Best Low Light Aquarium Plants

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Not all plants are equal in their lighting needs, some need much more than others, that is why as aquarium owner you need to know the Best Low Light Aquarium Plants

As you know that all aquarium plants need a source of light to grow and thrive, but some need more light than others.

Looking to set up a low-tech aquarium and not having to install an expensive lighting system?

There is the need to have some research to learn more about aquarium plants. You do not just pick any type of plant and think it will work for your aquarium.

The best would be picking the best low light aquarium plants for your aquarium. Such plants will not need a lot of maintenance to keep them growing correctly.

We have outlined quite some guide on how to choose the Best low light aquarium plants For your Fish Tank, after going through this article you will be able to make the right choice for your aquarium tanks.

Choosing the Best Low Light Aquarium Plants For Your Fish Tank

There are set guidelines that you should consider when selecting the Best Low Light Aquarium Plants for your Tank.

Brand: it is essential to check the brand of the product you are buying because there are brands that have a reputation for quality in the market.

Reviews: what other consumers of the product are saying can really steer your decision making when buying your low light plants.

Quality: you should have a specific want and need regarding quality and functions you want from the type of low light plants you are getting.

Having known this, you should look out for these qualities when buying your product.


Top 10 Best Low Light Aquarium Plants in 2020 (Review)

1. Java Moss

Java Moss is a great option for your tank for a number of different reasons. First of all, java moss is fairly low maintenance and really does not take much work or effort in order to keep alive.

You can use some fishing line to anchor java moss down to a rock, driftwood, or to some decorations too.

Java moss is excellent for providing your tank with biofilm, it helps filter the water, and it provides oxygenation effects too. Java moss does not require high intensity lighting, it does not need too much CO2, and it does fine with minimal nutrients

The reason why cherry shrimp like java moss so much is because it is thick and dense. In other words, it provides them with a great hiding place from other shrimp and fish, especially for young cherry shrimp that are still in the process of maturing.

Java moss is also great for catching food which fishes can then scavenge. They also like to crawl along its surface. All in all, java moss is one of the best plants to go with for any fish tank.


2. Exo Terra Water Plant

Now, to be perfectly clear, this is a fake plastic plant that is made to look like duckweed, but it is not a real life living plant. This is something that many would see as an advantage because it won’t die.

It does not need nutrients, lighting, CO2, or anything else. This is a floating plastic plant that rests on top of the water’s surface.

This particular Exo Terra Water Plant is a good option to go with because it helps provide fishes with good cover from anything above, especially from really intense light.

At the same time, the leaves here are big enough so that cherry shrimp can stand on them, something which they love to do. The fact that this plant will be fine in a place where real plants simply can’t grow is a big benefit, not to mention that cherry shrimp will still love it.

3. Java Fern

The java fern is another plant that is more than ideal for cherry shrimp. First off, java ferns are fairly easy to take care of. They are very hardy plants that can survive in various temperatures and water parameters.

Yes, the water should be quite warm and a little acidic, but that is exactly what cherry shrimp need, so it is no big deal. Also, while java ferns do best with lots of light, CO2, and nutrients, they are not entirely necessary to its growth.

Java ferns can do pretty well in low light conditions. This plant also does a fairly good job with water filtration, plus it can help oxygenate the water too. There is also the fact that java ferns look pretty nice too.

In terms of java ferns and cherry shrimp, the shrimp like them because they have big leaves which provide them with cover from anything above. At the same time, cherry shrimp love to explore and walk around on plants, something which they can do on java fern leaves.

Finally, the bottom of java ferns forms a cluster of stems, an area where food can accumulate. Cherry shrimp like to scavenge food, making the base of a java fern a good hangout for these little guys.


4. Anubias Nana Petite On Driftwood

This particular Anubias nana is a really cool option to go with. Anubias nana is a really easy plant to take care of in general. It does fine in both high and low light environments.

Also, it can survive in a pretty broad temperature range. Furthermore, it does do better with the addition of some nutrients and CO2, but it is not totally necessary.

All in all, this is a slow growing plant that does not need to be trimmed much and really doesn’t require too much maintenance in general. However, just like other plants, the oxygenation and water purification it provides are both big benefits to any aquarium.

The reason we really like this particular Anubias nana is because it comes attached to a piece of driftwood. This means that you do not have to plant it yourself.

You can simply place it wherever you see fit. This makes moving it easy too. Cherry shrimp will love Anubias nana, especially on this piece of driftwood, because it provides a good amount of cover from anything above.

At the same time, it makes for a good little exploration plant which the cherry shrimp can walk around on. Finally, the driftwood and the plant itself will collect food residue, thus making it an ideal place for cherry shrimp to scavenge food.


