Environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding is a sensitive and widely used approach for species detection and biodiversity assessment. The most common eDNA collection method in aquatic systems is actively filtering water through a membrane, which is time consuming and requires specialized equipment. Ecological studies investigating species abundance or distribution often require more samples than can be practically collected with current filtration methods. Here we demonstrate how eDNA can be passively collected in both tropical and temperate marine systems by directly submerging filter membranes (positively charged nylon and non-charged cellulose ester) in the water column. Using a universal fish metabarcoding assay, we show that passive eDNA collection can detect fish as effectively as active eDNA filtration methods in temperate systems and can also provide similar estimates of total fish biodiversity. Furthermore, passive eDNA collection enables greater levels of biological sampling, which increases the range of ecological questions that eDNA metabarcoding can address.