Dwarf Aquarium Lilies: The Ultimate Guide (UPDATED)

image of Dwarf Aquarium Lily

If you’ve ever owned a home aquarium, you’ve probably heard of Dwarf Aquarium Lilies. Dwarf Aquarium Lilies are aquatic plants known for their large, colorful leaves and broad lily pads.

Because of their few care requirements, Dwarf Aquarium Lilies are incredibly popular amongst new and experienced home aquarium hobbyists alike. 

In this guide, we’ll talk about:

  • What Dwarf Aquarium Lilies are
  • Dwarf Aquarium Lily care: temperature, lighting and propagation
  • Dwarf Aquarium Lily concerns

By the end of this guide, you’ll be a Dwarf Aquarium Lily pro! Read on to learn more about this great aquatic plant. 

What Is A Dwarf Aquarium Lily?

Dwarf Aquarium Lilies are aquatic plants native to India and Southeast Asia. They are extremely popular for home aquariums due to their beauty and ease of care.

The scientific name for Dwarf Aquarium Lilies is Nymphaea stellata. It grows from a small bulb into a semi-small plant with rounded arrow-shaped leaves. 

Typically, the Dwarf Aquarium Lily only grows to about five inches in height, though each leaf can grow to approximately four inches in length. The leaves of this plant are quite attractive compared to other plants, with the leaves coming in colors including:

  • Pink
  • Green
  • Red
  • Brown

Because it’s difficult to tell which brown leaves are healthy versus dying, it’s recommended that you trim the brown leaves regardless. This also helps spruce them up so only the brightest colors appear in your tank. 

Once the leaves are grown, they can grow flowers that range between red and blue in color, but only if they’re in optimal growing conditions. From these flowers then grow lily pads which float to the top of the tank! Neat, right?

The plant is bushy rather than tall, so just a few of them can take up some significant space in your tank.

The good news about that is that fish love it!

In fact, these plants are great for many fish as it gives them excellent hiding spots from other fish. This is especially helpful for those breeding fish, as the fry will have a place to shelter themselves in the tank.

And if you don’t have fish, aquatic species like shrimp and snails love them too. Dwarf Aquarium Lilies are quite versatile!

Learn more:

Dwarf Aquarium Lily Care

Though Dwarf Aquarium Lilies are extremely easy to care for, they do still have some basic care requirements. They also have optimal conditions, which means there are some environments they thrive in rather than just surviving. 

Below, we’ll go through:

  • Planting instructions
  • Water conditions
  • Lighting
  • Food

So you can provide the best possible environment for your Dwarf Aquarium Lily!

Planting Instructions

When you initially purchase a Dwarf Aquarium Lily, you may be wondering how to plant it in your aquarium. After all, won’t it just float to the top?

Sometimes, but not always! You see, your Dwarf Aquarium Lily will come in a small bulb. From this bulb, it will establish roots and then grow leaves, and eventually lily pads. 

When you get your bulb, you should insert it into the substrate of your tank, but only about ⅓ of the way in. If you bury the bulb, you could accidentally kill it by smothering it. 

Your bulb may float up a bit, and this is normal. Once the bulb soaks with water, it should sink back down into that shallow pit again. 

Once the roots grow, they’ll establish themselves in the substrate and root the plant in the tank. From there, your Dwarf Aquarium Lily will flourish!

Water Conditions

Dwarf Aquarium Lilies can grow in a number of water conditions, but they do have some preferences. First and foremost, they must be in a freshwater tank, as salt water will dehydrate and kill them. 

They also prefer warmer temperatures. Because they’re native to warm regions like India, they prefer for the water temperature to be anywhere between 72 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Neutral pH works, as they can live in anything between 5.5 and 7.5. Dwarf Aquarium Lilies also don’t need any extra CO2 to survive, though it can help them thrive. 


