Vallisneria: rules for growing and care in aquarium conditions

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Vallisneria: rules for growing and care in aquarium conditions
Vallisneria: rules for growing and care in aquarium conditions

Description of the vallisneria plant, agricultural planting and care techniques in a home aquarium, breeding rules, possible difficulties in growing and ways to solve them, curious notes, species and varieties.

Vallisneria belongs to the Hydrocharitaceae family. Among the representatives of this family there are more well-known to the inhabitants, such as the frog water-color (Hydrocharis morsus-ranae) and the common telores (Stratiotes aloides), as well as the Canadian Elodea (Elodea canadensis). Among lovers of aquatic plants, the most popular type is Vallisneria spiralis. Although according to the information provided by The Plant List database, there are 14 species in the genus by scientists.

The native area of ​​natural distribution of Vallisneria covers tropical and subtropical territories in the western and eastern hemispheres of the planet, but some species have successfully taken root in zones with moderate climatic conditions. If we talk about Russian lands, then in nature on the Don, Volga, Far East and Ciscaucasia, only one single species mentioned above grows.

Family name Vodokrasovye
Growing period Perennial
Vegetation form Herbaceous
Breeds Daughter rosettes, rarely with seeds
Timing of transplanting into the aquarium soil All year round
Landing rules At a distance of 5-10 cm from each other
Priming Nutritious, loose, clayey
Content temperature, degrees 20–28
Water acidity values, pH 6-7.5 (neutral)
Illumination level 0.5 W / L
Special care rules Periodic leaf pruning
Height options 0.5-2 m
Type of inflorescences or flowers Single flowers or semi-umbellate inflorescences
Color of flowers Pale green, whitish
Fruit type Seed capsule
Decorative period Year-round
Application The aquarium plant serves to purify water
USDA zone 5–9

The genus got its name thanks to the famous flora taxonomy Karl Linnaeus (1707-1787), who described its representatives in 1753 and decided to immortalize the name of the botanist from Italy Antonio Vallisneri (1661-1730). People can hear how the plant is called ribbon grass or wallis.

The genus Vallisneria combines perennials that grow immersed in the aquatic environment (hydrophytes). That is, plants are attached to the surface of the soil by elongated thin and creeping rhizomes (their length reaches about 7–10 cm), and only the lower parts of this representative of the flora are below the surface of the water. At the roots, the color is milky yellow and they are quite flexible, not susceptible to injury. Vallisneria grow in nature in rivers or lakes. Stems with leafy plates, collected in basal rosettes, are fixed to the soil by means of long shoots (mustache-like layering), located at a short distance from the mother specimen. The color of the leaves is bright or dark green or there is a reddish tone, they grow completely submerged in water. The shape of the leaves can be linear or lanceolate, in rare cases, at the base, they take on a heart-shaped shape. The foliage is soft to the touch, its edge is solid or there may be a fine serration near the top.

The stem of Vallisneria sometimes grows branched and rather developed. The leaves on it are then arranged in a regular sequence, rarely gathering in whorls. The leaf plates are provided with axillary scales.It is noteworthy that different types of wallis have leaves of different sizes, and in some they even have a spiral twist. On the surface of the leaves, venation is present, and the veins run parallel to each other along the entire length of the leaf.

Vallisneria is characterized by leaves that reach a meter in length, but generally their parameters when grown in an aquarium range from 50 to 70 cm, and only in some specimens they reach 1–2 meters. In most of the species in the genus, the tops of the leaf plates reach the edge of the water and grow creeping along it, developing due to the current. It is this feature that is a clear feature of Vallisneria, in contrast to the arrowhead (Sagittaria). This is because the outlines of the leaves of arrowheads are quite similar to this hydrophyte, but its foliage will never creep along the water surface.


Vallisneria leaves are invaluable when in a pond or aquarium, as they help purify the water and saturate it with oxygen.

