Water Wisteria Care Guide (Hygrophila difformis)


Common Name(s)Water Wisteria
Scientific NameHygrophila difformis
OriginIndia
Ease of GrowingEasy
AquacapeBackground
HeightUp to 20 inches
pH6.5-7.5
Temperature70-82°F (21-28°C)
Growth RateFast (Up to 2-3 inches per week)
PropagationCuttings
Light RequirementModerate to High
CO2 RequirementLow CO2 demand
Water Wisteria
Water Wisteria (Hygrophila difformis). Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Water Wisteria (hygrophila difformis) is a fast growing aquarium plant that is great for beginners. They are naturally found in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and a few other countries. This lush green plant is a favorite for many aquarists because they are very easy to grow. This plant grows so fast in the wild that it can take over entire rivers and other shallow bodies of water within a span of a few weeks. This often occurs during the rainy season. For this reason, they are even considered invasive plant species in some areas. If your locality allows you to keep Water Wisteria, it would be a great way to easily add lush green plants into your aquarium. In fact, they are often available for an affordable price as well. It is no surprise that they are very popular in the fishkeeping community.

Water Wisteria Care

Water Wisteria is known for being an easy plant to take care of and grow. It only needs a few basic things to thrive. This includes some lighting, good substrate, and water parameters within range.

Lighting Requirement

Water Wisteria display the fastest and most lush growth under high lighting, but this is not a requirement. They will survive in various environments, including low to moderate light environments. Even with a few hours of light a day, they will survive. The light can be in the form of aquarium LED light or natural light.

Although Water Wisteria is an incredibly adaptable plant, some lighting is required. If the light source is removed entirely they will wilt and die rather quickly. In fact, they can actually start to die in a matter of days.

When planning an aquascape containing Water Wisteria, make sure there is enough space for the plant. If there’s not enough space the plant will be restricted from growing properly. The plant would not be able to capture the proper amount of light it needs as well. For these reasons, a minimum tank size of 10 gallons is recommended.

Aquarium Substrate

Another thing to consider when planting Water Wisteria is the aquarium substrate. Large gravel is commonly used as aquarium substrate in fish tanks, but this is not the optimal choice when planting Water Wisteria. Fine gravels are better suited for planting Water Wisteria. This allows the roots to grow through the substrate and anchor themselves more securely. To grow the healthiest plants, use substrate that are rich in nutrients.

Water Parameters

For best growth, Water Wisteria should be kept in soft to moderately hard water of 2-8 kH. The water pH should be kept at a level of 6.5-7.5. The pH level should be monitored on a weekly basis. The water temperature should be kept at 70-82 degrees Fahrenheit to reflect their natural habitat. A weekly water change of 25% will help them grow better as well. Partial water changes can help the plants and the fish. However, be careful not to change too much water at once, especially if you have sensitive fish in the tank.

If these basic conditions are met, the plant will thrive and grow very fast. Established plants in suitable environments are very hardy and resilient. Healthy plant growth will help maintain a healthy overall aquarium environment as well.

How to Grow Water Wisteria Plant

There is a few different ways to grow Water Wisteria. These plant can be either planted in substrate or be allowed to float. They can be used to create a carpet as well.

Planting Water Wisteria

Planting in aquarium substrate is the most common method of growing Water Wisteria. In this method, 1-2 inches of the stem is planted directly into the substrate. It is important to ensure that the roots are correctly anchored in the substrate to avoid uprooting and curved growth. Adequate spacing is also important when planting. Without proper spacing, they can get overcrowded after a few weeks of growth. Proper spacing will ensure that all plants get enough light during the day.

Floating Water Wisteria

Water Wisteria can be allowed to float on the surface of the water. In rivers and other natural bodies of water, they often grow this way.

While most aquascapers prefer to secure the plants into the substrate, floating the plant has its benefit as well. Allowing the plant to float requires less maintenance. The plant will stay at the top of the water surface, so it will be able to capture lots of light. This can be useful if you are keeping fish that prefer a shaded environment. Many fishkeepers allow the Water Wisteria to float in their breeder tanks as well.

Water Wisteria Carpet

Water Wisteria can be used to grow a carpet as well. This may surprise some fishkeepers. Most fishkeepers are familiar with creating carpets with aquarium moss or dwarf hairgrass. In fact, these plants with fine leaves may still be the best option for creating a carpet if you have a nano tank. The spacing between the nodes on Water Wisterias may be too large to use it as a carpeting plant in nano tanks. However, for larger aquascapes, Water Wisteria can be a great plant to create a carpet.

In order to create a carpet with Water Wisteria, plant the stems into the substrate horizontally. Be careful not to bury the entire plant. Only bury a portion of the plant stem, and keep the leaves above the substrate. Plant them throughout the aquarium, or wherever you wish to create a carpet. Once planted, the leaves will start to grow upward, creating a carpet effect. Eventually the plant will grow tall, exceeding the height of a carpet. Therefore, regular pruning will be required.

