The Best Low Light Aquarium Plants for 2021


Aquatic plants can make all the difference between an amazing fish tank and a bland-looking one. Not only do plants serve to improve the aesthetic appearance of the aquarium. They also help in the proper oxygenation of the water and the removal of excess ammonia from fish waste. Unfortunately, caring for aquarium plants can be as tricky as caring for the fish themselves. That is why low light aquarium plants are often recommended. These plants are easy to maintain and they can flower, too. If you are interested, we have six of the world’s best low light aquarium plants for you to put in your aquarium.

What is the Best Low Light Aquarium Plant

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Top 6 Best Low Light Aquarium Plants Reviews

1. Java Fern Bare Root Microsorum Pteropus Low Light Freshwater Aquarium Plant


AquaLeaf Aquatics’ Root is a good choice for beginning aquatics hobbyists. The plant provides a bright green foreground to the aquascape. The plant life comes with bare roots, which you have to attach to a rock or driftwood in your aquarium.

The bright leaves of the Java Fern are wide enough to provide ample refuge for very shy fish species. This characteristic also makes the aquatic plant so much easier to maintain.

This aquatic plant from AquaLeaf sure looks fascinating. Unfortunately, it tends to be smaller than a plant of the same species and the same price from your local store. Nevertheless, the Java Fern Bare Root remains a popular choice among people who want a low light aquatic plant in their fish tank.


  • Very hardy plant species
  • Slower growth rate than other species
  • Improves the aesthetics of the fish tank
  • Good choice for beginners
  • Easy to maintain


  • Small plant for its price

2. Java Fern Microsorum Low Light Aquarium Plants


If you have a fish tank that is at least 10 gallons, then AquaLeaf’s Java Fern Bundle is a good option. Not only do you get a species of low light aquatic plant. You will have four different species.

Placing these plants in your fish tank is also easy. Attach them to your driftwood or rock. You can also plant them as you would any ordinary plant in the substrate.

AquaLeaf advertises its Java Fern Bundle to be free of snails. Unfortunately, there are people who report receiving bundles that had snails in them.

The AquaLeaf Java Fern Bundle is a nice bunch of low light aquariums plants for those who have big tanks. The different plants can provide an aquascape that is as diverse as the one in the real world.


  • Bundle features four species of plants
  • Good price
  • Grows well with minimum light
  • No extensive maintenance
  • Ideal for large fish tanks


  • Some plants came with snails

3. Flame Moss Pad Live Aquarium Plants Water Low Light Fish Tank


The Flame Moss Pad is a low light plant species that is perfect for creating a wonderful foreground blanket in the aquarium. The foliage is small and dense. It is the perfect hideaway for very small fish.

The company also includes a water quality card which we find very useful in keeping track of your fish tank’s water quality.

For all the Flame Moss Pad’s worth, we do find it especially expensive. A 3-inch square pad is more expensive than two Big Macs. If you look at what you are giving to your fish, however, the price becomes irrelevant.

The Flame Moss Pad is a wonderful choice for a low light aquatic plant. It can improve the foreground of the aquarium in ways very few other plant species can.


  • Dense, slow-growing moss
  • Does not contain pesticides
  • Easy to put and grow in aquariums
  • Comes with a water quality card
  • Enhances the beauty of the aquarium


  • Quite expensive

4. Anubias Bundle Easy Low Light Aquarium Plants


Beginning aquatics hobbyists always use Anubias species to improve the aesthetics of their aquariums. And if you also want an easy-to-maintain aquatic plant, then the Anubias Bundle from AquaLeaf is an excellent choice.

You get four different varieties of Anubias to put in your fish tank. They can adorn both the front and back of your aquascape. The large leaf can be a good hiding place for certain fish species, too.

One minor issue with the Anubias bundle is that some of the plants can come with snails. It would be wise to check them out before putting the plants in the aquarium.Regardless, we still recommend the Anubias Bundle for anyone who wants an aquatic plant that is very easy to care for.