Ribbon grass is dioecious, that is, some specimens have male flowers, while others have female flowers. The size of the flowers can be small, and they are not particularly decorative, or the flowers on the stems open large, with a well-distinguishable perianth. They are mainly located, towering above the water. Vallisneria flowers can be formed both singly, so from them semi-umbellate inflorescences are collected, covered with a pair of accrete bracts. These leaves form a single-leafed veil, and more than one inflorescence can emerge from each leaf axil, but several. The perianth is made up of a pair of circles (outer and inner), taking on a petal-like whitish color.

Often, the Vallisneria inflorescence in aquarium conditions resembles a thin arrow-thread. Its length reaches 60–70 cm. Such a "thread" rises to the surface of the water and lies there, on the water surface, where buds bloom. The flower size can vary between 3-5 mm. The petals in them are green. Flowering is rather short, then the inflorescence returns after pollination back to the bottom. Pollination occurs by means of water, that is, in a hydrophilic manner.

After pollination is completed, the flowering stem of Vallisneria begins to twist like a spiral, and this is what allows it to pull the pollinated flowers under the surface of the water, where the fruits will ripen. The pollination process is the direct contact of the female flower stamens, which break away from their plant and float in the water with the stigmas of the floating male flowers. Wallis fruits are represented by seed capsules (capsules) filled with a large number of small seeds.

In addition to such seed propagation, Vallisneria can successfully propagate vegetatively. This is because shoots that grow creeping on the surface of the soil in a reservoir or buried in it develop buds. After a certain period of time, very small daughter hydrophytes begin to grow from them. After such young plants take root in the ground, they throw out layers, through which new specimens of ribbon grass will be formed. Thanks to this method of reproduction, the bottom of rivers and lakes, where Vallisneria is located, is quickly covered with dense thickets, since the shoots of plants are very tightly connected to each other.

In our area, it will not be easy to grow this plant in reservoirs, but aquarists appreciated the properties of this hydrophyte as they deserved, since the plant is easy to care for and will decorate any aquarium.

