Hygrophila Pinnatifida – Planting and Maintenance Guide

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Hygrophila Pinnatifida is one of the most beautiful plants for aquarium enthusiasts. It is a very famous plant in the market today but is a little difficult to grow. Here we have the complete guide on how to plant it and maintain it in order to enchant your aqua space. 

Hygrophila Pinnatifida Aquatic Plant
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This plant easily sticks to stones and snags thanks to its roots, which is not common for stalked tank plants. This plant can be used as a ground-covering tank plant by trailing over the substrate and striking its roots. You will see how the root vertices shoot an upright stem which can grow in the bottom of the tank.

Hygrophila Pinnatifida has long leaves, with their unique bottom pink and front side varies from dark green to brown. This amazing plant is worth having in your tank and our guide will help you take care of and enchant your tank.

Origin & Habitat

The origin of Hygrophila Pinnatifida is from India and is a plant that was known for more than 150 years, even though it started to be cultivated as a tank plant in 2008. But this plant is still a rare species for the moment. This wonderful aquatic plant was brought from India. At the bottom of Western Ghast in the tideland, you can find Hygrophila Pinnatifida growing in streams. 

Hygrophila Pinnatifida Plant Natural Habitat India

River in India, natural habitat of Hygrophila Pinnatifida.

Appearance: Why does it change colors? 

This beautiful plant has brown, patched leaves on the surface of the tank, and a distinguishing red color underneath. Also, this plant creates side shots that are vertical, the top shots have to be taken out in order to keep the compact and attractive growth. The horizontal shots usually attach to rocks and wood. The average growth of the stems is 10-40 cm tall and 10-20 cm wide, and it has attractive colors if you plant it in small groups with a clear background. 

Hygrophila Pinnatifida Red Plant Aquarium Appearance

Hygrophila Pinnatifida can be found in Red and Green light. It depends on nitrogen and light condition.

The intense light secures that the plant’s slow to the medium growth rate.

They have a very attractive deep red color when it has very low nitrogen conditions. If the plant has low light conditions it will stay green, and if it has higher light it will be red.

Care difficultyMedium   
Family NameAcanthaceae  
Native ToIndia  
LightingMedium to high  
RequirementsSupplemental CO2 and good nutrition 
Temperature64 to 82 °F (18 to 28 °C)
Growth Rate   Medium    
Co2 Recommended    
PropagationCut stem, new growth, or lateral shoots
Placement in TankAdaptable when trimmed. If left to grow, needs space at the back

Other Hygrophila Plants: Alternative to Pinnatifida

There are also other Plants Alternative to Hygrophila Pinnatifida:

  • Hygrophila Corymbosa – this is a rough and rugged plant but still has stems and leaves that make it look sweet. It has fuller oval leaves and gets red in high light.
  • Hygrophila Difformis – is easier to take care of, grows faster, and has a branch leaf shape.
  • Hygrophila Guianensis – this type is shorter than the others. Its more difficult to care for because it requires very bright light, CO2, plenty of room, and a nutrient-rich substrate.

How to Plant and Trim It

This adaptable plant can be grown with and without soil, submerged and emersed. It is tried to plant the stems into the soil and as well in rock and wood. In all of these cases, the stems started to root and harbor themselves. If the plant has high lightning the stems will stay short. Also, you can use the shots that you will cut, to replant them or leave them to grow by themselves. But if you cut the stems horizontally the new growth takes a longer time. 

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This plant can be cultivated by cutting. After trimming the plant, it will form a lot of side branches at the place where you made the cut. When the plant has good conditions, it will form horizontally growing shoots that will strike roots.

Hygrophila Pinnatifida Plant Aquarium Planting

Plant Hygrophila Pinnatifida near rocks or woods and it can create a beautiful look at your tank.

This plant is one of the easiest plants to trim. You have to cut off the above stem, the slender part between two nodes, this way the plant will grow smaller plants at the remaining internodes. If you don’t want that plant to grow all over your tank, you should cut it regularly. You can replant plantlets very easily even in a small size.

Grow, Care and Maintenance

This plant is not that easy to maintain and taken care of. In order to do so, you should consider some essential things that will help the plant thrive and grow healthy.

Tank Size

This plant is preferred to thrive in nano aquariums, therefore, is great for medium tanks as well. It is most effective when cultivated in small groups in the middle ground of the tank, having a calm background, in order to provide the proper space to its special leaf form and create a stunning pattern. 