  • Very easy to care for
  • Allows for front or back aquascaping
  • Quick to grow
  • Good for beginners
  • Comes with 4 plant species


  • Some snails in the plants

5. Mainam Java Fern Planted on Driftwood Microsorum Pteropus Freshwater


The Java Fern is a very popular choice for low light aquariums plants. And one of the companies that offers good and healthy Java Ferns is Mainam.

This aquatic plant already comes fully set on driftwood. You only need to position the plant in your chosen area of the fish tank. Now sit back and watch as your fish start to inspect the plant. They will love their new playground.

This Java Fern is a bit pricey, though. We do not know if the price is related to the inclusion of the driftwood. The Mainam Java Fern is still a good choice for people who are starting out as aquatics hobbyists. The plant is easy to grow and manage. It can add life to your aquarium, too.


  • Plant already set on driftwood
  • Free from pesticides and diseases
  • Ready to grow
  • Excellent for beginners
  • Plants delivered live


  • Quite pricey

6. Greenpro Cryptocoryne Usteriana RED Crypt Potted Plant


The Greenpro Red Crypt is a nice aquatic plant that does not require too much light to grow. This plant species already comes in its own pot. It saves you the hassle of planting the Red Crypt in the substrate or attaching it to your driftwood.

One thing we like about the Red Crypt is its dual-colored leaf. It is bronze-green on the upper side and burgundy-red on the underside of the leaves.

While the Red Crypt has passed the requirements of the USDA, we still find it odd that there are snails in some of the plants. Nonetheless, the Greenpro Red Crypt is still an amazing choice if you want a hassle-free plant in your aquarium. It looks lovely, too.


  • Dual color of the leaves for unique appearance
  • Passed USDA requirements
  • Comes in a pot
  • Easy to use
  • Good for newbie fish tank owners


  • Some plants can have snails

Low Light Aquarium Plant Buying Guide

With so many aquatic plant species to choose from, picking the right low light aquarium plant for your fish tank can be tricky. It is still possible to determine the best one for your aquarium. You will need to perform a thorough research about the plant species that you want to get.

You can start with some of the most common species of low light aquatic plants. These can include Anubias, Java moss, Java fern, Flame moss, and Amazon Sword, Green Hygrophilia and African water fern are also excellent choices. You can research more about these aquatic plants to see whether they suit your existing fish tank set-up or not.

Next, determine how you want the aquatic plants to draw their nutrients. We can classify aquatic plants into two types of feeders. One is the root feeder and the other is a column feeder. Root feeders will draw their nutrients from the fish tank substrate. This is a good choice if you have a type of substrate that is full of nutrients. On the other hand, column feeders draw their nutrients from the water itself. You can have floating plants or plant species that are anchored on driftwood. These plants are perfect if your fish tank does not have a nutrient-rich substrate or does not use any substrate at all.

It is also wise to check with the low light aquarium plant seller how they will deliver the plant to you. These are live species. You want to receive your plants alive and healthy. It makes no sense putting a dead plant in your aquarium. You may also want to ask the seller to have the aquatic plants shipped to you at a specific time of the day. This will help minimize the risk of the aquatic plants dying in transit.

What is a Low Light Aquarium Plant?


All species of plants need light to perform the process of photosynthesis. Different plant species have different light requirements. Low light aquarium plants, therefore, are plant species that can thrive even with low levels of light. These plant species are very easy to grow and maintain. Low light aquatic plants make an excellent addition to any aquarium.

Types of Live Aquarium Plants

There are hundreds of plant species that are great for aquariums. However, one can classify these plants into at least four different types.

Mosses and Ferns

These aquatic plants are best known for their ability to thrive well in environments with low light. They produce spores, allowing the plants to grow and multiply at an amazing rate. One thing that people love about these aquatic plants is their ability to provide an excellent hideaway for fry and very small species of fish. Examples of these plants are Water Sprite, Java Moss, and Java Fern.

