How to Care for a Dwarf Aquarium Lily
Would you like to have lily pads for your aquarium? Nymphaea Stellata, also known as the dwarf aquarium lily, is a great 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 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 can you plant a dwarf aquarium Lily?
Aquarium Co-Op will ship a single dwarf aquarium lily bulbs in a protective peat moss package. Because bulbs can often become damaged or melt after they are planted, we do not include any leaves or roots. Remove the bulb and give it a quick rinse in water to wash off any loose dirt. 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 may float at first, but eventually they become waterlogged enough to sink.
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 grow into the ground, they will firmly anchor the plant in place.
After the lily sprouts leaves, push the bulb into the substrate.
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. 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. This fuzzy layer can be eaten by algae eaters, shrimps, and snails. The biofilm doesn’t pose a danger to the lily as long as it isn’t able to 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. Dwarf aquarium lilies are one of our favorite beginner plants, and we want to make sure you’re successful 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?
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 back some (but not all) of the lily pads if they begin to cover the entire surface of the water.
Can You Propagate a Dwarf Water Lily?
If your dwarf aquarium lily grows well and is eating well, it might start to produce little shoots that have daughter plants attached. Simply cut off the side shoots and replant them in a desired location in your fish tank. You may have a problem with your plant’s growth. Take a look at our article on plant nutrients to find out how you can fix it.