Vallisneria in the Aquarium

Updated on:

** This post contains affiliate links and we will be compensated if you buy after clicking on our links.

Looking to add some greenery to your aquarium?

Look no further than vallisneria!

This versatile plant is not only beautiful but also beneficial for your aquatic environment.

In this article, I will guide you on how to successfully plant and care for Vallisneria in your aquarium, providing you with all the information you need to create a thriving underwater garden.

From its appearance and size to compatible tank mates and water conditions, I will cover everything you need to know to ensure the health and growth of this plant.

So let’s dive in and discover the wonders of this amazing aquatic plant together!

Quick Facts

Scientific NameVallisneria
Common NamesEelgrass, Tape grass
AppearanceLong, ribbon-like, grass-like leaves in shades of green; can have straight or spiraling leaves
SizeLeaves can grow several feet in length
Popular Types– Vallisneria Americana (American eelgrass)
– Vallisneria Spiralis (Straight vallisneria)
– Vallisneria Nana (Dwarf vallisneria)
– Vallisneria Gigantea (Giant vallisneria)
– Vallisneria Torta (Twisted leaves)
– Vallisneria Rubra (Red vallisneria)
– Vallisneria Contortionist (Contorted leaves)
Water ConditionspH 6.5-8.0, temperature 72°F-82°F, can tolerate soft and hard water
Lighting RequirementsModerate to high levels of light, 10-12 hours per day
Nutrient RequirementsBenefits from regular fertilization with liquid or substrate fertilizer
Planting InstructionsPlant in nutrient-rich substrate, ensure roots are covered, crown above substrate
Propagation MethodsDivision of mature plants or separation of new plantlets from runners

Vallisneria Overview

Vallisneria is a genus of aquatic plants that belongs to the family Hydrocharitaceae.

These plants are commonly known as eelgrass or tape grass.

It is native to both tropical and subtropical regions around the world.

It is a popular choice for aquarium enthusiasts due to its attractive appearance and ease of care.

Appearance & Size

Vallisneria plants typically have long, ribbon-like leaves that can grow up to several feet in length.

The leaves are thin and grass-like, with a range of shades from light green to dark green.

The shape of the leaves can vary depending on the species, with some being straight and others having a spiraling pattern.

The roots are fibrous and provide stability in the aquarium substrate.

Popular Types of Vallisneria

There are several popular types that are commonly found in aquariums.

Vallisneria Americana

Vallisneria Americana, also known as American eelgrass, is one of the most widely recognized species in the Vallisneria genus.

It has long, green leaves that can reach lengths of up to 3 feet.

This species is known for its ability to tolerate a wide range of water conditions, making it a versatile choice for aquariums.

Vallisneria Spiralis

Vallisneria Spiralis, or straight vallisneria, is another popular choice among aquarium enthusiasts.

As the name suggests, this species has straight leaves that can grow up to 2 feet long.

It is known for its beautiful spiral-like pattern when multiple plants are grown together, creating a visually appealing display in the aquarium.

Vallisneria Nana

Vallisneria Nana, or dwarf vallisneria, is a smaller species compared to its counterparts.

It has shorter leaves that grow to a maximum length of around 1 foot.

This makes it a suitable choice for smaller aquariums or as a foreground plant.

Vallisneria Nana can provide hiding spaces for fish and adds a touch of green to the lower levels of the tank.

Vallisneria Gigantea

Vallisneria Gigantea, also known as giant vallisneria, lives up to its name with its impressive size.

The leaves of this species can grow up to 6 feet long, making it ideal for larger aquariums.

The long, flowing leaves create a dramatic backdrop and add a sense of movement to the tank.

Vallisneria Torta

Vallisneria Torta is a unique species that features twisted and contorted leaves.

This gives it a distinct appearance compared to other Vallisneria plants.

The twisted leaves create interesting shapes and textures in the aquarium, adding visual interest to the overall design.

Vallisneria Rubra

Vallisneria Rubra, or red vallisneria, is a variety that features red or purple undertones in its leaves.

This adds a splash of color to the aquarium and creates a striking contrast against the greenery.

This type is a popular choice for aquascaping enthusiasts looking to add a vibrant touch to their tanks.

Vallisneria Contortionist

Vallisneria Contortionist is another unique species known for its contorted leaves.

The leaves have a twisted appearance and can grow in various directions.

This creates an eye-catching display in the aquarium and adds a touch of whimsy to the overall design.

A group of Angelfish swimming around a tank planted with Vallisneria

Benefits of Vallisneria in Aquariums

Vallisneria plants offer several benefits when kept in aquariums.

They are known for their ability to absorb excess nutrients, such as nitrates and phosphates, from the water.

This helps to prevent the build-up of harmful substances and maintain a healthy water balance in the tank.

Vallisneria also oxygenates the water through photosynthesis, improving the overall quality of fish and other inhabitants.

Furthermore, these plants provide shelter and hiding places for fish, especially small and timid species.

The long, flowing leaves create a natural environment and reduce stress for the residents of the aquarium.

Vallisneria also adds visual interest and enhances the aesthetics of the tank, making it a popular choice for aquascaping.

Compatible Tank Mates

Vallisneria plants are compatible with a wide range of tank mates.

They can coexist peacefully with most community fish species, such as tetras, livebearers, and cichlids.

The dense foliage provides ample hiding places and creates a sense of security for fish.

It is important to consider the size and behavior of the fish when choosing tank mates to ensure compatibility.

In addition to fish, Vallisneria is also compatible with other aquatic plants.

It can be planted alongside other species to create a diverse and visually appealing underwater landscape.

However, consider the growth rate and light requirements of different plants to ensure they are compatible with Vallisneria.

