How to Grow Water Wisteria in a Fish Tank

By Jecinta Muturi @aquariawise

Is Water Wisteria an Easy, Beginner Plant

Water Wisteria (Hygrophila difformis) is an aquatic plant that is relatively easy to grow and care for in a fish tank. It is considered a hardy, beginner-friendly plant.

Hygrophila can tolerate a wide range of lighting conditions and water parameters, and it can also grow in low-tech setups without additional CO2 injection or specialized fertilization.

However, water wisteria grows best in a nutrient-rich tank (and substrate) with moderate lighting (2 to 3 watts per gallon, 5000-7000 K). CO2 and an iron-rich fertilizer are also advisable.

Water wisteria (Hygrophila difformis) can grow floating at the water surface, best when you want to provide shade and cover for fish and other aquatic animals. It will also grow rooted in the substrate (preferably sand) if you want it as a mid or background aquascape plant.

Hygrophilla is versatile and will also thrive emersed and submersed.

For wisteria to thrive, your water should be around 74° to 82° F, with an alkalinity of 3 to 8 dKH and a pH of 6.5 to 7.5. If the water temperature is colder than 68° F (minimum), your plants will be small and lobed instead of bushy and pinnate.

OverviewPlant Detail
Common Name
  • Wisteria
  • Water Wisteria
  • Hygrophila Difformis
  • Wild Wisteria
  • India
  • Nepal
  • Bangladesh
  • Bhutan
  • Bright Green (Submerged)
  • Dark Green (Emersed)
  • 20“ (50 cm) Height, 10“ (25 cm) Wide (across)—Large Tank(50+Gallon)
  • 212 to 15“ (20 to 40 cm) Height, 10“ (25 cm) Wide (across)—Small Tank (<50 Gallons)
Growth Rate
  • High, 2“ to 3“ Per Week

How to Plant Water Wisteria in Your Fish Tank

Water wisteria (Hygrophila difformis) is relatively easy to grow and care for. Here are the general steps to plant water wisteria:

1— Choose a suitable aquarium substrate. Hygrophila prefers a nutrient-rich substrate, such as sand and aquasoil mix. You can add root fertilizers to the substrate while planting, but use water column fertilizer for floating wisteria.

2— Prepare the water wisteria plant before planting. Trim the roots and remove any brown or damaged leaves. If you have melting foliage or roots, remove those as well.

3— Plant by gently pushing your wisteria plantlets into the substrate. Ensure the roots are covered, but the crown (the point where the stem meets the roots) is above the sand. Bury the roots 1 to 2 inches (2 to 2.5 cm) deep, depending on the size of your plantlets and the substrate you have. You can use you fingers or tweezer to place your plants in the susbtrate.

4— Place sand or gravel around the roots to anchor your wisteria on the substrate, especially if you have diggers, like goldfish and cichlids, in your fish tank. A ring of rocks or decorations will also protect your plants from destructive fish. Leave 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cms) apart between adjscent plants for optimal root development and anchorage.

5— Provide 8 to 10 hours of moderate full spectrum lighting for your water wisteria. 2 to 3 watts per gallon or 30 t0 50 PAR is recommended for wisteria. Use an LED light, like Fluval 3.0 or T5 full spectrum aquarium light, to grow Wisteria.

6— Add nutrients: Water wisteria requires nutrients like iron, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to grow. You can add a liquid fertilizer formulated for aquarium plants once a week.

7— Trim regularly: Water wisteria grows fast and can become too large for the aquarium.Regular pruning will help keep the plant healthy and prevent it from overcrowding the tank

8— You don’t have to start your plants in a dry aquarium. They will grow submerged or emersed if the conditions and animals in your fish tank are appropriate for wisteria. Plant your hygrophila dry in a new aquarium setup or if you have fish that might destory the plantlets before they’re anchored in the substrate.

Can Water Wisteria Grow Floating

Yes, water wisteria can grow floating in an aquarium.

