How to Care for a Dwarf Aquarium Lily
Would you like to have lily pads for your aquarium? Nymphaea (or dwarf aquarium lily) is an interesting option. This beautiful, easy-to-grow species hails from India and Southeast Asia and is often used as a midground or background plant. Its bulb is a compact bush with 4-inch, arrow-shaped green leaves. Then it eventually grows long stems of lily pads floating at the water’s surface. Dwarf lily offers a unique texture and interesting color palette, which is different from your average green aquarium plant.
How can 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.
Once the bulb begins sprouting leaves, you can gently tuck it into the substrate so that only a third or half of the bulb is buried. This prevents the bulb from being moved around by your fish or the water current. Once the roots have grown into the ground they will hold the plant in its place.
Once the lily has sprouted leaves, slightly push the bulb into the substrate without covering up any of the new shoots.
How long does it take for aquarium plant bulbs to grow? If you see no growth after one to three weeks, try turning the bulb over and give it another one to three weeks to sprout. Plant bulbs actually have a top and bottom side, but we cannot see it until it starts growing leaves up toward the surface and roots down toward the substrate.
What causes the bulb to become moldy? If organic objects such as driftwood and plant bulbs are submerged, they can develop a biofilm of microorganisms and harmless bacteria. It could look like white mold or fluffy fungus is covering the bulb. If you have algae eaters, shrimp, or snails in your aquarium, they will often consume this fuzzy layer for you. As long as the bulb is firm to the touch and eventually starts sprouting, the biofilm is not dangerous to the lily and doesn’t spread to other plants.
Why won’t my aquarium lily bulb sprout? If you have followed the above instructions with no sprouting or the bulb is mushy to the touch and emits a foul odor, your bulb is likely a dud. 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 can you take care of a dwarf lily
The hardy plant can withstand extreme tropical temperatures of 72-82°F (22-28°C). It doesn’t require CO2 injection and can live in aquariums with low to high lighting. 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. Once established, lilies can grow quickly so you may need to add liquid fertilizers or root tabs.
Trim the lily pads, but not all of them, if they cover the entire surface.
Can You 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: