Is it time to grow some new plants in your freshwater aquarium? We think so!
Freshwater plants provide numerous benefits in your tank. Not only can they provide crucial shelter for fish who are in need of breeding and hiding spots, but they also help keep the water in your tank clean, free of toxins, and well-oxygenated.
That being said, not all plants are alike, and it’s important that you select the ideal plant to prevent any issues later on.
The plant you are likely looking for – that is, the perfect plant for your aquarium – is probably water wisteria. This plant is not difficult to raise, and it’s also quite hardy, able to tolerate a wide range of water conditions. It requires minimal maintenance and takes little time or effort to raise.
Better yet, it’s readily available at most aquarium stores, and you don’t have to purchase that much of it in order to have a thriving population in your tank.
Ready to learn more? Here’s your ultimate guide to raising one of the most underrated freshwater plants – water wisteria.
What Is Water Wisteria?
Known formally by its scientific name, Hydrophila difformis, water wisteria is a freshwater plant that belongs to the Acanthaceae family. It is found growing in the wild in Southeast Asia, most often viewed in countries like Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and India.
Like most other freshwater species, water wisteria performs a critical role in the aquarium. This plant is an excellent shelter for young or vulnerable plants, and it also helps to keep your water clean.
What’s even better news is that water wisteria is an exceptionally hardy freshwater plant species. It can withstand most elementary mistakes made by novice fish keepers, and it’s remarkably easy to care for. It’s easy to propagate and cultivate, making it a great choice for people who want to grow their plants from a moderately small supply.
Water wisteria has elegant green leaves that can brighten up just about any tank. You’ll want to keep an eye out, though – water wisteria isn’t just attractive to humans, but it also draws the eye of hungry, nibbling little fish, too!
This plant can grow up to a whopping 20 inches tall! It can grow to ten inches wide as well, meaning it can easily block out light or take over your entire tank if allowed to grow uninhibited.
The leaves of this plant are a vibrant green and have thin protrusions along the sides of them They can grow in several different forms, a unique condition known as heterophylly. This is when leaves are able to change their pattern in a response to certain environmental conditions.
Regardless of the leaf shape, all stems will be firm. These firm stems support the heavy density of the large leaves. The stem is dark and attached to delicate white roots that are buried beneath the substrate to help keep the plant rooted in place. Depending on whether you decide to grow it as a climbing, upward-facing plant or as a carpet species, you may find that this plant has a crawling behavior.
What Are The Best Uses For Water Wisteria?
With hundreds of different freshwater aquatic plants to choose from, you may be wondering what’s so special about water wisteria. One special benefit of this plant is that it has multiple uses. It can be grown as a plant that is rooted in the sediment or it can be allowed to spread across the substrate as a carpet.
No matter which option you choose, you will be able to create quite the gorgeous display. A carpet will produce a dense layer of green growth along the bottom of your tank, while an upright, rooted plant will add a new dimension and shape to the center portion of the water column. These tend to be devoid of any decorations, so it’s not a bad idea to grow water wisteria to help fill the void.
Think about the types of fish you have in your tank – or intend to add to your tank – when you are trying to decide the best method of growing water wisteria. While a carpet method will provide excellent shelter to bottom-dwelling fish, like loaches, an upright plant can provide shelter for fish that prefer to hang out in the middle levels of the tank.
Where Can I Buy Water Wisteria?
You can find water wisteria at most aquarium supply stores. What matters more than where you buy water wisteria is in which form you buy it. You will want to keep an eye out for certain characteristics when you head to the store. For example, you should look for a plant that has long, abundant roots, which will allow the plant to support itself.
In addition, your plant should be upright. It should have the ability of supporting its own substantial weight. Remember, a plant that droops downward should not be purchased – you will have a very difficult time attempting to revive it.
When you purchase your plant, make sure its colors are vibrant and consistently bright. If you notice any yellow or brown spots, there’s a good chance that the plant is in a state of poor health.
You can find water wisteria at just about any aquarium store, as previously mentioned. It’s extremely popular, so the price will usually depend less on availability and more on the size of the plant you purchase. A good, high-quality bunch of water wisteria will only cost around $5 to $10. Because you can easily propagate this plant, you don’t need to go overboard with how much you purchase.
How Do I Grow And Tend To Water Wisteria?
Water wisteria has been discovered, grown, and propagated all over the world. Despite its wide distribution, it does naturally prefer to live in shallow, warm bodies of water where it has ample access to sunlight. The roots of this plant will embed themselves in sandy substrate. The water will usually be somewhat acidic, somewhat alkaline, or somewhere right in the middle.
