How to Care for a Dwarf Aquarium Lily
Wish you could put lily pads in your aquarium? Nymphaea (or dwarf aquarium lily) is an interesting option. This easy-to-grow, beautiful species is from India and Southeast Asia. It’s often used as a background or midground plant. Its bulb spouts a compact bush of 4-inch, arrow-shaped leaves and then eventually extends long stems of lily pads that float at the water surface. Compared to your typical green aquarium plant, the dwarf lily provides unique textures and interesting colors ranging from reddish-bronze to pinkish-green.
How do you plant a dwarf aquarium lily?
Aquarium Co-Op will send you a small aquarium lily bulb in a sealed package. The peat moss protects it from shipping. Because bulbs can often become damaged or melt after they are planted, we do not include any leaves or roots. To clean any dirt or debris, take the bulb out and rinse it in some water. Place the bulb on top of the gravel or substrate in your fish tank without burying it or else the bulb may rot. Some bulbs might float initially, but eventually they will sink when they are sufficiently waterlogged.
When the bulb has begun to grow leaves, you can gently insert it into the substrate. This prevents the bulb from being moved around by your fish or the water current. Once roots are rooted into the ground, they will anchor the plant.
After the lily sprouts leaves, push the bulb into the substrate.
How long will it take for aquarium bulb bulbs to grow? Try turning the bulb upside down and giving it another one to two weeks to sprout. The top and bottom sides of plant bulbs are visible, but it is not possible to see until it begins growing leaves upwards and roots towards the substrate.
Why is the bulb getting moldy or covered in a fuzzy growth? When organic objects like driftwood or plant bulbs are placed underwater, they often grow a layer of biofilm made of harmless bacteria and other microorganisms. This can look like white mold, fluffy fungus, or short tufts of gray hair is covering the bulb. If you have algae eaters, shrimp, or snails in your aquarium, they will often consume this fuzzy layer for you. The biofilm doesn’t pose a danger to the lily as long as it isn’t able to spread to other plants.
Why is my aquarium lily bulb not sprouting? If the above instructions are followed without sprouting, or the bulb feels mushy and emits an unpleasant odor, it is most likely a failure. In our experience, we find that less than 5% of bulbs fail to revive, but if this happens to you, the next step would be to contact the fish store or plant seller where you got the plant from. Aquarium Co-Op will gladly refund or replace your dwarf lily if you email us with the order number and photos of the bulb. We love dwarf aquarium plants and want you to have success with them.
Most lilies sprout fairly quickly after being submerged in water, producing many leaves that emerge from a single point on the bulb.
How do you care for a dwarf lily?
This tough plant can thrive in tropical temperatures between 72-82degF (22 to 28 degC). It does not require CO2 injection. This plant can survive in low- to high-light aquariums. Once it starts sending lily pads to the top, you may need to prune a few of the surface leaves so that they won’t block light from reaching the other plants in the fish tank.
Dwarf aquarium lilies, like most live aquatic plants, are great for consuming organic waste compounds and improving overall water quality for your fish. However, once they get established in your tank, lilies tend to grow rather quickly and may need additional nutrients in the form of liquid fertilizers and root tabs.
Trim back some (but not all) of the lily pads if they begin to cover the entire surface of the water.
Is it possible to propagate a dwarf water lily?
When your dwarf aquarium lily is feeding and growing well, it may begin to send out little shoots with daughter plants attached to them. Simply cut off the side shoots and replant them in a desired location in your fish tank. If your plant is not thriving for some reason, it may be suffering from a nutrient deficiency, so take a look at our plant nutrients article to help you troubleshoot the issue: