitable for beginners.

You can get it online


best Medium-light aquarium plants:

  •  Amazon Sword:
    It is a wide leaf species of a tropical plant that grows up to 3 is growing quickly and rapidly. You should anchor its roots to the substrate to make it steady in the tank. It is easy and suitable for beginners.

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  • Cryptocoryne Spiralis:
    It is a tall plant with narrow spiral-shaped leaves and it has brown and green wavy edges. It is a low and medium light aquarium plant that commonly used in aquariums because of its attractive color and shape. It can resist many common plant diseases including Cryptocoryne rot. It is easy and grows properly especially when you have a nutrient-rich substrate and some liquid fertilizer.

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  • Cryptocoryne Usteriana:
    Also, it is a low and medium aquarium plant that is tall and its leaves board can reach 20 inches. It is suitable for beginners as they don’t need a lot of can grow well even if there are substrate and fertilizers in your aquarium. It has a bronze-green attractive color which is why it can be used as a background plant in the aquarium.

You can get it online

  • Vallisneria:
    It is a tropical plant that used to cover the filtration equipment and also can be used as a background plant for the aquarium. It is a long plant with single leaves which is straightforward to care for and this makes it suitable for beginners. It can live in different aquarium light levels from low light until high light level.

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  • Bucephalandra:
    This is an attractive plant with various colors, shapes, and sizes. It is easy to care for, slow-growing, and suitable for beginners. The length of this plant depends on the light it gets. So if you have low light in your aquarium this will make its growth slower. Just one disadvantage is that this plant attracts the algae so you should clean its leaves regularly unless you have algae eaters inside your tank.

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Well, now we finished about all the low light and medium-light plants that can meet the environment of your aquarium. Let us now see the best light you can use inside your fish tank.


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The best light for an aquarium

As you might know, the planted aquarium needs high-quality lightning so in this topic we will suggest some of the best lights for aquariums that you can find online.

  • Finnex Planted Aquarium LED Light:
    It has a customizable sunrise and sunset effect controller. It is suitable for 20, 24, 30, and 36-gallon aquariums. It is a waterproof led light. It has Four Customizable color channels, Dimmable, weather modes.

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  • Finnex Stingray Aquarium LED Light:
    It is a thin multicolor let light. It is available in different sizes from 12 to 48 inches. offers users three different colors into their aquarium in addition to providing basic aquatic life support.

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  • CREW SkyLED Aquarium Light Planted Tanks:
    6500K white LEDs and full-spectrum RGB LEDs support low-to-mid light level plant growth.

    Improved in-line switch to reduce light damage by preventing moisture.

    Extendable mounting brackets allow easy installation on a variety of aquarium widths.

    Available in different sizes from 18 to 54 inches.

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  • BeamsWork DA FSPEC LED Aquarium Light:
    Has a Timer Ready and two Mode Day / Night.Suitable for freshwater, and plants.

    provides a high-quality, energy-efficient light fixture that replaces the typical single tube fluorescent light.

    Long-lasting LEDs with no bulb replacement required.

    Extendable brackets allow for use with various size aquariums. Each fixture is pre-wired to be used with an optional timer module.

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  • Aqueon Clip-On LED Light:
    ideal for growing plants and support lush plants.3-way soft-touch LED control Easily mounts on framed or frameless aquariums using the versatile mounting screw

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Q & A


Can aquarium plants survive under natural sunlight?

In fact, if the tank is near a sunny window it needs artificial light too but not too much maybe just for 5 hours a day.if the tank is in direct sunlight this will cause algae problems. You will notice rapid algae growth inside your tank and you will have no solution to get rid of them. So try to find a place for your tank where the sunlight never reaches directly.


Can aquarium plants survive without sunlight?

Yes, it can unless you don’t use LED or any artificial light for 10 to 12 hours a day. So if you can’t provide these hours to your tank then you will need to put your tank in a place where the sunlight can reach but not directly.


How much light do low-light aquarium plants need?

If you use sunlight with artificial light for 5 hours a day it will be perfect but if you don’t count on the sunlight you can increase the light for 8 hours a day. The duration can vary depending on the brightness power of your light. Pair in mind that too much light can cause excessive algae growth.


How many hours a day should the Aquarium light be on?

The common hours are 8 to 10 hours a day if you don’t count on the sunlight. But if the brightness of your LED is too high in this case try to stick with the minimum which is 8 hours a day.


Can aquarium plants grow in gravel?

Yes, you can grow plants in gravel, but you need safe pond rocks and rubber. To plant, attach your plant to the fish safe rock using a rubber band above the roots. This will weigh down the plant once you place it in the fish tank and also keep the roots under the gravel. But this doesn’t suit all plants. Like any living thing, plants require specific conditions to grow up, and the kind of substrate where you embed the roots is one of them. The best gravel size is 3-8 mm thick because larger gravel will block root growth and smaller gravel could damage the fragile roots, and mix the gravel with the substrate.



The main point of this article is what are the best low-light aquarium plants that can live according to the environment of your aquarium. So in the beginning we have discussed the best low light aquarium plants that beginners can take care of. Then we mentioned in general the best low light plant that anyone can have inside his aquarium. Also, we explained the low light plants that can live in freshwater and what plants can live in saltwater where we find out that most of them are types of algae.
We didn’t just cover the low light plants but also the medium-light plants and before we end the article we got to cover an important topic which is the best light you can have in your tank because the planted aquarium needs high-quality lighting.

Finally, we give the answer to the most common questions related to low light aquarium plants which are, Can aquarium plants survive under natural sunlight? The short answer for this question is yes under one condition which is the plant not in direct sunlight.
Can aquarium plants survive without sunlight? the answer is Yes, it can.
How much light do low-light aquarium plants need? How many hours a day should the Aquarium light be on? And finally,  Can aquarium plants grow in gravel? and the short answer is: Yes, it can.

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