Agrotechnics of planting and caring for vallisneria in a home aquarium

Vallisneria in the aquarium
  1. Place for placement tape grass is best picked up at the back of the aquarium, in the middle ground, or somewhere in the corner.So the leaves will be able to develop freely, but not interfere with other inhabitants of flora and fauna. Since, thanks to leaf rosettes, cascades of a rich emerald hue are formed, which effectively respond to any fluctuation in water, such a plant remains attractive for a long time. In addition, the foliage of Vallisneria serves as food for some species of fish, and its shoots in the aquarium are also of great benefit. Through them, oxygen is released, which will saturate the aquatic environment, as well as debris or suspension that settles on the surface of the foliage, cleaning the aquarium. Shoots also serve to form the soil. Scientists have proven that this representative of the aquatic flora can absorb harmful impurities from its environment.
  2. Lighting level with the aquarium content of Vallisneria, it should be 0.5 W / l, while both natural and artificial are suitable. If a species such as a giant (Vallisneria gigantea) is grown, then it is recommended to provide side illumination, since the leaves are large and can shade each other. The duration of daylight hours, recommended when keeping a wallis in the aquarium, should be maintained at least 8-16 hours (however, this must be selected purely individually). If this rule is violated, then the plant will begin to stretch strongly, and its foliage will turn yellow.
  3. Water temperature when growing a spectacular hydrophyte in an aquarium, it should not go beyond the range of 20-28 degrees. If the heat indicators drop below 18 degrees, this can provoke the death of Vallisneria.
  4. Water parameters. The acidity at which the plant will be comfortable is pH 6–7.5, that is, water is preferable to be neutral or slightly acidic, but always soft. The last condition concerns stiffness, it is important that its value should not exceed dH up to 15 C, and for some species, no more than 8.
  5. Vallisneria landing. When the soil is laid at the bottom of the aquarium, and it settles, then you can start planting the algae, too much deepening is not required for it. The root collar must remain on the surface of the substrate.
  6. Priming when growing vallisneria in an aquarium, it is recommended to select a nutritious one. If a new soil mixture is used, then clay should be added to it for enrichment. Later, such impurities will not be needed, since its own silty layer will already have accumulated in the soil. The composition of the substrate does not play a role in the maintenance of tape grass, but experienced aquarists advise adding pebbles of any fraction and river sand to it. In order for the Vallisneria root system to develop correctly, the soil layer at the bottom of the aquarium is poured about 4-7 cm.
  7. Fertilizers when growing wallis, they are usually not additionally used, only in those cases when the plant itself shows the state of the leaves of a lack of certain substances. You can find out about this in the section "Possible difficulties in growing Vallisneria and ways to solve them." But in general, this hydrophyte does not tolerate the presence of minerals well. So, for example, if the content of sodium ions in the water is exceeded, then this growth of this representative of the aquatic flora will be disrupted. Therefore, it is recommended to add salt and soda to water, which contains vallisneria, with great care. If the soil mixture was selected correctly when growing tape grass, then top dressing can not be used at all. When keeping vallisneria in an aquarium, it is recommended to carefully monitor that rust, which is an iron oxide, and ferric salts, do not get into the water. If this rule is violated, the algae will definitely die. It is noticed that if the nutrients of vallisneria are not enough, then its development slows down, and the foliage begins to rot from the edge. To prevent such a problem, it is necessary to periodically apply top dressing, which is released in the form of a paste or tablets.You can also place balls of blue pharmacy clay under the roots. It is not required to additionally feed the aqueous medium with carbon dioxide.
  8. General advice for growing Vallisneria. The plant responds normally to the absence of frequent changes of water in the aquarium, and its growth does not depend in any way on whether the old liquid or the new one is poured into the container. Since the bushes of tape grass are rapidly increasing their deciduous mass, real cascading thickets will form from them. To help such plants occupy the entire thickness of the water surface provided to them, it is recommended to carry out regular weeding and thinning. To control the growth of the leaf plates of the wallis, they are periodically trimmed, but a separate leaf cannot be shortened, since it will die immediately. The entire leaf outlet is subject to removal, in the place of which the young specimen is planted.

See also tips for keeping alternantera in a pot or home aquarium.

Vallisneria breeding rules

Vallisneria in the water

In order to carry out independent reproduction of tape grass, the vegetative method is used - by rooting layers, which over time are formed on a shoot that has a creeping shape. In rare cases, cultivation is carried out by means of seeds.

If the growing conditions are favorable, then just one specimen of Vallisneria can become the source of the formation of fifty bushes. However, due to vegetative reproduction in aquariums, there are usually representatives of only one sex.

Layers of tape grass become a source of daughter plants, and when 3-4 leaf plates and a lobe of root shoots appear on them, this is a sign that the children are ready to separate. With the help of sharpened and disinfected scissors, the children are carefully separated from the mother plant and planted in a separate container or in the same aquarium, leaving 5–10 cm between the parent specimen and the “ribbon grass” seedling.


You should not break off the mustache with the children from the mother's Vallisneria, otherwise you can pull out all the plantings from the soil.

Although in nature plants reproduce by seeds, when grown in an aquarium, this process becomes almost impossible. This is due to the fact that even if there are specimens with female and male flowers in the same aquarium, their flowering time can be very different and pollination will not occur. Only when several plants are kept in one container, will it increase the likelihood that they will bloom at the same time. If such a process has occurred in a home aquarium, then ripening the seed capsules will sink to the bottom and young wallis will develop from them.

Possible difficulties in growing Vallisneria and ways to solve them

Vallisneria stalks

Despite the fact that this hydrophytic plant does not require much care at all, but if the rules of maintenance are violated, it can suffer from diseases in which the decorativeness of the leaves suffers greatly, they take on a yellow color. If measures are not taken, then Vallisneria will definitely perish. For treatment, it is first recommended, using tweezers, to remove all parts of the tape grass affected by the disease, and regular cleaning of the aquarium will also prevent diseases. Basically, problems with growing wallis arise due to the lack of some chemical elements or the level of lighting.

