5 Best Low-Light Aquarium Plants

Owning and maintaining an aquarium doesn’t just mean you’re keeping and looking after fish; it also means decorating and maintaining your plant life. However, plants require optimal water conditions to grow and thrive, especially when it comes to light.

As any fish tank owner will know, professional and advanced lighting rigs can be expensive, and it can be very off-putting to those keeping fish on a budget. Nevertheless, a great alternative is simply to consider planting low-light aquarium plants which, as the title suggests, don’t require a lot of light to thrive.

Today, we’re going to taking a look at the five best species and varieties of low-light aquarium plants, showing which ones are best for darker environments and won’t require expensive lighting setups to flourish; making them the ideal choice for beginner and novice aquarium keepers.

SubstrateSource Bacopa Caroliniana Lemon Live Aquarium Plant

SubstrateSource Bacopa Caroliniana Lemon Live Aquarium Plant

Bacopa is an extremely common type of live aquarium plant that thrives in low-light conditions and is sure to bring a new lease of life into your tank and really helps to add a drop of wonder and vibrancy, regardless of the design of your aquascape.

Ideal for beginners, the Caroliniana Lemon variety of Bacopa thanks to its slow-growing speeds, and therefore the minimal maintenance that it requires. All these plants arrive bare root and ready to plant whenever you’re ready, simply by pushing them carefully into the ground.

What’s more, you can find peace of mind in the fact that there will be no pests to contaminate your tank since each plant goes through a strict cleaning and purification process to make sure this isn’t a problem. That means there’s no having to fight pests or unwanted creatures in your tank.

This Bacopa variety tends to be most suitable for the middle of your tank and the higher regions, rather than being placed right at the bottom, but this is up to you to experiment with. Once you get the right place in your tank, you’ll be able to enjoy a small flower on each plant once the plant grows and reaches the surface of your tank.

To make this plant even more suitable for beginners, you’ll even find an illustrated guide from SubstrateSource themselves that should answer any questions you may have about what you’re doing with your plants. All in all, it’s hard to go wrong with such a brilliant example of aquarium plant life!

  • Comes with an illustrated guide to help you master the basics
  • A slow-growing plant that’s ideal for beginners and low-maintenance
  • Thrives in minimal to next-to-no light conditions
  • Comes cleaned with no risk of pests or unwanted species
  • None!

Aldrovanda Vesiculosa Waterwheel Live Aquarium Plant

Aldrovanda Vesiculosa Waterwheel Live Aquarium Plant

More commonly known as the ‘waterwheel’ plant, Aldrovanda Vesiculosa is really something special, and you’re sure to fall in love with it instantly. Most notably, the Waterwheel is the underwater equivalent of the Venus Fly Trap.

With this in mind, it should go without saying that these plants aren’t suitable in tanks where you have a few smaller aquatic species, such as shrimps and small snails. However, if you have an overpopulated tank in this area, then these plants may make an ideal choice.

With each purchase, you’ll find three seeds you can grow from the beginning simply by planting them into the bottom of your tank. All the seeds are sent fresh by the supplier, and each batch is tested for germination to ensure they actually take root and grow. No duds here!

These plants are also ideal for beginners since they require next-to-no maintenance and can be left floating freely in your tank and will pretty much look after themselves. It doesn’t matter what kind of water you have, what pH it is, or what kind of kind of temperature it is; these hardy plants are sure to make themselves feel right at home!

  • Three seeds per purchase to plant when you want
  • Requires no maintenance to look after
  • Ideal for managing small species population counts in your tank
  • Free floating and looks great
  • Eats the smaller species in your tank

SubstrateSource Cryptocoryne Undulata Live Aquatic Aquarium Plant

SubstrateSource Cryptocoryne Undulata Live Aquatic Aquarium Plant

Another great plant species from SubstrateSource, Cryptocoryne Undulata is the Latin name given to this leafy aquarium plant with is a great choice for tank owners who are looking to add a bit of color and life into their aquascapes.

