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Light Requirements of Aquarium Plants

Sufficient light is one of the main things often lacking in an aquarium that has not been specifically set up for plants. Different plants will require different amounts of light to thrive. The list below categorises some of the more commonly available plants in general groups based on their light requirements.

Low-moderate - These plants should grow ok with only standard aquarium lighting, i.e. one fluorescent tube, although some will grow better with more light.
Anubias species
Cryptocoryne species (most)
Echinodorous species - Amazon swords (some)
Microsorium pteropus (Java Fern)
Vesicularia dubyana (Java Moss)
Bright - These plants will require additional lighting to thrive, i.e. at least one additional fluorescent tube, or T5 lighting.
Aponogeton species
Ceratopteris thalictroides (Indian fern)
Crinum species
Egeria densa (Waterweed)
Hygrophila difformis (Water wisteria)
Hygrophila polysperma (Giant/green/Indian Hygrophila)
Lilaeopsis species
Limnophila species
Ludwigia species
Myriophyllum species
Nesaea species
Nymphaea stellata (Water lily)
Pogostemon species
Rotala species
Sagittaria species
Vallisneria species
Very Bright - These plants will require strong lighting, i.e. at least 1-2 additional fluorescent tubes, preferably high light tubes with reflectors (particularly important for deeper tanks). The bright lighting required is much easier to achieve with high-intensity T5 tubes, rather than standard (T8) tubes.
Bacopa species
Cabomba species
Rotala macrandra

Many low-growing carpeting plants, such as Glossostigma and Hemianthus, also require very bright lighting to thrive.





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