19 Unique Looking Low Light Aquarium Plants For Your Fish Tank

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Some fishkeepers prefer brighter aquariums, while others prefer slightly darker and more natural looking aquariums. It’s totally up to you.

However, a low light aquarium has a more pleasing aesthetic look and has the tone of a natural habitat. Furthermore, a lot of fish love being in a toned-down aquarium. But one thing is for sure, plants are the heart of a low light aquarium.

Not every kind of plant can be put into such an aquarium space. You require specific low light aquarium plants or very low light aquarium plants.

So, let’s take a look at the best low light aquarium plants today for decorating your aquarium.

Are you new to fishkeeping and aquascaping? Don't worry, I will also talk about aquarium plants for beginners which have low to very low care levels.

Scientific Name: Anubias barteri var. nana

Anubias Nana or Dwarf Anubias

Lush, green, thick leaves are the main identifying feature of Anubias Nana. In fact, its appearance is so recognizable that it could possibly be your perfect centerpiece.

There are five variations of the Anubias barteri plants, and the Anubias Nana is basically the smaller variation of the mother barteri variant.

This is actually the smallest variant of the five.

You will not need to put in much effort and care as they will grow steadily in the shade,. so you should either use a low light setup or have some floaters in your aquarium.

The biggest issue with this plant is its growth rate. Even after providing care and effort, you will see them growing at a snail-like speed.

However, you will be stunned when you see their robustness. Even aggressive breeds such as cichlids won’t do much harm to them.

Plant Profile – Anubias Nana

Considering Factors

Traits

Notable Features

  • Thick cordate shaped leaves which reach up to 2.5 inches in length
  • Smaller size (2 to 6 inches)
  • - Light green color

Light Requirement

Low to moderate

Ideal Temperature

72°F – 82°F (22°C – 28°C)

Ideal pH Level

6.0 – 7.5 pH

Origin

West Africa

Care Level

Easy

Rooting and Placement

On the substrate layer, foreground or midground

Growth

Very slow

Scientific Name: Anubias barteri

Anubias Barteri

This is the mother plant which created five different popular variations found in the aquariums of thousands of aquarists.

The Anubias barteri variant is significantly larger than the Nana variant and it can reach up to one and a half feet in height.

Having water treating properties, barteri is obviously one of the most popular choices among fishkeepers.

Plant Profile – Anubias Barteri

Considering Factors

Traits

Notable Features

  • Slightly larger than Nana variant with thick cordate shaped leaves
  • Light to dark green colored leaves
  • - Grows up to 16 inches in height

Light Requirement

Low to moderate

Ideal Temperature

68°F – 86°F (20°C – 30°C)

Ideal pH Level

6.0 – 7.5 pH

Origin

West Africa

Care Level

Very Easy

Rooting and Placement

On fine gravel, foreground or midground

Growth

Very slow

Scientific Name: Vesicularia dubyana

 Java Moss

Most low light aquarium plants require little to no care from you, but only a few plants allow you to completely forget about actively caring for them.

Java Moss is a plant which requires almost no care. In addition, it allows you to create a smooth carpet of green on the surface.

You will also not need to worry about any aggressive fish (such as goldfish or cichlids) eating them occasionally.

Plant Profile – Java Moss

Considering Factors

Traits

Notable Features

  • Requires zero to a minimum level of care
  • High survivability rate
  • - Typically, freshwater fish avoid eating them

Light Requirement

Low to High

Ideal Temperature

59°F – 86°F (15°C – 30°C)

Ideal pH Level

5.0 – 8.0

Origin

Southeast Asia

Care Level

Very Easy

Rooting and Placement

Can be attached to any surface, even on walls or onrocks, carpeting type

Growth

Very fast

Scientific Name: Microsorum pteropus

Java Fern

OK, let me tell you a secret. I am totally biased when it comes to having ferns in my aquarium.

The look of the fern gives the whole aquarium a natural wild look.

Among ferns, Java Fern is the most popular option for most fishkeepers, and this is for very good reasons.

