Water Wisteria Care: The Ultimate Guide

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Did you know that your fish can live longer when they have a healthy environment with more “green” around?

It goes back to the very basics of living, right? The more aquatic plants around your fish, the more oxygen and less carbon dioxide they will have.

One of the best “green” plants is Water Wisteria. We have prepared a thorough review of this plant, explaining what it is, how to grow it, and why to propagate it in your aquarium. 

Let’s get started!



Family: Acanthaceae
Care Level: Easy
Growth Rate: Fast
Maximun Size: 20 Inches
Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
Water Condition: 70-82°F, pH 6.5-7.5, KH 2-8
Lighting: Moderate to High
Propagation: Side Shoots/Cutting
Placement: Background or Carpet

What Is Water Wisteria?

Water Wisteria is a beginner-friendly plant originating in Asian countries, such as Bhutan, Malaysia, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Thailand. 

It is a tropical plant with the scientific name Hygrophila difformis, and it is a member of the Acanthaceae family.  Typically grown during the rainy season, you can maintain it throughout the year if it is rooted or floating in the water. We love that this plant can change its appearance depending on the growth conditions. 

What Does Water Wisteria Look Like? (Appearance)

Image of Water Wisteria

The classic Water Wisteria is highlighted by wavy, bright-green protrusions and a dark green stem.

It’s hard protrusions make it the perfect shelter for scared and spawning fish. 

Due to its fast-growing nature, Water Wisteria is a plant you need to keep an eye on, as you wouldn’t like it if it took over the whole aquarium. But there is a good reason aquarists in the southern United States consider it an invasive species. 

We found that the stems of this plant are thick and dense, providing the perfect support for large-leaning leaves. 

The roots are thin and bright, acting as the ideal anchor for the substrate. It also has beautiful glandular hairs and blue-violet flowers. 

Water Wisteria can be grown to provide support at the mid-ground or rear of the aquarium and provide a carpet-like bottom. Left unattended, it can become humongous and overtake the fish tank. 

How Large Is Water Wisteria? (Size and Growth)

Image of Water Wisteria Appearance

It is heterophilic, meaning that the size depends on the environmental and aquatic conditions. Hence, if your aquarium isn’t well-lit, then your Water Wisteria will be shorter and have smaller and less luscious leaves. 

On the other hand, ensuring medium to high light conditions will result in Hygrophila difformis growing up to 20 inches in height and 10 inches in width. 

Keep in mind that the growth rate depends on the water chemistry, as well. If there isn’t enough CO2, Water Wisteria will start consuming the oxygen instead of producing it. 


If you are an experienced aquarist, then you’ve probably heard of Water Wisteria before. It is among the most popular plants for fishes and is available in retail stores and online markets. It is essential to find a plant that has long, strong roots. 

Weak stems and roots that are yellowish or brownish suggest that the plant won’t last very long. 

The main factor to focus on is whether the Water Wisteria stands upright and holds its weight. If that is the case, it has a good chance of reaching its full potential in the right growing conditions. 

Apart from being beginner-friendly, this tropical plant is affordable, as the price for a bundle ranges between $5 and $10 which is great for a plant that offers a wide variety of benefits. 

Advantages of Growing Water Wisteria In Your Aquarium

There are numerous perks related to propagating Water Wisteria in your aquarium.

  • This plant’s rapid growth is highlighted by not allowing harmful matter, such as ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites, to take over the aquatic conditions. 
  • Hygrophila difformis is rich in phosphorus, which prevents algae and the formation of cyanobacteria. 
  • The antimicrobial properties that this tropical plant highlights make it an ideal choice for maintaining healthy and clean water. 
  • Water Wisteria provides shelter for small fish that are threatened by more territorial species.  
  • Simple to plant and maintain.

How to Plant It

Image of How to Plant Water Wisteria - SnugAquarium.Net

Before getting into the planting process, you need to ensure you can offer adequate growth conditions. 

The most critical element is the substrate that you will use. 

Your best bet is to visit an aquatic store and ask for a specialty plant substrate rich in natural fertilizers. 

If you cannot find a product of this type, you should be OK with sand or small grain gravel, as long as you use fertilizer tabs regularly. 

The planting process is simple. Just follow these steps:

  • Lay the substrate at the bottom of the aquarium. The positioning of the substrate is the same for the carpet and the aquarium planting method.
  • Ensure that there is enough space for the Water Wisteria stems from being placed a few inches apart.
  • Make sure that the aquarium is placed in a spot with medium to high natural or artificial lighting.
  • Root the stems in the substrate both for the traditional aquarium and carpet growing method.

1. Carpet Growing Method

Over the past few years, the carpet growing method of Water Wisteria has become quite popular. While some argue that this tropical plant doesn’t work well as a ground cover plant, we couldn’t agree less. 

They argue that the space between nodes is too wide, making it impossible for Hygrophila difformis to provide the proper coverage.

  • The first step is to put the stems and roots into the substrate. 
  • Ensure that there aren’t any leaves under the substrate, as you want them to point upwards and create ground coverage.
  • The positioning of the roots creates the carpeted effect. 
  • To combat the risks of lacking density, you should install several Water Wisteria plants. 
  • Keep an eye on the growth rate and perform regular trimming to maintain neat ground coverage.

2. Aquarium Growing Method

The traditional planting method includes the following steps:

  • Bury the stems one to two inches into the substrate.
  • Ensure that there is enough spacing and light so that all of the stems have the same growing conditions.
  • Check that the roots are correctly anchored in the substrate to avoid uprooting and curved growth.

3. Floating Growing Method

If you aren’t a fan of planting flora in your aquarium, then Water Wisteria is the right choice for you. 

