Best Low Tech Carpet Plants For Your Aquarium [Easy To Grow]

Estimated read time 24 min read

Low Light Carpet Plants

Jump To Our List Click Here: Top 12 Low Light Aquarium Carpet Plants

When done right, aquarium carpet plants can make any aquarium look amazing. Unlike most plants, they grow horizontally, covering the bottom of a tank. This often creates a great foreground effect in aquariums, allowing for fish to stand out making their color pop.

Carpet plants also offer an alternative to floating or vertically growing plants in their aquarium.

Picking out the right carpet plant for your aquarium is certainly tough, especially when trying to select the right plants for beginnersAdditionally, your Aquarium Lighting will affect every plant differently, with some plants thriving in low-light situations better than others.

To grow beautiful plants you’ll need good light. Here are some of our favorites;

Ultimately, there are a good variety of plants, grasses, and mosses that will do the trick in low-light aquariums.

Here, we’ll list a few of the most popular low-light aquarium carpet plant examples that get the job done!

Table of Contents

Essentials For Aquarium Carpet Plants

Are you new to the world of aquatic plants and looking for some low-maintenance options? Check out our list of best beginner aquarium plants that are easy to grow and care for. Click here to start your underwater garden journey and create a lush, green environment for your fish.

Top 12 Low Light Aquarium Carpet Plants

#1 Staurogyne Repens

Staurogyne Repens Tissue Cultured - Foreground Aquarium Plant
Buy Some S Repens

Growth Rate: Moderate
Max Height: 4in
Light Demand: Low
C02: Low

S Repens works well as a carpeting plant that beginners can handle. The occasional addition of nutrients is basically all that’s required. A little iron and CO2 go a long way.

Another benefit that S. repens brings is the fact that it looks a lot different from most carpeting plants. It’s light green, low, bushy nature, make it a great foreground plant that carpets thickly. Additionally, it has the ability to enhance oxygen levels in aquariums, as well as balance out tanks that are too nitrate-heavy, making it an effective tank maintenance plant.

It is often compared to Hygrophila. However, one of the main differences is how stocky and bushy the S. repens is. It’s leaves, more specifically, are much smaller than that of the Hygrophila. This is especially the case when comparing aquarium grown versions of each plant.

Maintenance often includes the pruning of the tallest shoots. This gives you the chance to both maintain the height of an S. repens, and to replant these shoots to further spread your carpet.

#2 Dwarf Sagittaria

10+ Dwarf Sagittaria Subulata Loose Aquatic Live Aquarium Plants BUY2GET1FREE
Buy Some Dwarf Sagittaria

Growth Rate: Moderate
Max Height: 16in
Light Demand: Low-Medium
C02: None

Dwarf sag is one of the most durable, hardy plants in the aquarium trade. It carpets nicely and thrives in low light. In fact, low light will actually help promote growth.

Dwarf Sagittaria is often recommended to folks who are new to the hobby. So you can probably guess by now, that it’d be hard to fail when introducing dwarf Sagittaria to your low-light aquarium.

Dwarf Sagittaria has been described as a “bulletproof” plant, that has even been seen to survive in freezing or frosty conditions. It’s famously non-demanding about the temperature of a tank, although most aquarists keep it at around 72-82° Fahrenheit. It even has the ability to do well in non-nutritious substrate, although this, of course, is not recommended.

For the most part, dwarf Sagittaria is found in the background of aquariums, due to its height and lengthy leaf structure.

#3 Pygmy Chain Swords

1 Echinodorus Tenellus in Tissue Culture Live Aquarium Plants Pygmy Chain Sword
Buy Some Pygmy Chain Swords

Growth Rate: Moderate. In a nutrition rich environment, the pygmy chain sword will carpet better and grow quicker. High-end fertilizers are a plus.
Max Height: 6in
Light Demand: Low-Moderate
C02: None

Pygmy chain swords are known for their dense carpeting. They propagate by sending out runners horizontally, allowing for efficient, natural carpeting.

