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Family: Araceae, Subfamily Aroideae

Common Name: Lutea Crypt

Origin and Habitat: Southeast Asia: Endemic to Central Sri Lanka. A marsh plant, found on the banks of streams and rivers.

Ideal position in aquarium

Mid-ground; an excellent side plant, or at the ends of bogwood.

Lighting requirements

Low to moderate.

Growth rate


Minimum Tank Suggestion


Water parameters for Lutea Crypt

Soft to medium hard (< 20 dGH) acidic to basic (pH 5 to 8) water, optimum temperature 22-26C/71-80F. Some sources limit the hardness to soft and the pH to acidic, but most agree on the wider ranges given here.


Attaining up to 6 inches (12-15 cm) in height, this crypt has a more rigid, upright growth habit than most other species--one way to differentiate this plant from C. wendtii and C. beckettii. A slow growing plant, it will require six months before it sends out runners. Leaves are darker green, but there is also a brown-leaf form available.

One of the photos shows a stand of this crypt along a riverbank in its natural habitat.

This species C. walkeri was described by Schott in 1857. H.C.D. de Wit described two related species Cryptocoryne lutea and C. legroi, and in the literature this species is still frequently seen under the name C. lutea. According to Rataj (1977), there are three variants: C. walkeri var. lutea, C. w. var. legroi and C. w. var. walkeri, and the submersed forms are hardly distinguishable from one another, with C. w. var. lutea the most frequently seen in the hobby. Jacobsen (1987) concluded that intermediate forms make it impossible to clearly differentiate between the two species C. lutea and C. walkeri so the former must be accepted as synonymous with C. walkeri as the true species. The earlier C. legroi (de Wit) is a triploid form of C. walkeri.

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. C. walkeri 'lutea' does not like being moved once it is established.

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.


Jacobsen, N. (1987), "Cryptocoryne" in A Revised Handbook of the Flora of Ceylon, Vol. 6, pp. 85-99.

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

Rataj, Karel and Thomas J. Horeman (1977), Aquarium Plants, Their Identification, Cutivation and Ecology.

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