It’s one of the most perfect plants for a planted aquarium without CO2. 

Firstly, you can place the Java Fern in any kind of water – fresh, salty, and even in brackish water. While the required care level is minimal, its slow growth rate can be frustrating.

Plant Profile – Java Fern

Considering Factors

Traits

Notable Features

  • Lush green plants that can reach around 13 to 14 inches in height
  • Can grow in fresh, slightly saline, or even brackish water
  • - Unique long leaves

Light Requirement

Low

Ideal Temperature

68°F – 82°F (20°C – 27.8°C)

Ideal pH Level

6.0 – 7.5 pH

Origin

Southeast Asia, Malaysia, Thailand and some parts of China

Care Level

Very Easy

Rooting and Placement

Tie the rhizomes together and place it towards therear of the aquarium

Growth

Slow

Scientific Name: Ceratophyllum demersum

Hornwort

Many fishkeepers suffer from their fish eating their green beautiful plants. This can be an even more serious problem if you have aggressive herbivores in your aquarium.

However, you can turn the game in your favor by having Hornworts in your aquarium. As this plant has thorny leaves, most fish stay clear of them. Also, it can provide smaller fish with safe places to hide in the aquarium.

If you have a mix of fish (small and large), Hornwort can save you a lot of hassle.

However, the long growth can pose a bit of a problem for you as the plants can typically reach up to 10 feet in height in the wild. Therefore, you should make sure you trim them occasionally.

Plant Profile – Hornwort

Considering Factors

Traits

Notable Features

  • Very fast growth rate
  • Offers hiding places as the roots are in the substrate layer, sand or Rock
  • - Fish will not eat them due to the thorny hard leaves

Light Requirement

Low to moderate

Ideal Temperature

60°F – 86°F (15.5°C – 30°C)

Ideal pH Level

6.0 – 7.5 pH

Origin

North America

Care Level

Easy

Rooting and Placement

In the background

Growth

Fast

6. Rotala Indica Green Rotundifolia

Scientific Name: Rotala rotundifolia

Rotala Indica Green Rotundifolia

Are you looking for a perfect centerpiece for your aquarium? Rotala Indica Green Rotundifolia can serve you quite well in that case.

As the name suggests, this is a green variant of the plant. You can also find brown or red versions on the market.

Although this plant can survive in low light conditions, offering more light will ensure better and faster growth.

Plant Profile – Rotala Indica Green Rotundifolia

Considering Factors

Traits

Notable Features

  • Bright green coloration
  • Features bushy and hanging style
  • - Can reach up to 15 to 20 inches in height

Light Requirement

Moderate to high

Ideal Temperature

75°F – 84°F (23.9°C – 28.9°C)

Ideal pH Level

6.0 – 7.5 pH

Origin

Southeast Asia

Care Level

Moderate

Rooting and Placement

On the substrate layer, midground to background

Growth

Very fast

7. Parrot’s Feather

Scientific Name: Myriophyllum aquaticum

Parrot’s Feather

Parrot’s feather is one of the most unique looking plants that you can put in your aquarium.

This plant has puffy leaves which look almost like a parrot’s feathers – hence the name.

The biggest trait of this plant is its high survivability rate. This plant has one of the highest survivability rates among low light aquarium plants. It can even remain strong in freezing temperatures.

However, this survival trait is also the biggest problem of the species. It can easily outgrow other similar plants and consume their nutrients.

Therefore, you must consider this before having them in your 10 gallon tank.

Plant Profile – Anubias Nana

Considering Factors

Traits

Notable Features

  • Unique leaves which resemble parrot’s feathers
  • Dark green color
  • - In the wild, it can reach up to 5 feet in height

Light Requirement

Moderate to high

Ideal Temperature

60°F – 744°F (16°C – 23°C)

Ideal pH Level

5.0 – 8.0 pH

Origin

South America, Amazon rain forest

Care Level

Easy

Rooting and Placement

Background to midground

Growth

Very fast

8. Moneywort

Scientific Name: Bacopa Monnieri

Moneywort

Moneywort can create a bushy look in an aquarium. Although most fishkeepers use them as a low light aquarium plant carpet, you can also use them as floaters.

