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Hardiness: Easy
Light Needs: Medium
Plant Structure: Bulb
Family: Nymphaeaceae
Genus: Nymphaea
Region: Africa
Location: West Africa
Size: Height: 20-80cm (8-32in)
Growth Rate: Medium
Can Be Grown Emersed: No


The beautiful Nymphaea micrantha is a recent but already very popular addition to the planted aquarium hobby. It is native to West Africa where it can be found growing in acidic lakes, ponds, and slow-moving rivers and streams. This species can be easily obtained through retailers who import plants from the Asian aquatic plant nursery Oriental Aquariums.

N. micrantha, like all plants in the Nymphaea genus, is a water lily that sprouts submersed and floating leaves. Two forms of this species exist in the hobby: one with subtly-variegated greenish, reddish, and brownish leaves, and another with smaller, bright green leaves that feature reddish brown spots (see pictured). Though the former type was the first to be imported and cultivated, it is quickly being displaced by the latter, which is a bit more agreeable (and somewhat smaller-growing) in the aquarium. Regardless of type, however, all specimens of N. micrantha require intense light and a nutritious substrate to achieve robust and healthy growth. Fertilization with both macro- and micronutrients is necessary to maintain good color and size (though some sources state that the form with green leaves with red spots does not respond well to excessive levels of micronutrient fertilizers). CO2 supplementation produces more rapid and vigorous growth. This species sometimes forms floating leaves in the aquarium, a behavior that can be reduced by the shortening of the photoperiod.

Propagation of N. micrantha is usually accomplished by severing the adventitious plants that develop just above the petioles (stems) on the leaves and replanting them. Propagation by seeds is rare and difficult.

Both forms of this species are best suited to medium- to large-sized aquaria where they function best as well-lit centerpieces. Due to their variably-colored foliage, they contrast well with most stem plants, regardless of color or texture.

Photo #1: US and International Copyright 2004 by Ethan Fisher All Rights Reserved.

Photo #2: US and International Copyright 2004 by Ethan Fisher All Rights Reserved.