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How to grow Cryptocoryne in fish tanks; And types of Cryptocoryne

Cryptocoryne affinis resized image Cryptocoryne albida resized image Cryptocoryne balansae resized image Cryptocoryne becketti resized image Cryptocoryne blassi resized image Cryptocoryne ciliata resized image Cryptocoryne cordata resized image Cryptocoryne lutea resized image Cryptocoryne nevillii resized image Cryptocoryne petchii resized image Cryptocoryne pontederiifolia resized image Cryptocoryne wendtii resized image Cryptocoryne willisii resized image

Brief Description

This page explains how to grow various Cryptocoryne in fish tanks, however we'd like you to visit our plants search page which offers searching through different species - and you're welcome to share your experiences or ask questions there (as well as on this page at the bottom)!


Cryptocoryne are one of the most common plant species used in aquarium, they belong to the Araceae family like other famous aquarium plants, Anubias and Pistia. Their name derives from “krypto” which means “hidden” and “koryne” which means “stick”, and it refers to the shape and position of their flowers. There are about 60 known crypto varieties at the moment, all coming from Asia, specially from New Guinea, Indonesia, and Malaysia; all of them are characterized by a strong root system that grows fast and generates new plants in every side of the tank.

The easier crypto, more common to find in shops, come from Sri Lanka, and are C. wendtii, C. becketii, and C. walkerii. In nature, they live inside or near small rivers and torrents with mainly light acid and soft water, both in sand, gravel, clay, or dead leaves substrates.

In aquarium, they are not very demanding to cultivate, anyway once arrived they often develop the Crypt melt. This is not a real illness but their adaptation to the new aquarium’s water conditions; almost all the leaves die, but sometimes, if you leave the plant untouched. new leaves grow fast. Crypt melt is more frequent when a plant is just inserted in a new aquarium due to rapid change of chemical values, temperature and lighting, even because often they are cultivated not submerged, so they require a period to get adapted to the new environment. Anyway some crypto are really delicate and small change inside the tank can make melt develop again without losing all the leaves. Moreover, almost all these plants change their colours depending on the water chemical values, so a leaves loss has to be expected.

Cryptocoryne are known as plants that do not need any strong lighting, anyway they grow well in every well lighted aquarium with neon tubes from 4000K to 10000K, and also with HQL and HQI lighting systems.

The ground is really important for these plants, because as said before, they have a really developed root system, that needs a lot of nutrients to grow. This mean you can not use neutral sand or gravel, but is important to provide a fertilized gravel rich of clay or organic rests, covered with a thin substrate of small gravel or sand.

A CO2 system can be useful to let cryptocoryne grow strong and healthy, anyway be sure to have a well balanced aquarium without risking massive algae growing. Liquid products for fertilization can be provided periodically if the ground is rich of nutrients.

All the cryptocoryne are characterized by a slow speed of growth, this mean they are not suitable for new aquariums that have not yet reached a balance, but must be introduced only when the chemical values are stable and the initial nitrite growth is solved. Remember to plant crypto distant from each other, to give them the possibility to grow wide on the ground.

Cryptocoryne wendtii

Cryptocoryne wendtii is one of the easiest and common crypto you can cultivate in your aquarium. It has long leaves and grows in small thick bushes, there are two varieties:

  • “Green” is the most common and requires less attention.
  • “Brown” with red and brown leaves, prefers shaded lighting but needs stronger fertilization.

C. wendtii is the ideal plant for beginners, because can live in many different chemical water values also with alkaline pH. It is cultivable also out of the water, but the substrate must be really rich and the air full of humidity.

Cryptocoryne crispatula

Cryptocoryne crispatula has many varieties, with different leaf length and colour. One of the most common is the “Balansae” variety, which comes from Eastern India, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, and southern China; it is really different from other crypto, it has long light curly leaves that can reach also 50 cm (~ 19.68 inch) of length and float on the water surface. It grows really slowly and without the use of CO2 leaves stay shorter. This crypto prefers hard and alkaline waters with poor lighting.

Cryptocoryne undulata

Cryptocoryne undulata comes from Sri Lanka, and has long green on top, red on bottom leaves and each one has a long stalk; if the aquarium is well fertilized, the leaf with the stalk can also reach a length of 20 cm. Another peculiarity of this plant is the presence of a small internodium between leaves, while other crypto leaves usually grow in compact rosette. C. Undulata has also a “Broad leaves” variety with bigger leaves that grow more compact hiding the stalks. They can live both in soft and medium water, in a temperature range between 20°C (68°F) and 28°C (82.40°F).

Cryptocoryne beckettii

Cryptocoryne beckettii lives in nature in swamp substrates, in aquarium can be cultivated both submerged and out of water. With a good fertilization can grow also 25 cm (~9.84 inch) high, anyway it can stay also smaller, around 10-15 cm (3.94 - 5.91 inch) high. It usually lives in shaded surroundings, but a good lighting can help developing the red colour of leaves. A temperature range between 22°C (71.60°F) and 26°C (78.80°F) is the optimal situation, anyway can live in higher temperatures for some periods; this plant grows better if a heating cable under gravel is present.

Cryptocoryne Parva

Cryptocoryne parva is the smallest crypto you can find, reaching the maximum height of 10 cm (~ 3.94 inch). This plant peculiarity is that it does not change the colour and shape of leaves changing water values. Being small and needing a medium strong lighting, it is important not to shade it with bigger plants; moreover it generates quite fast new plants at its side, so do not plant them near or there will not be enough space for new plants.

Cryptocoryne Walkeri

Cryptocoryne walkeri is also known as C. lutea, it has a more rigid structure and does not grow in compact bushes. Like C. wendtii, this is one of the most common crypto you can find, and it does not request special values. The growth is really slow anyway generates new plants after six months of aquarium life.

Copyright note: This article has been originally written by Michela Ferretti. owns the full copyright of this article.

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