It is easy to find Hygrophila difformis floating in its natural habitat. It is even easier to replicate that growing method.

Keep the water clean and nutrient-rich at all times. 

Also, make sure to trim the plant regularly, as its fast growth rate may block the entrance of light and clog the water pump/filter. Water Wisteria is great for beginners and doesn’t require daily maintenance.

Caring for Water Wisteria

It is believed that Water Wisteria is the best flora choice for any aquarium enthusiast who doesn’t want to invest a lot of effort. 

As a beautiful plant that doesn’t present many growing challenges, it asks for just a few simple conditions and requirements. Regular pruning is the most important one.

Trimming the luscious leaves and ensuring that Hygrophila difformis doesn’t suffer from uprooting is essential to keeping them healthy and alive. Even that doesn’t require a lot of effort, though. 

Trimming the plant every 7 to 10 days should be more than enough. As mentioned above, the idea behind this is to prevent it from blocking the source of light for other living beings in the aquarium. 

After you’ve trimmed this tropical plant to the height that you find suitable, you can replant the trimmings. 

The other option is to throw them away or give them to someone else who is also an aquatic enthusiast. 

The only DON’T is to avoid disposing of the cut parts into the aquarium, as decomposition leads to a natural formation of algae and other harmful microorganisms. 

You will want to monitor Water Wisteria because it is a hungry plant that soaks up many nutrients. This can eventually kill other non-invasive flora in your aquarium.

1. Make Sure That Your Tank Is the Right Size

Image of Your Tank Is the Right Size for Water Wisteria - SnugAquarium.Net

When you compare Water Wisteria with other aquatic flora, it is a rather large plant. 

A single plant can reach 20 inches in height and 10 inches in width means that it doesn’t make sense to keep it unless the tank is 10 gallons or above. Compared to other high aquatic flora, Water Wisteria is considered to be the ideal plant to study for its heterophilic properties.

In adequate conditions, Water Wisteria can grow anywhere from 2 to 4 inches in height per week. This translates to 0.25 to 0.5 inches on a daily basis. 

Anything below would mean that you need to trim the Water Wisteria daily, which would be frustrating. 

As mentioned above, the stems should be positioned a couple of inches apart to prevent uprooting and ensure natural growth. Are you worried about your tank looking too bland?

The best solution to that is to add a more significant number of these tropical plants. 

2. Maintain the Adequate Water Acidity

Image of Water Acidity for Water Wisteria

No matter the planting method (aquarium, carpet, floating), you need to provide the correct type of water. 

Apart from installing a high-quality filtration system that will keep the H20 clean and free from harmful microorganisms, you should keep in mind that Hygrophila difformis is an ethereal plant.

This means that the water temperature should be maintained between 75 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit, translatingplants3 and 27 degrees Celsius. Therefore, replicating the natural habitat is the best way to ensure an optimal growth rate.

The second requirement is that the pH level is set between 6.5 and 7.5. 

Our advice is to regularly check the water’s acidity using a testing kit found in any pharmacy or aquatic store. 

One of the commonly forgotten requirements is the hardness of the water.

Water Wisteria asks for 2 to 8 KH to stay healthy and fast-growing. 

Last but not least, you should consider changing 25-30% of the water every week to keep an ecological balance. 

3. Put Nutrient-Rich Substrate

Like growing plants in the soil, the type of substrate you use plays a vital role in aquatic plants. For this one, you will want to ensure sandy or small grain gravel substrate and supplement it with natural fertilizers, as well as vitamin C, magnesium, and calcium. 

Remember that anchoring the roots of Hygrophila difformis a few inches into the substrate is extremely important. 

4. Flexible Lighting

Pretty flexible, Water Wisteria is well-known for its impressive absorption of nutrients such as potassium.  With that in mind, you shouldn’t be surprised that it can sustainably grow in different lighting conditions. 

While it is best to provide medium to high lighting to ensure effective and healthy growth, it can survive with just a few hours of natural or artificial LED light a day. 

The most crucial point is not to confuse its adaptability with removing light from the equation as it would kill the plant within days. In addition to that, you should make sure that its tank mates aren’t threatening it.

Fish and Plant Friends

image of fish and plant friends for Water Wisteria

Water Wisteria loves plants and fish friends. 

As long as you ensure the aquarium isn’t overcrowded and that there is enough space for all the living life to grow and develop, you can create a beautiful environment. However, keep in mind that there are several species that you will want to avoid, including silver dollar fish and goldfish.

Like neurite (a type of snail), these species will likely snack down on your Hygrophila difformis instead of using it as a shelter. On the other hand, there is a bunch of amazing aquatic life that goes together with this tropical plant, including: 

  • Dwarf gourami
  • Shrimp
  • African cichlids
  • Cory catfish
  • Kuhli loaches
  • Betta fish
  • Neon tetras
  • Cherry barbs
  • Guppies
  • Rasboras
  • Swordtails
  • Tetras
  • Bettas


  • Similar to the maintenance, propagating Water Wisteria is effortless and comes down to a few simple steps:
  • Before trying to propagate this tropical plant, ensure that the stems you initially planted are fully grown.
  • Cut 5 inches from the top section that has luscious leaves.
  • Bury and anchor the stem about 1 to 1.5 inches in the sandy or small grain gravel substrate.
  • Once again, ensure that it has enough space to grow and isn’t topped by its mother plant.

Wrap Up

Compared with other aquatic plants, such as Java Moss, Water Wisteria is our favorite. 

It is beginner-friendly, grows through various environmental conditions, and has a bunch of antimicrobial properties. 

We’ve done our best to discuss the specifications, growth requirements, and maintenance essentials. 

It is your turn to get a couple of stems and make life happier and cleaner for your fishes!

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