Water Wisteria Melting and Other Potential Problems

While Water Wisteria is a hardy plant, they are not immune to problems. There’s a few potential issues to look out for such as melting, overgrowth, and yellow leaves.

Water Wisteria Melting

Melting is a widespread issue that many enthusiasts encounter when aquatic plants are grown emersed. When plants that are grown out of the water are suddenly submersed in an aquarium, they can melt. If the plants were grown submersed, there is less chance of melting. However, it can still happen if the water parameters are drastically different. If you suspect that the plant is melting, monitor the plant very closely and remove any dead leaves. A melting plant may very well survive, but the dead leaves must be removed before it starts to rot. If they are not removed, it will degrade the water quality of the entire aquarium. Once the plant adapts to the new environment, new leaves will start to appear.

Overgrowth

Since Water Wisteria is a fast-growing plant, overgrowth can be a concern in an aquarium. If the plant is allowed to grow freely, it may clog the aquarium filtration and other systems. If may take all the nutrients and lights, making it inhospitable for other aquarium plants in the tank. When other plants start to die, they will rot and degrade the water quality, affecting the fish as well. In order to avoid these problems, it is important to regularly prune the plants.

Yellow Leaves

If the leaves are turning yellow or pale, make sure the plants have enough nutrients. More specifically, check if there is an iron deficiency. Adding aquarium root tabs or liquid aquarium fertilizers with iron can resolve this issue.

If the leaves start to fall off the stems, it may be caused by insufficient lighting. Adjust the number of hours of light or the intensity of light.

Water Wisteria Propagation

In nature, Water Wisteria self-propagates by producing new plants from the mother plant. The same thing will happen in an aquarium. Cuttings can be taken from the mother plant and planted somewhere else in the tank. Once the plant is fully grown, a cutting of approximately five inches can be taken from the top of the plant stem. Keep in mind that the cuttings need to have at least a couple of leaves on them so that they can photosynthesize. The cutting can be planted in substrate or left to float. If it is planted, the cuttings will root quickly and develop into a whole new plant. Once the cuttings are planted into the substrate, it is advised not to move them around. If they are constantly moved around, they will take longer to establish and grow. In order to avoid unnecessary transplanting, make sure there is enough space in between the between the mother plant and the cuttings. The plants will need enough room to spread its roots and get enough light.

Tank Mates

Water Wisteria are suitable for many types of fish tanks.

For example, they would be great for betta fish tanks. A lush green growth in the tank would help the betta feel safe. In addition, if the plant is allowed to float, it may provide an anchor for its bubble nest.

Water Wisteria can be planted in tanks with other fish as well, such as guppies, tetras, mollies, corydoras catfish, and various other community fish.

Keep in mind that some fish may eat Water Wisteria as well. This includes fish such as goldfish, silver dollar fish, oscars, and rainbow fish.

Water Wisteria vs Water Sprite

Water Wisteria (hygrophila difformis) and Water Sprite (Ceratopteris thalictroides) are both popular aquarium plants and great options for many fish tanks. Both of these plants are often for sale from online retailers or local fish stores and they are often mistaken for one another. Even though both species are hardy plants with similar characteristics, there are some differences.

Water Sprite vs Wisteria

The main difference between Water Wisteria and Water Sprite is their leaf shape. In general, Water Sprite has thinner leaves and stems compared to Water Wisteria.

Another difference between the Water Wisteria and Water Sprite is their root system. In comparison, Water Wisteria has a stronger root system than Water Sprite. Under strong water flow, Water Sprite tends to get uprooted and become free-floating unless it is anchored with a plant weight. Therefore, for a tank setup with a strong water flow, Water Wisteria may be better suited.

Water Wisteria can change its leaf structure and has clearly defined roots and stems. On the other hand, Water Sprite has a central growing point known as rhizomes and has a bushy and dense plant form.

Water Wisteria is a flowering plant when grows above the water, and Water Sprite is an aquatic bushy fern that doesn’t produce any flowers.

Conclusion

Water Wisteria is an aesthetically pleasing plant that can help complete an aquascape. As long as its growing conditions are kept correct, this is a plant that will keep growing. Cuttings can be gifted to fellow aquarium hobbyists as well. The plant helps prevent the growth of algae by absorbing nitrates in the water. The antimicrobial properties make it an ideal choice for maintaining healthy and clean water. This undemanding freshwater aquatic plant is loved among the fishkeeping community for various reasons, and it’s easy to see why.

Fish Laboratory

With decades of collective fishkeeping experience, we are happy to share the knowledge that we've picked up along the way. Our goal at Fish Laboratory Aquatics is to keep publishing accurate content to help fishkeepers keep their fish healthy.

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