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Easy aquarium plants for beginners

“Easy” in the planted tank hobby should mean less work, not less beautiful. This is especially true where Aquarium plants are concerned. There is quite a list of beautiful aquarium plants for beginners, which, if placed properly in planted tanks, can become the focal point of the whole display. Although “Easy” means less work, it does not mean you can neglect it. 


There are different criteria to be met for live aquarium plants to be considered "easy". Aquarium plants for beginners should only require moderate lighting. Beginner aquarium plants should not be picky on substrates either, and they should not require CO2 injection although carbon dioxide supplementation really is beneficial to all freshwater aquarium plants. The plant should not be demanding when it comes to nutrients.Not only should the plant survive in an environment devoid of all the aforementioned, but it should also thrive.  Although there are many e.g. liquid fertilizers in the market, the less we spent, the more we save in our pockets.

The term Hi-tech is given to planted aquariums with CO2 injection or supplementation. These tanks usually have high-powered proper lighting and fast-growing plants. Low-Tech is given to planted aquariums without any CO2 supplementation. These tanks require low lighting, just enough for the plants to do photosynthesis. How much is enough light though? The old method was to provide 1 watt of light per gallon. Nowadays due to the surge of LED lights which provide brighter illumination compared to their wattage, you should have to measure it in lumens. 15-25 lumens of 6500-7200 K color temperature per liter should do it. If the terms get confusing check the packaging for of the light. It is indicated there. 

 Most plants on the following list are what we call a low light plant, and due to that factor, almost every aquarium plant on this list is a slow growing plant. However, with proper care, they will become as beautiful as the other plants that require CO2. Ok, let's finally present you the list of best aquarium plants for beginners!


Anubias Barteri "Nana"

This plant is arguably the most famous of all plants that belong to the low-tech group. The reason being is that these are low light plants and require very little light and very little care to thrive and stay beautiful. This plant would be a perfect focal point or perfect for accenting driftwoods and rocks given that it does not need substrate to flourish. It only needs to be attached to a piece of wood or rock. In fact, the plant will die if you plant it on a substrate. The rhizomes need to be exposed to water else they will melt. Being middle zone or foreground plants, the best position would be right in the central area and slightly towards the front.


Java Fern

Like the Anubias family, Java fern nowadays has a lot of varieties. Some are more sensitive than others but they all share one common factor. All java fern varieties can thrive in low light which makes them an excellent beginner plant. Like the Anubias family as well, Java fern have rhizomes that rot when planted in the substrate. Tie or glue these plants on driftwood or rocks. The elongated leaves of this aquatic plant make them a great mid ground plant. Attached to hardscape high enough can also make them perfect background plants too. Some variants of this plant would be the Narrow Leaf, Windelov, Trident, and the Philippine Java Fern.


Dwarf Sag

This is probably the most common carpeting plant for the low-tech planted aquarium. This live aquarium plant will stay small in a low-light tank with no co2. They create a carpet effect easily and would grow on any substrate. Bigger tanks would give them wider space to show off their carpeting abilities. One curious aspect of the plants that are currently available is that when provided with co2 and bright light, the grass-like leaves grow taller. The plant does lose the carpet-like appearance but the brighter conditions produce rapid growth.


Amazon Sword

Although a bit big for most aquascapes, the Amazon Sword is by all accounts the king of the mid-ground plants. A robust plant and the ideal plant for a large aquatic garden. It has no problems thriving in low light conditions. The Amazon Sword is one of the most common Aquatic plants available at your local fish store.


Pygmy Chain Sword

These small sword plants can be planted in clumps to create contrast against the tall plants in your aquarium. They could also act as carpeting plants larger tanks. CO2 is appreciated but not necessary. These plants thrive on both low light or hi-light. Do not confuse with Brazillian Microsword as the latter is a lot more sensitive when it comes to lighting.


Cryptocoryne Wendtii

Cryptocorynes have been a mainstay in this hobby for quite some time. It was one of the first aquatic plants to be commonly used in the aquarium. The elongated leaves form rosettes of brown. New leaves of the plant when introduced to brighter conditions show off a pinkish color. Best considered midground plants and used in larger aquariums for optimum results.

Ludwigia Repens

This is one of the 2 stem plants included on this list, although there are dozens of stem plants that can thrive in low CO2 & low lighting aquariums. The reason is due to this plant's unique ability to change its leaf color according to the light it receives. That's the reasons why Ludwigia Repens is often used as a background aquarium plant. It throws out dark green when under low lighting. Adjust the light a bit and it will readily give light green to yellowish leaves. Putting the plant under medium lighting or even high light will give red leaves. The good thing about it is light varies in intensity on different levels of the tank. The plant could have green leaves when it is still low, light green leaves in the middle, and red leaves as it reaches the top. That's why this attractive plant would make for a very colorful background plant itself. If you want to read more about this beautiful, colorful plant, look into our other article HERE about the Ludwigia mini sp. super red!



These tiny leaf stem plants are pretty hardy. Thse aquatic plants do require a bit of medium lighting to thrive and risking a little more light will be well worth it. This plant is perfect as shrubs in your planted tank. Under the right conditions, you will see optimal growth but this does mean you need to constantly trim the leaves. This will work as an advantage in the end, as the plant can then be shaped into anything that your imagination and skill dictate. In high light and with CO2 injection, Pearlweed can even become a very lush carpeting plant. With neglect, it will become a menace as it will easily take over an aquarium.


Java Moss

Many experienced aquarists would say that once you get the Java Moss in your tank there is no getting it out. That is a testament to how hardy and prolific Java Moss grows. It will survive a variety of conditions but will thrive in low light aquariums and even some medium-light setups too. Tie this moss to driftwood or rocks to make for a more natural and aged feel in your planted tank. Once established Java moss will need constant trimming to keep it in place. This aquarium plant is invasive. It will try to choke other plants out if given the chance. It will even get into filters and small crevices in the scape. If you're into moss as much as we are, visit our blog about Christmas Moss or How to set up a mossarium!

The key to succeeding in a Low-Tech planted tank lies in the least discussed aspect of this hobby-the temperature (26-30 degrees Celsius). Get the water temperature right and fewer problems will be encountered. 

Regular weekly water changes of 30% - 70% should be carried out to keep the best water quality... regularly!