Float your wisteria, rather than planting it in the substrate or attaching it to scapes, to create a beautiful, natural-looking, forest-like canopy and provide shelter and hiding places for skittish fish and tiny aquatic critters, like shrimp.

Floating water wisteria will also help to oxygenate your tank and remove excess nutrients from the water column better than planted water wisteria.

Your Wisteria roots will take in nutrients from water and are best when you have fish with a large appetite and high bio load, like goldfish.

However, it’s important to note that floating water wisteria may grow quicker and require frequent trimming than planted wisteria because it has access to more light and nutrients at the water surface.

Floating water wisteria will also block out light in the aquarium, so it’s necessary to monitor its growth and trim it to ensure plants at the bottom of your tank are not shaded.

There are a few ways to plant water wisteria floating!

You can let it float freely in the water or use a plant weight to anchor parts of the plant in place. You also can attach a few stems of your wisteria plant to a piece of driftwood or rock and leave the rest floating.

As the water wisteria grows, it will consume nutrients from the water, but you can add liquid fertilizers to the water to provide additional nutrients for faster growtht.

Remember when you add fertilizer for your plants, you also need to increase lighting and perhaps dose your tank with C02, to help you wisteria absorb the extra nutrients and prevent algae growth.

Before adding the water wisteria, also ensure your aquarium is clean and set up with adequate lighting and filtration.

How Do You Keep Water Wisteria Floating

Other than planting water wisteria in the substate, you can also float your plant on the water surface. This is done either temporarily before your plant develops enough roots to anchor in the substrate or permanently for cover.

Overall, floating the plant is not hard, and simply placing your water wisteria plant on the water surface is enough to grow. Roots will come out at random places, and because your plant will be closer to the light source, it will grow quite rapidly.

You may need to start trimming it sooner than if it were planted in the substrate.

Float your wisteria plant how it can take up nutrients from the water column though its floating roots, especially if you have fish in the aquarium and your plant is depending on nurtients from the fish waste.

This way your plant won’t need extra fertilization, but NPK and micronutrients are important if you notice your plant is stunted or changing color.

Ideally, floating wisteria plants should have their leaves turned upright and the roots hanging in the water, which is also useful when you need to provide cover for fry and surface fish.

One other thing to note is floating water wisteria can be an Iron, Magnesium and Phosphate hog, so be ready to add these nutrients if you notice your plant is dying.

That said, water wisteria can grow explosively in excess light and fertilization much like a weed, so be careful with the amounts available for the plant.

A good rule of thumb is to dose your wisteria plants once a week with a teaspoon of fertilizer in a low nutrient setting. If your tank is heavily stocked with fish, dose the plants once every month.

Can Water Wisteria Grow Emersed

Water wisteria can grow emersed or submerged. Emersed wisteria grows thick, broad, darker, rounder, velvety leaves that look like strawberry foliage, while submerged plants develop delicate, feathery and multi-pinnate leaves.

Water wisteria plants grown emersed will also produce small white or lavender flowers.

To grow Water Wisteria emersed, provide them with high humidity and ample light. Fertilize your plants regularly with an all-around fertilizer to keep them healthy and growing well.

Water Wisteria Emersed Vs Submerged

Water wisteria (Hygrophila difformis) can grow emersed (above water) and submerged (underwater). Here are some differences between growing water wisteria emersed versus submerged:

Appearance: When grown emersed, water wisteria will have larger leaves, longer stems, and will be bushier in appearance. Submerged water wisteria will have smaller, more delicate leaves and shorter stems.

Growth rate: Emersed water wisteria will grow faster, bigger, and free of algae and pests than submerged water wisteria. This is because the plants access more C02 and natural light-producing leaves and stem above water rather than growing roots and leaves below water.

Care: Emersed water wisteria requires more maintenance than submerged water wisteria. You’ll need to keep them moist and misted regularly to prevent the leaves from drying. Submerged water wisteria is relatively easy to care for and can grow well in varying aquarium conditions.

