You can create a very beautiful aquascape by using low light carpet plants. If that is what you intend to do then you are in the right corner of the internet. This is because in this post I will share with you the very best low light carpet plants that you can grow in your aquarium to make it look brilliant.
So what exactly are carpet plants?
Carpet plants are aquarium plants you can plant in your gravel to carpet your fish tank with lush green leaves. They are perfect for creating the lawn effect in your tank. As the name suggests, carpet plants generally carpet the surrounding area; they do not grow upwards. Some of them do under certain conditions but the majority of them don’t.
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Carpet plants are the perfect alternatives to expensive, high-maintenance, and slow-growing aquarium plants that are commonly used in the fish keeping world.
The 15 best low light carpet plants
Among the live aquarium plants, Dwarf Sagittaria is widely regarded as a top 5 hardy plant. This is because it is very durable and can adapt to many conditions.
In terms of carpeting, it is a plant that carpets aquariums very nicely.
The best thing about this plant and the reason why I included it on this list is the fact that it grows pretty well in low light. In fact, it is low light that surprisingly makes it grow more rapidly; not high light.
Most aquarium experts and pet shop attendants will recommend this plant if you are looking for a live plant and you are new to the fish keeping hobby. This is because it is a low-maintenance and hardy plant. It is very difficult to fail to achieve success especially if you introduce it into a low light aquarium.
This underwater plant is indeed hardy because it can survive in a variety of conditions including high temperatures, low temperatures, high pH and low pH. This means that you can grow it in pretty much any fish tank.
This is an Australian aquarium carpeting plant. It is one of the best ones ever discovered. The best thing about this plant is its special propagation technique. Because the technique allows it to spread quickly and become lush green in double-quick time. The propagation technique is runner-based aka the growth is spread by runners.
A Marsile Hirsuta plant will stay green for a long time. However, as it ages, a couple of brown leaves may begin to appear. This is something that you should know about this low light carpet plant before buying it and installing it in your tank. However, you can obviously remove the brown leaves to make the whole carpet look green and cute.
In terms of looks, Marsilea Hirsuta is one of the best looking aquarium plants. Its leaves are very unique in the sense that they change from one shape to another as time goes by.
Normally, aquarists use this plant as a foreground carpet in their aquariums with taller or leafier plants in the background.
This is a brilliant aquarium carpet plant in the sense that it does not need a lot of care to grow and become lush green. It obviously does need a little light and some nutrients (CO2 and iron) every now and then. However, compared to other carpet plants, it is very low-maintenance.
The best advantage of having Staurogyne Repens as your aquarium carpet plant is the fact that it is very different from other carpet plants in terms of looks. It is low, bushy, light green, and absolutely perfect as a foreground plant because it spreads as a thick carpet.
Another advantage of having this plant as your aquarium carpet plant is the fact that it increases the level of oxygen in fish tanks. It also consumes ammonia and nitrates making tanks safer for fish and other critters. In short, it is a carpet plant that will gradually improve the health of your tank.
Sometimes people confuse this plant for Hygrophila because to the untrained eye, it somewhat looks like Hydrophila. However, Staurogyne Repens is more bushy and stocky and has smaller leaves than Hygrophila.
Pygmy Chain Swords
Pygmy Chain Swords are a special carpet plant. They are best known for how lush and dense they become after a short while. The best thing about this carpet plant is that it propagates quickly via runners. So it can quickly carpet your aquarium from glass to glass.
You can plant this carpet plant in two ways. You can go full submersion or partial submission. Whichever of the two ways you choose to plant it, it will grow and become quite leafy.
Pygmy Chain Swords are a low light plant. Otherwise, I couldn’t have included them on this list. However, while they do not need much in terms of light, they do need a substrate that is healthy and full of nutrients. This is the only way they will grow fast and carpet your tank in the best way possible.
Dwarf Hairgrass Carpet
Dwarf Hairgrass Carpet aka Needle Spikerush is a special carpet plant. It is native to specific regions in Asia, Europe, and the Americas, and it is special in the sense that it really looks like a grass and it spreads really nicely.
It also spreads or propagates through runners. Aquarists usually use this plant as a foreground plant. Please note that if you intend to carpet your aquarium with this carpet plant, you will need to fertilize your substrate. You will also need to make sure it is soft and not gravel-only. Moreover, you will need to make sure the carpet plant receives plenty of carbon dioxide (which it needs) but not too much to the extent where it causes toxicity and affects the pH of your aquarium water.
In my opinion, this carpet plant forms a very beautiful carpet where timid or shy fish can hide inside. Fish escaping from territorial or predatory fish can also hide in this carpet plant.
Christmas moss is a carpet plant that does not really like light; it needs low light to thrive. This is why it is found in shaded or low light areas in nature. Thus, if you are looking for a carpet plant that will not only survive but thrive in a low light aquarium, you should strongly consider it.
The best thing about this carpet plant is that it does not grow too fast. This means it does not need a lot of care and maintenance; you do not need to prune it frequently as it is often the case with most carpet plants. It also means you do not need to fret about it growing out of control in your tank.
Christmas moss looks slightly different from common low light aquarium carpet plants such as the grasses, mosses, and plants on this list. It looks like the bush of a bonsai tree and to me, it is quite attractive.
Eleocharis Parvula aka spikerush is a nice low-light carpeting plant. It grows slowly and stays low. This makes it perfect for those looking for a carpeting plant that does not need a lot of pruning or maintenance.
