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Family: Acanthaceae

Common Name: Dwarf Hygrophila

Origin and Habitat: India and Bhutan, possibly Malaysia, and introduced to Mexico and some southern US states [see comments under Description]. Found in flowing streams as well as slow streams and lakes.

Ideal position in aquarium

Suitable as a background plant that will grow to the surface, and in the mid-ground and fore-ground with regular trimming. It looks stunning when planted in a row, giving is a Bucky appearance

Lighting requirements

Grows well under moderate light; the shoots will be stronger and thicker and faster growing under more intense light.

Growth rate


Minimum Tank Suggestion


Water parameters for Dwarf Hygrophila

Soft to hard, acidic to basic in pH, and tolerated temperature range around 62-85F; optimum temperature 22-28C/71-82F [Kasselmann]. Hardness and pH are not critical for this species.


This type of selected plant is the species that I would consider a beginners plant, it needs very little fertilization, no Co2 additives, Low light, and will increase the possibility if reducing algae. This species is a greatly undemanding plant that has been grown profiously in low tech setups with very little maintence and will grow emersed. I would recommend this plant to anyone looking for an easy plant.

This is a very hardy and undemanding plant. Growth is naturally affected by the light intensity, but even in moderate light this is a fast growing stem plant. Fertilization including additional CO2 is not needed. A marsh plant, flowers will only occur in emersed cultivation. It would highly Benifit from the additions of these primary additives, as well as a rich substrate, most key components to the growth of this plant would be something along the lines of, iron supplements, a rich substrate with fluorite or laterite, Co2, and high light.

It's hardiness is one reason it has been difficult to control or eradicate where it has been introduced, in US states such as Texas, Florida and Virginia; it is on the US Federal Noxious Weed List and it is illegal to import or maintain this plant in some states.

I have had very well experiences with this easy to keep plant. It has been throughout my whole Fishkeeping hobby, the easiest. Least demanding plant that I have ever owned. In low light conditions I have attained growth up to 1 inch per 4 to 5 days. With no supplements.

Another common name sometimes encountered is Sunset Hygrophila; it can turn a reddish level in the right levels, I have obtained its vibrant, rich red color in low supplements, just high light, and a low amount of added irons [fishy friend2].

Propagation is done by cutting off side shoots (after they are about 4 inches in length and have several nodes from which roots and leaves emerge) and burying the cut ends in the substrate. This is an ideal plant for a new aquarium due to its rapid growth requiring the assimilation of nitrogen (as ammonium) and nutrients which also helps combat algae. It is also a good plant for beginners, as it is hardy and easy to cultivate provided it is regularly trimmed.

This species was originally described as Justica polysperma by Roxburgh in 1820. In 1832, the same plant was described by Nees in Wall. as Hemidelphis polysperma. In 1867, T. Anderson placed it in Hygrophila, a sister genus to Justica in the family. Both earlier names are consequently now synonyms, and Roxburgh is credited with the initial description.

The genus name Hygrophila comes from the Greek hygros [moist] and philein [to love] and means moisture-loving; all species in the genus prefer moist conditions and naturally grow in swamps and along streams. The species epithet polysperma is Greek for many seeds.

The Acanthaceae or Acanthus family is large, containing some 250 genera with 2650 species; the various plants are flowering and occur in practically every type of habitat; two genera (Justicia and Hygrophila) contain aquatic species. Hygrophila has about 125 species of which roughly 40 are aquatic. Only a few of these are seen in aquaria.


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

Wilson, Rhonda (2006), "The genus Hygrophila," Tropical Fish Hobbyist (June 2006).

Contributing Members

The following members have contributed to this profile: Byron, Mo


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