How to Grow Vallisneria in Aquarium?

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Vallisneria is among the richest aquatic plants you can get for your freshwater aquarium.

It’s adaptable, hardy, and looks great in any ecosystem with a bit of personalized care and aquascaping imagination.

But how exactly can you use this plant for your tank, and what should you know about maintaining, trimming, and propagating it? Let’s have a look!

Vallisneria Water Requirements

Vallisneria is an easy-going plant that doesn’t need much to thrive.

Aim for the following aquarium parameters:

  • Temperature – 68-82 °F
  • pH level – 6.8-8.0
  • Water hardness – 4-18 dGH
  • Lighting – Moderate

Vallisneria is highly adaptable and these water requirements prove it. It can withstand quite an impressive temperature swing and can accept various pH levels. This medium-to-fast grower only needs adequate space and proper lighting to thrive.

No CO2 or additional fertilization is required under optimal circumstances.

Vallisneria Light Requirements

Vallisneria can easily thrive in low-light conditions, but it won’t grow as tall. This grass-like species needs adequate lighting to reach its full potential.

I recommend using moderate-to-high lighting levels to incentivize the plant to grow taller, faster, and stronger.

The extra lighting will also boost the plant’s coloring and allow the plant to grow thicker and healthier.

Naturally, you want to have a good anti-algae mechanism in place since algae thrive in high-light conditions. Fortunately, your Vallisneria will create natural competition, consuming the nutrients and occupying the space that algae could use.

But you should also manage the situation wisely yourself because algae are notoriously adaptable and invasive, especially when the environmental conditions are right.

Vallisneria Substrate Requirements

Vallisneria is among the most adaptable plants in terms of a substrate. That’s because this plant, unlike most others, can adapt to any form of substrate, including inert types like sand.

Sand is particularly notable in this sense because it ranks as inert, so it doesn’t contain any valuable nutrients for rooted plants.

This is why rooted plants require additional fertilization via root tablets to grow properly in the sand. Not Vallisneria, though.

This species can go without fertilization and only survive on fish waste, dead plant matter, and other organic residues.

The plant’s adaptability comes from it not being a 100% root feeder but a mixed one. So, Vallisneria can get nutrients both from the substrate and the water column directly.

How to Plant Vallisneria?

The planting process is as easy as they come. In case of a sand substrate, you simply dig a hole with your fingers, place the plant’s roots inside, and cover them with sand for good anchoring support.

Make sure that the plant’s crown remains above the substrate to prevent the leaves from rotting.

If the sand is too fine, don’t bury the plant too deep into the substrate. Extra-fine sand is known to compact fast, which can put a lot of pressure on the rooting system.

This pressure can ultimately suffocate the plant, preventing the free circulation of nutrients.

Also, consider the danger of ammonia pockets along the way when it comes to sand.

You want to poke the substrate occasionally to prevent the formation of ammonia pockets which can turn deadly for both plants and fish.

You need a different approach in the case of substrates with larger particles that don’t offer as much anchoring as the plant needs.

I recommend either tying the plant to a nearby decoration or rock to prevent the water movement from unearthing it.

You can also place some weights on the substrate where the plant’s roots are to prevent the plant from floating away.

How to Trim Vallisneria?

A pair of scissors should do the work just fine. Vallisneria is a tall and slim plant with narrow, independent leaves.

Depending on your aquatic setup, you can simply use the scissors to cut taller leaves to the preferred height.

Keep in mind that the plant will often not regenerate its trimmed leaves. Instead, it will grow new ones to compensate for the damaged ones. So, regular trimming is necessary to keep the plant in check and prevent it from taking over the environment.

Especially since this is a moderate-to-fast grower, capable of spreading fast in ideal conditions.

Does Vallisneria Need CO2?

Not necessarily. Vallisneria is a hardy and adaptable freshwater plant that doesn’t require CO2 to thrive.

That being said, you should always monitor your plant’s development just in case anything changes along the way.

Does Vallisneria Need Fertilizer?

Generally, no, but the situation may differ. Vallisneria can require fertilization in its juvenile stages or when it’s still new to the environment. In this case, I recommend going for root tabs rather than liquid fertilizers.

Vallisneria is a more effective root feeder, and root tabs are great for long-term nutrient intake.

Not to mention, liquid fertilizers are great algae promoters which isn’t exactly the ideal scenario. So, it’s great that Vallisneria allows you to circumvent this problem altogether.

How Tall Does Vallisneria Grow?

Expect your Vallisneria to grow up to 15 inches or more, depending on environmental conditions, available nutrients, light conditions, and the tank’s size.

Careful planning is necessary to keep the plant in check, given that Vallisneria can literally explode in ideal conditions.

Regular trimming and pruning are necessary to control the plant’s development; especially if you have more plants that Vallisneria can outgrow and suffocate with ease.

How Fast Does Vallisneria Grow?

Vallisneria grows fast and can quickly outgrow its environment if left unchecked.

You can get a lush Vallisneria jungle within a couple of months in the ideal conditions. Always keep your Vallisneria in check to prevent it from invading the entire ecosystem.

How to Propagate Vallisneria?

Vallisneria propagates naturally via runners, which will spread throughout the entire tank once the plant reaches sexual maturity.

Your goal should be to propagate Vallisneria in a controlled manner which involves cutting and replanting the runners in your locations of choice.

Plus, you should always remove and dispose of excessive runners once you’ve established that the plant has reached its target spread.

Types of Vallisneria Plants

Interestingly enough, there are a variety of Vallisneria types, each different in terms of looks and overall behavior.

They all showcase similar environmental requirements but have a different impact, visual and otherwise, on the environment.

Here are the most important ones you need to know about:

  • Vallisneria Americana – This one is massive. Vallisneria Americana can grow up to 40 inches which may sound like it’s incompatible with aquarium life. Fortunately, the plant has shallow roots, so you don’t need an excessively thick substrate to house them. Also, the plant doesn’t propagate as fast as other Vallisneria types, which allows you to control its spread a lot easier.
  • Vallisneria Leopard – Vallisneria leopard, also grows in excess of 25 inches in its final form, so frequent pruning is necessary to keep it in check. This one gets its name from its spotted leaf pattern and it’s among the fastest growers you can get. It’s also very low-maintenance, making it great for all types of ecosystems.
  • Vallisneria nana – This one is one of my favorites, thanks to its rich bush-like appearance. Expect Vallisneria nana to reach 10-15 inches in height, making it a great addition to medium-sized aquariums. This plant has very long and very narrow leaves, bringing it closer to grass than any other Vallisneria species.


This plant species ranks among the most adaptable and versatile species you can get for your freshwater ecosystem. The plant doesn’t require intensive care and can adapt to a variety of aquatic conditions.

Provide it with decent lighting and sufficient nutrients, and trim the plant regularly to control its spread, and you will reap amazing rewards.

Plus, depending on your ecosystem’s size and layout, you have several Vallisneria species to rely on.

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.
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