Family: Araceae, Subfamily Aroideae
Origin and Habitat: Southeast Asia: Endemic to Central Sri Lanka. Grows as a marsh plant (emersed) along the banks of fast flowing rivers.
Ideal position in aquarium
Fore-ground to mid-ground; once established (6+ months) it will send out runners and form a low carpet.
Moderate to high. Higher light will cause the leaves to spread more horizontally, whereas lower light (shade) will result in more upright growth.
Minimum Tank Suggestion
Soft to medium hard (< 20 dGH), acidic to basic (pH 5 to 8) water, temperature 23-28C/73-84F. The water at one habitat site tested 0.7 dGH, pH 6.8, temperature 26C/79F (Horst, 1986).
This is (to date) the smallest known species of crypt. Its bright grass-green lanceolate leaves will grow approximately 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm) in height, the variance depending upon light and nutrients. The plant requires somewhat more light than most of the other species in the genus due to the small leaf size, and some sources report that it does not do as well in shade. Otherwise, this plant adapts well to varying conditions, although it remains relatively slow in vegetative propagation (via substrate runners).
Crypt Melt: All species in the Cryptocoryne genus require stable water parameters/conditions and light, and once planted, crypts should not be moved. It generally takes up to 30 days for a crypt to become established. Within a couple of days of any significant change in temperature, pH, hardness, light intensity or duration, nutrient availability or disturbance to the roots by moving (either within the aquarium or to a different aquarium), the plant may "melt." This condition involves the leaves disintegrating into a pile of mush, sometimes within a day or two. The roots usually remain alive, and if not disturbed (siphon away the "mush" but do not disturb the roots) new leaves tend to appear within a matter of a few days or sometimes longer, even up to several weeks or (more rarely) months. Some authorities report that introducing plants to an established aquarium (3+ months) can reduce the occurrence of a melt. Several sources mention that this species is more inclined to melt, and this has been the writer's experience.
The subject species was described and named by De Wit in 1970 although it was previously known under different names (incorrectly identified species). The species epithet parva comes from the Latin parvus meaning little or small.
Cryptocoryne naturally occur in tropical parts of SE Asia from India to New Guinea; most species occur in a relatively small area. They grow in slow-flowing streams and rivers, along the banks of faster streams, and in marshes and flooded forest; they are adapted to growing emersed and submersed according to the seasonal floods. All crypts have a fairly thick rhizome from which the leaves arise in a rosette. They generally propagate vegetatively by runners in the substrate. Flowers are produced but only when grown emersed (during the "dry" season in nature).
Crypts are quite specific with respect to light and water parameters. The species on Sri Lanka prefer slightly acidic to slightly basic pH and medium hard to hard water, while those native to Borneo and the Malay Peninsula that occur in blackwaters prefer very acidic and soft water. The latter also grow in shaded areas exclusively, while occasionally those from Sri Lanka are found in sunny locations as well as shade. While some species may have quite specific requirements, in general most crypts can be cultivated in soft to medium hard, acidic to very slightly basic water, in a substrate of sand and gravel to which fertilizer may be added. Moderate light is recommended for optimum growth. Any significant or sometimes even minimal changes to water, substrate or light will cause some species to melt as described above.
The Cryptocoryne genus was erected by Friedrich Ernst Ludwig von Fischer in 1828. The name derives from the Greek crypto (hidden) and koryne (club), a reference to the "kettle," the spadix enclosed by the spathe. The genus Cryptocoryne along with the very closely-related genus Lagenandra [these plants are native to India and Sri Lanka] comprise the Cryptocoryneae tribe within the Aroideae subfamily of the Araceae family. The classification of this genus is complicated and not all botanists are in agreement. Usually the flower must be studied to accurately identify a species since leaf forms can vary due to differing aquarium conditions. There are now over 60 species in the genus (Robert Paul Hudson), and several have numerous synonyms which add to the confusion of identification.
Horst, K. (1986), Pflanzen im Aquarium.
Kasselmann, Christel (2003), Aquarium Plants [English edition].
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