Among the problems that arise when growing Vallisneria are:

  1. Low level of light, leading to loss of leaf color, in addition, the plant sheds leaf plates growing in the lower part. It is important to use supplementary lighting to solve the problem using special lamps.
  2. Low temperature indicators, contributing to the "freezing" of leaves and death of Vallisneria.
  3. When it is noticed that the leaves have taken on a yellow tint and become as if "glassy", then this indicates a lack of iron in the water. Therefore, it is recommended to add 0.1 mg / l of ferrous sulfate to the water once a week.
  4. If there is too much iron in the water, then the leaves still remain yellow, but veins of green color are visible on their surface. Solving this problem will help dissolution in water and manganese poured into the aquarium, but in very small quantities.
  5. When the edge of the leaf plates turns yellow, this is a sign of a lack of calcium in Vallisneria. In order to replenish this substance, they take a couple of pieces of shells, thoroughly disinfect them and immerse them on the bottom of the aquarium.
  6. Too fast death of leaves in this plant provokes a lack of nitrogen in the water, as well as the color of the edges of the leaves in yellow. To solve the problem, it is recommended to lower the temperature in the aquarium by 2-3 units.
  7. The coating of sheet plates with limescale indicates an insufficient amount of carbon dioxide. Then several inhabitants (fish or snails) should be introduced into the aquarium.
  8. The appearance of a reddish color on the leaves is a sign of insufficient sulfur. To solve this problem, it is necessary to deposit the diseased Vallisneria into a container where a grain of sulfur dissolves in the water.
  9. When the surface of the leaves is covered with spots of yellow or red color, we can talk about a lack of potassium. An increase in the amount of this substance in the water is carried out by introducing mineral fertilizers when changing the water in the aquarium, for example, using nitrophosphate dissolved in water at the rate of 2 grams per 100 liters. In this case, the drug should be applied until the potassium level is replenished and the signs of its deficiency disappear.
  10. If the water ceases to be sufficiently saturated with phosphorus, then the foliage of Vallisneria acquires a reddish tint, and in young specimens it darkens and curls up. To increase the concentration of this substance in water, it is recommended to use phosphorus fertilizers.
  11. The black tops on the leaves of wallis indicate a deficiency of such a substance as boron. The problem is solved by introducing the drug on the basis that 0.5 mg should fall on 1 liter of liquid.
  12. In the case when the sheet plates of Vallisneria brighten greatly, and then begin to die off, this indicates a lack of copper. To replenish its concentration in water, it is recommended to pour in a solution based on copper sulfate, diluted in a ratio of 0.2 mg per 1 liter. As soon as these signs disappear, the remedy is no longer used, since an overabundance of copper will lead to the death of the inhabitants of the aquarium and other aquatic flora.


If it is decided to grow Vallisneria in an aquarium, then it is worth knowing exactly the characteristics of the inhabitants (fish) living in it, since some of them are characterized by the property of undermining the soil, which will invariably negatively affect this algae and lead to its death.

    The Vallisneria cochlea species is an aggressive invader due to its efficient dispersal, vegetative propagation, high biomass production and popularity in the aquarium trade. Acts as an "unwanted organism" in New Zealand. Included in the National Pest Treaty prohibiting sale, commercial distribution and distribution. Since 2013, Vallisneria spiralis has been listed as a naturalized foreign plant in Iceland, where it has been registered in geothermal ponds.

    Types and varieties of vallisneria

    In the photo, Vallisneria American

    Vallisneria americana (Vallisneria americana)

    has an underwater growth and can be used as food for various fauna, for example, the American red-headed duck (Aythya valisineria). In this case, animals use all parts of the plant. Long foliage and stems are usually lethargic, which contributes to their eating. Despite its specific name, the species can be found not only on American lands, in natural conditions it grows in Iraq, China, Japan, Korea, India, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Australia, Canada and many other regions with tropical and subtropical climate.In areas of natural distribution, the plant is called wild celery, water celery or ribbon grass. Vallisneria americana is grown for the aquarium trade, where it is sold as a background plant.

