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Vallisneria Care Guide: How to Make This Plant Thrive

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Creating a natural-looking habitat in your home aquarium is important, as it can decrease stress in fish. A great way to do this is by adding real plants to your aquarium; not only do they look great, but they also have added benefits as well. 

In order to grow to their fullest potential, Vallisneria plants need proper lighting, food, and water temperature. Vallisneria plants are great additions to freshwater tanks and require little care to thrive. The Vallisneria grows rapidly, which is beneficial to the fish in your tank.

Vallisneria plants are great for aquatic plant beginners.  With the information provided here, you are well on your way to having thriving Vallisneria plants in your aquariums. 

Vallisneria Basic Needs 

As with any house or aquarium plant, the Vallisneria needs a few basics to thrive in its environment. These basics include water, food, and lighting.  


Your first thought may be, “the plant is in the tank; obviously, it has water”, but the Vallisneria needs proper water parameters to be met in order to truly thrive. Ideally, the tank should be set to between 68-82°F (which are the parameters for most tropical tanks). 

On top of this, the Vallisneria does not thrive in acidic water conditions, and therefore the tank should have a pH of between 6.5-8.0 pH. As far as water hardness, this plant does well in both soft and hard water but should be met with conditions between the range of 4-18GH.


Feeding the Vallisneria is relatively easy and does not always need any extra effort from you. If you have enough fish in your tank that are producing a fair amount of waste, then the Vallisneria will consume the nutrients from this. 

However, if you only have a few fish in your tank that do not produce a heavy amount of waste, then you can add substrate to your tank with fertilizer to make sure your plant is getting all of the necessary nutrients it needs to grow. 

The easiest way to add fertilizer to any tank is through root tabs. These tablets contain everything your plant needs. Simply buy them and push them into the substrate.


Vallisneria grows best in moderate to highly lighted tanks. A low-lighted tank encouraged the plant to grow taller as plants always grow towards the light. A highly lighted tank makes the leaves of the plant a bright green hue and will also help the plant grow a phenomenal root system. 

Vallisneria water plant isolated on white background

Tank Requirements

Aside from the basic needs for the plant to grow, there are a few other tank requirements needed to ensure that the plant is thriving! After all, a healthy plant makes for a healthy aquarium. 

Tank Size

There are several different varieties of the Vallisneria plant, but they all grow fairly rapidly. With that being said, it doesn’t take long for the Vallisneria to quickly overrun the tank, especially if your tank is too small. Even the smaller varieties of the Vallisneria grow to be quite large. 

Because of this, it is recommended that you put the plant in at least a 10-gallon tank, but preferably larger. Keep in mind that with fish, decorations, and rocks- there still may not be enough room for the plant to properly grow. 


Vallisneria plants will grow in just about anything including plain aquarium gravel and sand, as long as there is enough waste in the tank to feed off of. They are overall not heavy root feeders, however, adding a substrate to the tank will have benefits; especially if there are not many fish in the tank. 

If you do have a healthy amount of fish in the tank, then adding a substrate is not necessary. However, it can be used when the plants are just starting out so they can get an infusion of nutrients to help them grow. After this, they can be removed from the substrate.

Keep in mind that if adding a substrate to your aquarium, the root systems of the plant will not grow as fast. Therefore the plant will not spread as fast as it usually would. 

How to Propagate Vallisneria  

Since Vallisneria grows so quickly, you will want to know how to propagate the plant correctly. Thankfully, it is a very simple task. The plant grows in “runners” or long shoots which will sprout throughout the tank. 

Vallisneria gigantea freshwater aquatic plants in a fish tank

While you can keep the majority of the runners, it can quickly become too much if you have a smaller tank. You would then simply cut the runners off of the main plant and place them in another tank if you would like, or dispose of them. 

If you choose to place them in another tank, you can take a pair of tweezers (make sure they are clean and rinsed) and bury the root of the plant in a substrate, such as gravel or fine aquarium sand, to prevent rotting. 

Benefits of Having the Vallisneria in Your Freshwater Tank 

There are several benefits to adding any of the Vallisneria plants to your home aquarium. If you have a thriving plant, then your aquarium will reap these benefits.

  • Aquascaping. Once the Vallisneria is placed in your tank, it will start growing quickly. This means you can put it in the back of your tank and it will expand into a beautiful forest-like decoration before you know it.
  • Safety net. Since the Vallisneria grows quickly, it provides an optimum hiding place for any fish you have in your tank, plus it is a prime spot for laying eggs.
  • Removes toxins. The Vallisneria plant absorbs toxicities in your tank which will keep your fish healthy and tank parameters in check. Furthermore, it specifically reduces nitrates, CO2, ammonia, heavy metals, and other gasses omitted by excess fish waste or decaying matter. 
  • Adds oxygen to the tank. As with all plants, once the toxins are eliminated from the plant, it will then add oxygen to the water. This is crucial to have thriving fish. 
  • Reduced the chance of algae bloom. Algae is a common problem in home aquariums, but since the Vallisneria plant is always longing for more nutrients, it absorbs everything it can which reduces the chance for algae to grow. 

Common Problems Correlating with Vallisneria

While there are several benefits to having the Vallisneria in your aquarium, the plant can be prone to some problems you will want to watch out for. If you know the signs you can help the plant right away so they can continue to thrive. 

  1. Plant rot. If you notice that the plant is failing to thrive, wilting, or turning colors; the root system may rot. If this is the case, you will want to remove that part of the plant to ensure it doesn’t affect the healthy parts of the plant. 
  1. Chlorosis. Chlorosis will cause the leaves of the plant to dull out and is usually due to a lack of iron. To reverse this, you will need to put high lighting in the tank for a longer amount of time to build the iron in the plant back up. 
  1. Melting. Yes, your plant can actually melt! This is caused by having the wrong water parameters in the tank and is usually a slow process with the first sign of your leaves starting to wither. This is due to unstable carbon monoxide levels and low nitrate levels in the tank. 

With this being said, make sure to have a testing schedule on a weekly or monthly basis to ensure your tank is within the correct parameters for your fish and plants.