One of the main attractions of a beautiful aquarium are plants. They provide protection for the aquatic animals that inhibit the tank, as well as create the perfect living space for them. A large chunk of effort should be put towards the type of plants you are adding to the aquarium, and sometimes it is difficult to know where to start! Of course, it is best to start with beginner-friendly plants such as the hygrophila corymbosa, or commonly known as starhorn, temple plant or giant hygro.
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Hygrophila Corymbosa Care
The hygrophila corymbosa is a simple plant that is fairly easy to care for. There are a few subspecies of the hygrophila corymbosa, though that are similar in most characteristics. This aquatic plant creates a beautiful view with its long, slim leaves that are tapered at each end. This stem plant is bright green in color and can sometimes change colors based on the amount of lighting it receives. The hygrophila corymbosa is known to change to a dark green color, as well as pink, red and even purple. When partially submerged, this aquatic plant has the ability to produce pink and purple flowers.
In the wild, the giant hygro can grow to be up to 24 inches in height but when in a tank, the plant grows to be 3 to 5 inches tall. The new growth, called side shoots, starts at the stem, which end up giving this plant a bushier look. It is naturally grown in Southeast Asia countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and India. It is also grown in the United States and Mexico, though in these areas it is considered a unique and exotic plant.
The giant hygro is a great beginner-friendly aquatic plant because it does not require too much care. It can adapt to various situations and is never demanding, making it a hardy plant. Since the new growth of the giant hygro starts at the stem and creates a tall bush, it is best to put this aquatic plant in a tank with the minimum of 10 gallons because the plant will take up a good amount of space. One of the benefits of adding this plant to your tank is that it absorbs nitrates and ammonia and keeps them at a healthy level for the fish. Additionally, the giant hygro helps minimize algae growth in the tank. In a suitable environment, the giant hygro grows fast and one must be prepared to trim this plant at least once a week in order to keep it well-maintained.
It is important to know that many aquarists have come across the issue of their hygrophila corymbosa losing the leaves towards the bottom of the stem. This is because the leaves at the top of the stem tend to cover the light from reaching the bottom leaves. This is an important thing to keep in mind and explains why you should trim your plant often. The perfect temperature for the giant hygro to thrive is between 68°F and 86°F, which is a big enough margin for temperature changes. In its natural habitat in the wild, the hygrophila corymbosa enjoys full exposure to sunlight, but in a tank, it does well with moderate to intense lighting. The pH level of the water should be kept between 5.5 and 8 with the hardness level between 2 dGH and 15 dGH, which is fairly soft. The hygrophila corymbosa can be completely submerged in water, as well as emersed and will flourish both ways.
The perfect substrate for this aquatic plant is fine gravel because it allows the plant to root strongly and draw nutrients in order to survive. The hygrophila corymbosa requires plentiful nourishment of extra nitrites, nitrates and ammonia. Liquid fertilizer needs to be added regularly to the tank in order for the hygrophila to maintain its healthy bright green colors. This plant also benefits from CO2 but it is not a necessity. It is important to note that if the leaves of the plant start to turn yellow, it means the plant is low in iron.
In terms of tank mates, the hygrophila corymbosa is compatible with most fish. They do well with small fish, most snails as well as crustaceans. An aquarist must watch out for goldfish and digging cichlids as they are known to eat the leaves of the plant. Within a few hours, your hygrophila corymbosa plant will be pretty much gone if left with goldfish and digging cichlids.
Planting & Propagating
It is easy to come by a hygrophila corymbosa as they are fairly popular in the world of aquarists. You can find them in most aquatic stores as well as online. They are affordable and sell at about $3 to $4. Once you are ready to plant your aquatic plant and the substrate is moist, simply place the plant into the substrate. If needed, using tweezers can help in the process of putting the plant deep into the substrate. It is recommended to put the plant into the substrate slightly diagonally so that it is secure. When aquascaping, most aquarists place the giant hygro in the middle or background of the tank since it grows tall and wide. It will provide a beautiful background color as well as a nice hiding place for the fish. Since most hygrophila corymbosa have long leaves, be sure to not plant them too close together so that they can have enough space. Many aquarists also use this plant to create a “street” within the aquarium, which is common in Dutch-styled aquascapes. The plant will start to grow its roots once it is settled into the substrate. Since the giant hygro is a stem plant, it is not possible to plant anywhere other than substrate and it is not possible to plant on driftwood or rocks.
Propagating your hygrophila corymbosa is incredibly easy. As mentioned, new growth starts at the stem of the plant. To propagate, simply cut the side shoots that have reached a length of about 4 inches. Once you have cut the side shoots, simply plant them into the substrate. Make sure you plant them deep in the substrate as well as insert the stem slightly diagonally so that the side shoot won’t float away out of the substrate. With time, it will grow its roots and settle into the substrate.
Hygrophila Corymbosa Subspecies
The hygrophila corymbosa has a few subspecies. While they can all be referred to as starhorn, they are all different variation of this plant.
Hygrophila Corymbosa Compact
One variation of hygrophila corymbosa is the hygrophila corymbosa ‘compact’ or ‘compacta,’ which also originates from Asia. This plant is denser than the original hygrophila corymbosa plant. It has very few gaps between each shoot and creates many lateral shoots, which gives it a full and compact look. The plant has dark green leaves before it adjusts to its nursery, but once comfortable they turn into a pale green color. This variety of the hygrophila does not grow as tall and stays at about 10-15 inches in height, which makes it a perfect fit for shorter tanks. It doesn’t grow as fast as the regular hygrophila corymbosa variety, and it actually does better when planted towards the front of the tank.
Hygrophila Corymbosa Stricta
Another variation of the hygrophila corymbosa is the hygrophila corymbosa ‘stricta,’ which originates from Asia as well. This variety has large leaves that have similar shape to apple trees. The leaves vary from a green to a reddish brown with strong light. This variety does not have any particular needs and requires low lighting. or extra CO2 or fertilizers. The hygrophila stricta grows fast and can reach up to 20 inches in height. This subspecies does great in open tanks because they like to grow past the waterline and grow beautiful blue flowers. Additionally, it is a plant that is easy to care for.
When looking for aquatic plants to add to an aquarium, it is always best to start off with plants that are easy to care for and beginner friendly. There are many beginner friendly aquatic plants, and hygrophila corymbosa should be on everyone’s list. It’s incredibly easy to care for and allows a good amount of wiggle room in terms of water and tank specifications. This aquatic plant will make your tank look absolutely beautiful and eye-catching, and it will give you the great amount of satisfaction in your aquatic hobby!