Tiger Lotuses: The Ultimate Guide (UPDATED)

_image of Tiger Lotus Aquarium Plant

Got a nice aquarium but feels like something’s missing? Wanting a pretty plant that just isn’t like the rest?

Sounds like you may be interested in a Tiger Lotus! Tiger Lotuses are popular aquarium plants due to their unique coloration and ease of care.

Even if you’ve never cared for an aquatic plant before, Tiger Lotuses are extremely simple and are a great choice for a beginner plant. 

In this ultimate guide, we’ll tell you all about:

  • What a Tiger Lotus is
  • How to care for your Tiger Lotus
  • Some normal concerns about your Tiger Lotus

To learn more about how to take great care of this beautiful plant, read on!

What Is A Tiger Lotus?

Tiger Lotuses are aquatic plants that are native to Africa, and are typically found in shallow marshes there. Their scientific name is Nymphaea zenkeri, and they’re known for their unique appearance. 

Because of their easy care and beautiful leaves, they’re popular amongst new and experienced home aquarium hobbyists. They’re also not particularly expensive, so you won’t break the bank sprucing up your aquarium with this species.

Tiger Lotuses have wide, heart- or arrow-shaped leaves that come in a variety of colors. Typically, they’ll come in:

  • Pink
  • Orange
  • Red
  • Brown

Though they may have some green in some areas, especially on pink leaves, because it’s hard to distinguish whether a brown leaf is healthy or unhealthy. We recommend you trim them off anyway. 

Even if it’s normal, taking away the brown helps keep the plant looking fresh and colorful with its pinks and reds!

Once the Tiger Lotus grows its leaves, it can also sprout lily pads which float to the top of the water. They can also grow flowers, which range between white and yellow in color. 

Overall, Tiger Lotuses are like a bigger version of Dwarf Aquarium Lilies. These plants can grow over two feet tall and are just as bushy as a lily.

This means more coverage and hiding places for your fish compared to other plants! When your fish dream at night, they probably dream of hiding amongst the beautiful leaves of a Tiger Lotus.

We think so, at least.

Tiger Lotus Care

Tiger Lotuses are known to be hardy and are able to survive in many different water conditions. However, they do have specific care requirements and optimal conditions that can help them thrive rather than just survive. 

In this section, we’ll tell you all about the Tiger Lotus’s favorite:

  • Planting instructions
  • Water conditions
  • Lighting
  • Food

By the time you’re done with this section, you’ll know all about establishing this pretty plant in your tank!

Planting Instructions

When you purchase a baby Tiger Lotus, you’ll find it comes in a bulb. This bulb has everything the plant needs to grow its leaves and roots, as long as you put it in the tank correctly!

You may find that the bulb has some leaves growing out of it. This is good news! It means your bulb is likely healthy and ready for planting.

If the leaves don’t look too good, that’s okay. What’s important is that the bulb is hard to the touch and doesn’t have a foul odor.

If it does, it could mean the plant is a dud, which we’ll talk about below under “concerns.”

Once you’ve got your bulb, you’ll want to place it ⅓ into the substrate in your tank. Pick a good place for the bulb, as this plant will grow pretty large and you don’t want it in the way of other plants or the filter. 

Don’t bury the bulb all the way! If you do, you could accidentally kill the Tiger Lotus by suffocating it. 

The leaves or shoots in the bulb need open water to grow into. It’s best to let the bulb soak with water so it doesn’t float, then partially insert it into the substrate. 

After planting, the roots will emerge from the bulb and wrap through the substrate, attaching the plant to the bottom of the tank. The leaves will then continue growing, producing a beautiful, healthy plant for your tank!

Water Conditions

Tiger Lotuses aren’t particularly picky with their water conditions, but making your tank as close to their natural habitat will help them grow well. 

Tiger Lotuses prefer warmer waters since they’re from Africa, so they tend to thrive in water that is anywhere between 72 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Water that is too cold may hinder them, just like it hinders us in the winter!

This plant also needs to be in freshwater, as salt water will dehydrate it and kill it. Though they’re hardy, this is a tank condition that does need to be met. 

The pH of your tank can be anywhere between 6 and 8 for your Tiger Lotus, as it prefers neutral pH. It also prefers soft water, but hard water won’t be enough to really harm it. 

When it comes to aquatic plants, the Tiger Lotus is a hardy king. 

Light Requirements

Because the Tiger Lotus is native to Africa, it loves light! To help your Tiger Lotus reach its full potential, you should plan on providing it with medium to high light exposure.

This light can be from an aquarium light or from the sun through a window, but if you choose the latter, you’ll have to make sure your water has a consistent temperature. Sunlight could lead to drastic changes in water temperature, which could harm your fish depending on what species you have. 

Aquarium lights are much better controlled and work great for both fish and plants. Just like your living room lamp works great for you!

If you need a low light for your fish, your Tiger Lotus can live with it, but it may have dimmer colors and slower growth. Brighter light always means better growth for your lotus. 


Just like all living things, you Tiger Lotus needs to eat. Nobody likes being hungry!

You’ll want to supply your Tiger Lotus with liquid fertilizer to give it the nutrients it needs to survive. It will also enjoy root tabs to keep its roots nice and healthy.

In addition to ordinary fertilizer, you may also want to supply your Tiger Lotus with iron supplements. Iron is what helps give these plants their bright reddish colors, so more iron means a prettier plant!

Tiger Lotus Concerns

Though you may feel prepared to take on a Tiger Lotus, sometimes things can go wrong. To prepare you for these issues, we’re going to tell you all about:

  • Dud bulbs
  • Moldy plants

To learn more about tackling these aquatic challenges, read on!

Dud Bulb

At some point, you may come across a dud bulb. This means your bulb is either dead or too sick to grow.

You may discover this after planting when your Tiger Lotus doesn’t produce leaves or roots. When this happens, take the bulb out and assess it. 

If your bulb is soft to the touch or has a strong odor, it likely means it’s a dud. Gross.

Though disappointing, getting a healthy bulb will be better for your tank and fish in the end. Contact the company you purchased your Tiger Lotus bulb from, and they may be able to offer you a refund or send you a new plant!

Moldy Plant

Imagine: You wake up one day to check on your fish to find your Tiger Lotus suddenly looks awful fuzzy. What happened?

Though there are many causes for fuzz on your plants, some are normal, and some are just downright dangerous. 

If you see a fuzzy film of green or brown, this may simply be algae or other microorganisms growing due to infrequent water changes or an inefficient filter. This is somewhat normal and can be easily treated with water changes, a better filter, or aquarium shrimp to eat the fuzzies.

If the mold is white, that’s a different story. White mold is dangerous to fish, as if they ingest it, they can become sick and die. 

If you see the white fuzz on your Tiger Lotus, the best option is to throw it away and send it to the big aquarium in the sky. 

If you’re particularly attached to your Tiger Lotus and the white fuzz is isolated, you may be able to trim it off and use aquarium salt or plant antifungals to treat the infection. However, it’s best you do this in a tank away from your fish. 


Now, you know how to care for your Tiger Lotus and keep it happy and healthy! The next time someone visits you, they’ll be delighted to see how beautiful your Tiger Lotus is in your tank.

Remember, Tiger Lotuses are hardy plants, but they do prefer a certain environment. The more closely you can emulate that environment in your tank, the better your Tiger Lotus will thrive.

image of tiger lotus aquatic plant

If you have a Tiger Lotus, let us know about your experience with it. If you have any more aquatic questions for us (fish, plants, and more), ask us down below and we may pick your question for our next guide or article. 

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