Pygmy chain swords also give you options as to how to plant them. Partial submersion is okay with them. Your traditional full submersion planting will also work.

Pygmy chain swords are known for being very leafy, and this is because their petioles (the stalk between the stem and leaf) are virtually non-existent. Unlike the hardier dwarf Sagittaria, pygmy chain swords require a healthy substrate that is brimming with nutrients.

#4 Needle Spikerush Or Dwarf Hairgrass CarpetGreenpro Dwarf Hairgrass Live Aquarium Plants Tissue Culture Cup Freshwater Fish Tank Decorations

Buy Some Dwarf Hairgrass Carpet

Growth Rate: Moderate.
Max Height: 6in
Light Demand: Low-Moderate
C02: None

Needle Spikerush or Dwarf Hairgrass produces long leaves that appear similar to grass in structure. It is native to the Americas, and some places in Europe and Asia. Although it is found in Australia, botanists generally agree that it existed there as a non-native, introduced plant species.

It spreads through the use of runners and covers distance well. Typically, it’s used in the foreground of an aquarium, and can be partially submerged. They do best in a well-fertilized substrate, that is soft in texture.

As it grows, the plant forms small flowers that are commonly described as being spike-like. These occur near the stem tips and are usually only a tad over 4 cm in diameter.

Naturally, the Needle Spikerush is a wetlands plant often found in bogs, and aquarium conditions that seek to emulate this are highly favored. This usually means that it will do best in aquariums with a high carbon dioxide content.

#5 Marsilea Hirsuta

Tropica Marsilea hirsuta Live Aquarium Plant - in Vitro Tissue Culture 1-2-Grow!
Buy Some Marsilea Hirsuta

Growth Rate: Moderate.
Max Height: 7in
Light Demand: Low
C02: Minimal

Marsilea Hirsuta is one of the best Australian carpeting plants available. It’s runner-based propagation technique, allows it to carpet a tank over, in a fairly short amount of time.

This growth, through the spread of runners, is known for being extremely dense and efficient. As it matures, some brown leaves do have the tendency to appear, so this may be something to keep in mind if the color is a major factor with your carpet. These brown leaves are often mistaken as being dead leaves, which is not the case.

It’s not lacking in the looks department either, with leaves that somewhat resemble four-leaf clovers. Realizing that it’s leaf design will change over time.

They will often morph into the form of single leaves or three-lobed leaves. You will typically see these plants in the foreground of aquariums, with perhaps longer, leafier, aquarium grass-like plants or vertical non-creepers in the background.

#6 Christmas Moss

Wild Christmas Moss in Loose Form --- Easy to Grow Live Plant for Aquarium - Lush, Green Moss for Decor - Create Moss Wall or Moss Carpet - Soft, Comforting for Fish - Food Source for Fry & Shrimps
Buy Some Christmas Moss

Growth Rate: Slow
Max Height: 4in
Light Demand: Low
C02: Necessary. Christmas moss also does well with liquid fertilization.

Christmas moss can be used for carpeting and is found naturally in shaded environments, making it great for low-light aquariums.

Over time, it produces small shoots, similar to that of branches, making it slightly different in appearance than some of the other common carpeting plants, mosses, and grasses found on this list.

It’s also fairly slow growing, so you shouldn’t have to prune it as often as other carpeting plants, or worry about it taking over your tank.

#7 Pellia Liverwort

Liverworts - Pellia?

Growth Rate: Slow
Max Height: 4in
Light Demand: Low
C02: Necessary.

Pellia Liverwort is another slow-growing plant that grows in a horizontal, carpeting style. It is native to East Asia and enjoys low-light.

Making use of organic fertilizers that increase nitrogen levels, will amplify the growth of Pellia Liverworts. Outside of aquariums, this plant is almost always found in nitrogen-rich, human-inhabited locations. Aquarium conditions that mimic humid, subtropical environments, are usually perfect for this carpet plant.

Although it’s often grown above the surface, it is seen frequently underwater, due to weight. Unlike most plants, it does not contain leaves, stems, branches or roots of any kind. This is because of having a thallus, which serves as a body, and actually makes it somewhat similar to a fungus or algae.

