Vallisneria varieties, also known simply as ‘Vals’, are an aquarium plant species popular for their resemblance of sea grass, quick growth and easy care. They can reach a height of anywhere between a few inches to right across the top of your tank and the tall leaves make a great hiding place for shy fish.
Keep reading for everything you need to know about Vallisneria care and how to grow it in your own planted tank!
|Minimum tank size
|10 gal/38 L
|63-82 °F/17-28 °C
Due to the heights it can reach, Vallisneria is mostly a background plant and can be placed at the back of to the sides of your aquarium. Planting is pretty straightforward.
Just stick your Vallisneria into the substrate and, if it already has extensive root systems, be sure to cover those as well without burying them completely. Extra iron is really appreciated by this plant and you may want to stick a few root tabs in the substrate nearby while planting.
If you’re having trouble keeping the plant from becoming uprooted and floating back to the surface the first few days, placing a few rocks around it to keep the roots down may be a good idea.
Always be sure not to plant your Vals too deep! If you bury the light part at the bottom of the leaves, known as the crown, you may find them dying off after a while.
Vallisneria care & tankmates
As mentioned earlier, Vallisneria care is not difficult at all. In fact, this species is actually on the list of the 8 easiest aquarium plants and can even survive in low-end brackish water and subtropical aquariums. Lots of extra lighting and Co2 aren’t necessary, although as with all plants they are appreciated.
- One important point to keep in mind is that Vallisneria doesn’t seem to appreciate soft, acidic waters and will grow slowly or even die off completely when pH gets close to 6. Harder, alkaline waters, like in a guppy tank, are ideal.
- Once your Vallisneria has had some time to settle, you should start seeing growth. The mother plant should increase in height and, after a while, will also start propagating by sending out runners in all directions. Once these have developed a few leaves and a root system of their own, you can cut them off and re-plant or remove them.
- If you find your Vals are becoming a bit too tall and dense, you can thin them out by removing a a few leaves or runners. You can also prune individual leaves by cutting them with a pair of sharp aquarium scissors; just be sure not to damage the leaf or it will die off instead of growing back. If a leaf has become algae-covered or seems to be dying, you can simply remove it.
- When it comes to tankmates, Vallisneria will withstand almost anything. Although it can fall prey to destructive fancy goldfish and large crayfish varieties, due to the large root systems it develops it’s actually one of the only plant species that can be kept in a tank with African cichlids at reasonable succes rates.
Problems with Vallisneria
Although Vallisneria is not a difficult plant to grow, many fishkeepers do experience some trouble with theirs. If you find your Vallisneria isn’t doing too well, it may be due to one of the following problems:
- Planted too deep. The crown and the top and the root system should be left exposed.
- Iron deficiency. If new leaves are pale and white, the root tabs mentioned earlier might help.
- Unstable liquid Co2 use. It’s sometimes reported that dosing liquid Co2 can cause Vallisneria to melt. This should be prevented by a stable dosage and not using these products off and on!
- Lack of nitrates. Poor Vallisneria growth can be caused by a lack of nitrates in the water. A fertilizer should help fix this.
When choosing your Vallisneria, be sure to keep in mind the size of your tank and the look you’re going for. Vallisneria spiralis, Vallisneria nana and the twisted-leaved Vallisneria tortifolia (also known as corkscrew Val) will stay relatively small and should work well in tanks of at least 10 gallons (38L). Vallisneria gigantea (jungle Val), however, is a whole different story and can grow to up to 30 inch (75 cm) or more. This makes it suitable only for larger aquariums!
As with many plant species, there is quite a bit of confusion regarding Vallisneria names. They grow differently in different conditions, making it very hard to distinguish between varieties sometimes. Before buying, take a good look at the plant or the reviews.
If you have any more questions about growing Vallisneria or want to share your own experiences with this wonderful plant, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Happy fishkeeping!