Water Wisteria 101: The Complete Guide (Care, Growing, Propagation and More…)

Aquatic plants not only provide shelter for your fish, but they also keep the water oxygenated and clean. You want to pick the right plant for your tank to avoid unnecessary problems later down the road. 

If you are looking for a versatile plant that not only looks great but is easy to care for, then look no further. Water wisteria is the perfect addition to any hobbyist’s aquarium. 

This plant works well as a floating plant, you can plant it as a carpet, and it can be rooted normally. This guide will take you through the ins and outs of setting up and caring for your water wisteria to ensure optimum success. 

Water Wisteria Overview

Water Wisteria Overview

In its natural habitat, water wisteria (Hygrophila difformis) can be found in Nepal, Bangladesh, India, as well as a couple of other smaller countries from that region. In the U.S., it is grown in nurseries and fish stores. 

These plants love shallows waters and abundant light. It can either float on the water surface or root itself in the substrate.  

Water Wisteria is typically a fast-growing plant, but during the rainy seasons, this is especially true. It has been known to completely take over shallow waters and rivers in just a matter of weeks!

Water wisteria is perfect for smaller fish to use as a place to hide and shelter because of how thick it grows. However, the foliage is not so dense that fish are still able to dart around quickly through its vegetation.

Appearance, Size and Growth Rate of Water Wisteria

Water wisteria is a beautiful addition to your tank. With the right lighting underwater, the vibrant green leaves will provide a striking pop of color.

Although the water wisteria comes in a couple of different varieties, it generally has thin, long leaves. However, the method of planting, as well as genetics, will cause slight variations in the shape of the leaves.

It’s essential to make sure that your tank is large enough to handle the water wisteria’s rapid growth rate and size. The stems of the water wisteria are sturdy, thick, and somewhat prominent. These plants have a tendency to take up a lot of space in your aquarium, which can actually hinder larger fish’s movements in your tank.

Although the roots of the water wisteria look fragile, they are actually quite sturdy. The white, delicate-looking roots will grow and reach under the substrate to create a firm foundation for the plant.

As mentioned previously, water wisteria has a rapid growth rate, which can take unsuspecting aquarists by surprise. Without the proper maintenance and pruning, these plants will quickly overtake your tank. When using water wisteria as a carpet, you will need to prune it back regularly to keep it under control.

Water wisteria can grow up to 20 inches tall, which is not ideal for nano tanks or smaller tanks that have a heavy bio load. When left unpruned, they have been known to grow about a foot wide.

Depending upon your preferences and how you prune it, the water wisteria can grow thin and tall, or wide and short.

Water Wisteria for Aquarium

How to Plant Water Wisteria

To ensure you have healthy water wisteria that thrives within the parameters you set for it, you want to start things off right and plant it correctly. 

There are several different ways you can plant your water wisteria, giving you a wide variety of results. You can treat it like a tropical plant and immerse it and root it in the substrate by burying the stem in the sandy substrate about one or two inches. 

You won’t need to expend excessive amounts of energy taking care of water wisteria because they tend to be hardy and durable. When you do start planting it, you need to make sure that there is plenty of space between each one. If you crowd them together, it will eventually stunt their growth because they will end up competing for light.

You can also create a carpet of water wisteria throughout your tank. This option has become quite popular among aquarists today. When you are ready to plant a carpet, all you need to do is flip them sideways. Rather than planting the stems vertically, as you normally would, you should lay them on their sides and bury the stems partially, but don’t bury the leaves.

When you do this with several plants, it will create a carpeted effect. You will need to trim your water wisteria carpet on a regular basis to keep it from overgrowing and losing the carpeted look.

Another option you have for water wisteria is to float it. You can find it floating in its natural habitat of streams and rivers. Although it’s not as popular as planting and carpeting, floating your plants will add a unique look to your aquarium. Some of our favorite plants, such as hornwort, look great as floaters in your aquarium.

If you decide to float your water wisteria, make sure you keep it tidy and don’t let it become overcrowded and start blocking the light from your other plants and fish in your tank. You also want to make sure that it does not clog up your pumps and filters.

Water-Wisteria-Stem-Plant

How to Care for Water Wisteria 

Throughout this article, we have mentioned several ways to take care of your water wisteria, but what it all boils down to is how easy it is to care for water wisteria. Because they tend to be durable and very hardy, they are not easy to kill.

Because of the low maintenance and ease of care, water wisteria is an excellent choice for someone who wants to add interest to their tank without the hassle of caring for a new fish.

Despite the ease of care and low maintenance, there are still care requirements you will need to meet. They are difficult or challenging, but they will ensure your water wisteria remains healthy and thrives.

Tank Conditions

You don’t want to plant or float the water wisteria in tanks that are 10-gallons or smaller due to the rapid growth rate and large sizes. If you try to plant it in a smaller tank, you will end up trimming and pruning it constantly to keep it from taking over your whole aquarium. 

Water wisteria needs ample space to spread its roots in the substrate, which is another reason you need a larger tank. These plants do very well in aquariums that are over 10-gallons.

