Hygrophila pinnatifida

Hygrophila pinnatifida is a plant that has been known for over than 150 years, although it had been cultivated as a tank plant only since 2008. However, up to now the plant is still rather rare species.

Habitat in the wild

Hygrophila pinnatifida is an aquatic plant that was brought from India. There it grows in streams at the bottom of Western Ghats in the tideland.


Like ferns and anubias species Hygrophila pinnatifida easily sticks to stones and snags with its roots, which is actually not common at all for long-stalked tank plants. Besides, new shoots of this plant eagerly trail over the substrate and each their internode strikes roots in it like a ground-covering tank plant.

Then each rooted verticil shoots an upright stem which then can also incline to towards the tank bottom.

Hygrophila pinnatifida has long dedalous leaves (up to 6 inches long). Coloring of the leaf front side may vary from dark green to brown, while its bottom side is always pink. The stem is thick, solid and almost stiffen.

Difficulties in keeping

Hygrophila pinnatifida successfully grows provided with moderate light. However, at intense illumination the plant size becomes smaller. To stimulate this transformation you should regularly trim its shoots.

It is recommended to add sufficient amount of nutrients into the tank water as well as CO2. This Hygrophila species is very sensitive to lack of kalium in the water.

Its absence shows when small round holes start to appear in the old leaves of the plant.

Keeping in a tank

Scientific NameHygrophila Pinnatifida
Native ToIndia
Lighting NeedsHight
Growth rateMedium
Temperature Required72-82 °F
pH Level6.0-7.5
Care LevelHight
Placement in TankForeground and midground
Maximum plant sizeup to 15 cm (6 inches)

We should mention, that the plant demonstrates its best habitus provided with ideal tank conditions – it becomes bushy, reddish colored and you can form bushes from it if you trim it properly. At the same time Hygrophila pinnatifida can grow in amateurs tanks as well (without CO2 supply, intense illumination etc.).

In this case the plant becomes greenish colored and tends to grow upwards. Often at such conditions you may see small holes in the leaves of the plant, which indicates lack of kalium in the tank water.

Like all Hygrophila species, this one is demanding only in terms of kalium content in the tank water. Therefore, additional supply of kalium is a must in most of cases, otherwise old leaves of the plant get covered with small round holes.

As for the substrate, its type is completely insignificant for the plant, since Hygrophila pinnatifida forms quite small and not very deep growing root system. If you take the plant out of the ground, you will see that substrate grains or sand got stuck to the plant roots.

The plant growth rate depends on the tank conditions and the stage of its growth. At moderate illumination as well as limited amount of nutrients and CO2 in the water, Hygrophila pinnatifida grows and reproduces quite slowly.

But provided with intense lighting and sufficient amount of nutrients and CO2, its vertical shoots may reach the water surface quite quickly. In this case, you should trim the shoots regularly.

If you keep plant in a wet substrate, provide it with sufficient amount of light and fertilizers, you may grow the emersed form of the pant. Its leaves will gradually become wider and shorter as well as get greenish coloring; the stems will grow upwards.

If the plant grows at natural light, it starts to bloom, usually it happens in spring.


The plant is cultivated mainly by cutting. After you trim plant, it actively forms a lot of side branches where it was cut.

Provided with favorable conditions the plant forms horizontally growing shoots, that easily strike roots.

About author: Sergey Schulz

Sergey is a founder and author of Meethepet.com. He’s been fond of aquarium husbandry since his early childhood. His favorite aquariums are biotopes (Amazon River), with Echinodorus and freshwater angelfish. However, through the years he’s had experience of keeping almost all types of freshwater fish and shrimps.