Best Carpet Plants for Aquarium Without CO2: Growing Tips

Although the definition of the aquarium has changed today as it is no longer a simple water tank with added toys. These days, aquarists or hobbyists are more passionate about it and focus more on creating aesthetic beauty. To serve the purpose, the role of carpet plants is undeniable as they form luxury-looking green plants that resemble carpets.

What Is A Carpeting Plant?

A carpeting plant is mainly used for creating lush ground in water tanks. This makes the aquarium look more striking and alluring.

To put it simply, a few aquatic plants are placed in the water tank, and they thrive, forming an alluring floor in the aquarium that looks like a carpet. Hence, they look similar to carpets.

In addition to that, the carpet plants require suitable conditions to grow. Adequate light, CO2, flow, temperature, and the right proportion of nutrition are the prime components for growing carpet plants.

Carpet plants are delicate and can only thrive if appropriate conditions are provided. Besides, if they are grown properly, they can add aesthetic beauty to the aquarium. And as they cover the tank’s ground, they aid in recognizing the vibrant colors of fish and thus help fishes stand out in the water tank.

Apart from that, experts recommend paying attention to the flow of the water in the substrate and plants for their growth.

Now, moving on to the benefits of carpet plants. Are they only used to add a charismatic look in the aquarium?

Apart from lending an appealing look, a carpet plant is useful for various species as they can use it as their hiding place or even food. For instance, shrimp and fry use carpet plants to hide from other species and have them as their food. That is why if you have shrimps or any other species in the water tank, you have to have lush greenery carpet to provide their natural habitat.

The best carpet plants do not require CO2 as a supplement and grow without it. We shall discuss the names later on.

Best Carpet Plants For Aquarium Without CO2

So far, we have discussed the meaning and significance of carpet plants. If you are a beginner, it is hard to choose the right carpet plants for your aquarium. Although some plants require low light to grow, some thrive without CO2.

So, let’s talk about some of the best carpet plants for aquariums without CO2.

#1  Dwarf Sag (Sagittaria Subulata)

  • Scientific name: Sagittaria subulata
  • Origin: South America and the Caribbean coast.
  • Growth rate: Fast
  • Max height: 12 inches(30 centimeters)
  • CO2: Not required, but it can be preferred
  • Light condition: Low to moderate
  • Care level: Easy

First, we would talk about the Dwarf Sag, and it comes in the list first as it is beginner-friendly, and if taken care of properly, this plant can go long. This hardy plant can survive without fertilized substrate as well. Besides, Dwarf Sag requires low to moderate light to thrive. In fact, in its proper light condition, it can grow up to 12 inches.

This plant can survive almost every water condition. And it is suitable for hard water, alkaline water, and brackish water, and the plant does not need CO2 to grow.

#2  Dwarf Chain Swords (Echinodorus Tenellus)

  • Scientific name: Echinodorus tenellus
  • Origin: North, Central, and South America
  • Growth rate: Fast
  • Max height: 4 inches (10 centimeters)
  • CO2: Not required but can be preferred
  • Light condition: Moderate to high
  • Care level: Easy

The Dwarf Chain Swords is similar to the Dwarf Sag, and this carpet plant is preferred for many hobbyists because of its easy care method and alluring look. This plant does not require much to grow except moderate to high light conditions and fertilized substrate.

Moreover, Dwarf Chain Swords or Pigmy Chain Swords can form a thick grass in the bottom of your water tank if it is provided enriched nutritional conditions. This plant can spread naturally while sending the runners out horizontally. Another striking feature of this plant is it can thrive in different water conditions when it gets an appropriate environment.

#3  Needle Spikerush Or Dwarf Harigrass (Eleocharis Acicularis)

  • Scientific name: Eleocharis acicularis
  • Origin: America, Europe, Asia, and Australia
  • Growth rate: Fast
  • Max height: 10 inches (25 centimeters)
  • CO2: Not recommended
  • Light condition: Moderate to high
  • Care level: Moderate

Dwarf Harigrass is similar to the Needle Spikerush, a perfect carpet plant for the freshwater water tank. This plant prefers moderate to high lighting conditions, and it grows quickly if the fertilized substrate is used and CO2 provided; however, CO2 is not recommended much for this carpet plant.

As this plant grows fast, it can form greenery grass in the water tank, and it is needed to trim once a week to avoid excessive growth. Besides, experts do not recommend this carpet plant for small size water tanks like 10 0r 20 gallons as it can cover other plants too.