Water Parameters

Water wisteria can survive in a wide variety of parameters, allowing you to focus on taking care of the less hardy, more needy plants and fish in your tank. 

  • Water temperature: 74°F to 82°F
  • pH levels: 5 to 7.5
  • Water hardness: 3 to 8 KH

Because you will be doing regular water tests for the other fish and plants in your tank, keeping an eye on the parameters for your water wisteria is easy. Although, if there is an issue with the water parameters, chances are your fish will be affected before your plants will. 

If you have a tank with extensive aquascaping, you might discover that even though temperatures are within the acceptable range, one temperature may produce better results than other temperatures.

Substrate

The type of substrate that you use in your tank will make a significant impact on your water wisteria’s overall health and growth rate. In its natural habitat of riverbeds and such, you will find it rooted in a nutrient-rich, sandy substrate. This allows it to establish a foundational root base.

Installing a sandy substrate that has was explicitly made for plants is ideal but not completely necessary. With other substrates, you do have the option of supplementing with a fertilizer, such as a root tab, to help it to grow and stay healthy.

You need to remember when initially planting water wisteria to make sure that you anchor it into the sandy substrate to keep it from coming loose before it can root. It doesn’t take long before the roots begin to grow and become stable, but it does need a little help in the beginning.

Lighting

Water wisteria can do well in a variety of lighting environments. This plant is different from other plants. There are no hard and fast rules about lighting for the water wisteria like there is for other plants. 

If you want to take advantage of their growth rate and maximize the health of your water wisteria, you should make sure it has a high amount of light. However, when in low light, they can do well due to their hardy natures. 

Because of this, you can take into consideration more sensitive plants and fish when it comes to the lighting, giving them priority. One thing you do need to remember is low light does not mean no light. As a plant, it cannot survive in the dark. It still needs a minimum of light to survive.

Compatibility and Tank Mates

Water wisteria is a very friendly and flexible plant that is compatible with many other plants as well as fish, making it easy to add to your aquascape.

When it comes to other plants, the most important thing to consider is overcrowding. Most plants need plenty of space for them to grow and for their root systems to spread out. When you have multiple plants that are all competing for the same light and space, some of the plants will end up suffering. 

To get a good general idea of how much space you need, you should take note of our previous recommendations for tank size and plant size. You can cross-reference this information with information on the maximum size of the other plants you are considering. This will help you gauge how much space is needed for your plants and how many plants you can place in your tank.

Water wisteria is compatible with most fish. However, there are two fish that love to eat plants, so you will want to avoid the silver dollar fish and all goldfish. You might also avoid snails such as the nerite, because they will eat your plants, as well.

This list of fish that do well with water wisteria is definitely longer than the list of those that do not do well. Although we can’t list them all here, there are a few fish that do really well with the water wisteria. They will use it as shelter and hiding places. Some of these include:

  • Various shrimp
  • Kuhli loaches
  • African cichlids
  • Betta fish
  • Dwarf gouramis
  • Cory catfish
  • Neon tetras

Water Wisteria Propagation

Water wisteria is one of the simplest aquarium plants you can propagate. The process is easy. As always, you need to begin with a healthy plant cutting. It’s best to wait until the water wisteria has grown to maturity before you attempt this, ensuring you get a healthy cutting, and your remaining plant stays uninjured. 

Next, you will want to cut approximately 4″ to 5″ from the end of the stem, where the leaves are. Choose your area for replanting it, then immerse the cut part of the stem around an inch deep in the sand substrate. Remember to anchor it so that it doesn’t come loose and float away.

Because your new water wisteria will need its own room to spread its roots, you want to make sure that you plant it in a section of your tank where it will not be crowded out by your other plants. Make sure it has enough room to get plenty of light so that it will grow and thrive.

Buying Water Wisteria

You can buy water wisteria in most aquarium stores because of its popularity. The prices range depending on the size of the plants and how big the bunch is. You can pretty much expect to pay between $5 and $10 for a nice size bunch. 

Plus, you don’t need to buy many stems because they are so easy to plant and propagate yourself. It’s essential to find healthy specimens to buy because they will be more likely to survive. 

There are several things you want to look for when picking out your water wisteria. You want to make sure that the roots are long and plentiful, if they are not, the plant will not get the nutrients it needs, nor will it be able to hold itself up.

Choose a plant that is able to stand upright and support its own weight. Avoid any specimens that are drooping around the bottom of the tank. You also want to make sure that the water wisteria’s coloring is bright green and consistent. If you see brown or yellow spots on the plant, that is a good indicator that the plant is not healthy. 

Conclusion

Water wisteria remains one of the more popular aquatic plants among aquarists for several reasons. It’s a hardy plant that is difficult to kill, it improves your tank’s water quality, and it looks fabulous!

Now that you know everything there is to know about water wisteria, you are ready to start growing it in your tank. If you have a question or need clarification on any of the information in this article, please let us know. We love hearing from our readers!

Michele Taylor
Michele Taylor

Hello, fellow aquarists! My name is Michele Taylor, and I am a homeschool mother of six children, which includes five boys and one girl. Growing up, our family had a large aquarium with angelfish, goldfish, and lots of different varieties of neons.

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