In terms of looks, this gives it a robust, bunchy style. Like other sinkers, it will need to be tied to something, in order for a healthy carpet to then grow. You can also safely tuck it underneath an object, such as a piece of driftwood.

#8 Dwarf Spikerush (Eleocharis Parvula)

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Buy Some Dwarf Spikerush

Growth Rate: Rapid
Max Height: 4in
Light Demand: Low
C02: Minimal

Dwarf Spikerush stays nice and low as it grows, allowing for somewhat maintenance-free carpeting. Aquarists often keep it bunched together in the foreground of a tank, with little space between each plant.

It grows from the parent out, through the use of runners. It’s seen in aquariums of all sizes, but one of the main things they usually all have in common is low lighting.

#9 Pogostemon Helferi

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Buy Some Pogostemon Helferi

Growth Rate: Moderate
Max Height: 6in
Light Demand: Low-Medium
C02: None

The Pogostemon Helferi is a small Thai plant that is low growing, with curly bright green leaves that look like stars. It is often found in riverbeds, and Thai people refer to it as “Dao Noi” which translates to “Little Star”.

As with many carpeting plants, lower lighting levels will cause it to grow taller, so regular pruning will most likely be necessary.

It’s considered a very durable, hardy plant, especially as it’s natural Thai weather conditions are somewhat unstable. But with that said, acidic tank conditions are usually preferred by the Pogostemon Helferi.

In addition to normal substrate planting, it can also be tied to and then grown from objects, such as rocks.

#10 Riccia Fluitans

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Buy Some Riccia Fluitans

Growth Rate: Moderate
Max Height: 2in
Light Demand: Low-Medium
C02: Necessary

Riccia Fluitans, also known as floating Cystalwort, is being used as a carpeting plant more and more frequently in aquariums. Although it’s naturally a floating liverwort, it will grow underwater when completely submerged, and aquarists can tie it to objects so that it then grows as a mat.

Outside of aquariums, it is often found on the top of ponds, forming thick green mossy mats. These often serve as a great hiding place for young fish. Be sure to manage the hair algae in your aquarium, or it can easily destroy a carpet of Riccia Fluitans.

At the surface, Riccia Fluitans usually doesn’t compete well with other plants, but if used as a carpet it does fine. You can always add some duckweeds on top, to further accent the visuals in your low light carpet aquarium.

#11 Utricularia GraminifoliaSubstrateSource Utricularia graminifolia Live Aquarium Plant - in Vitro Tissue Culture

Buy Some Utricularia Graminifolia

Growth Rate: Moderate
Max Height: 4in
Light Demand: Low-Medium
C02: Necessary

The Utricularia Graminifolia is an Asian bladderwort plant. Naturally, it will be found partially submerged in marshy locations. But like Riccia Fluitans, it can be tied to objects underwater, and then be used to carpet an aquarium.

In appearance it’s very grassy, leading to a less dense, but fitting carpet. It’s definitely one of the best choices for aquarists looking for a lawn-like carpet.

Unlike most plants on this list, it is carnivorous. It mostly feeds upon insects and is definitely not the type of carpeting plant that can be simply left to grow. It has moderate CO2 needs, and “Utricularia” is the name given for the plants many trapping locations.

#12 Helanthium Tenellum

Helanthium tenellum 'Broad Leaf' / Echinodorus tenellum 'Broad Leaf' -TOP Rarity - Tissue Culture in Vitro Live Aquarium Plant Shrimp Safe & Snail Free
Buy Some Helanthium Tenellum

Growth Rate: Slow
Max Height: 8in
Light Demand: Low
C02: Small amounts of CO2 can be helpful

In the interest of avoiding confusion, the Helanthium Tenellum has also been known as “Echinodorus Tenellus”. It is a very easy foreground grow, and is a flowering plant native to the United States. Other than using some nutrient-rich plant fertilizers, this plant is known for being relatively foolproof.

