Can aquatic plants live without light?


Fish Crazy
Jul 8, 2022
Reaction score
I wanted live plants for my new tank, but I don't have a fish tank light yet. Would adding the plants before having light hurt them? They can survive in the store without fish tank lighting. I've had to have my other planted tank light off for going on vacation as I didn't want an algae bloom. If I do get live plants now, they won't be in complete darkness as there's the room light and sunlight but no direct light on the tank.
Java ferns, anubias, moss, whatever's in stock.
Just like fish, different plants need different conditions. You need to research the plants and their requirements before buying them. Make sure that the light you are getting is sufficient for the plants. You cant just buy "whatevers in stock".
Those are all fine without light for a short period. They are low light low tech plants to begin with. Would be preferable to allow them some natural sunlight from a window until you can buy lighting.
i had anubias thrive under filtered natural light for like a year
edit: and marimos,
but with stem plants, lighting is almost a must, unless you have super strong natural lighting
I don't have a light hood on my tank and it is doing just fine, it all depends on how much natural light your tank gets.
Over the years I must have spent/wasted £100s on plants that faded away or just didn't grow as wanted.
I now have tanks that have been given more thought to what plants work best in them, as each has some differences in water and lighting.
Apart from the stem plants that seem to reach for the sky with little if any mid-water leaves, they are mostly doing very well.
My 1st "proper" light with multi spectrum control is the Chihiros Vivid 2 and that particular tank is a mass of good plants on substrate and wooden scapes.
I say to forget plants until you get a good light then really consider the plants you prefer to put in the tank.
Look at it this way - If you applied the same consideration to choosing your fish, it would mean you are just buying them and plopping them in the tank without, say, a heater or filter, but with the intention of getting them later.
Plants are living organisms and should be given the same sort of respect as the fish.
Hold back, Save for a proper light then get the plants,
Oh, Proper lights. I mean those with a decent spectrum and those with auto on/off and dimming. You can buy the auto on/off dimmers seperately to use with most lights as well. Cheap as chips.
I would say say stop and think longer term. We aquarists are an impulsive bunch.

I made the decision years ago that I was going a lot of aquariums. I've never been rich, so I had to do that within a budget.I don't believe a tank is fully equipped unless it has plants.
My solution has been to target plants with low light needs, just as I would if I had a shaded garden. The result has been heavily planted tanks that please me and would draw a shrug from a tech tank person. Lots of Anubias (which the Australians say is a garden plant!), Bolbitis, Java ferns, mosses, and Cryptocoryne wendtii. The initial cost of low light plants is higher, but they thrive more easily.
I also have Vallisneria americana, 2 types of Elodea, and guppy grass. There are similar plants that need different water than my tap provides. You have to experiment.

It has taken me a long time to get this going, and since I moved in the winter, it will take me a long time to get my tanks back to where I want them to be. Don't rush. If it takes a while to get equipped, take a while. Consider that for many lower light plants like java ferns, a room lamp on a timer will do. Plants need light, but not necessarily hood lights. Desk lamps with LED bulbs have grown some good plants here, as long as the plants were chosen as carefully as fish should be.

Most reactions