Water Parameters

This plant can grow submerged or emersed, with and without soil. Therefore, the water parameters are very important and vital for this plant. When taking care of it, you should consider a temperature of 64 to 82 °F (18 to 28 °C). The pH level should be from 6 to 7.5, and an interval of 2-12 dKH. 

Lighting, CO2, and Fertilization

Hygrophila Pinnatifida will do fine under moderate light, however, intensive lighting will help for compact growth. However, the plant size will become smaller if you overexposure it to light.

It is recommended to have a good nutrient and CO2 supply. Therefore, the potassium level should not fall to the bottom, a low level is acceptable to avoid the pinholes in the older leaves.

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The substrate is not that important because this plant forms a not very deep root system and attaches to sand or gravel grains.

Propagation Tips

The runner-like lateral shoots are the perfect candidate for propagation. The top shoot cuttings compared to the lateral shoots, can develop poorly. The plant can already sprout roots or small plants from emersed cultivation, which tends to establish faster compared to rootless cuttings.

Hygrophila Pinnatifida Plant Propagation

Hygrophila Pinnatifida natural propagation.

Pinhole Problem

This is the most common issue that Hygrophila Pinnatifida has. They are referred to as “potassium hogs” and this issue occurs mainly from potassium deficiency. Therefore, this doesn’t mean that you should raise too much the level of potassium, it’s not needed.

Ideal Tank Mates

Hygrophila Pinnatifida is part of the very low-growing plantlets that can easily develop at the end of the runners and foreground in groups. As we know this plant has a dark color spectrum and neighboring with bright plants, the intensive red hues can easily upstage it.

This plant is very friendly and it can share the tank with:

  • Peaceful Fish. It is a very good idea to add some friends to this plant, in the company of fish that won’t harm it. Also including, Neon Tetras, Odessa Barb, Black Moor Goldfish, Panda Loach, blue wagtail platy, Panda Garra, etc.
  • Shrimp. Shrimp species, including Neocaridina species like Snowball shrimp, Blue Velvet Shrimp, Black Rose, Green Jade, Orange Sakura, Green Jade, Rili Shrimp, etc) or even Caridina species. Since this plat regenerates itself, it can get along very well with shrimps.
Hygrophila Pinnatifida Plant Red Aquarium Tank Mates

Hygrophila Pinnatifida and a peaceful fish. Notice this plant unique colors.

Hygrophila Pinnatifida can be kept together with Bacopa Caroliniana, and create a perfect combo. Both of these plants would create a great design, the shape of Bacopa Caroliniana would be a perfect fit with this plant. Therefore Subwassertang would be a great choice, its bright lights would make a great contrast in your tank. 


Hygrophila Pinnatifida will enchant your tank with its bottom pink/red leaves. As soon as you learn to take care of it thanks to our guide, you will be able to experiment with its colors based on this plant’s requirements. 

This is an amazing plant to take care of, even though it has a medium level of difficulty and is not suggested for beginners. You decide how to design its growth, as a bush, or let it grow long. Therefore, is easy to trim and can be cultivated by the trimmed pieces.

Let us know what’s your thought about this plant by commenting below.

Hygrophila Pinnatifida Plant Aquarium

Hygrophila Pinnatifida at our aquarium. To have your like this, take care of it and let it grow without trimming.

Frequently Asked Questions

We trying to cover everything essential for the Hygrophila Pinnatifida plant to thrive. Below we answer some of the most comment questions from you. Leave a comment below if your question is not mention.

Does Hygrophila Pinnatifida need CO2?

Yes, it needs supplemental CO2 in order to guarantee strong growth.

How do you prune a Hygrophila Pinnatifida?

You prune the plant by cutting it horizontally in order to limit its growth. 

How do you care for Hygrophila?

This plant requires moderate light, sufficient amounts of nutrients into the tank water as well as CO2, Kalium. Avoid extreme water parameters, potassium levels should be moderate to low. Therefore, strong lighting gives better coloration.

I am Mario, a expert aquarist who is sharing his knowledge with everyone.

Keeping innocent fish and aquatic plants safe and healthy is my daily routine. With my experience and my passion for aquatic life, I will advise you through the long run of keeping an aquarium.

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