These conditions are not difficult to mimic in your fish tank, and the plant is not exceptionally finicky. You can plant it in a wide variety of setups, but you should make sure you have a tank that is at least 10 gallons in volume.
If you are planning your water wisteria instead of allowing it to float on the surface of your, you will want to utilize a substrate that is light and sandy. This is the recommended substrate, although sometimes you can get by with using fine gravel, too.
The water should be warmed to anywhere between 70 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Any temperature outside of this vicinity can slow down the process of photosynthesis, which will limit the ultimate growth of your plant.
You also need to avoid drastic extremes or swings in pH. Natural waters are best, ideally with a range between 6.5 and 7.5. Water should be soft to somewhat hard – think between 2 and 8 KH.
Those are the only conditions that will truly impact your water wisteria. Besides that, the remainder of the tank is up to you to establish and design. You will need to provide your plants with plenty of access to light, but most aquarium lights will get the job done for you. You should avoid planting your water wisteria in totally shaded areas.
Think carefully about how you want to design the rest of your aquarium while you are planting it. It’s always best to get your plants in place before you add fish or other items to your tank. You need to incorporate the perfect, most ideal substrate and optimal growing conditions so that your plants can develop appropriately. Remember, in the wild, water wisteria is rooted in a sandy substrate – this will be the best option for your water wisteria tank.
However, a fine gravel can also suffice. You will want to avoid a heavy, large-grained substrate. The roots must be able to penetrate and establish themselves easily in the substrate so that they can secure the plant and take in nutrients.
Your plant stems should be placed in areas where they will have access to lots of light – remember no shade. This doesn’t just apply to the specific location of the plant but also in what you plant around your water wisteria. You don’t want to plant too densely, or else you will find that they compete with each other. Instead, start with a few plants, each spaced a few inches apart. You can always propagate them alter if you have additional space.
Are you more interested in growing your plants in a carpet-like format? If so, lie the stems to the side and allow them to root sideways there. The leaves should face the top of the tank, which will create the carpet-like setup you are looking for. Otherwise, just lay the roots down in the substrate and let the stems reach toward the light as normal.
Caring for water wisteria s remarkably easy. The biggest challenge in taking care of this plant is that it grows quickly, so you will need to take additional measures to keep the size down. A good way to do this is to trim the stems down to the size you want when they begin to become too massive. This will help prevent the plant from overcrowding the other aquarium plants or blocking out light.
If you decide to trim your water wisteria plant, make sure you remove any and all cuttings form the tank. Otherwise, the cuttings will fall into the substrate and develop into new plants. These plants grow quickly, taking up more nutrients than some other species of plants. This can sometimes cause a nutrient deficiency, but you can add nutrient supplements if you don’t think your plants are developing appropriately.
Remember that you should consider the health of your fish before adding any nutrients or supplements – sometimes, these can promote algae growth or harm your fish, who can be sensitive to certain ingredients.
Can I Propagate Water Wisteria?
Interested in creating more water wisteria from the population you have at home? Luckily, this is easy to do. In the wild, water wisteria grows until pieces of the plant begin to shed and then form new plants. This can also occur in the aquarium, but you have the benefit of being able to manipulate it more easily.
To do this, simply take the cuttings when you prune your plant and place them in a more desirable location. It can grow up quickly and can easily be transplanted into another aquarium or paludarium, too. Once the plant reaches its maximum growth, you can remove the top few winches from the stem. These should be planted somewhere else so that they can develop roots of their own. Just make sure any cuttings you take have leaves, which the plant needs for photosynthesis.
What Is The Ideal Tank Environment For Water Wisteria?
Water wisteria can be grown in just about any tank, including one that is home to other green species of plants. However, you will want to make sure the tank is not too densely populated or planted with too many other species. Think carefully about the areas in which your plants will grow and make sure there’s not a ton of overlap. Competition isn’t always a bad thing, but it can cause some of your plants to die off.
A majority of all fish can be kept in a tank that has water wisteria in it. There are some, however, that should be kept away if you are concerned about the health of your water wisteria plant. These include fish that tend to nip and nibble on leaves, like rainbow fish, silver dollars, and goldfish.
While water wisteria may be a rugged plant that can withstand some nibbling, too much can cause it to become weak or die. You might want to consider fish like cherry barbs, bettas, guppies, danios, catfish, mollies, swordtails, rasboras, or tetras. You can often get by with most cichlids, too, although some will have a tendency to try and uproot the plant.
Avoid keeping snails in your water wisteria tank. Though this is not true of all snail species, there are many that will rip through your plant when they decide that they are hungry. The only snail you may be able to keep with water wisteria is the assassin snail. If you’re dead-set on having invertebrates in your freshwater tank, you might also want to consider raising snails, as these are not as prone to going after your plants.