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FAQs on Hygrophilas for the Planted Aquarium

Related Articles: Hygrophilas for the Planted Aquarium

Thin Val and Hygrophila corymbosa - 10/28/2012
I was just looking at buying these plants and would like to know if they would survive in a tank with 7.4 ph and 10 dh and 54x2 watts of light in 55 gallons (1.8 watts/ gallon)
<I think you are okay on pH and hardness, but the lighting level is pretty low. A very rough rule of thumb would be 3-4 watts/gallon, but there are a lot of variables, not the least of which is how deep the tank is. My reference book shows those plants need a bit more than low light.>
Problem is my water is too hard and alkaline for other plants, so I thought these would be good, but I am
not sure if they would be ok with the amount of lighting...
<Hmm. My water is harder and more alkaline than this and I keep several standard plants in modest lighting conditions. I've found wisteria to do very well in those conditions, as well as Cabomba, naja grass (aka guppy grass) Christmas moss, and Java moss. Here is a link to a lighting article Bob Fenner wrote that might be helpful:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/lightingags.htm and there are a bunch more articles on planted tanks in general, including some write-ups on specific plants, including both Val and Hygrophila.:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/AquariumGardenSubWebIndex.html  >
What do you think?
<Welcome. Rick>

Help! Please save my plant!   3/15/11
Hi there, I received this plant and have no idea what it is. I was hoping that you could tell me what it is and what its needs are, or send me a link. I just need to know how much sunlight it needs, etc. If you could
help me out that would be great! It doesn't look too happy right now, so I would really appreciate any help you can offer. Thanks so much! Lena
<Looks quite a lot like Giant Hygrophila, Hygrophila corymbosa. This species is amphibious rather than a true aquatic, and needs intense light to grow. Your substrate is completely wrong for plants, end of story, and my assumption from the look of your tank is that lighting is poor as well.
Replace the substrate with something deeper (at least 8 cm/3 inches) and finer, at the very minimum plain fine gravel with fertiliser tablets, but ideally aquatic soil/sand mix topped with gravel or more sand. If you look at the stem of this plant you can easily see that it is very stiff, implying a variety of plant that grows out of the water (true aquatic plants are invariably floppy). My best results with this plant have been open-topped tanks that allowed the plant to grow out of the aquarium -- and they reached well over 1 m/3 feet in height! Light intensity needs to be well over 2 W per gallon. My specimens grew in a windowsill tank that received several hours of direct sunlight and they did very well, even flowering. Iron fertilisation is important, once the plant is rapidly growing at least, otherwise yellow leaves become common. But with that said, in poor light or the wrong substrate, fertilisation is not what will cause your plant to fail.
Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Help! Please save my plant!   3/16/11
Thank you so much! I will see what I can do, and if I can not supply the right conditions I will find it a proper home. Thanks again! Lena
<Glad to help! Cheer, Neale.>

