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Family: Cabombaceae

Common Names: Red-Brown Cabomba, Red Cabomba

Origin and Habitat: Central America. Occurs in stagnant to very slow-flowing waters.

Ideal position in aquarium


Lighting requirements

Moderate to high. This species does well with moderate lighting.

Growth rate

Moderate to Rapid

Minimum Tank Suggestion


Water parameters for Red-Brown Cabomba

Medium-hard to hard, basic water. Temperature 18-32C/64-89F. This species prospers in harder and basic water.


Cabomba palaeformis is easy to maintain in the aquarium. It will do best in medium-hard to hard, basic water and is more tolerant of warmer temperatures than C. caroliniana. In softer and slightly acidic water, Cabomba caroliniana [see that profile] will perform better.

The leaf colour depends upon the cultivar of this species. The Green variety has opposite leaves, the Red-Brown variety has leaves that are opposite or arranged in whorls of four around the stem. The red-brown cultivar tends to grow faster and bushier than the Green cultivar, and this variety is more common in the hobby.

The leaves are in the shape of a fan, which gave the plants in this genus the common name of Fanwort. This species does well in moderate light [see additional comments under Lighting Requirements], without CO2 addition, and in a plain substrate of small gravel or sand; with a nutritious substrate, new lateral shoots will regularly develop from the lower stem nodes. Nutrients should otherwise be added to the water with a comprehensive liquid fertilizer.

Propagation is easiest by division of the stem or the side-shoots. Flowering shoots with floating leaves will form on the water surface.

The Cabombaceae family of flowering aquatic plants was described by the French botanist and physician Achille Richard in 1822. There are two genera, Cabomba and Brasenia, and five of the six recognized species are within Cabomba. The genus name Cabomba is believed to come from the language of one of the indigenous peoples of Guyana.

In her 1991 revision of the genus, the Danish botanist Marian Orgaard recognized five species of which four are known in aquaria, namely Cabomba aquatica, C. caroliniana, C. furcata and C. palaeformis. C. haynesii (described by Wiersema in 1989) used to be known under the name C. piauhyensis (now considered a synonym), but is currently rarely imported nor cultured in aquaria.

Cabomba palaeformis was described in 1953 by Norman C. Fassett. The species epithet comes from the Greek palaois [old] and the Latin formis [shaped].


Kasselmann, Christel (2003), Aquarium Plants, English edition.

Orgaard, M. (1991), "The genus Cabomba (Cabombaceae) - a taxonomic study," Nordic Journal of Botany 11 (2), pp. 179-203.

Contributing Members

The following members have contributed to this profile: Byron


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