Dwarf Aquarium Lilies don’t do well in dim light. Because they’re used to full sun in the wild, they’ll need a medium to high lighting so they can photosynthesize properly. 

This light source can be an aquarium bulb or natural light from a window. However, if you choose the window, you’ll have to be careful with any fish as you don’t want major fluctuations in water temperature!


Dwarf Aquarium Lilies, like other living things, need to eat too. This means you’ll have to provide them with fertilizer occasionally.

The fertilizer you’ll use on this plant is in liquid form, so you can easily add it to your tank water. You’ll also have to give them root tabs to keep their roots nice and healthy. 

Dwarf Aquarium Lily Concerns

Though caring for Dwarf Aquarium Lilies is quite easy, sometimes not all goes to plan. When something goes wrong with your Dwarf Aquarium Lily, consider these potential snags:

  • Dud bulbs
  • Moldy plants
  • Burnt leaves

Below, we’ll share the best ways to handle the below situations. 

Dud Bulb

If you order a bulb online, you may plant it too soon and find it isn’t growing. When this happens, the first thing you should do is check the conditions of your tank. 

If you check the tank and the temperature, pH, and lighting are good, you may have a dud bulb. This unfortunately means the bulb is either already dead or so sick it cannot be saved. 

Dud bulbs are also soft to the touch and may emit a foul odor. Healthy bulbs, on the other hand, smell earthy and are hard to touch. 

In this case, if you can’t get it to sprout, you’ll have to simply toss the bulb and buy a new one. You can probably reach out to the company you got it from and request a refund, and they may send you a new bulb!

Once you get your new bulb, plant it as we described above and you should be good to go!

Moldy Plant

Once your plant is established, you may wake up one day to find your plant looks fuzzy. While this sounds cute, it’s actually an indicator of a moldy plant!

This is usually a result if irregular cleanings or a filter that just doesn’t cut it. However, not all “moldy” plants are automatically bad.

Some fuzzy plants are simply growing algae or other films of microorganisms due to low cleaning. In this case, a better filter, a water change, or getting some aquarium shrimp to eat the fuzz will treat the issue!

If your plant has white mold, however, you may have an infection that is dangerous to your fish. Eating this may kill them, so you need to treat it immediately.

Plants with small amounts of white mold may be able to be treated with some trimming and a combination of aquarium salt and plant antifungal treatment. Plants with a large number of white fuzzies, though, will have to be tossed out and go to the big garden in the sky.

Trust us; it’s for the best for your fish. 

Before getting a new Dwarf Aquarium Lily, you should try to figure out why an outbreak occurred in the first place. If it’s a result of improper cleaning, get a better filter or change the water more often.

If you have items in your tank such as driftwood, these items can carry fungus and bacteria with them too. Toss any driftwood or nearby plants that could be infected to ensure it doesn’t come back. 

Burnt Leaves

Finally, your Dwarf Aquarium Lily could end up with burnt leaves at some point. This is usually a result of the aquarium light being too close to the tank, causing more direct heat and light than they experience in nature from the sun.

In this situation, you should consider moving your aquarium light further away from the top of the tank. You may have to adjust your water heating if this is the only solution.

Another thing you can do is trim your lily before it surpasses the top of the water. Typically, leaves that are burnt are burnt because they have grown out of the water and don’t have that protection!

By trimming your plant so it stays underwater, you help it keep safe from the intense heat of your aquarium light. 


Now, you know how to take care of a Dwarf Aquarium Lily! If you’ve ever wanted one of these in your home aquarium, you should be all set to care for one now.

Remember that this plant is extremely versatile and can survive in a number of circumstances, but if you want it to be as big and beautiful as possible, you’ll have to adapt your tank to its requirements. 

And with a beauty like that, who wouldn’t want to?

image of Dwarf Aquarium Lily aquatic plant

If you own a Dwarf Aquarium Lily, tell us about it below. If you have any aquatics questions, leave them down below and we might pick yours to write about next!

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