Does Water Wisteria Need A Substrate

A nutrient-rich substrate is recommended to provide water wisteria with the necessary nutrients and anchorage for healthy growth. Your plants will also benefit from the addition of liquid fertilizers and CO2 supplementation.

However, you do not need a substrate when floating Water Wisteria or if it’s attached to rocks or driftwood.

Water Wisteria (Hygrophila difformis) can do well in different substrates, but the ideal substrate for this plant is nutrient-rich sand that will provide good support for the roots.

Fine-grain sand is the best option for Water Wisteria and is less likely to compact over time than coarser sand.

Aqua soil is also necessary for planted tanks. They contain a high concentration of nutrients that can promote healthy plant growth, including wisteria, so you may want to layer it underneath sand for better grown and added support.

You can plant your wisteria on a gravel substrate but add a layer of aquarium soil or fertilized sand underneath the gravel to provide additional nutrients for the plants.

Overall, any of these substrate options can work well for Water Wisteria if they have good support for the roots and contain the necessary nutrients for healthy growth.

Water Wisteria Care—How to Maintain It

Grow your Water Wisteria under moderate to high light, 2 to 3 Watts per Gallon (40 to 50 PAR), for 8 to 10 hours daily. Wisteria (Hygrophila) are heavy feeders, so dose them with all-around fertilizer, like Seachem Flourish or Easy Green once a week after 20 to 30 percent water change and Seachem Excel or Easy Carbon once every month.

You can use root tabs once every few months with your Wisteria growing on a substrate or a water column fertilizer if you have it floating. You will also require a nutrient-rich substrate and iron fertilizer once a week.

Water wisteria prefers slightly acidic to neutral water with a pH range of 6.5-7.5 to thrive. Keep the water temperature between 74° to 82° F, 3 to 8 dKh (alkalinity), and 3 to 15 gH (general hardness). Add a mineral supplement if you have soft water with low gH.

It also requires good water circulation and adequate filtration.

Regular pruning will help keep water wisteria in good shape and promote bushier growth. You can trim any

Water Wisteria Growing Requirement

Most essentials for growing water wisteria are the same as the care and maintenance needs. Here are the growing requirements for wisteria in a fish tank (a quick, scannable table/chart).

Below are water wisteria care and maintanance requirements.

Wisteria Growing Requirement
Care Details
  • Water Wisteria (Hygrophila difformis)
Tank Size
  • Minimum 10 gallons
  • Optimal 20 to 55 gallons
Care Level
  • Easy
Water Conditions
  • Temperature 70°F to 82°F (Optimal), 62°F (Minimum)
  • pH 6.5 to 7.5
  • Carbonate Hardness—2 to 8 kH
  • General Hardness—gH
  • Moderate to High—2 to 3 Watts Per Gallon, 30 to 50 PAR (wisteria plant grow even in low-light)
  • Floating
  • Rooted (in a substrate)
  • Carpet
  • Attched to Driftwood, Rocks

How to Propagate Water Wisteria

Water Wisteria (Hygrophila difformis) can be propagated through stem cuttings or by removing and replanting side shoots. When cutting the stems for propagation or maintenance, use a sharp knife, tweezers, or your finger to avoid damaging the plant.

Choose healthy, strong stems with several nodes along their length to increase their chance of survival when you replant them.

Cut the stem below a node, where the leaves attach to the main plant. It’s best to make a clean, sharp cut at a 45-degree angle to minimize damage to the plant.

Remove leaves from the bottom 1-2 inches of the stem before you cut to expose the nodes and make it easier for the cut wisteria to develop roots.

Plant your Water Wisteria cutting in the substrate as described in the previous answer. If you are only pruning the plant, dispose of the stem or give them to other hobbyists in your area.

To propagate your water wisteria through side shoots, which are small plantlets that grow from the base of the parent plant, look for a healthy side shoot with several leaves and roots.

