Low light plants? - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 5 Old 05-18-2012, 07:20 AM Thread Starter
Low light plants?

I'd like to dip my toe in plants without footing the bill for new lights. I thought my lighting was insufficient for plants as I have a standard (2) hood setup with only two 18", 15w, T8 GE Daylight 6500k florescent tubes in my 2 foot tall 60g tank. However, I 'planted' some of my floating anacharis in the gravel and they are growing just fine. This encourages me to try some other low light plants. I think amazon swords might work. What else might I try?

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post #2 of 5 Old 05-18-2012, 07:31 AM
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Java Fern and Anubias work very well under low light, in fact they must be shaded if lighting is too bright because algae will grow on their leaves otherwise.

Pygmy Chain Sword should work, it's a small version of Amazon Swords and can 'carpet' a tank since they are very prolific, but in low light they'll grow taller so you may or may not want that.

I've had Echinodorus amazonicus in a 20g tall with a single 18" T8 do very well. I got mine at Petsmart in the tubes, you get 2-4 in a tube and I think it was $5 or so. Those are the emersed form though, so the leaves will die off as new ones grow from the center of the crown so don't get discouraged thinking it's dying. It isn't, just switching to submerged leaves.

I was also able to grow Wisteria, but it was very slow starting. Stem plants usually need at least moderate light, but some can do okay under low.

Basic crypts (Cryptocoryne wendtii) can work well under low light too. These can be finicky though, they can 'melt' after planting/moving them (and any number of other reasons) but they usually will spring back.

If you have medium-hard to hard water Vals work well. They will not last long in soft water though.
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post #3 of 5 Old 05-18-2012, 07:38 AM
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Forgot to mention floating plants. Even under 'low' light, for them, it's more like bright lighting since they are right up next to them. Plus they have access to air, which is much easier to get CO2 from.

Brazilian Pennywort, Water Sprite, Amazon Frogbit, and Dwarf Water Lettuce are all good choices. Amazon Frogbit though can be finicky. It comes and goes, I personally haven't had good luck with it.
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post #4 of 5 Old 05-18-2012, 07:42 AM
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And one more... I have bacopa caroliniana and it has done well in the 20 gallon also. This is another stem plant.

With stem plants, especially in low light tanks, it isn't unusual for the bottom half of the stem to become barren (the leaves will die off). The plant will only keep the upper leaves where the light is brighter. It can be hard, I hear, even in high light tanks to keep the entire stem full of leaves.

If you want to hide the bare stems, you can put a forground/midgroud plant or a decoration (driftwood, etc) in front of them.
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post #5 of 5 Old 05-18-2012, 10:05 AM
I happened upon this aquatic plant directory a while back. It's quite comprehensive, including pics, hardiness, water requirements, light requirements, etc. You should be able to find all kinds of listings to suit your tastes. Cheers!

Plant Finder - Encyclopedia of Aquarium Plants
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