Vallisneria Ultimate Growing Guide 2022 (growing, feeding, & trimming)

Vallisneria is one of the most widely grown plants in the aquarium hobby, and it is generally considered to be one of the first plants ever kept in home aquariums.

There are currently around 15 different species of Vallisneria, many of which are available and most of which just get sold under the name Vallisneria.

Eating Daphnia
Eating Daphnia

Vallisneria is a very structural plant that brings height and depth to a planted aquarium. This hardy plant works well in many different scenarios, and I use it in many of the aquariums in my own fish room. Whether you keep Fancy Goldfish, a community-style tank, or even African Cichlids, the chances are Vallisneria will work in your aquarium.

Overview of Vallisneria

Vallisneria is a tall, slender plant that has been popular in the freshwater fishkeeping hobby for many decades, and some say for over a century. Over the years Vallisneria has been given many different common names, with Tapegrass, Eelgrass, and Vallis being the most commonly used names.

Vallisneria grows naturally across much of the globe. It is found in one form or another in Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia, and North America.

According to a recent study, Vallisneria is one of the most widely sold aquatic plants, and in my experience, it is one of those plants that can be purchased in almost every local fish store across the country.



Vallisneria Characteristics

Common Name:Vallisneria, Tapegrass, Eel Grass, Vallis
Scientific Name:Vallisneria sp.
Family:Hydrocharitaceae
Origins:Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia, and North America.
Care Level:Easy
Growth Rate:Moderate to fast
Light Level:Low to moderate
C02 Level:Low
Tank Location:Background
Temperature:68°F – 82°F (20°C – 27.5°C)
Color:Bright Green
Propagation Method:Runners
Maximum Height:36″ (91cm)
Minimum Tank Size:20-gallons (76 liters)

Vallisneria General Description

Vallisneria is a tall, slender plant with foliage that resembles blades of grass. The long, narrow leaves are a light green color with 3-5 linear veins running their full length. Every single leaf runs from the base of the plant and there is no central stem to speak of.

The popularity of Vallisneria is largely thanks to its undemanding nature and minimal care requirements, both factors that make it such a good choice for those new to aquarium plants.

Vallisneria plants grow strong root mats that penetrate deep into the substrate looking for nutrients. These roots hold the Vallisneria plants firmly to the ground where they will send out runners with new plants attached.

This plant is not fussy about whether its water is hard or soft, or what the pH might be. It also tolerates a wide range of temperatures, meaning it can be used in any number of setups. In my own fish room, I use it a lot in my Fancy Goldfish tanks and I really like growing Vallisneria with Tetras and strippy Barbs like Tiger Barbs and Checkered Barbs.



Ideal Tank Conditions For Vallisneria

As mentioned above, Vallisneria is a very undemanding plant that grows well in a very wide range of water parameters. Naturally, though Vallisneria does have its preferred conditions to grow in.

In my experience, Vallisneria grows at its best when the water temperature is in the region of 68°F to 82°F (20°C to 27.5°C). With that said, I grow a lot of Vallisneria in my Fancy Goldfish tanks, and water in those tanks is around 64°F (18°C).

When it comes to light in a Vallisneria tank, this plant is again not too worried. Vallisneria seems to grow well even in tanks that would be considered low light. I myself have it growing in a couple of tanks that are just lit by low-energy CFL bulbs.

I have also seen really good growth rates and color from my Vallisneria when it is grown under the Aquasky light, which is made by Fluval.

Vallisneria also seems to grow well whatever substrate it grows in. In my experience, it grows equally well in sand, Stratum, or normal gravel, although it does seem to benefit from the additions of some root tabs in the substrate.

Because Vallisneria has such a strong root system, I would recommend having a fairly deep layer of substrate so the plant has something to dig down into. A 3″ to 4″ (7.5cm to 10cm) layer should be sufficient.

Vallisneria Maintenance

Vallisneria really is an undemanding plant that requires very little in the way of day-to-day maintenance. One question I get asked a lot is ‘Can I trim my Vallisneria?’. Yes, you can trim Vallisneria. All you need do is take a pair of sharp scissors and trim the leaves to the desired height. The tips of each leaf may turn brown after trimming, but this will usually only be temporary.

Vallisneria can be trimmed back at any height. Personally, I like the leaves to reach the surface before I trim them, but you can keep them trimmed at whatever height works for you and your setup. Using sharp scissors to trim your Vallisneria will hopefully prevent the leaves from being ripped when trimming them.

Other than trimming your Vallisneria, it doesn’t require a lot of maintenance.



Fertilizing Vallisneria

Some plants take nutrients in through their roots and others take them in through their leaves. Vallisneria takes nutrients through both its roots and its leaves. As such it will need both root tabs and the regular addition of liquid fertilizer.

I have found the Flourish Root Tabs which are made by Seachem to be the most effective. For my Vallisneria, I usually place 1 or 2 root tabs at the base of each bunch. These normally last for around 4 to 6 months before the Vallisneria has absorbed the nutrients and the root tabs will need replacing.

As for liquid fertilizer, I really like using Easy Green from Aquarium Co-op. Easy Green, as the name suggests is really easy to use. All I do is add a few pumps once a week and forget about it. Easy Green will make your Vallisneria plants a healthy, bright green color.

Easy Green was originally developed by the owner of Aquarium Co-op and he developed it with the sole goal of making fertilizing aquarium plants easier.

Vallisneria will happily grow without fertilizer, but adding root tabs or liquid fertilizer or both will really boost your
Vallisneria.



Propagating Vallisneria

Vallisneria is one of those plants that just can’t help but propagate itself. A happy, well-rooted Vallisneria plant will send out a runner with new, miniature Vallisneria plants growing on it. When really happy it might send out one of these runners every 3 to 5 days! This is one reason I always recommend Vallisneria as a great plant to grow for profit.

