Hygrophila difformis (Water Wisteria) is an easy, undemanding aquatic plant that is used by both beginning and experienced aquarists. Its rapid growth, combined with its hardy nature, makes it one of the most common plants in the aquarium hobby.
Choosing the right plant prevents problems in the future, and this plant is a species that will cause very few problems. It is undemanding and hardy, so it can tolerate a variety of conditions. It is among the recommended aquarium plants for beginners, it only needs a little maintenance to look good in the aquarium.
You can find Hygrophila difformis in most aquarium stores and there is no reason to buy many stems as it is a very easy plant to propagate.
In addition, it provides the aquarium with bright green colors, and can be grown as a carpet if desired.
This article explains everything you need to know about Hygrophila difformis care, such as ideal tank conditions, propagation, and much more…
Hygrophila difformis fact sheet
- Origin: Asia
- Scientific name: Hygrophila difformis
- Family: Acanthaceae
- Size: up to 50cm
- Growth Rate: Fast
- Placement: Background or carpet
- Light Needs: Moderate to High
- Minimum aquarium size: 35 liters
- Temperature: 21 to 27ºC
- Reproduction: Cuttings
- pH: 6.5 to 7.5
- KH: 2-8
- Difficulty: easy
- Common Name: Water Wisteria, Aquatic Wisteria
Description of Hydrophila difformis
Like other plants, Hygrophila difformis provides a shelter or nursery for fish and keeps the water cleaner.
As one of the hardiest aquarium plant species, this plant is popular with beginners and experts alike due to its ability to tolerate common aquarium bugs.
It is also easy to propagate, helping aquarists multiply their plants from a relatively small supply.
These plants have attractive green leaves that brighten up any aquarium, just be careful of fish nibbling on them for food.
Water Wisteria Appearance
The stems of Hygrophila difformis can reach a height of up to 50 cm, and a width of around 25 cm. This means that it covers much of the tank and can block out too much light if left unchecked.
The leaves are bright green, forming narrow bumps along their length. The stem is slightly darker. It is firm, which helps support the weight of relatively large leaves.
Its fine white roots are buried under the substrate to anchor the plant in place.
Depending on how it is planted, this species can climb to the surface of the water or spread out on the bottom like a carpet.
Uses of Hygrophila difformis in aquariums
There are many different types of aquatic plants and they all have different uses. The classic image of a plant is that of a plant rooted in the sediment with the stem growing towards the surface, but this is not always the case.
Hygrophila difformis can take root in sediment or spread over the surface of the substrate like a carpet.
The biggest difference between them is visual. The mats form a thick green layer that brightens the bottom of the tank. If the stems grow upwards, they add colors and shapes to the middle levels of the water, which tends to be emptier.
Another difference is the shelter they offer. Since the mats only cover the lower level, they are home to bottom-dwelling fish. However, plants that reach higher can be the refuge of mid-level fish.
The place where the aquatic Wisteria is planted will depend on the use that you want to give it.
You can keep it with other plant species, just be careful that the tank is not too densely planted. Consider the areas your plants will grow in, making sure there is little overlap. Do not generate competition or some may die.
Most fish can be introduced safely, but there are some that need to be kept separate. The leaves of Hygrophila difformis are very easy to cut and some fish will take advantage of this.
Investigate fish before adding them to see if they eat plants. Goldfish or rainbow fish are just a few examples that could destroy your plants.
Hygrophila difformis is a hardy plant that can survive a few bites, but only to a limited extent. Most cichlids are usually fine, except for a few that can pull stems off, like Oscars.
Other ideal tank mates include: Bettas, Corydoras, Guppies, Mollies, Danios, Tetras…
Prawns are another option and shouldn’t impact your plants too much.
How to care for Hygrophila difformis
Aquarium conditions and requirements
Today Hygrophila difformis can be found all over the world, but in its native waters it is around India. This plant thrives in warm, shallow water where it has plenty of access to sunlight.
The roots burrow into the sandy substrates of these waters, which can be slightly acidic or slightly alkaline.