5. Water Wisteria


This fifth and final plant we want to talk about is yet another one that is more than ideal for cherry shrimp. This particular plant does not come with any roots, but when planted in a good substrate it will quickly grow a really strong root system.

One thing that needs to said is that water wisteria does need a fair amount of light, nutrients, and CO2. However, it is fairly hardy and can survive in varying conditions, but if you want it to grow fast and healthy, a good amount of light and nutrients is definitely needed.

Water wisteria is a good choice pretty much for the same reasons as the other plants we have talked about so far. It is a good place for old food to accumulate, which is great for cherry shrimp because they love to scavenge.

The fairly big leaves of water wisteria also make it a good option because cherry shrimp can walk around on it. Finally, those same leaves also provide cherry shrimp with some cover, something which they like on occasion.


6.  Greenpro Anubia Aquarium Plants

Anubias is a plant that is very easy to grow. They are great both for a beginner’s and a pro’s aquarium. Anubias does not demand much attention and can be floated or attached to driftwood, decorations etc. in any tank.

Anubias are very common for growing algae on their leaves and the more algae it has the happier your shrimp are. Especially, if you have Amano shrimp, who are voracious algae eaters. So, what else is good about this plant?

You might be surprised to know that Anubias in the shade can grow better than some plants in the full light. They are great plants, especially for low tech tanks.

That is really great because the shrimp do not need a lot of the light at all. Note: Unfortunately, if you want to get more algae, you need to have lights on in the tank.

Anubias has low demands. This plant is extremely adaptable and can tolerate nearly any water quality or environment. It does not require any CO2 supply to be robust. Some aquarists say that you cannot kill this plant unless you really go out of your way to do it.

It is a very slow growing plant with coarse leaves. Because of the thick structure, Anubias is relatively hard to break by accident, while doing the maintenance of the tank.

Provides hiding places for fishes.

In addition, the form of the leaves make it an attractive addition to the aquariums and can also be used to catch the eye in aquascaping.

This plant does not depend on the substrate. It can be also attached to rocks or wood.


7. Bucephalandra 


Bucephalandra is a fairly new species of plant to the aquarium hobby. They are pretty much like Anubius. However, what makes it so unique, is the extremely wide variety of colors it can display, as well as having many different leaf shapes as well.

Bucephalandra is very adaptable and can grow within a wide range of parameters. They are not fussy about parameters but they want them stable. Though, in lower light setups, this plant will generally stay closer to green.

Like many other plants, you can wedged between rocks and decorations, or attach to rocks or

It can grow really well without any fertilizer.

This plant proves a lot of surface for the biofilm, which will make you shrimp happy.


8. Rotala rotundifolia 

Actually, it is also one of my favorite plants. The only reason why it is not in the Top 5 because it is a rooted plant and requires a special aquarium set up for that.

This beautiful aquarium plant is one of the best choices for almost any aquarium for lots of reasons but mostly because:

It is a very tough plant. It can survive the cycling. The point is that a lot of people prefer ADA Amazonia soil as a substrate in their tanks and as we know, ADA Amazonia leaches a lot of ammonia (from 4 to 8 ppm).

Unlike some of the more sensitive plants, which cannot handle that level of ammonia and start “melting”, Rotala rotundifolia is doing absolutely OK. Therefore, you can add them during the beginning of the cycle.

It does not grow too fast and that is why it will not overcrowd the tank.

The beautiful long leaves create a lot of surface, which is a very important factor in shrimp breeding.

Another huge advantage of the Rotala rotundifolia is that its roots prevent anaerobic pockets in the substrate (hydrogen sulfide gas or (H2S). Which is highly toxic in the aquarium.

It grows really nicely in the tanks and looks very cool. Without pruning, the plant will take a bushy appearance which is suitable for shrimp breeding tanks. Rotala rotundifolia seems to be just right for the shrimp tanks.


9.  Water Spangles (Salvinia Minima) Live Aquarium Plant


Each order contains 24 water spangles, each plant should contain 4-6 leaves, see Picture #3 for reference

A special light for aquatic plants is required for indoor aquarium, no substrate required for this plant

Strong water movement in aquarium should be avoided for this plant


10. Hornwort Bunch  | Ceratophyllum Demersum – Beginner Tropical Live Aquarium Plant

This plant is low maintenance, grows easily and fast! Hornwort can grow floating (which is perfect for smaller fish to hide) or as bunch anchored in the substrate.

Easy live aquarium plant specie for any freshwater aquarium. This species of hornwort (Ceratophyllum Demersum) is specifically for aquariums.

