Vallisneria: All in One Guide

Vallisneria is a classic aquarium plant. The Vallisneria got its name after Antonio Vallisneri, an Italian naturalist.

Vallisneria is also known as Eelgrass, Tape grass, Vals or Vallis, and Wild-celery. According to Michael with Aquarium Breeder, the genus Vallisneria plant has 16 known genera and roughly 135 species. You can find these species in North and South America, Africa, Asia, Europe, and Australia.

A popular use of the Vallisneria plant is to create a Jungle type of aquascape. These plants can effortlessly grow and cover a tank. Vallisneria is a fast-growing plant with roots that can be seen to grow a few inches in as little as two weeks. Vallisneria provides an excellent backdrop for aquariums. This is due to its large leaves and green scenery.

Types of Vallisneria

There are four common types of Vallisneria plants. These types supply you with a variety for your aquarium. Some features need urgent considerations for the kind of aquarium you plan to grow.

Vallisneria Gigantea

They are also known as Vallisneria Americana; this type of plant tends to grow more than a meter long. Vallis Gigantea’s height will range between 19 to 60 inches. The large size requires a bigger, taller tank. Water temperatures are set higher than other types of Vallisneria. They also propagate slower, too. Their leaves are like ribbons that are wide and straight.

Vallisneria Fortifolia

The Vallis Fortifolia is one of the smallest in height out of the Vallisneria species. They range from 6 to 8 inches tall. This type is perfect for smaller aquariums—even 5-gallon tanks. They can also be nicely centered in the middle of the aquarium instead of in the background. The leaf shape is thin and tightly coiled.

Vallisneria Spirallis

This species is slightly larger than the Vallis Fortifolia. Typical size ranges between 11 to 20 inches. The leaves are narrowly shaped and stand straight. A unique factor of this type of Vallisneria is that higher lighting can bring out a red hue in the plant.

Vallisneria Torta

Like the Vallis Spirallis, the Torta species tends to grow a height of 6 to 20 inches. The leaves are thin and wavy. A Vallis Torta tends to be a nice addition for shy fish and can ease them into the open more often.

Types of Substrates

Substrate helps a plant grow. There are many types of substrate you can choose for your aquarium. Once you have picked your substrate, you would then layer it at the bottom of your tank. Root feeding plants grow more efficiently with nutrient-rich substrates. Vallisneria is easy to plant and placed right underneath your chosen substrate.

Tankarium suggests pushing the plants’ roots underneath the gravel with your fingers or an aquascaping tool. You need to pull the crown above the surface because the plant won’t grow if the crown is underneath the gravel.

Sand Substrate

Vallisneria is one of those plants that rely heavily on its roots. A plant depending on its roots means the aquarium water is not its main source of nutrients. A Vallisneria plant can grow in sand. However, adding root tabs is often necessary. Root tabs supply the plant with nutrients if the chosen substrate does not feed enough.

Sand is a compact substrate. The thickness limits a Vallisneria plant to spread its roots throughout the aquarium. Sand can be beneficial in this aspect by not allowing a Vallisneria to take control over the tank.

Gravel Substrate

Gravel is one of the easiest substrates to maintain. Most fish and plants are well-suited for a graveled aquarium. A thin layer of gravel should suffice as Vallisneria only needs enough room for its roots. Gravel is a nice decorative addition, and the stones from your local pet store work, too! When using gravel, such as sand, the best route is to layer aquarium soil underneath the substrate.

Water Requirements

The ideal Vallisneria aquarium size is a medium, 10-gallon tank. Water temperature has not shown many issues. You can vary your water temperature with a Vallisneria plant. The plant can thrive in waters between 20 – 30 °C or 68 – 86 °F.

Water hardness does not create problems for Vallisneria, either. However, a common suggestion is not to keep the water too soft. Extreme acidic pH values can also stunt plants’ growth. A further recommendation is to have pH values between 6.5 – 8.0.

CO2 Injections

Extra CO2 is often necessary for aquarium plants. CO2 diffusers encourage plant growth no matter the Vallisneria species used. They also bring out the redness in Vallisneria Spirallis. However, liquid CO2 can cause the plants to melt. A common product in melting cases is Seachem Flourish Excel.


Vallisneria requires moderate to high lighting. A lot of experts will video log about Vallisneria’s surviving best in high lighting conditions. Then, after time, the lighting tends to be lowered to moderate demand.

Colored LEDs are popular to use as it brings out the vibrant color of the plants. Aquarium Co-Op recommends shallow tanks to have a Finnex Stingrays LED fixture and deeper tanks to have a Fluval 3.0 Plant Spectrum LED light.


Trimming back your Vallisneria plant is mandatory. Their speedy growth can become overwhelming for the tank. But you must remember that trimming creates more runners.

A Vallisneria plant propagates with runners of new plants. These new plants can separate from the parent plant when it has accrued a few leaves. You can also wait for the connected runner to eventually die off.

You must begin the trimming process once the plant has reached the water’s surface. You don’t want the plant to block out the light for other plants to continue prospering. However, you can leave a small amount of shade for any fish in the aquarium.  Make sure you trim the plants with sharp scissors.

Fish Species

Most aquarium fishes do not eat plants. However, you must be careful not to select a fish species that dig. A bottom digging fish will damage a Vallisneria as they separate the plant from the substrate.

Combining Plants

The vibrant green color that Vallisneria lets off makes any aquarium breathtaking. This also creates a favorable choice to combine Vallisneria with other colorful plants. These other plants should also sustain the same tank requirements and features as a Vallisneria.

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