Their unique elliptic leaves give the plant an out-of-the-box look. You can use these plants in any way you wish in your aquarium.

You can plant them in clusters, on driftwood, as carpeting plants, or as floaters. The choice is completely up to you.

More: Best Light for Planted Tank

Plant Profile – Moneywort

Considering Factors

Traits

Notable Features

  • Versatile plant with high survivability rate
  • Elliptic green leaves
  • - Typically reaches 12 inches in height but can grow more in the right conditions

Light Requirement

Moderate to high, can survive in low light too

Ideal Temperature

72°F – 82°F (22°C – 28°C)

Ideal pH Level

6.5 – 7.5 pH

Origin

India and Southeast Asia

Care Level

Very easy

Rooting and Placement

On the substrate, midground to background

Growth

Fast

9. Brazilian Pennywort/ Brazilian Water Ivy

Scientific Name: Hydrocotyle leucocephala

Brazilian Pennywort/ Brazilian Water Ivy

Brazilian Pennywort is another plant which you can use both as a floater or to cover the bottom layer of your aquarium.

Their lush green color and kidney-shaped leaves make people fall in love with them. As they have long stems, they can soon reach the surface of the water.

It will actively take part in nitrogen cycle toxin removal activities.

However, fast growth and quick propagation can also pose the problem of excessive growth.

Therefore, you must make sure to trim them regularly.

More: Best Floating Aquarium Plant

Plant Profile – Brazilian Pennywort

Considering Factors

Traits

Notable Features

  • Light green kidney-shaped leaves
  • Provides a safe place for fish to hide
  • - Can grow up to 24 inches in height

Light Requirement

Low but thrives with more light

Ideal Temperature

68°F – 82°F (20°C – 28°C)

Ideal pH Level

6.0 – 7.8 pH

Origin

Brazil, South America

Care Level

Easy

Rooting and Placement

Can be kept as a floater or a rooted plant, midgroundto background

Growth

Very fast

10. Water Trumpet or Cryptocoryne Wendtii

Scientific Name: Cryptocoryne Wendtii

Water Trumpet or Cryptocoryne Wendtii

The popularity of Cryptocorynes is very high among aquarists from all over the world. This is mainly due to their long, sleek leaves.

This trait makes them the perfect candidate for being a centerpiece plant in your aquarium.

Among all the Cryptocorynes, Water Trumpets are certainly the most popular option. An easy care level and high tolerance are the two main reasons for its great popularity.

More: Best Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner for Gravel

Plant Profile – Water Trumpet

Considering Factors

Traits

Notable Features

  • Unique long teardrop leaves and plants can reach 6 to 12 inches in height
  • Comes in green and brown colors
  • - Extremely hardy plant

Light Requirement

Low, but can also tolerate high light

Ideal Temperature

68°F – 83°F (20°C – 28°C)

Ideal pH Level

6.0 – 7.5 pH

Origin

Sri Lanka

Care Level

Easy

Rooting and Placement

Rooted in

Growth

Moderate

11. Cryptocoryne Balansae

Scientific Name: Cryptocoryne crispatula var. balansae

Cryptocoryne Balansae

Your hunt for the perfect plant depends greatly on the appearance of a plant’s leaves. Cryptocoryne Balansae has some of the most unique looking leaves of all. The hammered pattern will surely attract you.

It can create an aesthetically pleasing backdrop in your aquarium.

However, you must be extra careful with this plant as it requires more care than most other plants.

Plant Profile – Cryptocoryne Balansae

Considering Factors

Traits

Notable Features

  • Unique strap-like long leaves with hammered patterns
  • Dark green with occasional bronze hues
  • - Can reach up to 36 inches in height

Light Requirement

Moderate

Ideal Temperature

72°F – 82°F (22°C – 28°C)

Ideal pH Level

5.5 – 8.0 pH

Origin

Southern Thailand

Care Level

Moderate

Rooting and Placement

Background

Growth

Moderate

12. Cryptocoryne Spiralis

Scientific Name: Cryptocoryne spiralis

Cryptocoryne Spiralis

This is yet another Cryptocoryne on the list. Rather than offering pure green color, you can get a slight yellowish or brownish tone with Cryptocoryne Spiralis.

