Dwarf Aquarium Lily: Care, Temperature, Propagate & More

Scientific NameNymphaea Stellata
Common NameDwarf Aquarium Lily
OriginIndia and Southeast Asia
Adult SizeUp to 5 inches
Dwarf Aquarium Lily

Dwarf Aquarium Lily Facts

  • In Greek, nymphaea refers to water nymph, and stellata in Latin means star-shaped.
  • Dwarf Aquarium Lilies are found to purchase online, and they are not very expensive.
  • Even though they are native to India and Southeast Asia, the Dwarf Aquarium Lily is widely cultivated in the United States.
  • In the wild, these plants grow much larger than in captivity, and while in captivity, it is encouraged to prune them to keep them small.
  • These plants do not require additional CO2, but they will require you to use fertilizers to ensure that your plant is getting the nutrients required to keep it growing strong.

Dwarf Aquarium Lily Care

Dwarf Aquarium Lilies are considered easy for aquarium plant enthusiasts to keep and propagate. They have triangle-shaped leaves that show up in a range of pink, green, or red colors. The coloring will change to brownish as well. It is encouraged to trim the leaves once they turn brown. They grow leaves under the water’s surface, and they also grow and send lily pads up to the surface of the water.

Dwarf Aquarium Lilies go through cycles and may lose their leaves. If this happens, don’t worry. If your plant is kept in the proper setup, the leaves will grow back in just a few weeks. If you have just gotten your Dwarf Aquarium Lily plant, remember that it needs time to adjust to its new home before you see it growing more leaves. These leaves provide an excellent shelter for the small fish or shrimp in your tank. They are great to place in a dedicated breeding tank to shelter small fry.

Dwarf Aquarium Lilies, like most live aquatic plants, are great for consuming organic waste compounds and improving overall water quality for your fish. However, once they get established in your tank, lilies tend to grow rather quickly and may need additional nutrients in the form of liquid fertilizers and root tabs. Dwarf Aquarium Lilies come from soft, acidic water but can adapt to many aquarium conditions.

The Dwarf Aquarium Lily can thrive in water with a pH between 5.0 to 8.0. This aquarium plant does not need additional CO2 but will benefit from dissolved carbon dioxide. If you are using supplemental fertilizers, make sure they contain chelated iron. In the wild, Dwarf Aquarium Lilies will grow fairly rapidly, and even though they don’t grow as large in captivity, it is still encouraged to trim them down to your desired height to keep them dwarfed for your aquarium.


The Dwarf Aquarium Lily can grow in a wide range of tropical temperatures from 72-82°F. It can also thrive in low to high-level aquarium lighting. Dwarf Aquarium Lilies are described as a hardy plant that is easy for a beginner to the hobby.

How Big Does a Dwarf Aquarium Lily get?

Dwarf Aquarium Lilies can grow up to 5 inches tall, making them great for smaller aquarium setups. They will grow numerous offshoots and can be trimmed to whatever height you want the plant to be. Trimming the plant to the same height will encourage the plant to grow only that high.

If your plant is growing too much, or the leaves are blocking out the light for other aquarium plants, you can simply trim the leaves back and out of the way. It is important to trim away any leaves that do not look healthy, look ragged, or are covered in algae. These leaves need to be trimmed at the base of the stem.

Dwarf Aquarium Lily Flower

You can get your Dwarf Aquarium Lily to bloom if you keep it in shallow enough water and with the right water parameters. The flowers are small and star-shaped. The flower color will be one of the typical lily flower colors. They range in color from reddish to blueish.

The Dwarf Aquarium Lily is a plant that requires a lot of nutrients from the environment it is kept in, and if you want it to flower, you need to ensure that your plant is happy and healthy first. You will need to use an aquarium plant fertilizer, and there are many to choose from online. When choosing your fertilizer, make sure you choose one that contains chelated iron.

Dwarf Aquarium Lily Bulb

The Dwarf Aquarium Lily bulb is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, and it is black in color. The bulb has a definite top and bottom, but you can only identify it from where the leaves start to sprout. Planting the bulb upside down is common, and it will not harm the bulb. If you don’t notice the bulb growing shoots off of it after a few weeks, simply replant it in a different position and monitor it for growth.

How to Plant a Dwarf Aquarium Lily

When planting your Dwarf Aquarium Lily, you will want to make sure to rinse the bulb itself off and make sure that it is free of debris and dirt. Then you would need to place the bulb in the aquarium on the gravel or the soil. Don’t worry if it floats at first. It will eventually become waterlogged enough to sink back to the bottom. Once the bulb has begun growing leaves, you can gently bury the bulb a third to halfway into the substrate.

This will help prevent the bulb from moving around in your tank while it grows stems and anchors itself into the substrate. Remember to be careful not to bury any of the new shoots. If you are not seeing growth after a few weeks, try turning the bulb over. Dwarf Aquarium Lily plant bulbs have a top and a bottom. You cannot tell which by looking at it. You can only identify the top from the bottom by seeing which side sprouts and grows leaves.

If you have planted your bulb and still have no growth after that, check it. If it is mushy or emits a foul odor, it is most likely that the Dwarf Aquarium Lily bulb you have is a dud. In that case, contact the supplier, and they will refund you. The chance of getting a dud Dwarf Aquarium Lily bulb is less than 5 percent, so you don’t have to worry too much about where to purchase it from.

Dwarf Aquarium Lily, Nymphaea stellata

How to Propagate a Dwarf Aquarium Lily

Propagating your Dwarf Aquarium Lily plant is fairly easy, and you will find that before you know it, you can have several Dwarf Aquarium Lily plants in your aquarium. If your plant is in the proper tank setup, happy, and healthy, then your plant will start growing out of shoots. These shoots will grow into more Dwarf Aquarium Lily plants if left untrimmed. These shoots can be trimmed, and they can be replanted in another place in the aquarium. These shoots can also be moved to another tank as well.

Dwarf Aquarium Lily vs. Tiger Lotus

The Dwarf Aquarium Lily and the Tiger Lotus are similar aquarium plants with a few main differences. The Tiger Lotus is different in color. It is redder, sometimes purplish, with a broader leaf, and the leaves of the Tiger Lotus are more rippled. They are similar in the way they both start with a bulb and grow leaves and shoot underwater.

Both plants anchor themselves into the substrate the same way, and they can survive in nearly the same water temperature. Both plants are similarly colored, with the Tiger Lotus showing up darker than the Dwarf Aquarium Lily. Many people who keep Tiger Lotus plants also keep Dwarf Aquarium Lilies.

The Tiger Lotus can grow way larger than the Dwarf Aquarium Lily, and its leaves have a more arrowed shape to them when compared to the leaves of the Dwarf Aquarium Lily, which are more rounded.

Dwarf Aquarium Lily Tank Mates

Dwarf Aquarium Lilies are hardy plants that can handle being in an aquarium with most fish. The leaves and stem are sturdy enough to handle the fish swimming in and out of them and even can handle some fish that like to nibble and sample them.

The fish are to avoid putting in the same aquarium setup as they are large herbivorous fish, but they do well in an aquarium with sucker fish as they will feed off any algae that develop on the plant. The cleaning off of the algae from your Dwarf Aquarium Lily will help the plant to photosynthesize better, and in return, you will have a healthier and happier plant.

Plant Spotlight – Dwarf Aquarium Lily

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