Being very popular aquarium plants, one may not realize that Cryptocorynes (often referred to as “Crypts”) are not only aquatic plants, but grow well in moist to saturated terrestrial conditions too! Understanding where they are found in nature is self-explanatory to their naturally high tolerance of variable growing conditions.
In their native habitat, Cryptocorynes can be found widespread throughout fairly slow-flowing waters in the tropic, lowland forests of Asia and New Guinea. They are also found growing in forest pools or river banks that are only submerged at various times of the year when the water level is high enough. They produce long, prominently white roots that grow out horizontally under the substrate and are sometimes strong and cord-like, reminiscent of tendons. These abundant roots secure the plant in place when attached to the river bottom or side bank during low-water times. These attributes have upheld their popularity, in addition to being very tolerant of growing conditions from hard to soft water and semi-bright to dim lighting. Bright light does not seem to speed up growth, however, and if too bright, can sometimes cause problems due to being from well-shaded, tropical forest areas.
With these plants, although so tolerant, stability is the key to success. They do not require fertilizer or CO2, only patience and stable growing conditions. Whatever their initiated growing condition, if those conditions are not kept stable, ""Crypt Melt"" can occur, which will be discussed later. Cryptocorynes grow fairly slow and steady, which makes them ideal for hobbyists tired of constantly trimming their plants that sometimes grow out of control.
The natural adaptability and tolerance of varied growing conditions is what makes Crypts so ideal for beginners and experts alike in the aquarium, vivarium, and paludarium hobbies.
Growing Cryptocorynes Terrestrially (In Vivariums or Paludariums)
If you purchased your Cryptocoryne from Josh's Frogs, your plant is all set for use in a vivarium and currently has terrestrial leaves. Simply plant it in the substrate of your vivarium as you would any other terrestrial plant. They generally make a great foreground and mid-ground plant due to their medium-average size and bushing habit. They fit excellently in or around a water feature in a vivarium or paludarium as well. If submerging them in a water feature, refer to the paragraph below for information about planting and growing them aquatically.
Growing Cryptocorynes Aquatically (In Aquariums or Paludariums)
As mentioned, our Cryptocorynes here at Josh's Frogs are all growing terrestrially and sold as such. When purchased, they can be placed in a vivarium as is, or they can be submerged underwater where their current leaves will die off to regrow newer, thinner, aquatic leaves. This process is often referred to as “Crypt Melt” or “Crypt Wilt”. This can even happen when transferring them from tank to tank as they adjust to the new water conditions and parameters. Do not worry! With time and patience you should see new leaves start to emerge. Their leaves are lush and can be tempting to certain fish that are prone to nibbling on plants, such as goldfish. The only real way to avoid this situation is to use a harder leaved species of plant, such as Anubias. These are also as easy to care for as Cryptocorynes and can also be grown terrestrially.
To plant your Cryptocoryne in an aquarium or underwater in a paludarium, carefully remove all existing substrate from the roots of the plant. You can do this using running water or soaking in a dish of water to help easily remove the substrate. Try to work carefully by keeping as much of the root system intact as you can. If you happen to break off a few roots in this process, these plants are resilient and should still do just fine. It is at this time, depending on the size and age of the certain Crypt you are dealing with, you may be able to separate some parts of the plant to grow as separate, individual plants if you choose to do so. The plant clump would easily separate into multiple individuals once the substrate is removed from the roots, if this is the case. When the plants are cleaned up and ready for planting, you can use tweezers to pinch, hold and stick them right into the substrate if planting small, thin plants individually. As with most aquatic plants, Crypts are known to grow and root best in smaller substrates from sand to BB sized gravel. The strength of their previously mentioned, tendon-like roots make it difficult to uproot, making this plant especially valuable to certain hobbyists who raise larger fish prone to uprooting plants, such as Cichlids. Keep in mind, however, the Crypts would need to be established and well-rooted down in the substrate before resisting these types of fish.
Once established, Crypts can be used create a nice focal point in your aquarium, such as the Cryptocoryne wendtii 'Red' in this large, freshwater community aquarium:Photos Courtesy of Preuss Pets
Cryptocoryne Species Offered At Josh's Frogs
We currently carry 3 different types of Cryptocorynes that are available at various times of the year, shop all Cryptocorynes here...
My personal favorite Cryptocoryne is Cryptocoryne lucens. This nice, bushy plant with thin, bright green leaves makes them more unique than the average, wider leaved Cryptocorynes and add a nice effect to a tropical vivarium or aquarium.
Here you can see a Cryptocoryne lucens growing semi-aquatically under the waterfall of a paludarium in one of our offices:
This Cryptocoryne lucens is freshly planted terrestrially in a dart frog vivarium:
As expressed, Crypts are so highly versatile that they can easily utilized in both the aquarium, vivarium and paludarium hobbies. They come in many varieties which includes many different forms and colors to choose from. Whether a novice or an expert, I highly recommend trying out a Cryptocoryne if you haven’t already!
If you have any questions, feel free to shoot us an email at [email protected] or give us a call at 1 (800) 691-8178 and, as always, we would be happy to help you out the best we can!-Taylor