Use your fingers or a pair of a knife or pair of scissors to gently separate the side shoot from the parent plant. Be careful not to damage the roots of either plant.

Plant the side shoot in the substrate. Bury the roots but leave the leaves above the substrate. You may need to gently hold the side shoot in place while adding substrate around it to keep it from floating away.

Place the newly planted Water Wisteria side shoot in an area with good lighting and water circulation. Over the next few weeks, the side shoot shouldstart to develop new leaves and roots and eventually grow into a healthy plant.

Water Wisteria Trimming

You can keep the size of your plant in check by trimming back the stems once they start to take over valuable space from your fishes.

Usually, it’s advisable to trim new growths before they develop into new plants as opposed to cutting the mother plant. However, if your mature plant is too big, its ok to cut part of the shoots to keep new growth from sprouting.

Moreover, make sure you keep trimmed parts out of your tank to keep them from falling in the substrate and gradually grow into new plants. Plant debris left floating in the water can develop into unwanted plants as well.

Because water wisteria grows rapidly and uses up a lot of nutrients, you can also control it by reducing the amounts available in your fish tank. You can do this by either adding other fast-growing plants or perform regular water changes to remove nitrate which otherwise helps wisteria to grow.

Water Wisteria Tank Conditions

Water wisteria is hardy and thrives in many conditions even without CO₂ supplementation. However, for the best look, ensure your aquarium conditions simulate those in the plant’s world habitat.

A nutrient-rich substrate is paramount or at least fertilize your fish tank with root tabs.

The plant particularly needs a lot of nitrate, phosphate, magnesium, and Iron for healthy development. Iron deficiency is especially noticeable in leaves which turn pale and yellowish.

In the instance your plant leaves lose their color, remove the dead or discolored parts to prevent whatever is ailing them from spreading, and help the plant focus nutrients on the healthy leaves and stems.

You aquarium water should be soft to moderately hard and the ph stable around neutral. A range anywhere from 6.5 to 7.5 is good enough, while a temperature between 75°F and 82°F is considered optimal.

Water Wisteria Tankmates

Water wisteria is compatible with most fish, but its fine leaves also mean that most large fish will damage the plant if kept together. The case is the same when kept with boisterous fish or species that feed on live plants.

Consequently, the best tankmates for wisteria are small fish that don’t feed on aquatic plants.

You can keep this plant with other live plant species as long as there are enough nutrients in your fish tank and it’s not too densely planted.

Avoid overlapping plants to keep them from competing for nutrients which often result in many stunted and dead plants.

Also, stay away from cichlids like Oscars that dig the substrate and goldfish, rainbowfish and silver dollars.

Goldfish will devour water wisteria in a matter of hours and leave nothing but a stem sticking out of the sand.

Ideal tank mates include betta, Cherry Barb, Corydoras Catfish, Danios, Dwarf Gourami, Guppies, Mollies, Rasboras, Swordtails, and Tetras.

Water Wisteria Vs Water Sprite—What’s The Difference

Water wisteria (Hygrophila difformis) and water sprite (Ceratopteris thalictroides) are popular aquarium plants for tropical fish tanks. While they may look similar, there are some differences between them.

Appearance:Water Wisteria leaves are long, narrow, and dark green with serrated edges, while water sprite has lighter-green, lacy leaves, delicate in appearance.

Flowers: Water wisteria is a flowering plant, while water sprite is not. Wisteria also changes its foliage structure from serrated to multi-pinnate leaves depending on the environment (emersed or submerged).

Growth rate: Water sprite grows faster than water wisteria and can quickly become large if left unchecked. Water wisteria is a slower grower and is more compact in size. However, note that Hygrophilla is still a fast-growing aquarium plant.

Care requirements: Both plants are relatively easy to care for, but water sprite requires more light and nutrients than water wisteria to grow well. Water wisteria can tolerate varying water conditions and lighting levels, making it a more versatile plant.

Well, that all for this post!

Happy fish keeping🐠.

That’s all.

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