Plant Profiles: Vallisneria


Plant Profiles: Vallisneria
A timeless favorite, Vallisneria has graced aquariums long before many of today’s popular varieties made their mark. But guess what? There’s a reason they’ve stood the test of time! Not only do they bring a vintage charm to your tank, but these plants are also the definition of low maintenance.

Yep, you heard right—Vallisneria is the chill friend who doesn’t demand much. The cherry on top? It grows super fast as well.
These aquarium plants don’t just grow; they zoom! In the right conditions, you’ll be amazed at how swiftly they fill up spaces, adding layers of green tapestry to your aquarium.

So, if you just love seeing quick results, Vallisneria is like that instant gratification buddy. One day you’re planting a modest bunch, and before you know it, your tank’s bursting with waves of their ribbon-like leaves.

Ready to learn more about this awesome plant?

Hang tight! This article will dive deep into the world of Vallisneria, sharing fun facts and tips. Let’s get started!

Quick Overview

  • Scientific Name: Vallisneria sp.
  • Common Name: Vallis, Tape Grass, Eelgrass
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Temperature: 68-82°F (20-28°C)
  • pH Level: 6.0-9.0
  • Hardness: Soft to hard, adaptable
  • Max Height: 6 inches to over 60 inches
  • Lighting: Moderate to high
  • Growth Rate: Moderate to fast
  • Substrate: Necessary
  • Fertilizers: Optional
  • CO2: Optional

Vallisneria Facts and Description

The Vallisneria genus belongs to the Hydrocharitaceae family. With 16 known genera and a whopping 135 species, this family boasts several popular aquariums like anacharis, frogbit, Najas, and Blyxa.

But hey, ever wonder where the name “Vallisneria” comes from?

It pays tribute to the legendary Antonio Vallisneri, an 18th-century Italian physician and naturalist who left a mark in the realms of natural sciences.

Aside from its common name, this age-old aquatic plant, being a favorite in the aquarium hobby for years, has garnered several affectionate names like Val and Vallis.

But that doesn’t stop there!

With their wavy, long, and thin leaves, they remind folks of eels or floating tape. That’s why, aside from Val and Vallis, this age-old aquatic plant has also been called eelgrass and tape grass.

Origin and Natural Habitat

Originating from the tropical and subtropical regions of the world, the Vallisneria genus calls the slow to fast-flowing rivers and calm lakes its first home.

Being a hydrophyte, this plant is all about the underwater life. It is a true aquatic plant that can’t grow outside water, so they stay submerged at all times.

Several species of the genus Vallisneria can be commonly cultivated in Asia, Africa, Europe, and North and South America. In these habitats, it’s common to find Vallisneria’s ribbon-like leaves dancing gracefully with the currents, providing shelter to small fish and critters.

Apperance of Vallisneria

Vallisneria bring a touch of underwater elegance with their flowing ribbon-like long leaves reminiscent of eelgrass or tape that sway and dance with the currents. These bright green, rosulate leaves, whether long, wide, or slender, vary with each species.

But no matter the variant, they all love to shimmy up to the water surface and form dense green tangles!

Choose your Val, and watch in awe as some leaves grow straight as arrows, while others twirl into mesmerizing corkscrews.

Now, thanks to its tall and thick leaves, many aquarists use Vallisneria as a background plant in home aquariums, creating a cool, green scenery. Others even prefer to place them in the middle, making a lush green centerpiece.

Size and Growth Rate

Ready for some rapid spread? Vallisneria doesn’t disappoint. Once they feel at home, they start shooting up so fast you’d think they’re racing Jack’s beanstalk, but underwater style!


With great growth comes great responsibility. While their rapid growth is a treat to watch, leaving them unchecked will take you by surprise as they easily dominate your entire tank.

So, remember to trim regularly!

As for their size, Vals are versatile. Depending on the variety, their leaves can stretch anywhere from 6 to a whopping 60 inches in length, and in width, they can be as thin as 0.2 inches or as wide as 1 inch.

But rest assured, as true aquatics, they’ll stay completely submerged, adding a lush dimension to your tank!

Flowering and Seed Production in Vallisneria

Beyond their wavy, dance-like leaves, Vallisneria plants are dioecious.