Aquarium Plants Discounts grows and ships this plant, other sellers are selling pond hornwort which is a different color and texture.

Create a natural habitat in your aquarium for your fish and invertebrates

Provide natural resting and hiding places for your smaller fish and invertebrates. Perfect for 5+ gallons aquariums

IMPORTANT: Please note that during times of extreme weather, live plants will suffer due to extreme temperatures. During winter, do not order live plants when temperatures are expected to go below 20F at the lowest point during the day. During summer, avoid ordering plants when temperatures are above 100F.



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Do floating plants oxygenate the water?

All floating plants have the potential to create a barrier on the water surface that prevents oxygen exchange with the atmosphere and photosynthesis in the water; therefore, uncontrolled growth of low light plants will reduce oxygen in the water and increase the potential for a fish kill

Will low light plants block light?

A hardy species of low light plant, it can survive in a number of water conditions. This plant is effective in blocking out sunlight. So will provide shade for your fish, offering them space to hide (a favourite pastime for betta fish).

Do guppies like low light plants?

Guppies are pretty skittish and easily frightened, so they like plants which they can easily hide under. Guppies usually like plants that are close to the bottom, but some low light plants will work as well

Do live plants oxygenate aquarium?

Live plants provide your fish a natural food source with the ability to replenish. By far the biggest benefit that live plants provide for your aquarium is that they produce oxygen (O2) and absorb the carbon dioxide (CO2) and ammonia (NH3) that your fish generate.

Do Bettas like low light plants?

Betta fish do like the sun, but sometime they like shade, something that these floating lily pad-like plants can definitely provide, plus they give your betta fish a nice hiding spot too.
The water parameters are not all that important as long as they are fairly stable

Should I keep aquarium plants in their pots?

To plant potted aquatic plants like these, take out the wool and carefully remove the plant from the pot making sure to be extra careful with the root system.
Although potted plants can be placed directly into the substrate with the pot, this is not recommended and will limit the plants growth.

Can aquarium plants be planted in gravel?

Planting Aquatic Plants in Your Aquarium

Just like land plants, aquarium plants need optimum levels of substrate, lighting, water quality, and nutrients to stay healthy and alive. The substrate, including gravel, is a critical place to start

Where should I put aquarium plants?

Where should I place plants in the aquarium?
  • Use foreground plants, which stay short, in the front of the tank.
  • Use middle-ground plants, which grow about 4 to 10 inches (10-25 cm) tall, along the sides and to leave an open swimming area near the center of the aquarium.

Do plants clean fish water?

Every live plant in an aquarium will help purify and clean the water to some extent. The live aquatic plants pull nutrients out of the water, which is created primarily by fish-waste and overfeeding. 
These plants grow in long, silky columns that help trap floating debris in the aquarium.

Is ammonia bad for aquarium plants?

Depending on the exact aquarium plant, they can absorb nitrogen compounds like ammonia and nitrite through their leaves and root systems. 
So under ideal situations, plants can be used as a “nitrogen sink,” a place to dump these compounds and get them out of the aquarium water where they can harm fish

How do you take care of aquarium plants?

Care Tips for Freshwater Aquarium Plants
  1. Choose the right plants. Caring for your plants begins with choosing ones that are suitable for your aquarium.
  2. Supply the right substrate.
  3. Provide the right light.
  4. Use the right algae-reducing techniques.
  5. Use the right fertilizer.
  6. Practice the right “aquascaping” skills.
  7. Enjoy the right balance.

Do you need to fertilize aquarium plants?

Aquarium plants do not need fertilizer inside of a Low tech tank. Aquarium plants do, however, need fertilizers inside of a high tech tank. The most important thing in healthy plant growth is a balance between CO2, light and proper pH.

Do you need soil to grow aquarium plants?

Your substrate is the material you use to cover the bottom of the tank. When you’re growing plants, you need a nutrient-rich substrate, which can initially be a bit more expensive.
Aqua Soil has good nutrients for plants but drops the pH of the water to 7. While this is optimal for plants, it can harm some fish.

How to Grow  the Best Low Light Aquarium Plants?

As discussed before, a lot of low light aquarium plants grow very quickly. This makes the plants a great nibble for herbivorous fish other than their normal diet of vegetables and pellets.

You can simply grow the plants independently if you are trying to handle some very dangerous fish like vegan African rift lake cichlid fish species or some fancier kinds of goldfish.

One technique would be to choose only the rapid growing floating aquatic plants so you won’t run out and just consistently hurl a modest bunch in the aquarium for some assortment in their eating routine. Duckweed plant is a great choice for this kind of diet.