Fortunately, these wild conditions are easy to recreate at home. Hygrophila difformis is an undemanding species, so it can tolerate a number of different conditions.
First of all, you need a tank of the right size. This species can be kept in aquariums larger than 35 liters.
Ideally, plant the stems in a sandy substrate to mimic their natural conditions, but fine gravel is also suitable.
You will need water between 21-27°C. Temperatures outside of this range will slow down photosynthesis, potentially stopping plant growth.
Avoid extremes in pH. This species prefers neutral water values of 6.5-7.5. They also prefer soft to moderately hard water (2-8 KH).
The only other thing Hygrophila difformis will need is light, but most aquarium lights are fine for photosynthesis as long as you make sure the plants are not in shaded areas.
How to plant aquatic Wisteria
You have to think about how you want to mount your tank when planting. It is important to use the proper substrate or they will not be able to grow properly. In the wild they are rooted in sandy substrates, making this the ideal choice for your tank.
Fine gravels are also suitable, but avoid coarse-grained substrates. The roots must be able to move easily through the grains to firmly hold the plant in place and pick up nutrients.
Plant their stems in areas where they have enough access to light for photosynthesis, otherwise they won’t be able to grow.
Make sure your plants don’t get too dense, or they will compete with each other. Start with a few, about 5 cm apart. You can propagate a few stems later if you have extra room.
If you want the carpet effect, plant the stems on their sides and root them. Only the leaves will grow upwards to create a carpet effect. If you don’t want the carpet effect, just plant the roots in the soil and let the stems grow towards the light as they normally would.
Maintenance and care
Hygrophila difformis is one of the fastest growing plant species, so perhaps the biggest problem you will have is maintaining its size.
You can easily control it by trimming the stems to the size you want. If you let it get too tall, it will start to crowd your other plants or block light in the areas below.
When you prune, be sure to remove the cuttings from the tank or they will fall to the substrate and gradually grow into a plant of their own.
Because they grow so fast, they consume more nutrients than other species, sometimes causing a nutrient deficiency. You can consider adding some nutrient supplements if you don’t think your plants are growing as well as they should. However, be careful not to promote excessive algae growth.
Propagation of Hygrophila difformis
The breeding process is quite simple both in captivity and in the wild.
Naturally, Hygrophila difformis would grow to a point where parts of the plant would begin to fall off. Thus, they would then develop into new plants.
The process occurs in the same way in an aquarium, but can be manipulated a bit. You can take cuttings and plant them wherever you want. This species grows fast so it would quickly fill a tank.
Once you have a mature plant reaching its full height, you can cut the top of the stem 10-12 cm. Plant it in another place in the substrate and it will begin to take root and develop into a new plant.
Make sure the cutting you make has leaves so it can photosynthesize.
Buy from Hygrophila difformis
It’s important to find some strong specimens to buy, as they will have the best chance of survival.
There are a few things to keep in mind before buying Hygrophila difformis. First of all, the roots must be long and abundant, otherwise the plant will not be able to sustain itself or collect many nutrients.
The plant must be upright and capable of supporting its own weight. Specimens must be prevented from falling to the bottom of the tank.
Make sure the colors are bright and consistent. If there are areas of yellow or brown, then it is usually an indicator of a plant in poor health.
It is not difficult to find this species of Acanthaceae, it is found in most aquarium stores because it is so popular. Its price varies depending on the quantity and size of the plants you buy. You don’t need to buy a lot since you can propagate it in your aquarium.
Hygrophila difformis – Final conclusions
There aren’t many tanks that this species can’t be added to. Hygrophila difformis is a hardy species, so it can be added to many different setups.
Check that the water conditions are adequate and make sure you don’t have any problem fish that could destroy the plant. These are the most common causes of the death of this plant.
The popularity of this species makes it cheap to buy. It is one of the most affordable hardy aquarium plants in the fish farming industry.
Its rapid growth rate means it can spread stems quickly.
It will prove that it was good value for money by helping to keep the tank clean, solving problems before they arise.