Hold on! Before you scratch your head wondering what that means – it’s really just a fancy way of saying each plant has either male or female flowers. Yep, they have genders. Fun, right?

Now, the male flowers are small, subtle, and tend to develop at the base of the plant. On the other hand, female flowers elegantly display on long, spirally coiled scapes, floating just above the water’s surface.

And here’s the cool part: after the female flowers are fertilized, they create seed pods. These are your ticket to more Vals in the future. So, if you see these pods, save them!

Vallisneria Varieties and Their Differences

When it comes to categorizing Vallisneria, scientists often turn to their very flowers. Why is that so?

Well, this plant is so diverse and each species can grow very differently under certain water conditions. The answer? Identifiable flowers of each variant.

This genus houses more than 30 known Vallis species, but aquarium enthusiasts usually only get to pick from 5 or 6 choices sold by pet stores. These varieties commonly differ in leaf shape, length, and even the subtle shades influenced by certain conditions.

1. Vallisneria Spiralis (Italian Val)

  • Appearance: Italian Val, also goes by the name Straight Vallisneria, flaunts slender leaves, typically straight with a chance of a slight twist. This Val also showcases an occasional radiant red color morph that’s a real eye-catcher.Quick Fact: The name ‘spiralis’ for Vallisneria spiralis doesn’t actually refer to the leaves but to the floral peduncle!
  • Size: Grows up to a moderate length ranging from 16 to 20 inches and a width of up to 0.5 inches, making it neither too imposing nor too underwhelming.
  • Best For: From small to medium-sized tanks, it works brilliantly as a background or mid-ground foliage.

2. Vallisneria Americana (Jungle Val)

  • Appearance: The grandeur of the Jungle Val is in its impressively long and sometimes ruffled leaves. The width and lushness make it a head-turner.
  • Varieties: Interestingly, Vallisneria gigantea was once considered its own species but is now understood to be a form of Vallisneria americana. While they both boast remarkable length, the gigantea variant has especially broad leaves.
  • Size: True to its name, it can stretch to a jungle-like 5 feet in optimum conditions!Warning: Its lengthy leaves can float on the water’s surface. Left unchecked, they might block your aquarium lights. Regular trims are a must to ensure they don’t overshadow your tank’s illumination!
  • Best For: Ideal for larger aquariums, where it commands attention as a captivating backdrop.

3. Vallisneria Nana

  • Appearance: This dwarf variety distinguishes itself with its narrow, bright green, compact leaves, a sharp contrast to its towering relatives.
  • Size: Its stature peaks at about 15 inches in length and 0.4 inches wide, making it the perfect petite addition.
  • Best For: Its size and form are suited for smaller aquariums or as a foreground or mid-ground accent in larger setups.

4. Vallisneria Torta (Corkscrew Vallisneria)

  • Appearance: What sets Torta apart is its distinctively twisted, corkscrew-like leaves. A playful touch to any tank, making it look like underwater twisters.
  • Size: It varies, but most can reach up to 18-20 inches in a well-maintained aquarium.
  • Best For: This curly variant adds texture and a touch of whimsy to both small and large tanks alike. It’s perfect for you if you want a different take on the classic Val.

5. Vallisneria Asiatica

  • Appearance: This variant boasts slender, upright leaves that radiate in a luscious green shade. A quieter beauty but no less captivating.
  • Size: They gracefully rise to a height of 20-24 inches.
  • Best For: Ideally nestled in the mid-ground to background areas of medium-sized aquariums.

Once you’ve had an idea of what variant best suits your home aquarium, you might wonder where to buy one. We recommend visiting Amazon.

Tank Care and Requirements

Ready to host a Vallisneria party in your tank? Lucky for you, these plants aren’t divas; they’re as chill as they come!

This undemanding plant thrives not just in pure freshwater environments, but can handle even slightly brackish water. Originating from tropical regions, they’ve mastered the art of resilience, becoming one of the most hardy plants in the aquatic hobby.

So, if you’re looking for a low-maintenance plant and a sight for sore eyes, Vals have got you covered!

Tank Size

So, you’ve decided to grace your aquarium with the beauty of Vals. Great choice! Now, let’s talk about giving them the perfect space to flourish.

For Your Smaller Vallisneria:

If you’re diving into the world of more compact Vals or are just beginning your aquatic plant journey, a 1020 gallon tank should do the trick.

But remember: Even the ‘nana’ Val variety grows pretty tall! So, ensure your tank has ample space to accommodate their growth.

For Your Taller Vals:

Got your eyes set on the towering species of Vals? These gigantic plants need room to stretch out. Consider going for a 30-gallon tank or even larger. This way, their tall leaves won’t crowd the surface too soon, and they’ll have plenty of space to grow.

Ideal water conditions


This test kit:

  • accurately monitors 5 most vital water parameters levels in freshwater aquariums: pH, high range pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate

Vals have a knack for adapting, but if you want them to truly thrive, there are specific water parameters you should keep in mind.

  • Temperature: Originating from tropical regions, Vals feel most at home with temperatures between 68°F to 82°F (20°C to 28°C). Keep your tank in this range, and you’ll keep them happy!
  • pH Level: While Vals are fairly forgiving, they do best in slightly acidic to neutral conditions. A pH level between 6.0 and 9.0 is their comfort zone.
  • Hardness: Vals aren’t picky, but they are more on the hard side. Aim for a general hardness (GH) of 4-18 dGH.

Tip: even though Vals can swing with brackish water, they’re champions in the freshwater scene.

Lighting Requirements


This LED Light:

  • Provides better heat transfer and is combined with an IP67 waterproof rating.
  • Customize the colors of your sunrise and sunset at will!
  • Preset 24/7 Mode
  • Memory Function

Vals are quite the flexible bunch. They can manage in low-light conditions but truly come alive under moderate lighting to high lighting, especially if you have the Corkscrew variant.

Using full-spectrum aquarium lights ensures your Vals get all the wavelengths they need to flourish. We recommend using the Nicrew Light. But if you want to learn more, check out our guide here.

Caution: Avoid going overboard. Too much light can lead to unwanted algae growth in your aquarium. Aim for a consistent cycle of around 8-12 hours a day.


Vals primarily feed from their roots, but they are not heavily root feeders. Of course, like any planted aquarium plant, they will benefit well from a nutrient-rich substrate.

If you’re using gravel or sand, consider adding a layer of rich soil beneath, or supplement with root tabs to boost their nutrition should there be not enough fish and food waste in your aquarium.

Sand substrates, though, while able to create a beautiful aquascape, can slow down the spread of Vallisneria, so plan accordingly!

Fertilizer and CO2 Recommendation


This Fertilizer:

  • contains extra nutrient supplements: nitrogen, phosphor, iron, and micronutrients.TIP: use tweezers to place the capsule in the gravel, close to the roots of fast-growing plants.

As I have mentioned, while they certainly won’t turn down some extra nutrition, Vals can grow splendidly without heavy fertilizer doses. But by adding balanced liquid fertilizer that is rich in micro and macronutrients, your Vallisneria will have that extra push for luster proliferation.

Especially if your substrate is not nutrient-rich, you may consider using root tabs for a direct feed to their roots.

Tip: Place them at a distance of 4-6 inches away from each other or near the roots of your Val.

Just like fertilizers, Vals can thrive without added CO2, thanks to their hardy nature. However, if you aim for denser, faster growth or if you’re cultivating varieties that demand brighter lighting, CO2 supplementation can be beneficial.

Note: Always introduce CO2 gradually. Even the hardy Vals prefer a slow change over a sudden shift in their environment.

How to Plant Vallisneria

  1. Preparation: First, give your aquarium a quick once-over. Are the conditions just right for your Vals? Check water, lighting, and substrate.
  2. Unbundle & Inspect: Vals often come bundled together. Gently separate individual plants, inspecting for any dead or damaged leaves and roots. Trim these off to encourage healthy growth.
  3. Root Trimming (Optional): While not always necessary, trimming the roots slightly can promote new root growth once planted.
  4. Dig a Hole: Using a pair of planting tweezers or your fingers, dig a small hole in the substrate where you wish to plant the Val.
  5. Planting: Nestle the Val into the hole, making sure only the roots are snugly buried. But hey, keep the crown above ground to prevent it from rotting – it likes to breathe!
  6. Secure the Plant: Press the surrounding substrate gently. You want your Vals to feel secure, but not smothered.
  7. Spacing: If you’re planting multiple Vals, make sure to leave some space between each plant. They love their personal dance space as they sway and grow.
  8. Initial Care: For the first couple of weeks, monitor your newly planted Vals closely. Check for any signs of stress or growth issues. Adjust lighting, CO2, or fertilization as necessary.

