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Family: Araceae, Subfamily Aroideae

Common Name: Red Wendt Crypt

Origin and Habitat: Endemic to Sri Lanka. Usually grows in or on the banks of streams and rivers.

Ideal position in aquarium

Fore-ground and mid-ground in larger aquaria; in small tanks (5 gallon and under) with low light it can be used as a background plant.

Lighting requirements

Low to moderate; The brighter the light the shorter the plant will grow.

Growth rate


Minimum Tank Suggestion


Water parameters

Soft to medium hard (< 15 dGH), acidic to basic (pH 5.5 to 8) water, optimum temperature 22-26C/72-80F. In its habitat, this species was found in very soft (0.5 dGH) and acidic (pH 6.4) water as well as soft (4.5 dGH) and basic (pH 7.8) water (Horst, 1983).


This crypt is a lovely contrast to other plants not only because of its brownish-red colouration but also the distinctive ruffled ("hammered") linear leaves that taper to a point. The plant grows according to the available light; in bright light the plant remains close to the substrate, the leaves actually lying on the substrate; with very low light it may reach 12-18 inches and thus forms a nice background plant in smaller tanks.

The species was described by H.C.D. de Wit in 1958 and is named to honour Albert Wendt (1887-1958), a German aquarist who was especially interested in Cryptocoryne plants. There are at least 15 varieties, some natural [occurring in nature] and some hybrids. Rataj (1977) recognized five varieties, having himself named four of them; but as the differences are confined to leaf shape and/or colouration and have not been shown to be due to different genetic makeup, the variants should be considered as modifications and not true varieties (Kasselmann, 2003). Requirements are the same for all variants; the "red" is the most commonly seen form and is the hardiest.

Many consider this the easiest of the crypt species to grow. This plant grows well in any substrate, but the best growth and leaf colour will occur in one that is enriched (soil, a plant substrate, or with substrate fertilizer). Once established, it will send out runners with daughter plants.

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.

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. (1983), "Naturiche Biotope," Aquarium Heute 1 (2), pp. 20-23.

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

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