It shouldn’t be extremely difficult to find a floating aquatic plant that will grow plentifully and quickly. Most species of floating plants are quick growers, thus making them be great at reducing dangerous waste, for example, nitrate in your fish tank all as an element of their natural capacities.

These kinds of nitrates may harm other inhabitants in the aquarium, but are utilized by the plants as supplements.

Another way to decrease the levels of nitrate is by carrying out a water change. Although this technique will surely be important eventually, but it is still good to have some small “assistants” that will naturally diminish the levels of nitrate in the middle of water changes.

low light plants are utilized by the aquarium fish they share their tank with for a wide variety of things such as reproduction, nourishment, comfort, and safety, so they are quite important to any balanced and healthy aquarium condition.

It is ideal to remember all the essential roles they can play when looking for the right floating aquatic plants for your fish tank.

Benefits of growing the Best Low Light Aquarium Plants

With such a large number of various kinds of species of floating plants for aquarium, you can definitely look for the one that meets the requirements of your aquarium.

However, you may be asking for what reason would you need floating aquarium plants?

Well, today we will let you know some of the advantages of putting such plants in your fish tank.

1. Shades

Supplying the perfect shading to your other aquarium plants and also cover to your betta from lights penetrating the aquarium is an essential feature. Making a shade for the aquarium fish will really reveal their potential and their diverse colors.

Just keep in mind, if you decide to cover the entire surface of your fish tank, it will perhaps lessen the rate at which your other plants grow, so it is wise not to try too hard.

2. Aeration

Floating aquatic plants are a good method of adding oxygen to your fish tank. These plants act as an air circulation system as ordinary vegetation does normally outside the aquariums.

This gives additional oxygen to your tank water that will be of great benefit to your fish over the long haul. A properly aerated and high amount of oxygen helps to safeguard the tank against toxins.

The air circulation in a planted fish tank is usually controlled by live plants just in the same way it would have been in nature. Some of the floating aquatic plants regulate O2 so that the fish and other inhabitants can breathe.

3. Prevention, Protection, and Filtration

Floating plants for freshwater aquariums can serve as filters to evacuate all fish waste in the tank. The bacterium developing on the plant is utilized as a filter element and it can handle chemical and biological filtration pretty well.

Retaining the chemicals that harm the fish can be an extremely overwhelming time for the floating plants, so it is always ideal but not compulsory to have a reinforcement filtration system close by.

The floating plants will be perfect protection for your aquarium fish by safeguarding them against diseases and finding an incredible place for fish to play or hide.

4. Wilderness Appearance

Floating plants for aquarium give you the sentiment a wilderness with a few of them having roots freely hang down. Creating a natural looking condition won’t just add to the beauty of the fish tank, yet it will likewise enable your fish to feel comfortable.

These floating aquarium plants are exceptionally intriguing and will add some incredible stylish features to your fish tank. Including these plants creates an exceptionally nature-like appearance and feeling to your aquarium.

The choice of plants that comes with hanging roots will definitely give your aquarium a more natural feeling condition.

There are a wide range of floating plants and you need to pick them based on the feel and look of your aquatic habitat. You will need to pick the plants that fit your tank without overwhelming other components in your tank.

5. Alternative Food

It is highly impossible for the fish to be starved or exposed to infections due to irregular feeding in a planted aquarium. Typically, the only source of food will be the food substance you supply to them.

However, with floating plants, your fish will have another thing to nibble on or eat as they are brimming with nutrition and add to a great diet, exactly what each healthy little fish as well as big ones requires!



Just like every other embellishment to your fish tank, preparation and research should be carried out before including any kind of living organism to your tank. Your fish community and invert need to stay harmonious, healthy and happy.

Adding these aquarium plants will surely give your aquarium a very wild and natural appearance. This is a low-maintenance and very easy way to make your fish tank look great in no time.

Plants come in a all different shapes, colors and sizes and can occupy different areas of the aquarium. They provide essential filtration to the tank as well as providing shelter and shade for the aquarium’s inhabitants.

Planted aquariums are becoming increasingly popular as they provide the ideal natural environment for fish and shrimp.

The list of plants we have covered here are all extremely hardy, relatively fast growing and able to tolerate a wide variety of different parameters – making them easy to care for.

We hope that we have captured your interest in freshwater plants for your tank and that you enjoy the fun that comes with arranging your aquarium with low light, floating, carpeting and water column plants.


Important Articles:

Best Floating Aquarium Plants For Freshwater

Best Artificial Aquarium Plants

Best Aquarium Plant Fertilizer

Best Airstone For Aquarium

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