Many experienced aquarists find it very attractive as a foreground plant and usually practice a bit of spacing when growing it to provide space for nice spreading through runners.
One of the most unique things about this carpeting plant is that it is great for both big and small tanks. So regardless of the size of your tank, you can plant Eleocharis Parvula to make it more natural and attractive.
Native to Asia, this is one of the most beautiful and convenient plants for aquarium carpeting. I have said that it is one of the most beautiful because of its appearance. It grows horizontally and stays bushy and bunchy.
It looks very nice on the floor of aquariums, especially in the foreground. Despite being a bushy plant, the Pellia Liverwort does not need a lot of light. This makes it perfect for those who do not want to shine LED light for long periods on their aquariums for one reason or the other.
But while this plant does not need a lot of sunlight, it does need a lot of nutrients. You can give it nutrients by adding a bit of organic fertilizer to your substrate. If you do this, it will thrive in your set up.
In nature, Pellia Liverworts like areas that are nitrogen-rich. And since most aquariums are nitrogen-rich because of the ammonia excreted by fish and broken down into nitrates by filters, it means that this carpeting plant will automatically do well in most aquariums.
The most interesting thing about this plant is that it does not have roots, stems or leaves of any kind. It is kind of similar to algae and fungus. Instead of the traditional plant parts, it has a thallus (a body) and leaf-like structures.
This carpeting plant is native to Thailand where it is commonly found in riverbeds. And the thing that stands out the most about it is its appearance. It looks very attractive with its bright-green star-like leaves. Its star-like appearance has earned it the name Dao Noi in Thailand, which means little star.
Pogostemon Helferi normally does not grow very tall and, therefore, does not need a lot of maintenance. However, when being grown in a low light aquarium, it will tend to grow both horizontally and vertically. So you will need to prune it every now and then to maintain it.
This attractive carpeting plant is hardy and can survive in widely different water conditions. This is not surprising considering that the weather in Thailand is not really stable. However, that said, it prefers slightly acidic (high pH) aquarium water. So if you want it to thrive in your aquarium, you should give it water.
Pogostemon Helferi can be planted in two ways – via substrate planting and by tying it to rocks and other objects.
This is a bladderwort plant. It is native to Asia and it is usually found partly submerged in marshes. The best way to grow it is to tie it to a rock or an object underwater. When grown correctly, it can spread a nice across the length and width of your aquarium.
Unlike some of the other carpet plants I have listed and discussed on this list, this one is less dense. However, it spreads far and wide and it fantastic for creating a lawn-like feel.
The one thing you have to be careful about this plant is that it is carnivorous. It is, therefore, capable of eating very small fish. So if you are intending to keep a small fish species, you should probably consider another carpet plant and not it.
It is a plant that needs a good supply of CO2 to survive. This is something that you should keep in mind in case you decide to plant this plant.
Riccia Fluitans is a floating liverwort. It is not one of the most popular carpeting plants but it is steadily gaining popularity in the fish keeping world for the way it grows and spreads like a mat.
To make sure it grows like a mat, you should tie to objects at the bottom of your aquarium e.g. rocks and so on.
In nature, you will find this liverwort floating on ponds as a thick mossy mat. So if you grow it correctly, you can kind of come close to this. When your Riccia Fluitans plant is fully grown, it will become a great place for small fish species to hide or relax.
When you grow this plant in your aquarium, you will also have to introduce an algae eater. This is because an algal growth is likely to spell doom on your Riccia Fluitans carpet. However, with an algae eater in the mix, it is very unlikely that you will have an algae problem.
Many experienced aquarists grow duckweeds on Riccia Fluitans to make the mat of green more visually attractive.
Helanthium Tenellum aka Echinodorus Tenellus is one of the best low light carpeting plants you can grow in your aquarium. This is because it grows and spreads nicely. It is perfect to use in the foreground.
It usually needs good organic fertilizer to grow well and become lush. Without sufficient organic fertilizer, it will not really become dense or spread as expected.
This carpeting plant usually changes its appearance as time goes by. This makes it interesting and exciting to have.
Micranthemum ‘Monte Carlo’
Native to Argentina and other countries in South America, Micranthemum Monte-Carlo is a stunning and attractive low-light carpeting plant. It is a creeping plant that needs just a bit of everything to thrive; a bit of light, a bit of fertilizer, and a bit of CO2. And when it thrives in your aquarium, you will love how it will cover the gravel or substrate at the bottom of your aquarium.
This plant has a maximum height of two inches.
This carpeting plant is relatively popular in the fish-keeping world. This is because it forms a very nice lawn-like carpet. As time goes by, its pinnate leaves become more prominent and numerous resulting dense foliage.
Perhaps the best thing about this plant is the fact that it does not grow tall. Therefore, you do not really need to prune it often.
If you want to plant this carpet plant in your aquarium, you should keep in mind that it needs CO2 and good fertilizer regularly.
This is the last carpeting plant on my list. Its narrow leaves look nice and spread like a thick carpet. It is really one of the best plants for carpeting. When exposed to low lighting, it does not grow very tall and, therefore, will not need a lot of pruning.
This plant is appropriate for both big and small tanks.
Carpeting your aquarium can transform it from an ordinary aquarium into an extraordinary one. You just need to find the right carpeting plant for your aquarium and to take good care of it to transform your tank. Some of the carpeting plants you can use to transform your tank include the Christmas Moss, Sagitarria Subulata, and Marsilea Hirsuta. Choose the one that you like from the list of 15 above and use it to beautifully carpet your aquarium.