#4  Marsilea Hirsuta Or Bristly Water Cloves

  • Scientific name: Marsilea hirsuta
  • Origin: Australia
  • Growth rate: Medium
  • Max height: 8 inches (20 centimeters)
  • CO2: Not required but is appreciated
  • Light condition: Low
  • Care level: Easy

Beginner-friendly Marsilea Hirsuta is a fascinating carpet plant that belongs to the Marsileaceae family. This Australian plant is the most popular carpet plant among aquarium enthusiasts. To add more, this plant grows average, allowing the tank’s bottom to look lavishing.

Marsilea Hirsuta has 4 water cloves that include a runner-based vertical breeding process. Of course, Marsilea Hirsuta can thrive fast with CO2 and fertilizer supplements, but it is not required as much.

#5 Java Moss (Taxiphyllum Barbieri)

  • Scientific name: Taxiphyllum barbieri
  • Origin: Southeast part of Asia
  • Growth rate: Fast
  • Max height: 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 centimeters)
  • CO2: Not recommended
  • Light condition: Low
  • Care level: Easy

Java Moss is one of the most acknowledged carpet plants among aquarium gardeners. Beginner-friendly and versatile Java Moss does not include difficult maintenance. This plant can increase the aesthetic look of the water tank while being attached to the rock driftwood. However, you can keep it floating freely in the tank.

Additionally, Java Moss does not demand CO2 and other fertilizer supplements. And it grows in low light conditions and is a safe place for fish eggs, fry to hide.

#6 Monte Carlo (Micranthemum Tweediei)

  • Scientific name: Micranthemum tweediei
  • Origin: Argentina
  • Growth rate: Medium
  • Max height: 2 inches (5 centimeters)
  • CO2: Required but can grow without CO2.
  • Light condition: Medium to high
  • Care level: Medium

The Monte Carlo is an appealing carpet plant from the Phrymaceae family that grows in Argentina. This plant is slow-growing and requires a moderate maintenance level.

Additionally, the nutritional proportion is needed for growing Monte Carlo, adequate light condition. And if done right, it can provide the hobbyist with a lush green carpet in the aquarium.

An important point to note is that this plant demands CO2; however, it can grow without that, but it will take a bit of time in the low tank setup.

#7  S. Repens (Staurogyne Repens)

  • Scientific name: Staurogyne Repens
  • Origin: South America
  • Growth rate: Slow
  • Max height: 4 inches (10 centimeters)
  • CO2: Not recommended yet can be preferred
  • Light condition: Medium to high
  • Care level: Moderate

Staurogyne Repens is a moderate care level plant native to South America. This plant is low growing. However, it can be a go-to plant for an aquarium because of its cool look. Besides, S. Repens can grow best with a CO2 supplement; however, it is not essential.

#8 Micro Sword (Lilaeopsis Brasiliensis)

  • Scientific name: Lilaeopsis brasiliensis
  • Origin: South America
  • Growth rate: Slow
  • Max height: 3 inches
  • CO2: required on the medium level but can grow without it
  • Light condition: Medium
  • Care level: Medium

This slow-growing plant is suitable for freshwater aquariums and helps fishes to have the proper environment to thrive in. Micro Sword plants are useful for giving a significant look in the water tank. However, it can grow faster with CO2, but it is not recommended.

Challenges Of Growing Carpet Plants Without CO2

For growing carpet plants, CO2 is required as this ensures the proper growth of the plants. Failing to do that will take more time to thrive than the usual plants with CO2. Growing carpet plants without the help of CO2 is more like building body muscles without protein sources or limiting the amount of protein.

Additionally, like good muscle protein, CO2 is necessary for plants to thrive. Further, carpet plants require CO2 for the photosynthesis process, and for that, lights are used in the water tank. 

So if you are still planning to grow carpet plants without CO2, it is challenging and can only happen by ensuring a few things. Let’s discuss what challenges you mat face and need to overcome.

#1 Light

The first and foremost challenge to overcome while having carpet plants without CO2 is access to the water tank’s required light. Some plants need low light and some moderate to high, and ensuring the right light is the challenge to consider. Moreover, high light conditions integrating with the lack of CO2 can be a good procedure.

#2 Co2

In nature, plants are enriched with CO2, but we are setting a low tank without access to CO2, so making sure of gaseous exchange is important.

#3 Nutrient-Rich Substrate

The key to growing carpets is balance. You cannot have a high or low supply of carbon dioxide or other nutrients in the water column. It will end up with a severe imbalance and result in algae.