Vallisneria Contortionist plant in front of a rock in a fish tank

Vallisneria Aquarium Water Conditions & Requirements

These plants are highly adaptable and can thrive in a wide range of water conditions.

They prefer a pH level between 6.5 and 8.0, with a water temperature ranging from 72°F to 82°F.

Vallisneria can tolerate both soft and hard water, making it suitable for a variety of aquarium setups.

Lighting is an essential factor for successful growth.

These plants require moderate to high levels of light to carry out photosynthesis effectively.

Providing approximately 10 to 12 hours of light per day, either from natural sunlight or aquarium lights, will support their growth and overall health.

When it comes to nutrient requirements, Vallisneria benefits from regular fertilization.

Adding a liquid or substrate fertilizer specially formulated for aquarium plants will provide the necessary nutrients to promote healthy growth.

Regular water changes are also important to maintain water quality and prevent the build-up of harmful substances.

Tank Placement & Aquascaping

These plants are versatile when it comes to tank placement and aquascaping.

Due to their tall and flowing leaves, they are commonly used as background plants in aquariums.

Placing them at the rear or sides of the tank creates a naturalistic backdrop and adds depth to the overall design.

When arranging the plants, it is important to consider their growth patterns.

Some species, such as Vallisneria Spiralis or Vallisneria Gigantea, have straight leaves that can be arranged in a neat row or pattern.

Others, like Vallisneria Contortionist or Vallisneria Torta, have twisted or contorted leaves that can be placed more sporadically for a unique and artistic effect.

This plant can also be used to create a lush and vibrant mid-ground in larger tanks.

This can be achieved by planting them closer to the center of the tank and surrounding them with smaller foreground plants.

The contrasting heights and textures create a visually striking arrangement.

Close up photo of a group of Vallisneria in an aquarium

How to Plant Vallisneria in the Aquarium

Planting in the aquarium is a straightforward process.

Here are the steps to follow:

Begin by preparing the substrate.

Vallisneria prefers a nutrient-rich substrate, such as aquarium soil or specialized plant substrate.

Make sure the substrate is thoroughly rinsed before adding it to the tank.

Dig a small hole in the substrate using your fingers or a planting tool.

The hole should be deep enough to accommodate the roots of the plant.

Place the plant into the hole, ensuring that the roots are spread out and covered with substrate.

Make sure the crown of the plant is slightly above the substrate to prevent rotting.

Gently press down the surrounding substrate to secure the plant in place.

Avoid burying the plant too deeply, as this can restrict its growth and lead to deterioration.

Repeat the process for any additional plants you wish to add to the aquarium, ensuring they are spaced apart to allow for their growth.

Maintain proper lighting, water conditions, and fertilization to support the growth of the Vallisneria plants.

A person holding a Vallisneria plant and planting it into gravel

Care & Growing Guide

Vallisneria plants are relatively low-maintenance and easy to care for.

Here are some guidelines to ensure their optimal growth:

  1. Provide ample lighting: This plant requires moderate to high levels of light for photosynthesis. Position the aquarium lights or provide natural sunlight for approximately 10 to 12 hours per day.
  2. Maintain water conditions: Keep the water temperature between 72°F and 82°F and maintain a pH level between 6.5 and 8.0. Regular monitoring of water parameters and water changes will help maintain optimal conditions for the plants.
  3. Fertilize regularly: This plant benefits from consistent fertilization with a liquid or substrate fertilizer formulated for aquarium plants. Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer and adjust the dosage based on the needs of your specific setup.
  4. Prune as needed: Over time, these plants may grow too long or develop excessive runners. Pruning the leaves or runners helps to maintain the desired shape and prevent overcrowding in the aquarium.
  5. Remove dead or decaying leaves: Monitor the plants regularly and remove any dead or decaying leaves to prevent the spread of diseases and maintain a clean appearance.

Propagating Vallisneria

Propagating is relatively easy and can be done through two main methods: division and runners.

Division involves separating a mature plant into multiple smaller plants.

To propagate through division, follow these steps:

Carefully remove the entire plant from the substrate ensuring that the roots are intact.

Gently separate the plant into smaller sections by pulling or cutting the rhizome.

Each section should have roots attached.

Plant each section in the substrate using the same method described earlier in the “How to Plant Vallisneria in the Aquarium” section.

Follow the care guidelines mentioned above to ensure the successful growth of the propagated plants.

Alternatively, Vallisneria plants produce runners, which are long, thin stems that grow horizontally along the surface.

These runners produce new plantlets at their tips.

To propagate through runners, follow these steps:

Allow the runners to grow and develop plantlets at their tips.

Once the plantlets have developed roots and leaves, carefully separate them from the runner.

Plant the new plantlets in the substrate, ensuring their roots are properly covered.

Continue caring for the newly propagated plants as outlined in the care guidelines.

With proper care and propagation techniques, Vallisneria can quickly fill the aquarium with lush greenery, creating a beautiful and natural underwater landscape.

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, Vallisneria is a versatile and visually appealing aquatic plant that adds beauty and functionality to aquariums.

With its various species and unique growth patterns, there is a Vallisneria plant suitable for every tank size and aquascape design.

By providing the right conditions and care, aquarium enthusiasts can enjoy the benefits and beauty of Vallisneria in their underwater ecosystems.

Photo of author


Irma Bense is the founder of She has over 42 years of experience in keeping fish.She has kept both freshwater and saltwater fish through the years.She has extensive knowledge in breeding numerous species of fish from Show Guppies, Cory Catfish, German Blue Rams to Apistogrammas.You can learn more about Irma on the 'About' page.

Leave a Comment