Minimum Tank Size: 10 Gallons (37 Litres)
Care Level: Very Easy
Water Conditions: 5-8 pH and Soft to Moderately Hard
Temperature: 64–86 °F (18-30 °C)
Maximum Size: 24 inches (60 cm)
Hygrophila polysperma, also known as dwarf hygro, Indian waterweed and dwarf hygrophila is one of the hardiest aquarium plants available in the aquarium hobby. It is so resilient and forgiving, that you almost have to set out with the intent to kill it, to really fail with this plant.
It was originally native to Asia, and can be found in the inland waters of India, Bangladesh, China and Malaysia. In recent years, it has become established in several southern states, including Texas and Florida, with unconfirmed reports of it becoming established in Virginia. It is listed as a noxious weed in several states, which makes it illegal to sell or import – so always check your local regulations before buying or selling this plant
Dwarf hygrophila will thrive in almost any aquarium, and can adjust to a wide variety of water types and temperatures. It is generally placed in the background or midground of an aquarium, but its rapid growth makes it difficult to aquascape with. If left to its own devices, it can quickly overrun an aquarium that has plentiful nutrients and good lighting – so regular pruning is a must.
Dwarf hygrophilia doesn’t require any special care, and will grow nicely in even the most basic aquarium setup. You can add CO2 to a tank containing dwarf hygro – but it tends to be overkill, and should only be provided if other plants need it. While it doesn’t require CO2, it does benefit from the addition of trace minerals, and these should be added after every water change. I personally use Seachem Flourish Trace Elements, and I have enjoyed great success with it.
Even though it’s already been stated, it’s very important that you prune your dwarf hygro at regular intervals. This not only helps to prevent it from taking over the aquarium, like some sort of malicious underwater Triffid – but it also helps the plant to rejuvenate itself. If you have any plants that are looking spindly or sickly, a good pruning will often trigger renewed growth and improve the plants appearance and health.
It should come as no surprise at this point, that it also doesn’t require much in the way of lighting. So continuing along with the theme of “this is an easy plant to grow”, you can provide only low lighting and still experience lush and impressive growth. With that being said, if you want optimum color and growth, you should provide a high quality LED light, or specialized plant bulb (CFL or florescent.)
When it comes to substrates, you can use any of the more common substrates with dwarf hygro, since it takes its nutrients from the water column. But for the sake of simplicity, gravel, sand, or soil are generally the best choices for this plant. If you are planting it in sand, make sure to anchor it in some manner, or ensure that is is planted deep in the substrate, as this plant can take well over a week to become rooted.
Dwarf hyrophila is propagated in the home aquarium by simply pinching off a segment, and planting it in the substrate. Even a single, fully formed leaf can be used to grow a new plant, and almost no piece of the plant is too small to create a brand new dwarf hygro plant.
If you are looking to plant a new aquarium, a mature dwarf hygro plant can be broken into numerous plants, which can then be planted individually. The plants should be given considerable space, since they will quickly begin to crowd out other plants with their rapid growth.
Dwarf hygrophila is compatible with most small fish and snails, and is generally ignored by even small herbivore fish. It does best in community tanks, and tanks with either digging cichlids, or hungry goldfish should be avoided.
It cannot be stressed enough not to include this plant with goldfish, since a large goldfish can eat this plant down to just small nubs in a matter of hours. Even if a goldfish t doesn’t develop a taste for these plants, they will still regularly pull it out of the substrate – which will do significant damage to the plant.