Stem Plants

There is an increasing popularity of stem plants for aquascaping. These species are ‘planted’ right in the substrate of the fish tank. They grow very fast and can provide the aquarium with a tall element. Examples of these aquarium plants are Hornwort, Fountain Plant, and Anacharis.


These are flowering aquatic plants. Angiosperm plants are fully capable of producing flowers. However, it may be difficult to see one bloom in your aquarium. If you do wish to have an aquarium that has blooming plants in it, then you will need Anubias. This is a plant species that can form a beautiful flower underwater. Other options include Aponogeton and Sword plants.

Floating Plants

The name says it all. These are aquatic plants that do not root themselves in the substrate. They grow while floating in the water. Good examples of this type of live aquarium plant are Duckweed, Floating Bladderwort, and Normal Salvinia. Floating plants make excellent hideouts for small fishes, fingerlings, and fry.

Why do You need Low Light Aquarium Plants

Many people think that the only reason they need to put low light aquarium plants in their fish tanks is to improve the aesthetics of their setup. What many do not realize is that these aquatic plants can help keep the growth of algae in check.

Abnormal algae growth can occur because of different reasons. It can be because of poor or excessive light. Overfeeding fish and using nitrate- and phosphate- rich water can also promote the overgrowth of algae. Using low light aquarium plants can help address the issue before it gets out of hand.

Low light aquarium plants also improve the oxygen levels of the water. One of the byproducts of photosynthesis is oxygen, which fish and other aquatic life forms use. These aquatic plants can also mimic the natural habitat of fish. Fry and fingerlings can seek refuge in the dense undergrowth of these plants. The same is true for breeding fish. They can feel safe when laying and guarding their eggs.

There are also substrate-rooted aquatic plants that thrive in low light conditions. Their roots help stabilize the substrate and prevent disruptions from fish aggressive behaviors and filter outflow. These plants can also keep the water free of wastes like nitrates.

Frequently Asked Questions


What are the most popular low light aquarium plant brands?

AquaLeaf Aquatics, Mainam, and Greenpro are three of the most popular brands of low light fish tank plant brands. As for the species of aquatic plants for low light aquariums, the most popular ones include Java fern, Flame moss, Anubias, Amazon Sword, and Usteri’s Water Trumpet.

How much light for low light aquarium plant?

Low light aquatic plants can grow even if they do not receive as much light as their counterparts on land. The question now is how low is “low”. In general, aquatic plants that thrive in low light only requires about 15 to 25 lumens.

Another important consideration is the duration of lighting. Aquatic plants should not get more than 8 hours of light. Extended light exposure can favor the growth of algae. That is why it is often ideal to have a programmable lighting system for your aquarium. This way, you can prevent the growth of algae while facilitating the optimum growth of the aquatic plants.

The amount of light to use in your aquarium also depends on the water capacity of your fish tank. The general recommendation is to use 0.25 watts for every liter of fish tank water if you have low light plants. Plants that need moderate light will need about 0.50 watts for every liter.

Where to buy Low Light Aquariums Plant?

The best place to buy low light plants for aquariums is your local pet shop that specializes in aquatics. They can provide you with different plant species to choose from. You can also ask questions personally about the proper care of each of these species. An alternative will be to order online. Keep in mind to check how the seller intends to deliver the aquatic plants. These plants should arrive at your doorsteps alive and healthy. Alternatively, online marketplaces, such as Amazon and eBay, are also great places to buy these plants.


The best low light aquarium plants are those that do not require light that is greater than 25 lumens. These plants can provide your aquarium the kind of aesthetics that it deserves. The right aquatic plants in your fish tank can also prevent the growth of algae, while also promoting healthier and cleaner water for the aquarium inhabitants. Our list can be a good starting point for those who want the best aquarium plants that do not require too much light. However, you can always perform an exhaustive research of the different aquatic plant species that will serve your needs best.

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