Normally this runner will eventually find their way to the floor, where they will set roots down into the substrate before really growing away and becoming new, strong plants.

If like me, you don’t like to see the runners pointing up into the water column, you can always manually push them into the substrate. I sometimes use small bent pieces of wire to hold them down whilst the roots develop.

As soon as the new plant has some viable roots it can be cut from the mother plant.

Most Popular Varieties of Vallisneria

There are a number of different types of Vallisneria in the hobby. There is often confusion about which type is actually being sold, and many different varieties just get sold under the name Vallisneria.

Vallisneria spiralis

Vallisneria spiralis is a really popular species of Vallisneria. It is probably the plant most commonly sold under the name Vallisneria.

Vallisneria spiralis has narrow leaves which, when left unchecked, grow to around 3′ (91cm) long. Vallisneria spiralis is a tough plant that, once established, can even cope living in tanks with common goldfish and even some South American Cichlids. In my fish room, I have Vallisneria spiralis growing in a tank with Oscars. It’s a bit battered but still grows well.

Jungle Vallisneria

Vallisneria Jungle, or Jungle Val as it is often known, is a species of Vallisneria that is famed for its size. If you own a huge aquarium, Jungle Val might be the plant for you.

Jungle Val is a very large, but undemanding plant that will grow in a wide variety of water parameters. This plant grows fast and is usually used to create a wall of color across the back of large tanks.

Vallisneria americana

Image Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vallisneria_americana_UMFS_3.JPG

Although the name Vallisneria Americana may lead you to think this plant is native only to North America, it is in fact found in many tropical and sub-tropical parts of the world.

Vallisneria Americana is especially enjoyed by those fish keepers who own brackish tanks (using slightly salty water) as it will live happily both in freshwater and brackish water. This plant grows very tall and has been recorded at over 6′ (1.8m) so is really only suitable for the largest of aquariums.

Which Fish Can Live With Vallisneria?

Vallisneria is so hardy and versatile that it would probably be quicker to make a list of fish that couldn’t live with it.

Over the years I have successfully kept Vallisneria with Fancy Goldfish, Discus, Tiger Barbs, Oscars, Congo Tetras, Neon Tetras, and even some African Cichlids.

With the possible exception of the very large and destructive South American Cichlids, such as Dovii, I am hard-pressed to think of some fish that won’t work well with Vallisneria.



Benefits of Growing Vallisneria

Adding any live plants to an aquarium brings benefits to the fish. Live aquatic plants are nature’s filter. They absorb ammonia and nitrates which result from fish waste and make the water cleaner and clearer.

Vallisneria is a fast-growing plant that absorbs vast quantities of nutrients from the water. These nutrients can be in the form of ammonia or nitrates, which help to keep the aquarium water clean for the fish. Adding Vallisneria will quickly improve your water quality.

Because of the size of Vallisneria, it provides some excellent hiding places and line of sight blocks, meaning fish can get away from one another when they need to. Females not wishing to spawn can hide from the males and a fish that is being bullied can get away from the bully.

Adding any live plant also increases the amount of oxygen present in the aquarium. Again, because of the size of Vallisneria, it absorbs a lot of CO2 and gives out a fair amount of oxygen, again improving the water quality for the fish.



Known Problems with Vallisneria

Although a hardy plant, Vallisneria can occasionally suffer and may need intervention from the fish keeper to prevent it from dying.

Leaf melt

If Vallisneria finds itself growing in conditions with little to know nutrients available, the first sign may be the leaves of the Vallisneria starting to melt away. They first start to lose color, then structure before collapsing and rotting away completely.

The solution to leaf melt is simple, add more nutrients. If your Vallisneria is growing in a tank without fertilizer, start adding it. If you already fertilize, consider upping the amount of fertilizer you add.

Algae

Due to the nature of the size of Vallisneria leaves, and the fact they grow so close to the light, Vallisneria can often suffer from algae growth. Algae, especially Black Beard Algae, can grow along the edges of the leaves, and if left unchecked can begin to take over the plant.

In my experience, the best way to solve the problem of algae growing on Vallisneria leaves is to add algae eaters. Black Mollies, Siamese Algae Eaters, and Red Cherry Shrimp will all help.

Chlorosis

Chlorosis is a condition whereby the Vallisneria leaves lose their normal green color. The source of the problem is often a lack of nutrients, especially iron. To solve the problem, consider adding an all-in-one fertilizer like Easy Green, or supplement your current fertilizer with some of the special iron additives like Flourish Iron from Seachem.

Where to buy Vallisneria?

Vallisneria is one of the most popular aquarium plants worldwide. I think you would be hard-pressed to find any local fish store that did not sell it. The last time I was in my local fish store they had 7 different varieties of Vallisneria for sale.

If you don’t have a good local fish store, take a look at WetPlants.com. They have a great selection of aquatic plants, including several varieties of Vallisneria. I have always found their plants to be good quality and their service is excellent.

In Conclusion

Vallisneria is an incredibly hardy, easy-to-grow plant that can’t help but enhance any tank it is grown in. Vallisneria is one of the oldest aquatic plants in the hobby and its place as one of the best-selling aquatic plants is well deserved.

I currently use Vallisneria in a dozen or more tanks in my fish room and I love growing it because of its plant and grow nature. I think Vallisneria is one of the best plants anyone can add to their aquarium.


About the Author

I’ve been keeping, breeding, and showing tropical fish for nearly 30 years. Over that time I’ve done it all! I’ve had great success and I’ve made some really foolish mistakes (like the time I bought an Asain Walking Catfish). Read more…
Richard James
Editor

Article Sources:

https://www.tfhmagazine.com/articles/aquatic-plants/vallisneria