Photo Credit: JDO Fish Tank – Beamswork EA FSPEC LED Daylight Setting
If you read the first paragraph (everyone skims these days, no hard feelings) then you already know that aquarium plants can grow under LED light. So can Coral to be exact, but that is another discussion.
But what you might not know is how much light certain plants require, or that not all LED lights are created equal.
Light isn’t the only factor that influences the health of your aquarium plants, but it’s a good place to start.
Let’s take a look at some good low light plant options.
What are good low light aquarium plants?
If you’re looking for some low-maintenance, low light plants, you’re in luck. Here are some commonly recommended varieties:
- Java Fern
- Java Moss
Plants like hornwort, moneywort, pennywort, and even sword plants can grow in low light, too.
Now, you’ll want to double-check on the light requirements before you pick just any old plant from the varieties above. For instance, Certain Rotala plants, like Rotala Macrandra, need high light levels to grow and thrive.
Watch Good Beginner Low Light Plants
Here’s the thing. With the right tank conditions, aquarists have been able to grow a huge list of aquarium plants under low light, allegedly with “low tech” tank setups.
How do they do it?
They counter the low light levels by Injecting CO2 into the tank. With a greater supply of CO2 readily available, the plants can synthesize food more easily under low light conditions. Without the CO2 they would grow slowly, if at all.
That’s the other thing to note about low light plants.
Some of the varieties above are slow growers, especially under low light. This can be a good thing because it means less maintenance, and you can enjoy the plants longer if you have a smaller tank.
Some plants, like certain Anubias varieties, will eventually grow quite tall. Make sure to check on average plant growth heights before making a decision–it’s an eventuality that’s worth keeping in mind.
One final note before moving on to medium light plants:
Just because you can grow all kinds of plants with low light and CO2, doesn’t mean you’ll want to. If you’re just starting as a beginner, you probably want your aquarium to be a low-maintenance hobby–not a part-time job!
You might want to start with varieties that don’t need the extra help. Rotala Indica and rotundifolia, Java ferns and java mosses, and Anubias varieties are good places to start–or pick your favorites from the list above.
If you’re looking for a handy reference for low-light plants that are easy to grow and care for, check out this list from Tropica.com.
What are good moderate light aquarium plants?
Many plants that grow under low light will grow faster when you introduce them to more light.
Faster growth means less time until you have a crowded tank–especially if you want some tall-growing plants.
If big plants aren’t your thing, it’s still possible to find small plants that thrive under medium light.
You could look into:
- The Cryptocoryne Parva
- The Dwarf Sagittaria (Shown Above)
The Bacopa Monnieri is another good medium-light plant choice. Its light demands are fairly low, so it could successfully grow under the shade of a taller plant in medium light.
Our trusty friends from above, the Vallisneria and Rotala plant varieties, will grow even better in medium light.
Medium-light could take a little more effort than low light since many plants will grow quite well (and fast!).
What Are Good High Light Aquarium Plants?
High light plants typically require the most work on your part.
Everything from Injecting CO2, to making sure there’s enough plant mass to absorb all the light–it requires some extra care.
Using high light levels does have its benefits: The light can help your plants grow very fast, and also get the most vibrancy and leaf/stem fullness from their growth.
Rotala varieties, such as Rotala Macrandra and Rotala Wallichii are beautiful but challenging.
Watch this great video on Rotala Wallichii
Here’s Tropica’s list of high light/high maintenance plants for a more complete look at your options.
Being beautiful is hard work, apparently!