Pro Tip: Ready to plant? Gently nestle the roots and crown into the substrate, using fingers or an aquascaping tool. Afterward, give a tiny upward tug to let the crown just peek above. Voilà! Perfect Vals positioning!

Trimming and Pruning

Ah, the joy of watching your Vals flourish and grow!

Sometimes, your Vals reach too high, overshadowing other plants or blocking equipment. When this happens, begin trimming those older leaves that appear yellow or damaged. These are often on the outer part of the plant.

Once you’re okay with it, trim your Vals down to the desired length. Don’t worry, they can grow back pretty fast!

And not only do they grow pretty fast, but they also love to send off little runners, which can become new plants. If you feel they’re overcrowding or not growing where you’d like, feel free to snip them off.

Pro tip: Always trim gradually, avoiding excessive pruning in a single session. This keeps your Vals stress-free and allows them to adjust better to their new look.


Vallisneria varieties commonly propagate using stolons. While some have the capability to bloom and produce seeds, witnessing this in aquarium environments is a rare treat.
  1. Spot the Runners: Keep an eye out for runners, those thin stems extending from the main plant.
  2. Identify Daughter Plants: These runners will soon sprout daughter plants, which are mini versions of the mother plant.
  3. Separate with Care: Once these daughters have roots and leaves, gently pull them away from the runner.
  4. Plant Them: Secure the daughter plants in the substrate, ensuring the crown sits just above the surface.

Caution: Be mindful! While runners are a sign of a happy Val, they can quickly spread and take over your tank. Keep an eye on their growth and trim back as needed

Vallisneria Tank Mates

Vallisneria plants have grass-like and coarse leaves that most fish wouldn’t dare to eat. However, when it comes to their roots, that’s a different story. Aggressive fish can easily uproot your Val, so be careful when choosing mates.

Here are some good tank mates:

Proceed with Caution:

  • Goldfish – Although the leaves are a no-go for most, be cautious with notorious plant-eaters.
  • Cichlids
  • Oscars
  • Silver Dollar

Why Vallisneria is a Must-Have for Beginners

So, if you’re a budding aquarist looking for the perfect starter plant, Vallisneria checks all these boxes.

Hardy Nature: Coming from tropical and subtropical regions, Vallisneria adapts well to a variety of conditions.

Low Maintenance: No need for constant trimming or special lighting.

Natural Filters: Not only are they pretty, but Vals also help improve water quality by absorbing excess nutrients.

Oxygen Pros: They boost oxygen levels, making everyone breathe easier.

Easy Propagation: As you advance in your hobby, you’ll appreciate how Vals send out runners, gifting you with more plants without any extra effort on your part.

Fish-friendly: Vals create a perfect hideaway for your fishy friends, offering them a sense of security and comfort. Plus, as we’ve noted, most fish don’t find their leaves tasty, so they remain beautifully intact.

Health Issues and Diseases


Yellowing or Browning Leaves

Now, this can be a sign your Vals are feeling a tad deprived. Often, it’s a cry for nutrients, especially iron. A splash of fertilizer might just be the thing they need. Remember to keep an eye on those iron levels!

Transparent or Melting Leaves

This can be quite tricky. Often, it’s due to sudden shifts in the water or playing too fast and loose with CO2. To keep your Vals from getting the underwater illness, ensure water changes are gradual, and CO2 levels are stable.

Root Rot

If your Vallisneria root feels a bit too soggy, it might lead to rot. This can be due to a suffocated substrate or too little oxygen at the root zone. The remedy? Ensure those crown tops peek just above your soil!

Algae Overgrowth

Too much light or some nutrient mischief might be the cause. Consider tweaking the light duration and keep tabs on those nutrient levels.

Remember: When in doubt, observe and adjust! Vals just want a bit of love and the right setting to shine.


So, there you go! Want an easy and cool plant for your aquarium? Vallis is your go-to! They’re straightforward, stunning, and low-maintenance. The best yet? No need for a green thumb or a hefty wallet!

If you have stories or tips to share, or you just want to read more about these plants, share those on our Facebook community! Let’s grow together!

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