As it matures, the Helanthium Tenellum will change in appearance dramatically. This is seen for the most part in the petiole, which will go from hard to find to up to 4 centimeters in length as the plant grows.

They eventually become longer than the leaves themselves. The curved stem on the plant has the potential to grow up to 8 inches in length.

Best Low Tech Carpet Plants For Your Aquarium

Aquarium enthusiasts understand the importance of creating a vibrant underwater ecosystem, and carpet plants play a pivotal role in achieving this. These low-profile wonders not only enhance the aesthetic appeal of your aquarium but also provide a habitat for small fish and other aquatic life. In this article, we’ll explore the best options for low tech carpet plants, offering an overview of key contenders and insights into their care. But before diving into the lush world of aquatic greenery, it’s essential to understand the basics.

A. Importance of Carpet Plants in Aquariums

Carpet plants are the unsung heroes of aquariums. They create a natural habitat for your aquatic pets, mimicking the environment they would encounter in the wild. These plants also help combat algae growth by competing for nutrients, making your aquarium healthier and more visually appealing.

B. The Appeal of Low Tech Aquarium Setups

While high-intensity lighting and complex CO2 systems can yield stunning results, low-tech setups offer a simpler and more accessible approach to aquascaping. They require minimal equipment and are perfect for beginners or hobbyists seeking a more hands-off approach to aquarium maintenance.

C. Overview of Key Carpet Plant Options

When it comes to selecting the best carpet plants for your low-tech aquarium, there are several excellent choices to consider. Let’s delve into the top contenders:

1. Java Moss

Java moss, with its delicate appearance and tiny leaves, is a favorite among aquarium enthusiasts. It thrives in a wide range of water parameters and lighting conditions, making it a great addition to any low-tech tank.

2. Dwarf Baby Tears (Hemianthus callitrichoides)

Known for its dense carpet and tiny leaves, dwarf baby tears create a captivating underwater landscape. These plants are not only visually appealing but also suitable for low-tech aquariums, requiring moderate lighting.

3. Glossostigma elatinoides

If you’re looking for aesthetic appeal and a unique growth pattern, glossostigma elatinoides should be on your radar. While it demands bright lights, it can thrive in low-tech setups with the right care.

4. Lilaeopsis brasiliensis

For those seeking a fast-growing plant that’s low maintenance, lilaeopsis brasiliensis is an excellent choice. Its adaptability makes it suitable for low-tech aquariums, providing a lush carpet with minimal effort.

5. Flame Moss (Taxiphyllum ‘Flame’)

With its striking appearance and compatibility with low-tech conditions, flame moss offers a unique option for aquascapers. Proper care is essential to achieve optimal results with this plant.

D. Setting the Stage: Understanding Water Parameters and Light Requirements

Before selecting your carpet plants, it’s crucial to comprehend the significance of water parameters and light intensity in your aquarium. Different plants have varying needs, and tailoring your setup to meet these requirements is the key to success.

Choosing the Best Carpet Plants

A. The Top Contenders

Now, let’s dive deeper into each of the top contenders and learn about their characteristics and care.

1. Java Moss

Java moss is a versatile plant with a unique growth pattern. Its ability to thrive in a variety of conditions, including low-tech setups, makes it a popular choice among aquarists. This hardy plant can be attached to driftwood or rocks, creating a natural, mossy look in your aquarium. Provide it with enough light and proper care, and it will form a lush green carpet at the bottom of the tank.

2. Dwarf Baby Tears (Hemianthus callitrichoides)

Characterized by its tiny leaves and dense carpet formation, dwarf baby tears offer an excellent choice for aquascapers. These plants are adaptable to low-light conditions, making them a perfect fit for low-tech setups. To ensure their success, maintain a nutrient-rich substrate and provide adequate lighting.

3. Glossostigma elatinoides

Glossostigma elatinoides is prized for its aesthetic appeal, especially when arranged in a grid pattern. While it demands bright lights, it can still thrive in low-tech tanks with moderate lighting. Properly trim and maintain this plant to create a stunning carpet effect in your aquarium.

4. Lilaeopsis brasiliensis

If you’re looking for a fast-growing plant that requires special carelilaeopsis brasiliensis is an excellent choice. It adapts well to low-tech aquariums and can quickly form a dense carpet. Provide it with the right conditions, including a nutrient-rich substrate, and watch it flourish.

5. Flame Moss (Taxiphyllum ‘Flame’)

Flame moss stands out with its unique appearance and compatibility with low-tech setups. To achieve the best results, anchor it to rocks or driftwood. This plant may require additional attention in terms of fertilization strategies to ensure it thrives in your aquarium.

Carpet Plants for Low-Tech Setups

A. Understanding Low Tech Tanks

Low-tech aquariums are characterized by their simplicity. They involve minimal equipment, low light intensity, and nutrient considerations. This makes them an excellent choice for aquarists seeking a more hands-off approach to their hobby.

B. Choosing the Right Carpet Plants

When selecting carpet plants for your low-tech aquarium, consider the following factors:

1. Small Leaves and Low Light Tolerance

In low-tech setups, smaller plants with low light requirements are your best bet. These plants are less demanding and can thrive with minimal intervention.

2. Root Systems and Water Column Nutrients

A nutrient-rich substrate is essential for the growth of carpet plants. Their root systems rely on these nutrients to establish and create a dense carpet. Additionally, some plants may benefit from supplemental nutrients added to the water column.

3. Maintenance Tips for Low-Tech Aquariums

Low-tech aquariums are designed to be low-maintenance, but regular upkeep is still necessary. Regularly trim and monitor your carpet plants to prevent overgrowth and maintain a healthy environment.

Planting Techniques for a Dense Carpet

A. Establishing a Grid Pattern

To create a dense carpet in your aquarium, consider planting your chosen carpet plants in a grid pattern. This not only enhances the visual appeal but also allows for better light penetration, promoting healthy growth.

B. Plant Spacing and Arrangement

Proper spacing and arrangement of your carpet plants are crucial. Follow the recommendations for each plant species to ensure they have enough room to grow and form a lush carpet.

C. Encouraging Healthy Growth

To encourage healthy growth, you may need to consider supplemental CO2 and fertilization strategies tailored to your low-tech setup. These measures can make a significant difference in the appearance and vitality of your carpet plants.

Other Considerations

A. Compatibility with Small Fish

Carpet plants not only enhance the beauty of your aquarium but also provide a suitable habitat for small fish and aquatic creatures. The dense cover created by these plants offers shelter

and safety to your underwater companions.

B. Ideal Conditions and Water Parameters

Maintaining ideal conditions and appropriate water parameters is essential for the success of your carpet plants. Pay attention to factors like temperature, pH, and water hardness to ensure they thrive.

C. Replicating Natural Habitats

For a more authentic look, consider replicating the natural habitats of your chosen carpet plants:

1. Brazilian Micro Sword (Lilaeopsis brasiliensis)

Originating from Brazil, the Brazilian micro sword thrives in environments resembling its natural habitat. Mimic the conditions of its native waters to achieve optimal growth.

2. Sagittaria Subulata

Sagittaria subulata is native to Sri Lanka. Replicating its natural environment in your aquarium will help it flourish.

3. Blyxa Japonica

To cultivate a healthy blyxa japonica, create conditions reminiscent of its native home in Asia.

D. American Shoreweed (Monosolenium tenerum) as an Alternative Choice

If you’re looking for an alternative to traditional carpet plants, consider American shoreweed (monosolenium tenerum). This plant, native to North America, can thrive in low-tech setups and offers a unique aesthetic appeal.

E. Hydrocotyle Japan: Grass-Like Beauty with Low Tech Needs

Hydrocotyle Japan is another fantastic option for aquarists seeking a grass-like plant with minimal care requirements. Native to Southeast Asia, it adds a touch of nature to your low-tech aquarium.