    Occasionally, the tops of the leaves of Vallisneria American float on the surface of the water. Ribbon grass leaves arise in clusters from the roots. They are about 2.54 cm wide and can be 60–70 cm long, although the width and length can vary greatly. They have distinct, raised veins with some cross-venation. The leaves have rounded tips. Ribbon grass produces male and female flowers. Small white female flowers are more visible. Single male flowers grow on very long stems. Mature flowers reach the surface of the water. The ribbon grass fruit is a banana-shaped capsule with many tiny seeds.

    A variety such as Natans comes from Asia and is a hardy plant well suited for the beginner hobbyist. It is characterized by thin, narrow leaves reaching 50–100 cm long by 1 cm wide, so it does not overshadow other plantings in the aquarium too much. Easily propagates using multiple shoots.

    In the photo Vallisneria spiral

    Vallisneria spiral (Vallisneria spiralis)

    the most popular species in the genus. Also known as straight vallisneria, ribbon grass or eel grass, it is a common aquarium plant that prefers good light and a nutritious substrate. In the wild, it can be found in tropical and subtropical regions around the world. It is characterized by narrow, linear leaves that vary in color from pale green to reddish, reaching a length of 1 m (usually they are much shorter, only 50–70 cm) and a width of about 1, 2–1, 9 cm. A rosette is assembled from the leaves … At the very top, the edge acquires a fine serration. The tip of the leaf plate is blunt.

    Vallisneria is a spiral monoecious with flowers on long spiral stems that break away from the bush and float on the surface of the water. Female (staminate flowers) are formed on shortened pedicels, forming into bundle-shaped inflorescences. During the flowering period, they separate from the parent specimen and float on the surface of a reservoir or aquarium. There they approach pistillate flowers, contributing to pollination. Male flowers (pistillate) grow singly, crowning rather elongated pedicels, characterized by a twisted spiral shape.

    Seeds of Vallisneria coiled in aquariums usually do not germinate. Instead, it is most often spread by creeping cuttings (whiskers), which can lead to the formation of dense thickets.

    One form of this plant has been described: Vallisneria spiralis form tortifoliawhich has also been upgraded to a species level by some taxonomists called Vallisneria tortissima… The shape has tightly curled leaves. Along with this shape, many other trade names have been developed for small variations in species. Their taxonomic status is unclear.

    In the photo, Vallisneria is giant

    Vallisneria giant (Vallisneria gigantea)

    In most aquariums, leaves grow for so long that they float to the surface. They are 50–150 cm long and 2–4 cm wide. Thus, the plant needs pruning to stop it, providing more light for other flora growing under it. The leaves are tough and strong, so they are not eaten by herbivorous fish. The leaves are painted in a dark green color scheme. The leaf plates are collected in bundles, forming a continuous green carpet that covers the surface of the water. The top of the leaves is obtuse; closer to it, the edge becomes finely serrated. Natural distribution occurs in the southeast Asian regions.

    In an aquarium, Vallisneria gigantea is recommended to be planted at the back of the aquarium. Suitable for large aquariums with large fish. The growth rate is quite significant (almost 1 cm per day), therefore it is recommended to use pruning when growing in aquariums.Quite undemanding and grows well when iron-rich fertilizer is added to the water.

    In the photo Vallisneria tiger

    Vallisneria tiger (Vallisneria Tiger)

    acts as the most spectacular variation of spiral Vallisneria. The difference is the pattern of the small size of black strokes that adorn the surface of the leaves, which served as the specific name. When grown in aquarium, it is capable of forming green thickets. The leaf plates are narrow and elongated, painted in a rich green hue. Plant height can approach 1 m.

    Related article: How to grow pond in a pond and aquarium

    Video about growing vallisneria in an aquarium:

    Photos of vallisneria:

    Vallisneria Photos 1 Vallisneria Photo 2 Vallisneria Photo 3 Vallisneria Photos 4 Vallisneria Photos 5

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