How do you root Wisteria?   3/7/10
It's the simplest question and I can't find the answer anywhere. Everybody says to just stick bunched plants into the substrate and they will root, but when I try this with Wisteria (and some others), the base just rots off and the rest of the plant floats away. What am I doing wrong?
<Scott, the thing with Hygrophila difformis is that it isn't a "stick it in the ground and forget about it" species. Essentially this plant has two phases in its life cycle: a rooted form, and a floating form. The rooted adult plant (which has quite fine leaves) produces floating plantlets (with broad leaves). The rooted plant (with the fine leaves) needs strong lighting to do well; the floating plant (with the broad leaves) is less fussy. Anyway, the usual reason why rooted Hygrophila difformis fails is that a clump of floating plants are stuck into the substrate, and these fail to produce true roots, and eventually rise back up to the surface (any bits stuck in the substrate simply dying). To get best results from this plant at the bottom of the tank, you need good light, a rich substrate, and preferably CO2 fertilisation as well. It's a bog plant, and like most bog plants, does best given CO2 fertilisation. Try and choose pots of fine-leaved rooted plants, and use those. If you can only get broad-leaved floating plants, don't expect to stick the whole thing in the ground and watch it take root; that likely won't happen. I mean, it should work, but for most folks it just doesn't! Instead take some cuttings, essentially one leaf with its stem, and stick that in the ground somewhere it won't be disturbed (e.g., by catfish). With luck, some of these cuttings will take root. Leave the rest to float until its produces plantlets with some roots, and then bury those plantlets in the ground. Hope this helps. I have to admit, despite being widely sold and often said to be a good beginner's plant, my gut feeling about Hygrophila difformis is that it's one of the those plants apt to disappoint. Provided you have strong lighting, Hygrophila polysperma is altogether easier to get established. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: How do you root Wisteria?  3/7/2010
Hi Neale,
I have 65 watts of CF over a 20-gal high tank. I just switched from a Coralife 6700k to a SunPaq dual daylight 6500/10000k, because the Coralifes seem to have a really poor lifespan. From what I read, this is considered "medium" lighting. But then again, I also read that Wisteria is an "easy" plant.
<Never been my experience, at least not in tanks with strong water movement.>
I guess it is if you just float it, but with a power filter agitating the surface, floating plants just get blown around my aquarium.
Kinda, sorta. If you have the outflow from a canister filter as a spray bar flowing out along one edge of the aquarium, the floating plants collect along the other edge. Eventually they form a nice, thick mat of plants which most fish really love. This is precisely how I use floating plants in tanks with strong water currents and predatory fish that appreciate shade.>
In any case, I need some fast-growing plants to combat algae, but my state has strict regulations about which invasive plants can be imported, and things like Cabomba and certain Hygrophilas are banned.
<I see. Well, the best plants are really anything that grows fast. I find Indian Fern and Amazon Frogbit, both floating plants, by far the best and most versatile.>
I'm trying to get away with just a gravel substrate so I don't have to tear the whole tank apart to put laterite in.
<Vallisneria spp. are plants that do reliably well in gravel substrates, and have a reasonably good anti-algae effect. Depending on water chemistry and temperature, Egeria spp. and Echinodorus bleheri can also be quite good, though the latter does tend to be fussy about substrate quality. It will certainly grow in plain gravel, but pellet fertilisers pushed among the roots periodically will make all the difference.>
Is there a recommended depth for gravel substrates?
<Yes. At least 8 cm/3 inches is considered the minimum for best results.>
I'm also trying H. Augustofolia, which seems to be putting out new roots after a couple of weeks, but new growth is stalled.
<Hygrophila salicifolia (=H. angustifolia) is a plant I find incredibly easy to grow in open-topped tanks where it can rise above the waterline and receive natural sunlight. On the other hand, I've never found it much use in tanks kept permanently submerged. It's stiff, woody stems and waxy leaves are a good clue that it really prefers to be a marsh plant. If you but emerse plants underwater (and most farmed plants are emerse plants) it will take a while for them to adjust to submerse conditions. Baensch recommends making sure at least one node is buried beneath the substrate, so check you planted them that way.>
Thanks again,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Pruning Dwarf Hygrophila for re-planting   9/4/07 Hello! <Ave!> First off, I (and my lovely fish, could they type) would like to thank you so much for your site. I have learned so much. <Thanks.> I have a question that I could not find an answer to on your site, or any other, that I have searched. I have a Dwarf Hygrophila (Hygrophila polysperma, I believe) in my tank that is growing like a weed! It has sent off a number of baby plants from it's bottom that I have used to fill in the gaps in the back of my aquarium which I greatly appreciate. However, the original plant has grown so tall that the leaves on the top inch or so of the plant are floating on the surface of the water. I have read that the top of the plant may be pruned off and re-planted, leaving the rest of the plant to grow. I really don't want to damage this beautiful and prolific plant (my platies perch on the branches like birds to sleep at night) , so my question is, does it matter where I cut it? Should it be right below or above one of the growth "nodes" on the stem? Is there anything else I should know? <Pruning Hygrophila polysperma is easy and in fact essential, as over time it tends to become rather large and messy. As you presumably know, the only way to get a bushy plant is to use intense lighting (at least 3 watts per gallon). Under other conditions, it becomes "leggy", with long stems with only a few leaves low down and most of the leaves at the top (so it looks more like a tree than a bush). So, shaping Hygrophila is a two-pronged affair: cutting away overly tall growth, and ensuring there's enough light from the lower leaves at the bottom. In terms of the cuttings, you can do with them what you will. Cut away some of the leaves from the stem of a cutting, and then plant it. With luck, it will re-root itself quite quickly. You are indeed correct to assume that new growth will be at the nodes; that is normal for plants of this type. So if you plan to root a cutting, cut 1 cm or so below a node, remove the leaves from that node and perhaps the next node as well, and then plant it into the substrate such that these nodes are in the substrate. Roots will spring out from them. Conversely, when you're pruning a plant to make it more bushy, cutting back leggy growth to just above a node will encourage new growth from that node.> Thanks so much for your help! <Cheers, Neale>

Plants I have live plants in my 33 gallon aquarium. Lately the plant "Wisteria" has been giving me a problem. The other two plants in the tank are from the Amazon family and are doing mediocre. I love live plants in the aquarium because of it's beauty as well as helping my fish spawn. I increased the lighting to 16 hours a day and have been giving plant food once a week. The tank's water is turning green. Can you tell me how to bring the plants back to life? <Mmm, need a bit more info... this plant, Hygrophila difformis is typically a good grower under a wide range of aquarium conditions. What is your water temperature, pH, hardness? What are the other species of plants? Do you utilize soil in your substrate? It may well be that conditions favor your other plant species here, and that they are mal-affecting the Wisterias health/growth. I would cut back the extended hours of light as they are of little use here, and likely contributing to your pest algae problem. Please take a read through our planted aquarium subweb: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/AquariumGardenSubWebIndex.html as this "going over" may well trigger some clues as to what your course of action may be. Bob Fenner>

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