A. Recap of the Best Low-Tech Carpet Plants

In summary, Java mossdwarf baby tearsglossostigma elatinoideslilaeopsis brasiliensis, and flame moss are among the best choices for low-tech carpeting plants. Each offers its unique appeal and suitability for different aquarium conditions.

B. Achieving Optimal Results in Your Aquarium

To achieve the best results with carpet plants, it’s essential to provide the right conditions, including appropriate lighting, water parameters, and maintenance.

C. The Aesthetic Appeal and Benefits of Carpet Plants

Carpet plants not only enhance the aesthetic appeal of your aquarium but also create a healthier environment by competing with algae for nutrients.

D. Encouraging a Healthy Environment with Carpeting Plants

By choosing the right carpet plants and maintaining optimal conditions, you can create a thriving and visually stunning underwater ecosystem.

E. The Best Choices for Your Aquarium’s Unique Conditions

Select the carpet plants that best suit your aquarium’s specific conditions, whether it’s low light, minimal equipment, or specific water parameters.

Additional Resources

A. YouTube Videos for Visual Guidance

For visual guidance and inspiration, consider watching YouTube videos on aquascaping with carpet plants. Seeing these plants in action can help you plan and execute your own aquatic masterpiece.

B. Expert Tips and Advice for Low-Tech Aquarium Enthusiasts

Connect with fellow low-tech aquarium enthusiasts and experts for additional tips and advice on successfully incorporating carpet plants into your aquarium setup.

Does A Planted Aquarium Need A Filter?

When you have a lot of plants in your aquarium it helps keep the water clean. However, there are so many reasons why using a filter in your planted tank would still be recommended.

For example, even if you use some very basic canister filter media it will provide a little added benefit to the overall water quality in your tank. Better filtration, in the end, promotes better plant growth overall.

What are the best low light aquarium plants?

Many aquarium plants will do very well in low light conditions.

Here is a list of 12 great options:

  • Staurogyne Repens
  • Dwarf Sagittaria
  • Pygmy Chain Swords
  • Needle Spikerush Or Dwarf Hairgrass Carpet
  • Marsilea Hirsuta
  • Christmas Moss
  • Pellia Liverwort
  • Dwarf Spikerush (Eleocharis Parvula)
  • Pogostemon Helferi
  • Riccia Fluitans
  • Utricularia Graminifolia
  • Helanthium Tenellum

Do carpet plants need co2?

While CO2 is not required to grow carpet plants, it will definitely help grow healthy plants faster.

Carpets plants grow at the bottom of your tank in the substrate and are often the last plant to costume any available CO2 in your aquarium, so adding a source of C02 can be beneficial but not required.

Are you looking to upgrade your aquarium with a CO2 system? Our experts have researched and tested numerous products to bring you the best CO2 kit for aquariums. With our top picks, you can provide optimal conditions for your plants to thrive. Boost your aquarium’s appeal and promote lush plant growth now!

Final Thoughts On Low Light Carpet Plants

Carpeting an aquarium can be a fun process. There are several factors to keep in mind as you go about your carpeting. Although this isn’t true for every plant, generally, carpeting plants tend to grow taller under low-lighting conditions.

This is because they are essentially reaching for their source of nutrition, resulting in a thinner, less bushy carpet. So, with that said, if a bushy thick carpet is what you’re after, you may have to make adjustments in your aquarium depending on the plant.

Having a nutrient-filled substrate is another important factor. It’s easy to underestimate how much nutrition a carpeting plant draws from the substrate. Substrates such as garden soil, for example, will often serve as the perfect nutritional base to grow a complete carpet.

Lastly, trimming will help you achieve that next-level carpet. By trimming some of the taller stems and then replanting them, you can easily thicken up your carpet, and in the process level your carpet out to give it a better appearance. By lopping off some of the taller stems, it also encourages a plant to adapt horizontally in the future.

With all of this in mind, you should be well on your way to providing your aquarium with beautiful carpeting!

Want more info?

Watch and learn how to plant and grow aquarium carpet plants.


Easy Low Light Carpet Plants For Beginner Aquariums _ Fast Growing

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