Almost all other Cryptocorynes suffer from crypt rotting issues, but you can stay safe from that nasty issue when you choose Cryptocoryne Spiralis.

Just like other Cryptocorynes, they will demand more care from you.

Plant Profile – Cryptocoryne Spiralis

Considering Factors

Traits

Notable Features

  • Has strap-like, very narrow long leaves which can curl over time
  • Light to medium green coloration with a yellow
    hue
  • - Can reach up to 16 inches in height

Light Requirement

Low to moderate

Ideal Temperature

72°F – 82°F (22°C – 28°C)

Ideal pH Level

6.5 – 7.5 pH

Origin

India

Care Level

Moderate

Rooting and Placement

Midground

Growth

Moderate

13. Cryptocoryne Usteriana

Scientific Name: Cryptocoryne usteriana

Cryptocoryne Usteriana

Cryptocoryne Usteriana is the largest of all the Cryptocorynes. In the wild, these plants can reach up to 30 inches in height.

Its high survivability rate makes Cryptocoryne Usteriana very special. You can even keep them with hungry herbivores without too much worry.

But you should remember that they are slow growers.

Plant Profile – Cryptocoryne Usteriana

Considering Factors

Traits

Notable Features

  • Dark green to brown long, embossed leaves
  • Very large in size
  • - High survivability rate, can even share tank with aggressive fish breeds

Light Requirement

Low

Ideal Temperature

60°F – 82°F (15°C – 28°C)

Ideal pH Level

6.0 – 8.0 pH

Origin

Philippines

Care Level

Easy

Rooting and Placement

Preferably in the background, but can also be kept in the midground

Growth

Slow

14. Guppy Grass

Scientific Name: Najas guadalupensis

Guppy Grass

Only a few floaters can thrive in low light conditions. It’s a unique combination.

Guppy Grass is one of these. Furthermore, these plants can survive in any kind of water conditions.

Not only that, but they also actively partake in the removal of toxins from the water.

As the name suggests, Guppy Grass is the perfect aquarium partner for small fish such as guppies. Therefore, you can call it one of the best low light aquarium plants for betta as well.

Plant Profile – Guppy Grass

Considering Factors

Traits

Notable Features

  • A floating grass which can survive in any water conditions
  • Light green coloration with very narrow leaves
  • - Removes toxins

Light Requirement

Low to high

Ideal Temperature

72°F – 84°F (22°C – 28°C)

Ideal pH Level

6.0 – 7.0 pH

Origin

North and South America

Care Level

Very easy

Rooting and Placement

Floaters

Growth

Very fast

15. Round Pellia

Scientific Name: Monosolenium tenerum

Round Pellia

Round Pellia is not an ordinary plant, but is a sinking liverwort. This means that Round Pellia is a non-vascular plant similar to moss.

You can keep these as floaters or place them on the bottom of an aquarium to cover it up in the same way as carpeting plants.

It’s best to attach them to rocks or driftwood in your aquarium in order to create a surreal environment.

Plant Profile – Round Pellia

Considering Factors

Traits

Notable Features

  • A type of moss which reaches approximately 1 to 2 inches in height
  • Light to deep green in color
  • - Forms a cushioned carpet on a solid surface

Light Requirement

Low

Ideal Temperature

65°F – 79°F (18°C – 26°C)

Ideal pH Level

5.0 – 7. pH

Origin

Indian subcontinent, Eastern Asia and Pacific islands

Care Level

Easy

Rooting and Placement

Planted as clusters on rocks and driftwood

Growth

Moderate

16. Waterwheel

Scientific Name: F L Aldrovanda vesiculosa

Waterwheel

Now, let’s take a look at a very different plant – a carnivore! Yes, Waterwheel is a carnivorous plant just like a miniature Venus Fly Trap.

