Vallisneria 101

Posted by Augusta Hosmer on

Read Time: 5 mins

Looking for a wicked aquarium plant that grows tall and wavy like seaweed without having to do too much to it? 

Say hello to our not so little friend, Val. 

History of Vallisneria

Vallisneria is a genus of plants named for the Italian scientist Antonio Vallisneri (1661 - 1730), one of the first researchers in Europe to say, "Hey, maybe we know...actually TEST scientific theories and provide evidence with experiments." He made a stir with his contemporaries, and stood tall in his field - so it's an appropriate name for this plant. 

Carl Linnaeus, a well-known botanist and taxonomist who came up with the scientific naming system we use today (binomial nomenclature) first described and named the plant in 1753. It was formerly called Physkium Lour and Maidenia Rendle, and is also often called eel grass or tape grass. Val comes from the same family as frog bit, Anacharis, and Blyxa (other popular aquarium plant species): Hydrocharitaceae. 

A black and white historical drawing of Spiral Vallisneria

Vallisneria Varieties

 Vallisneria americana (Giant Val)

A basin full of massive Vallisneria americana

Vallisneria asiatica 'Biwaensis'

Vallisneria asiatica 'Biwaensis'

Vallisneria nana

A tank full of Vallisneria nana

Vallisneria spiralis

A basin full of Vallisneria spiralis

Vallisneria torta (Corkscrew Val) 

Vallisneria torta (Corkscrew Val)

Vallisneria Care/Planting Guide

How/Where to Plant VallisneriaVal is a classic background aquarium plant since it grows so tall. But you can always get creative with placement, especially if you have a tall/vertical fish tank. Doesn't have a rhizome, so no need to worry about accidentally burying it/rotting your plants like you have to with something like Anubias. Pick your poison for planting tools (Planting tweezers, your hand, etc), cover the roots with your substrate. The roots will spread out a lot as the plant grows. 

pH: Flexible, but prefers pH on the neutral/higher side. 

Tank Inhabitants:  Because Val is so adaptable, it can be used with a massive range of freshwater fish, invertebrates, and amphibians. But cichlids and goldfish can be rough on it and other live plants, so keep an eye on it if you plant it with them

Salinity: Not something we usually have to mention with freshwater aquariums, but some Val is surprisingly tolerant of freshwater tanks with more salt. So if you're trying to get a brackish tank going or replicating a biotope with a higher salinity, consider adding some Vallisneria 

CO2/Fertilization: Goes crazy with CO2 supplementation but doesn't have to have it to give you good results. Not overly demanding when it comes to nutrients, so you only need light ferts - potentially not any if you grow it in a tank with fish and have good micronutrients in your tap water. 

Lighting:  Will grow more quickly in better light, but is also tolerant of low-light/low-tech conditions - it'll just grow a bit more slowly.

Water Hardness: Loves hard water

Temperature: VERY wide range. Great coldwater plant, but can also tolerate temps into the low-mid 80's F. Wouldn't worry about temp when it comes to Val. 

Substrate: Loves a nutrient-rich substrate, but can also grow well in plain gravel, dirt, stones, etc. Most varieties are not overly sensitive

Common Vallisneria Problems: Generally, not too pressured by disease or rookie mistakes, but Vallisneria is known to be prone to melt. So if you see it going transparent or acting like it's dying shortly after transplanting, don't panic - it's just (dramatically) adapting to its new environment. Val will come back with a vengeance if you support it through it

Growth rate: Fast

Vallisneria Propagation:  Easy to propagate. Val reproduces via runners. All you have to do to get more Val is take off these runners (clip, pinch/pull them off, etc.) and stick them somewhere else. Of course, you could also just let the plant do its thing if you're not comfortable with clipping - Val likes to send up new plants where you least expect them sometimes 


Tank on!

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