#4 Acclimation

The most challenging phase is the beginning of the growth of carpet plants as they face difficulties adapting to the new environment. Additionally, if they are familiar with different water parameters, they must adjust to the new water parameters. Similarly, you need to be careful about the transition stress of the carpet plants to increase the success rate.

Tips To Grow Carpet Plants In Low-Tech Aquarium

As we have mentioned earlier, growing carpet plants without CO2 is a bit challenging; however, you certainly can set up a low-tech water tank.

#1 Tank Height

The aquarium’s height is the first thing to consider while setting up a low-tech water tank, and a shallow tank will serve the purpose. The main benefit of using a shallow tank is it aids in having strong light that can reach the bottom of the tank. However, we do not recommend any tank less than 12 inches.

Additionally, a shallower tank is easy to maintain and aids in gaseous exchange, which is essential.

#2 Plants Selection- Carpeting Plants Without Co2

As carpeting plants require CO2 for growth, we need to choose those plants that do not require CO2 to thrive.

For instance, HC Cuba or Dwarf Baby Tears can grow best with CO2, so we need to avoid planting them. And instead of them, we can choose Dwarf Sag, Dwarf Hairgrass, Monte Carlo, Java Moss kind of plants.

#3 How Much Light?

Having the right light condition is not easy, and you are likely to require a PAR meter for setting the proper light condition for individual plants. However, your aim should be a PAR of above 60 preferably, 70 to 100 Umols in the substrate layer.

Additionally, you need to consider the tank height while choosing the light. When you use a strong light in the low tank, it increases the growth rate of the carpet plants.

#4 What Substrate?

The substrate is important for any aquarium, especially in a low-tech water tank. And as substrate, garden soil is the best option you have. However, caping soil with a 1- or 2-inches sand layer is extremely important to avoid cloudy aquariums.

Although you can have a commercial substrate for having a hassle-free substrate that promotes carpet plants’ growth.

#5 Plant Transition

The plant transition is one of the crucial parts of the low-tech water tank, and the success rate of the tank depends on how the plants have adjusted to the new environment. The carpet plants face a transition phase while adapting to different water parameters, which takes time.

Now, in CO2 incorporated water tank, carpet plants can grow faster than those low tanks set up as CO2 works as a booster for them. However, there are 2 processes to diminish the adaptation shock in the plants, which you can follow-

●       Complete The Full Pre-Cycle Phase

This signifies finishing the ammonia cycling phase of the water tank precisely, giving time for bacteria formation, running the water filter, and letting the water settle for at least 2 to 3 weeks. Hence, completing the tank cycle procedure is important before you welcome species into them, as this aids in decreasing the algae problem.

●      Welcome Local Plants

Plants with similar water parameters are likely to get less transition shock and habituate more easily than the other ones. And as the transition alkalinity range is important, we recommend you go for up to 3 dKH range.

Hence, choosing carpet plants from your area should be habituated with the water parameters. This ensures that they can start growing faster than imported carpet plants as your local plants are already well accustomed to the water condition.

#6 Planning Technique

The plants need to be planted appropriately to establish a low-tech water tank. The best way to plant carpet plants is by spreading them across the substrate softly and in a thin proportion.

Additionally, we would recommend you avoid putting plants assembling way across the substrate. Ensuring space can aid light, water flow, nutrition supplements compared to the clumped place.

#7 Water Temperature

It is best to regularly measure the water temperature with the thermometer as temperature affects carpeting plants. Therefore, if you are from a hot area, you need to maintain a temperature below 78 degrees Fahrenheit with the help of a chiller.

Similarly, if you belong to a comparatively cold area where the temperature remains below 68 degrees Fahrenheit, you should get a heater for maintaining the temperature range.

Does A Planted Aquarium Need A Filter?

Of course, a planted aquarium requires a filter in the tank when you have carpeting plants within it. To be precise, live aquatic plants are useful in absorbing CO2 and ammonia. Although they are enough to keep the aquarium clean, they cannot clear out debris from the water tank.

Additionally, if you do not have many live plants, ammonia will increase in the tank, ultimately fatal for the species. Hence, do have a filter for the tank as it assists in clearing out ammonia from the tank plus, aids in water circulation, and reduces algae issues.


To conclude, in your lower water tank, you can add Dwarf Shrimps, Amano Shrimps once the tank is ready. So, we hope you liked our article and are ready to have your low-tech aquarium set up.

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