LOW LIGHT AQUARIUM PLANTS
Nothing makes an aquarium stand out quite like the simple fish tank plant, not only do they add spectacular flare, but they clean your water, provide oxygen to your tank and make your fish feel more at home. For some people (myself included) growing fish tank plants is just as much of a hobby as the fish are. The problem is aquatic plants have a bad reputation of being difficult to keep alive, let alone grow.
Well I am here to tell you that, while that can be true, some plants are very fussy, this is not the case for all. Low light aquarium plants are extremely hardy and easy to care for. In fact it's downright difficult to kill most of them as long as you keep them under the water! Here are a list of the 5 most popular low light aquarium plants:
Anubias (Anubias spp.)
This is by far my favorite low light aquarium plant nearly indestructible. Nicknamed "the plastic plant that grows" there are countless sub species of anubias ranging from very small to the very large and everything inbetween. There are also many different leaf shapes, variegations and some varieties even flower! Almost impervious to attack by tank inhabitants, thanks to its large, thick leaves. It can easily be propagated by dividing the rhizome, Anubias requires no substrate, simply attach it to a rock or some driftwood with some fishing line or cotton thread and within a month or two its roots will hold on tight. You can of cause plant it in substrate if you wish but it is important to not bury the rhizome as this will cause it to rot. Anubius will tolerate a wide range of lighting conditions from very low to very high and I have yet to find a temperature or pH range it has failed to thrive in.
Java Moss (Vesicularia Dubyana)
This low light aquarium plants is interesting due to the fact that it does not have any roots to speak of. If unanchored it will sink to the bottom of the tank and grow like a weed, even under the poorest conditions (no substrate, low light, no fertilizer) even so, it can look quite impressive. Java moss is best attached to a aquarium decoration in your tank, such as driftwood or a rock. To do so, simply tie it down with some fishing line or a rubber band to help support the plant while it gradually roots its self to an ornament.
Java Fern is an attractive and easy to care for fish tank plant that does not like to be placed in substrate but prefers to feed directly from the water column and will readily attach itself to rocks or driftwood. Best anchored with fishing line or cotton thread until it has developed a good grip. Java Fern has a moderate growth rate and a very low light demand. It is reasonably slow-growing and requires almost no maintenance. Java Fern is also easy to propagate, simply snip-off a small section of the rhizome with clean scissors and you have a new plant!
There are many varieties of Cryptocoryne spp. The most popular amongst aquarists is the wendtii ‘Green’. Able to tolerate a range of water parameters and particularly low light. It is a very popular low light aquarium plant, and for good reason. Crypts thrive in low light conditions and will grow happily if provided with a nutritious substrate such as Red Sea Flora Base where it will multiply, spread, and grow some more! With so many varieties available there are a multitude of choices including green, brown or red. Even broad or narrow leafed forms are available. One thing to keep in mind though is that Crypts dislike being relocated once established and doing so will stunt their growth for some time. Potted crypts on the other hand don't seem to mind.
Commonly know as African water fern, Bolbitis heudelotii is defined by delicate dark green fern-like leaves up to 8" (20cm) and a slow creeping rhizome. Its prefers to be anchored to a orniment such as driftwood or a rock but can be planted directly into substrate if you prefer but like Anubius, burying the rhizome (thick horizontal stem the leaves protrude form) will cause it to rot. African water fern does well in a variety of light intensities from low to high and will do well in a low tech aquarium. Bolbitis Ferns greatly benefit from fair amount of water movement.
I hope this article helped and inspired you, a beautiful, lush, green planted aquarium can be achieved and enjoyed by anyone!
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