But don’t worry, it can’t bite your precious fish. It mostly consumes smaller invertebrates such as daphnia or mosquito larva.

It is so adorable to have such magnificent plant in your aquarium, but it can suffer from slow growth if it can’t find enough food. Therefore, you should make sure that your aquarium can offer enough food for it.

Plant Profile – Waterwheel

Considering Factors

Traits

Notable Features

  • A carnivorous plant which eats small invertebrates (daphnia or mosquito larva) in the water
  • Has a snap trap like that of a Venus Fly Trap
  • - Can reach 2 to 16 inches in height depending on the care level

Light Requirement

Low

Ideal Temperature

73°F – 86°F (23°C – 30°C)

Ideal pH Level

6.8 – 7.4 pH

Origin

Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia

Care Level

Hard

Rooting and Placement

A rootless plant that dwells in the bottom of otherplants

Growth

Slow, depending on available food

17. Dark Red Ludwigia Repens

Scientific Name: Ludwigia repens

Dark Red Ludwigia Repens

Are you looking for a different kind of plant which can break the monotony created by all the green plants?

Dark Red Ludwigia Repens should be your choice in that case. It’s the perfect low light red aquarium plant.

This plant has red stems and rusty red leaves which make it stand out among all the green.

Plant Profile – Dark Red Ludwigia Repens

Considering Factors

Traits

Notable Features

  • Iconic red colored plants with rusty red leaves
  • Can reach approximately 12 to 20 inches in height
  • - Amphibious plant which grows fully or partially submerged in water

Light Requirement

Moderate to high

Ideal Temperature

75°F – 80°F (24°C – 27°C)

Ideal pH Level

6.5 – 7.5 pH

Origin

North America and Mexico

Care Level

Easy

Rooting and Placement

Background or midground

Growth

Fast

18. Anubias Barteri 'Coffeefolia'

Scientific Name: Anubias barteri var. coffeefolia

Anubias Barteri 'Coffeefolia'

Yet again, we are talking about an Anubias. This time it's the Coffeefolia. Coffeefolia is a smaller variant of the Anubias Barteri plant.

The almost coffee plant-like leaves create this plant’s uniqueness.

Furthermore, herbivores will avoid eating these plants.

Plant Profile – Anubias Nana

Considering Factors

Traits

Notable Features

  • Another Anubias barteri variety which has leaves like a coffee plant
  • Small in size, can reach up to 12 inches in height
  • - Herbivorous fish avoid eating them

Light Requirement

Low

Ideal Temperature

72°F – 80°F (22°C – 27°C)

Ideal pH Level

5.5 – 9.0 pH

Origin

Africa

Care Level

Easy

Rooting and Placement

Attached to rocks and driftwoods

Growth

Slow

19. Marimo Moss Balls

Scientific Name: Aegagropila linnaei

Marimo Moss Balls

Can you imagine having small balls of pure green in your aquarium? Marimo Moss Balls are one of the rarest very low light aquarium plants.

In a natural setting, you can find these on the bottom of lakes in Japan and Iceland. In Japanese culture this plant is considered to be a lucky charm.

You will need to have other shade giving plants as this plant doesn’t do well in bright conditions. In addition, the extremely slow growth can be another issue for many fishkeepers.

Plant Profile – Marimo Moss Balls

Considering Factors

Traits

Notable Features

  • Has a unique ball-like round shape
  • Typically reaches 3-4! in diameter
  • - Extremely rare breed

Light Requirement

Very low

Ideal Temperature

72°F – 78°F (22°C – 26°C)

Ideal pH Level

6.5 – 7.5 pH

Origin

Japan and Iceland

Care Level

Easy

Rooting and Placement

On the bottom of the tank, beneath other plants

Growth

Very slow

Conclusion

So, what is the best low light plant for an aquarium? The answer depends on many factors and your own personal choice. However, one of the Anubias or one of the Cryptocorynes would definitely be on my list.

There are many unique looking low light plants, and you can easily make your own choice.

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