Dwarf Aquarium Lily vs. Tiger Lotus: The ULTIMATE Comparison

_image of Dwarf Aquarium Lily vs. Tiger Lotus The ULTIMATE Comparison

If you’ve ever owned a home aquarium, you know how much of a difference aquarium plants can make in your tank. Not only are they beautiful, but they can also help clean small amounts of toxins in the water and produce oxygen for your fish!

Two of the most popular aquarium plants are the Dwarf Aquarium Lily and the Tiger Lotus. Though these plants are both special in their own way, they actually have many similarities, which results in them getting mixed up pretty often.

Below, we’ll go through the basic care for both of these plants, as well as the similarities and differences between them, so you’ll never get them mixed up again!

What’s Dwarf Aquarium Lily?

Scientific Name: Nymphaea Stellata
Common Name: Dwarf Aquarium Lily
Origin: India and Southeast Asia
Size: Less than 5 inches (12.7 cm)
Temperature: 72°F To 82°F

One of the most interesting aquarium plants is the Dwarf Aquarium Lily, known scientifically as Nymphaea stellata. Dwarf Aquarium Lilies are from India and Southeast Asia and can grow up to 5 inches in height!

Dwarf Aquarium Lilies are one of the most inexpensive aquarium plants available, which makes them quite popular with those with home aquariums. Though they are native to Asia, they are grown heavily throughout the US to be sold in the aquatics trade. 


Dwarf Aquarium Lilies are known for their triangular leaves that come in a variety of colors including:

  • Pink
  • Green
  • Brown
  • Red

Though brown is a normal color for Dwarf Aquarium Lilies, many hobbyists recommend trimming the brown leaves to keep the plant looking attractive and colorful in the water. 

Trimming the brown leaves also leaves no room for error when it comes to a sick plant. To prevent the struggle of identifying healthy brown leaves versus unhealthy brown leaves, you can just remove all the brown leaves. 

In your tank, Dwarf Aquarium Lilies will grow their large leaves, and from those leaves will eventually grow lily pads that they send towards the top of the water! This makes them quite unique compared to many other aquarium plants.

If cared for properly, your Dwarf Aquarium Lily will bloom in shallow water. These starry flowers range in color between red and blue and produce the large lily pads they’re famous for. 


Other tank conditions your Dwarf Aquarium Lily will need to thrive include:

  • Liquid fertilizer
  • Root tabs
  • Soft water
  • pH between 5 and 8
  • Temperature between 72-82 degrees Fahrenheit

Though your Dwarf Aquarium Lily doesn’t need any added CO2 to survive, it can benefit from it. They can also live in many different aquarium lights, so you don’t need to have any specific lighting requirements. 

Though this sounds like a lot, Dwarf Aquarium Lilies are actually quite hardy. Because they’re able to adapt to many different environments (even if they aren’t optimal for the plant), they’re easy to keep alive and tend to.

All in all, they’re a great beginner plant for new aquarium hobbyists!

Learn more: Dwarf Aquarium Lilies: The Ultimate Guide (UPDATED)

What’s Tiger Lotus?

Scientific Name:Nymphaea lotus
Common Name:Tiger Lotus
Origin:India and Southeast Asia
Size:30+ inches tall (76.2+ cm) and 20+ inches wide (76.2+ cm)
Temperature:70° to 85°F

Similar to the Dwarf Aquarium Lily is the Tiger Lotus. The scientific name for Tiger Lotuses is Nymphaea zenkeri, and they’re native to Africa. 

Like the Dwarf Aquarium Lily, Tiger Lotuses are beautiful plants that brighten up any tank. They’re also pretty easy to take care of, which makes them popular amongst those with fish tanks. 


The Tiger Lotus has large, arrow- or heart-shaped leaves that come in a variety of colors. These colors typically include:

  • Pink
  • Orange
  • Red
  • Brown

Many parts of the plant are also green with these colors peeking through, especially in the leaves. 

On top of that, the Tiger Lotus can also grow to a height of two feet! We’re sure other plants are asking it how the weather is up there. 

Tiger Lotuses grow fast and tall. They also flower and can grow lily pads in optimal conditions, which can give your tank some natural shade.


Tiger Lotuses are great beginner aquarium plants because their care is so simple, especially as a red plant. Habitat conditions that are best for your Tiger Lotus include:

  • Temperature between 72 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Thin substrate like sand or dirt
  • Medium- to high- aquarium lighting
  • Liquid fertilizer
  • Root tabs

In addition to the above, many Tiger Lotus owners recommend giving these plants iron supplements to keep their red color bright and lively. Adding CO2 can also help with this, especially if your tank has many other plant species in it. 

Learn more: Tiger Lotuses: The Ultimate Guide (UPDATED)

Similarities Between the Two

Often, new and even experienced fish owners mix up Dwarf Aquarium Lilies and Tiger Lotuses due to their many similarities. The reason for these similarities is actually quite simple – both plants are from the Nymphaea family, so they’re related to one another! 

Even so, they’re still totally different species. Below, we’ll break down what’s so similar about these plants. 

Plant Structure

The biggest reason why Dwarf Aquarium Lilies and Tiger Lotuses are mixed up is because of how similar they are structural. Both plants have large leaves that can eventually flower and produce lily pads!

They’re also both quite bushy. Rather than growing extremely tall, both plants tend to grow outwards due to the large size of their leaves. This can make identifying each plant challenging at times. 


Beyond shape, Dwarf Aquarium Lilies and Tiger Lotuses also have similar colors. Both are capable of showing reds, pinks, and browns, which makes differentiating between the two species even more difficult. 

Always consider if the leaves are more red than any other color. Typically, the brighter red it is, the more likely it is to be a Tiger Lotus, while Dwarf Aquarium Lilies stick to more pinks and browns. 

Talk about twins!

Differences Between the Two

Though they’re so similar, there are a few distinct differences between the two that can help you identify them. Consider both the leaf appearance and the plant’s size before making a final decision. 

Leaf & Flower Appearance

Though the leaves in these two species are both similar in size and color, they actually have slightly different shapes. The leaves of the Dwarf Aquarium Lily are rounder while the leaves on the Tiger Lotus are more arrow- or heart-shaped. 

In addition to this, Tiger Lotuses tend to have more “wrinkly” or wavy leaves, rather than smooth like the Dwarf Aquarium Lily. 

Finally, Tiger Lotuses have different flowers than Dwarf Aquarium Lilies. Dwarf Aquarium Lilies have flowers ranging from blue to red, while Tiger Lotuses have larger flowers that bloom on their lily pads that range between white and yellow. 


The final difference between the Dwarf Aquarium Lily and the Tiger Lotus is that Tiger Lotuses are much larger than Dwarf Aquarium Lilies! While the lilies only grow to a few inches to a foot in height, Tiger Lotuses can grow upwards of two to three feet in height!

Wrapping Up

Now, you should know the difference between Dwarf Aquarium Lilies and Tiger Lotuses! The next time you’re at the pet store looking for plants, these two won’t be fooling you. 

Remember to consider the color of the plant and the shapes of its leaves. This will help you determine which species you’re looking at.

image of Dwarf Aquarium Lily vs. Tiger Lotus

If you’ve owned one of these species before, tell us about your experiences below. If you have any aquarium questions, comment on those as well and we may pick yours next!

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