Cryptocorynes are renowned for being fast growers but remain quite small compared to other aquatic plant species. This ensures your tank won’t become overcrowded and full of leaves, but instead, there’s just enough to lighten up your water wonderland.

While these brown/reddish plants will require a bit of light, there’s no need to invest in a professional lighting setup, and they should get on just fine with a standard tank lighting system. Once in, you’ll also get to include all the benefits that these plants can bring into a tank’s habitat.

These include increased and more effective water circulation, stability in the temperature of your tank, and a nice balance in the CO2 and nutrient levels of the water.

Of course, as with all SubstrateSource products, you’ll receive a fully illustrated guidebook that should teach you everything you need to know in order to grow your plants properly.

Additionally, what you’ll really love about these plants is SubstrateSource’s quality policy. You’ll never find any snails or foreign pests on these plants, and therefore there’s nothing to contaminate your waters. All plants will arrive alive and at your door in the peak of fresh health and ready for your tank.

  • Beautiful brown/red colors
  • All plants arrive alive, healthy and free from pests and parasites
  • Each purchase includes a fully-illustrated guidebook on how to care for your plants
  • Bring lots of benefits into your tank
  • None!

Aquatic Arts Rotala Indica Live Aquarium Plants

Aquatic Arts Rotala Indica Live Aquarium Plants

Rotala Indica is renowned for being some of the easiest plants to grow in your aquarium, and it would be rude for this fact alone not to include them on our list. These beautiful plants are simple by design but boast nice, round leaves and long-reaching stems.

This means you can plant your Rotalas at the bottom of your tank and their slow-growing times will gently allow them to start growing throughout your tank. Due to this slow speed, it’s easy to maintain your plants, and there’s very little risk of it overcrowding your tank unless you leave them for a long period of time.

What we love about these plants is the fact that it doesn’t matter what kind of light you grow them in.
In low-light conditions, you’ll experience the slow growth and a gradient increase of leaves and stems.

However, put them in a bright light, or directly under your tank light, and the color of the leaves and stems will become far more vibrant and attractive, and they’ll even produce a soft red color that really helps to bring your tank to life.

All in all, you really can’t go wrong here. With a 100% Live Arrival Guarantee, two bunches per purchase, and the ability to add food, hiding places and adventure spots for your fish, what more could you need from your aquatic plants?

  • Can produce a red color when given lots of light
  • Slow-growing and requires little maintenance
  • Comes with a 100% Live Arrival Guarantee
  • Great for positioning in the front or back of your tank
  • Start off small upon delivery

Java Fern Microsorum Pteropus Tropical Live Aquarium Plant

Java Fern Microsorum Pteropus Tropical Live Aquarium Plant

The final plant to enter our list is, of course, the Java Fern. The Java Fern is well-known for being one of the easiest to care for plants to have in any form of an aquarium. It also makes a perfect choice if you’re looking to spruce up your tropical tank and give you and your fish something you’re both going to love.

While most people avoid this plant, it’s a common misconception that fish like to eat this plant, and, in fact, many fish will actually hate the taste, meaning this plant can live in peace as a potential hiding ground.

Since these plants thrive in low-light conditions, much like their on-land counterparts, if you’re trying to fill a low-light tank or a shaded area, this is the ideal choice. These plants are also incredibly suitable for beginners since they require no maintenance whatsoever, and you’ll just need to give them a little trim if you want to keep them monitored.

Each purchase comes with three individual plants sewn into a black mat for you to put where you like and have already grown to a size that makes them ideal for any size tank, preferably around the 10-gallon mark or above. In short, this is an essential plant for your aquarium aquascape.

  • Come with three bunches per mat for great tank coverage
  • Ideal for creating exploring and hiding spaces for your fish
  • Many fish won’t like the taste of these plants
  • Require very little maintenance and can grow in shaded areas
  • None!


As you can see, it doesn’t matter what kind of tank you’ve got, what water you’ve got, or how much light you have in your tank; there are plenty of plant species out there for you to enjoy. Any of the five varieties above make ideal choices, and you and your fish are sure to find exactly what you’re looking for here.

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